A New Approach to Training

workout002I’ve spent a lot of time running over the last two years and I have covered more miles than I care to even think about. I consider myself somewhat lucky to have found and successfully adopted running at a time when I really needed something to help turn my life around. I have achieved most of the goals I initially set out for myself, had many good days along the way, and enjoyed most of the experiences. I am, to say the least, very fortunate for all that running has given back to me in return for the hours and miles I invested.

In retrospect, I think I did a fairly decent job of incorporating running into my life at the beginning and created a good balance between weight loss and building my strength and stamina up. During my first half marathon training program I mixed both strength building and running activities to a reasonable degree of success. I guess I was a bit over confident at that point, and figured if I could do a 4M race then I could probably run a half or full marathon. Although not far from the truth, how soon I should target to do so was probably an error in judgement. It seems as though my over-training for three half marathons and the full distance last year is the root cause of all my knee issues. I simply put too much stress and strain on my knee too quickly by spending 90% of my time running and only 10% on other activities.

And so, as appealing as retreating into a sedentary life of lounging around in decadent debauchery sounds, I have decided to re-work my entire non-race fitness program to create a better balance of activities and provide certain key areas of the body with sufficient time to recover following intense work outs. I started out makeover by listing out some fun activities that I wanted to include:

  • stretching
  • biking
  • swimming
  • strength
  • running
  • interval training
  • core
  • yoga

Any new training program would have to include each of these activities in some form, with no one activity taking up more than 40% of my time. Training for specific races or competition would require a more concentrated effort in one area, but for non-race training and general fitness maintenance, a good balance is more important for my ongoing health and ability to participate.

Knowing that this kind of dramatic change would be a challenge to implement on my own, I decided to get some help! Jess had worked out with a trainer prior to the wedding and was impressed by his approach. Post-wedding we’re still going to see him, and he keeps us honest in quite a few of the areas I mentioned. The outdoor workouts along the water are especially intense, combining core and interval training with some basic stretching and yoga.

It’s only been a few weeks, but I am starting to notice a difference in both how I look and how I feel. I am getting more definition in certain areas like my shoulders and abs, and my knee is hurting a lot less. To be fair, the running has really dropped off over the last couple of months in favor of time on the bike but it responds well to the interval sessions, so I’ll take that as a positive.

Look out for a few of my new workout sessions on the conditioning section of the site and some revised race training plans as I start to register and plan for them.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Nine

nyc_half_w9It’s week nine and I am into the final stretch. The big run this weekend is eight miles, a drop in workload from the previous two weeks but the rest of the activities follow the same pattern. My training plan suggests some speed work consisting of 9 x 400 meter sprints on Tuesday, followed by a typical 5 mile effort on Wednesday. I will continue my light workloads on Monday and Thursday, combining 15 minutes on the stationary bike with some weights and swimming. Saturday is going to be a short paced run, around 4 miles.

However, Jess and I have plans to go skiing this weekend and because my quads are still hurting, there are going to be some changes in the order of activities. Instead of taking rest on Friday, I’m going to switch that to Monday. The extra day will help me recover quicker and hopefully allow me to get back up and running on Tuesday. We’re leaving for the ski resort on Friday night, so I’ll run earlier in the day and skip the long run on Saturday. This means I should be able to squeeze in the short paced run on Sunday evening. I know it’s not ideal to skip a long run at this late stage, but the problems with my quads has me worried and I want to give my legs plenty of recovery time.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Six

nyc_half_w6Week six eases off a little in terms of distance and intensity. The training plan asks for a tempo run early in the week and two easy 4 miles efforts and the start and end. Luckily for me, the monotony of 4 mile treadmill runs is broken up this weekend as the NYRR Gridiron Classic takes place on Sunday morning. Meanwhile Saturday’s long run is only 6 miles.

This week also see’s a slight change in my cross training schedule. As I mentioned previously, I have started taking swimming lesson’s and that will take the place of the bicycle portion of Thursday’s strength and conditioning session.

The first five weeks of training have been a significant increase in my general workload and have taken an increasing amount of time out of my schedule. At times it’s a challenge to fit everything in, so I am going to have to start paying attention to non-running related activities to make sure they do not get neglected.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Five

nyc_half_w5Week four required a little more effort than the first three, but that does not mean I get to take it easy now. Rather, the training plan for week five continues to increase the workload as the second of my incremental increase weeks before a smaller workload for a week. As always, Monday and Thursday focus on strength and cross training. Depending on how I feel, I will do two circuits of the strength program or 30 minutes on the bike and one circuit.

Tuesday’s run is again 4.5 miles, while Wednesday’s speed work alternates quarter mile jogs and sprints. Given that my typical run pace is 6.7 MPH, I take the quarter mile jogs at 6.3 MPH and the sprints at 7.5 MPH. Saturday is a 4 mile run, followed by a lengthy 8 miler on Sunday morning to round out the week.

I have some personal engagements this week, so will have to work to move things around so that my training does suffer. I try to take my runs at least 24 hours apart, but have some flexibility when it comes to the strength programs.

Half-Marathon Training: Week Two

nyc_half_w2My training plan is consistent for a reason – working to a prescribed plan will help condition my body and limit the risk of injury. If you have looked over the training plan I posted, you will know that Monday and Thursday are non-running days where I focus on strength and conditioning. Typically, this involves some bike work and either one or two circuits of the weight machines at my gym to help build muscle.

This week’s Tuesday run is 4 mile runs, while Wednesday is a 4 mile tempo run at race pace. For me, that means starting out at my usual pace and then pushing myself to about 7 MPH for the majority of the session. This weeks see’s a chance in schedule because of the upcoming 10K in Central Park. Instead of running another 4 miles on Saturday followed by a longer 6 mile run on Saturday, the two are flipped around. This is not ideal, as longer runs are easier following a tempo run rather than before it. However, I want to keep to my plan and I would rather rotate the two days than chop and change my rest days.