Sunday, November 6, 2016

Time For Review - Looking at the Path Ahead

If you are like me you plan your races and do them come what may.  The problem with that philosophy is it can be detrimental to your health if you are not careful. I am not talking about backing out of a race due to under-training or out of fear you will not do as you would like but when you have a health issue.  We are so ingrained with the “gut it out” mentality that often we do more damage than good from being “tough”.

Well that ended up being the case for the end of this year.  After what seemed like a really good 3-4 months of training I hurt my foot running a not so technical trail at the end of August that led to missing a trail ½ marathon I had been looking forward to in September.  Not running the race, while not what I wanted to do, was necessary as I could not run much at all due to the pain in my foot.  So I took time off and figured I would get ready for the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis in November.  Training was OK, not what I wanted, but all things considered it was going well.  Then I came down with the flu and was in bed for 36 hours with the result being when I got up I had a pinched nerve in my back that sent shooting pains down my right leg and caused my right knee to be a little week.  After some more time off and a few Chiropractor visits I thought all was good for the marathon with a week to go.  Well, I wake up 5 days from the race and once again my pinched nerve is back and I have a hard time walking without a shooting pain, let alone try and run.  I had thought about waiting a day or so to call things off but being honest with myself even if my back felt better by then it would not be wise for my long term health to run a marathon which is hard enough on ones body as it is let alone with a nerve issue.  Basically that led me to just call it a wrap for the year and take a few weeks off so as to then start up again to get ready for some races in March and April of 2017.

This leads me to what is truly important and that is taking the time to review the year and see if I could have avoided the way the year ended and seek to plan for the year ahead.  I have been running for 43+ years but to this day I still have issues with not getting things just right and it usually comes from not being as focused I should be on the overall picture.   One of the problems that can stem from running slower and focusing on MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) is that you can tend to think you’re fine while the reality may be that you are still overdoing it.  While MAF training indeed can help you avoid injury it does not guarantee you will not over-train.  You can still run too much too soon and while you may not crash and burn as in the past when you were running too much too fast you can start to run so close to the edge that it does not take much to go over the edge.

In reviewing the preceding 5 months, before I got hurt running a fairly easy trail, I found I had run the following mileage:
  • April - 125
  • May - 157
  • June - 189
  • July - 195
  • August – 229 (Including 20,000 ft Climbing to get ready for a trail race)
  • September – 97.6

I share this not to pat myself on the back, hey many run much more, but because I should have seen
this was too much too soon based on my past year of running.  While I felt good the mileage increase left me vulnerable to injury or sickness and that is exactly what took place.  As some background my usual plan of attack is to run 3-4 higher mileage weeks, in this case 50 or so miles, running 5 days a week then take one week and run less mileage, 30 or so miles, and then repeat that.  My big mistake was in not looking at the cumulative affect, monthly mileage/hours, and the bigger picture.  I should have leveled off my monthly mileage and not kept letting it go up.  Hey, I felt good and was not running too fast, well at least did not feel that fast, so what could go wrong.  I had a few good 5ks mixed in there and some good long runs so all seemed well.  Till, as they say, the wheels fell off.

 Now that I think I have seen where I erred so what’s next.  Well the next step is to come up with a revised plan to help avoid the errors of the past year in the coming year.  With a 50 miler planned for March 2017, Land Between the Lakes, and a 50K in April 2017, Yamacraw 50, I need to work to not be injured by the time I get there but also trained as well as  rested.  The plan is to make sure I not only look at my weekly mileage/hours but also monthly totals o my mileage/hours are the most beneficial and not working to injury.

Another aspect I want to work on this coming year is some form of cross training consisting of using my bike trainer and also some lifting.   Using the bike to get MAF aerobic training in without the stress on my legs and the weight lifting to work some sorely under developed muscle groups which also may have contributed to my problems this year.  With all of this I need to make sure I do not slack on my active stretching and exercises to work my hips and such.  I am also going to take some easy days and run a mile or two in my Xero sandals to help strengthen my feet which I think is important.

That said I also am contemplating running less short runs, and with the cross training running less days, at least for some weeks.  For example I would be running 3-4 days getting in 40 miles with a day or two on the bike, still working to keep my workout days to 5.  As I am working towards a 50 miler I think running longer when I run and resting more instead of filling up those extra days with shorter millage may be beneficial.  The following would lead to a typical week looking something like this:
  • Monday – 8-12 miles (65 – 110 Minutes) @ MAF
  • Tuesday – 10 – 20  Miles Bike (35 – 70 minutes) @ MAF & some Weights
  • Wednesday – 10 Miles (80 – 90 Minutes) @ MAF
  • Thursday – 10  Miles bike (35 minutes) @ MAF & some Weights
  • Friday – 15 – 20 Miles (120 – 180 Minutes) @ MAF
  • Saturday and Sunday Rest or maybe do the long run here and rest Friday and Sunday
  • Totals – 33 - 40 Miles Running (270 – 360 Minutes) /20 30 Miles Bike (70 – 105  Minutes)
  • A rest week would be much like above but lower mileage and minutes.

As I get closer to the 50 miler I want to do a couple back to backs so they would look like this:
  • Monday – 10 Mile Bike – (35 minutes) @ MAF & some Weights
  • Tuesday – Rest
  • Wednesday – 10 Mile Bike – (35 minutes) @ MAF & some Weights
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – 20 -25 Miles (160 – 240 Minutes) @ MAF
  • Saturday – 20 – 25 Miles (160 – 240 Minutes) @ MAF
  • Sunday – Rest
  • Totals – 40 Miles Running (320 – 480 Minutes) /20 Miles Bike (70 Minutes)
  • This type of week would then be followed by an easy week with Monday and Tuesday off.

Of course these are just some thoughts on what I may do to work to keep my miles and time working out at a place that gets me ready for my racing but also keeps me healthy.  Another key to this is to not create a schedule that is written in stone and working to keep to it no matter what.  Yes I do need to make sure I get the work in but I also need to be flexible enough to adjust things as I go along.

I hope this post, if it has done anything, has made you think about looking over your training from the last year and seeing how you could improve it.  Don’t take my plan and use it but develop one for yourself.  I do want to encourage you to work on MAF training (see my article here: MAF: What is it?) as I feel it is a great way to train if ones health is a top priority.

Plan for what is ahead and be ready to adjust as need be.  Also, as I need to, make sure to re-evaluate on a regular basis during the year so you can see how things are going.

As the year progress I will work to update how things are going with practicing what I preach.

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