Ugh, the last month and a half have been filled with head colds, traveling, long work hours, stress eating, and all things not conducive to health and fitness. Now that I’m recovering from my second cold in a month, I’m more than ready to get better and get up and running – literally.
It’s time for good food, lots of sleep, a sustainable exercise schedule, and the motivation of a goal race. After more than a year since the Stone Cat Marathon, it’s finally go time, and I’m setting my sights on a flat 5k in the spring as my re-entrance into running.
New training strategy:
Rest – All of this time away from running has given me time to really study how I feel and what might work best for me, and one thing I believe is that rest is truly my friend. I was always one to set up a schedule consisting of running, cross training, strength, and rest alternating regularly with progressions in intensity, speed, mileage, etc. until taper time. That seems balanced, but now I’d like to experiment with longer periods of rest.
Embrace the seasons – I looked back at the past couple of months and realized that I got off schedule as summer waned because I lost daylight hours. One morning last week, when a coughing fit had me sipping tea in the dark, quiet kitchen at 5 am, I realized that I don’t mind getting up when it’s dark, and that if I plan accordingly, I could get an enjoyable workout in before work, even during the darkest days of the year. And as the seasons continue to change, I can transition to different outdoor activities like skiing and snowshoeing. Adjusting my training plan often to adapt activities to the changes in weather or daylight will probably create variety and make things more fun over time.
Make room for life – When I honestly divide up my days into time that can be dedicated toward training, I see why running and exercise usually take up so much of my life. Sometimes it feels like entire days are swallowed up just by food prep, work, going for a run, eating, and walking the dogs. Longer periods of rest mean that I can figure in more time for doing other things I love, like reading, writing, bird-watching, etc. When I get motivated, I get a drive that can accomplish so much, but that narrow focus isn’t inclusive enough. That’s a training plan rather than a lifestyle. What I’m looking for now is a healthy and fit lifestyle with short periods of training for specific goals.
What it all looks like:
The aforementioned strategy elements come together in the short term to look like this:
November 22-Dec. 13: Train cardiovascular system and get back basic fitness. Meet with Elizabeth from Mountain Peak Fitness to evaluate movement patterns and determine if there are remaining muscle imbalances that need to be addressed.
December 13-31: Weekly schedule alternating rest, cardio, and strength. Work up to running 3 miles.
January: Continue indoor exercise routine but get out for hikes and snow sports. Take another ski lesson and go skiing a couple of weeks in a row to practice. Head to the indoor climbing gym when the weather is really inhospitable.
February: Continue some indoor exercises but increase number of rest days. Catch up on books I want to read, and try and write regularly.
March: Full on 5k training (intensity depends on how the knee feels). More outdoor runs when Daylight-Saving Time begins.
April: 5k race on April 9th followed by lots of rest. Low-level activities like yoga and birding. Spend time reading and writing.
After that, I’ll reevaluate how I feel and what kinds of activities I want to pursue.
I’ve chosen the race on April 9th as my goal race for a few reasons, and not the least because I’ve run all of my fastest 5ks at that race in the past. It’s also sponsored by the physical therapist who has done so much to get me back on my feet. And, it benefits the Michael J. Fox Foundation, so there’s already talk of me running in a faux fox tail…so, obviously, it’s going to be a good time. Hopefully I can convince my running buddies to come along and join the fun as I celebrate my re-entrance into running!