Sunday, November 18, 2018

If I'd known then what I know now

I'm not sure there is anyone among us who doesn't fantasize about going back to their past self with their current knowledge.  "If I only knew then what I know now."  The older we get, the more we realize how little we knew.  Although I've been a runner for a very long time, I spent most of those years clueless about what I was doing.

I began competing at age 11, with some success in junior high and high school in spite of never training properly.  I ran low mileage (20 miles per week or so), ran a lot of speed work year-round, and raced almost every weekend in events from 800 m to the 5K.  I was coached by some people who were really amazing, but who knew little about training distance runners, and back in my high school years of 1995-1999, there wasn't much easily accessible information out there about training - not to mention that exercise science has come a long way since then!

I managed to win a handful of Kansas high school state championships and an AAU national championship in the 3000 m, and was recruited to run cross country and track in college.  Fortunately I chose my college based on academic scholarships, because I ended up being injured in college much more than I actually ran.  I had several stress fractures and ended up quitting the team since I kept getting injured.  For many, many years I thought that my body couldn't handle more than 30 mpw, since trying to run 40-50 mpw had resulted in so many injuries, but now I know the problem was that I wasn't transitioned up to that mileage properly.  I needed to go from 20 miles to 30, then gradually to 40, then to 50, and so on (over years), instead of from 20 to 50.

I never stopped running after I quit running collegiately, but for a couple of years I was very cautious, typically only running 5-8 miles every other day with no racing and few workouts.  I wanted to run for the rest of my life because I enjoyed it, but resigned myself to the fate of never being able to put in many miles.  One of my friends talked me into training for a marathon with her when I was in my first year of graduate school, and I acquiesced but was extremely wary about getting injured doing it.  I did a minimal training plan (I think it was Runners World's beginners marathon plan), but I successfully ran 4 days a week and worked my long run up to 20 miles, while staying healthy, which was a pleasant surprise.  After that marathon, I knew I could run another one faster, a thought pattern that has continued after every marathon I've run since.

Although I've run many marathons (31), I didn't train properly for one until I began working with a coach at age 34.  Even for that one (Dallas 2015), my mileage was very conservative considering my goal; I peaked at 50 mpw trying to break 3:00 (I didn't make it, coming in at 3:01).  Since then I have gradually increased my mileage in a planned and measured way and had actual training cycles, and my PRs have gradually improved along the way.

All of this to say, I wish I'd have proper training from the beginning of my running career.  I wish I'd had a gradual mileage progression instead of minimal running (relative to maximizing performance) in my 20s.  I wish I had years of mileage behind me.  I wish I'd have periodization in my training.  I think I could have run much faster and prevented many injuries with simply appropriate basic training.  There is no way to know for certain, and maybe I'd have gotten burned out and quit running instead; perhaps how it turned out saved my love for the sport and increased my running longevity, in which case it is of course all worth it.

I also wish I'd have taken better care of myself overall in my 20's, namely eating better, sleeping more, not drinking alcohol, and taking care of body when injuries did occur.  I always got mad at my body for breaking instead of thinking about how I could best help it repair.

I know it's not productive to look back and wish I could change things, but I write this in hopes that someone who is like the younger me will benefit.  Recently I've been particularly reflective on this because I've started to worry that time is running out for me to make improvements and gains, due to the aging process (I turned 38 a couple of weeks ago - although I am excited to move to the masters category in 2 years).  Running really should be looked at in terms of long-term development in order to maximize potential for anyone, and I had no idea that this was the case until relatively recently.  It's great that we have so many resources online, and even information in podcasts and the mainstream media now.  If you're making your own training schedule, educate yourself well.  Be patient, increase conservatively, use periodization, train smarter not harder, and think long-term, and improvements will come!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Cross-Training Chronicles: October Recap

October 2018 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  10 (all on the AlterG treadmill) -- which was markedly different than my other months this year:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305.

At least I hit double digits!  I am trying not to think about the fact that my pre-injury average daily mileage was higher than this monthly total...  However, my total workout duration came in at 71 hours and 23 minutes, which blew my mind...that's almost 2 work weeks!  I also did some walking just to get outside, but didn’t count that as exercise.
  • Oct. 1-Oct. 7: 0 miles, 12:50 total cardio cross-training, 2:38 strength training
  • Oct. 8-14:  1 mile (on the AlterG treadmill), 13:45 cardio cross-training, 2:45 strength training
  • Oct. 15-21: 0 miles, 14:05 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training
  • Oct. 22-29: 4 miles (on the AlterG treadmill), 11:15 cardio cross-training, 3:00 strength training
  • Oct. 29-Nov. 4: 5 miles (AlterG), 14:00 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training -  which is a lifetime exercise PR week
Happy Halloween/it's 48* & pouring!
 Races:
  • The only racing I did was to the pool when the YMCA unlocked its front doors at 5:00 a.m. - when trying to simulate a long run before work, every second counts!  I am not even kidding when I say I was waiting by the door at 4:57 a.m....
  • I missed the Panther Run 5K and the Kansas City Half Marathon.  I will also be missing the Bass Pro Marathon (slated to be my longest training run) and the California International Marathon this season.
Workouts:
  • I did a lot of cross-training workouts this month, trying to maintain fitness and because time passes much faster in the pool/on the bike/on the elliptical when you're doing intervals.  I'm not going to list them out, because it would be a long list of #notrunning
  • I also did several cross-training doubles this month, but again #notrunning
  • Full body strength workouts:  I completed my full strength circuit twice per week, did 10 minutes of core work more days than not, and did a lot of rehab strength work.
  • Favorite workout:  I got into some of my spin bike workouts, trying to beat the farthest I'd done in 90 minutes (my usual length of ride).  I am 98% certain that my spin bike isn't calibrated correctly, but I think it's comparable to itself from day to day, and my PR was 40.3 miles in 90 minutes.
Spin bike stats (95 min. & 40.81 miles)
+ a smile (not my PR ride)
 Long Runs:
  • No real ones, but I did some 2:30+ cross-training sessions. The first time I did 2 hours on the elliptical I was sore from it...
Cross-Training:
  • I approached cross-training with abandon during my injury, aiming to mimic or exceed what I would be running.  Here is what I did the week of October 1-7:
    • Monday - a.m. 30 minutes cycling and 30 minutes on the Max Trainer (a stair stepper/elliptical combo machine that my friend Amy has); p.m. 75 minutes aquajogging and 10 minutes core
    • Tuesday - a.m. 90 minutes spin bike including a fartlek workout of 2 x 4'/3'/2/1'; lunch 28 minutes of core/arm/floor glute work
    • Wednesday - a.m. 50 minutes of lap swimming including intervals followed by 40 minutes of aquajogging including intervals (90 minutes in the pool) and 8 minutes core
    • Thursday - a.m. 90 minutes ellipitcal including intervals; lunch 44 minutes full body strength session
    • Friday - a.m. 2:30 aquajogging, including intervals the final 35 minutes...I can't believe I did this either.  Also 8 minute core (I do 8-10 minutes core every day when I'm running also).
    • Saturday - a.m. 95 minutes elliptical with intervals in the final 30, and 30 minutes strength; p.m. 30 minutes elliptical and 10 minutes core
    • Sunday - a.m. 90 minutes on the spin bike, including 20' warm up, tempo efforts of 20', 15', 10', 5' w/ 5' recoveries, 5' cool down (this got me 36.3 miles!); p.m. 22 minutes core/glute work.
  • Most days I did interval workouts, to get my heart rate up and because the time passed faster when I did.  With running you should never do workouts every day, but with cross-training you pretty much can (or at least I did without knowing any better).  My body felt different because there was no pounding, but initially I sure got sore from various cross-training workouts.  I guess after not biking or swimming for almost 3 years, jumping into 90+ minutes at a time was a bit of a shock!

Highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • Due to all the cross-training I did this month, my television watching increased dramatically.  I usually don't watch TV.  Sometimes on weekends I'll watch a movie with my family, and Jon and I like to watch marathons (we usually find the broadcasts on YouTube a week or so after the events), but no actual TV-watching occurs unless I'm injured.  Jon and Albani have our DVR timers booked solid, which I was kind of appalled about because I don't think they watch that much TV either, but that limited my time slots for recording anything (also the TV in my workout room is ancient so there is no Netflix or similar option; I'm surprised it even hooks up to our Dish!).  I searched for shows I'd enjoy at times they weren't recording anything, which was really just overnight and in the early mornings, and I ended up recording a bunch of old episodes of Scrubs and New Girl, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed while on my spin bike.  At the YMCA I watched whatever the best option available was on early limited cable, including Friends, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, That 70s Show, and several HGTV flipping houses and redecorating programs.
  • It's funny how we tend to replace one obsession with another.  I wasn't planning to cross-train nearly as much as I did, but being unable to run I quickly got caught up in trying to set records in any way I could with cross-training, including longest duration of activities, farthest and fastest bike rides, etc.  The week of October 15-21 I decided I was going to cardio cross-train for 14 hours, and it ended up being a little challenging with a work trip in there, but I got it done.  Then I made the following week a cut-back week!
  • It wasn't an easy month for me.  Although I think overall I handled being injured betting than I have in the past, several break-downs occurred (of course, I also learned a lot).  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27  
Life events:
  • We were kind of boring this month.  Jon and I both worked a lot!
  • Our garden fell victim to the early cold snap.
  • We started burning wood in our fireplace on October 13 - much earlier than usual!
  • We went to a great fall fest with a corn maze, hayrides, carnival games, bounce houses, a pumpkin patch, etc. on October 20.
  • I had a birthday...which further made me worry that my days of PR-chasing are slipping away and that this injury screwed it all up.
  • Our church has a fun fall fest event on October 27.
  • Halloween of course.  Albani was the Grim Reaper, to my chagrin, especially because our two major Halloween events were at church. Jon tried to convince her to get a girly costume, but she was set on this!  I dressed up as a working mother yet again this year.
She definitely wins the photogenic award in our family!
I loved how these came out!
Rutledge Wilson Farm fall fest
My mom's name is Irene so we laughed at this
Corn maze
Inflatables are always a hit

Homemade gifts are the best!
Bandit got me a bird & a mouse for my b-day
Intense pumpkin carving
Impressive results
Halloween
Fishing for candy
There are people in those dinosaurs!