Over the last 6 months, I have taken a lot of time away from running. This time away has allowed me to enjoy a better balance in life and a lot of good time think about the goals I want to set for myself.
One of these goals has to do with running. About a 10 days ago I began running again. A few things have motivated me to do so - first is that I need to get fit. While I haven't gained weight, I have lost a lot muscular and cardiovascular fitness. This is distressing because as of late I have been doing a lot of hiking and I find myself out of breath a lot more than I used to on these day treks.
Secondly, I really do enjoy running and I enjoy running most with my Weber State buddies. They keep asking if I'll run with them this summer and I have been telling them yes. And so, with that answer in mind, I have come to the conclusion that if I actually want to run with them this summer, I need to get myself into running shape once again.
Finally, there is a race I want to do this summer. A race that I've done 6 times in the last 7 years, but have never won. That race is the Blacksmith Fork Freedom Run 5k on July 4. My plan is to gear my training towards winning this race. It's something I've never actually done. This race has always been a fitness indicator for my cross country season in the fall. I've never done serious tempo or interval work for this race, and I intend to change that.
Not only do I want to win, I want to lower my personal record of 49:45 for this course. Now, I haven't set a time goal just yet. I want to wait and see how my fitness and speed comes along before I do that. That said, I have come up with a simple, tentative training plan that should whip me into decent shape fairly quickly. This plan isn't final and I probably won't adhere strictly to it, as I firmly believe in adjusting my running by feel. The plan will be there for guidance and as a reminder of the goal I have set.
Below is my tentative training plan. You can also click on this link
to look at it directly from the website it was created on. Be sure to comment on what you think about the plan and feel free to ask any questions!
It would seem that at some point during every training phase, a runner has to deal with a setback of some kind. These setbacks range from missing a run or two (or more!) because of travelling, an injury, becoming ill or who-knows-what else. Setbacks are going to be a part of training. Many can be avoided, but just as many cannot. Many runners ask, how can deal with these setbacks? Where should my training go from here? I recently asked myself the same question, and I feel that the answer I found will help you answer yours.
Last Saturday night (9/17), I attended a Weber State football game. It was great! Our team won be a landslide over a Sacramento St. team that had beaten Oregon St. the week before. During this great game, right about half time, I decided to go ahead an buy some Nachos. Those nachos ended up being a mistake. Roughly 5 hours after I consumed them, I began showing signs of food poisoning and in the hours that followed, it only got worse. I won't go into details, but for those of you that have had food poisoning, you can sympathize.
When I finally got out of bed Sunday morning, I was still very much sick and now I was very much dehydrated to go along with that. Long story short, I spent most of Sunday trying to get as many fluids down as I could without having my symptoms return. By the end of the day, I was doing much better and was able to walk around and go visit some friends with only moderate discomfort.
When Monday morning came, I thought about going for a run. Those thoughts however, did not last long. I knew I was still dehydrated and I had barely eaten anything on Sunday and to boot I was still a little nauseated. In the end, I decided to take Monday off and use it as a day to recuperate and get my strength back. Tuesday, was much the same. I felt crummy in the morning, but as the day went on, I actually started feeling better. I decided that once I got back from work, I would go for a run. And so I did, sort of. The run didn't last long. In fact, I only got half a mile out before I realized that my legs felt weird, as in "my legs feel weak and a bit like jello." At that point I realized that I hadn't eaten much on Monday. Or on Tuesday. My stomach had been bothering me, so I had skipped lunch. It had been roughly 8 hours since my last meal.
After taking all of this into account, I turned myself around and went back home. I was in no shape to be running. Wednesday went much the same, except that I ate more and didn't even try to run. I knew I was still in no condition to get back out there. But, I did know that I would be ready to go on Thursday.
I would be ready on Thursday because I had learned from Tuesday. After Tuesday, I knew that the food poisoning had taken more out of me than I had first realized. I took that knowledge and used it to my benefit. I could have headed out on Wednesday and slogged through a run. But, going for a run that day begged the question: Will running make my situation worse? From experience, when this question is asked, it is ALWAYS best to err on the side of caution.
Cue Thursday morning: I wake up. I feel good. There is no more nausea. No aches in the muscles. I'm slightly dehydrated, but that's normal in the morning. I was ready to run. For the first time since Saturday, I was ready to run.
Amazingly, my run on Thursday went very well. I felt good, didn't run too fast, or even that slow. I managed to hit 6 miles in 41:30, or about 6:55 pace, with the later miles being in the 6:30's or so. The next few days all went about the same. Once again, I was healthy and ready to resume training for the Provo City Half-Marathon.
So, now that I've told you my little story, I'm going to give a FAQ for recovering from the setbacks that you might have in your training.
Q: I missed a couple of days. How do I restart my training?
A: The fact is, you don't need to alter your training at all. You don't lose any fitness in 2 or 3 days. If you like, you can start by doing what you had planned for the day you return. There is no need to spend a couple days working your way back. If you had an interval workout planned, go ahead and do it, just check your pace to make sure you don't go too fast.
Q: I missed a missed a week, now what?
A: Basically the same as if you had only missed a couple days. You don't lose much fitness in that time. However, in this case, if you had a hard workout planned, I would skip it, substitute a distance run in and wait until your next planned hard session.
Q: I've missed 2 or more weeks... and now I'm out of shape.
A: This is really a large spectrum to cover. If you've missed two weeks, take it easy on your first week back. You'll probably feel winded, but your legs will most likely be fine (from my experience, at least). This feeling will last for a while.
I believe the general rule is that for each week you miss, it takes about two weeks to get back to your previous level of fitness. So, if you miss two weeks, it will take at least four to get back to where you were.
What does this mean? It means that you should be conservative when coming back. It means that you aren't in the shape you were in before you stopped running. Don't panic, your fitness will come back! Take the first week easy. No long runs, intervals, or tempos. Same with the next couple of weeks, if you can avoid it.
The problem with many people is that they try to resume training at their previous fitness level. When this happens, they almost inevitably hurt themselves. Don't let that happen to you. It is a vicious cycle and one that is not particularly easy to rid yourself of.
Be conservative. Under-trained is better than over-trained or injured.
With all this said, I wish all of you good luck on your own training!
Please comment, or ask questions! I love a good discussion!
I recently came to a cross roads in my life, and while I won't go into the nitty-gritty details, to get the gist of it, all you need to know is that for the last three years of life, I ran Cross Country and Track at Weber State University. Early on in August, it became clear to me that in order to live life the way I wanted to live it, I needed to move away from the life of being a collegiate athlete. By doing so, I am now able to focus more on my education, I was able to obtain a job that pays okay and I can pursue other fitness goals without having to build my life around running.
So where did that lead me? It was difficult when I first left the team. I suddenly didn't have a fitness goal. Before, the goal was to get as fit as possible for cross country season. That was now gone. My training floundered through August. A few days after I left the team I decided to do a mountain race, at the end of which I sprained my ankle. I was able to resume running after a few days with minimal pain, but it gave me a taste of what it might be like if I didn't have to worry about running every day.
My training floundered for a few weeks. I would run a few days then take a few days off because I didn't have any direction. I would jump into runs with buddies from time to time, I even a 5k near the end of August and took 2nd without working very hard. It was a slow time however. It got me thinking about what I really wanted to do with my running. It lead me to take two weeks off of running. Period. I wouldn't run if felt like it or not.
My logic behind this was that it would give me time to think about what I needed to do. There were questions that needed to be answered, such as: Would I be happier not running? Would I be happier just doing something else? I figured that these questions would be answered in those two weeks. If they weren't, I would take more time off of running.
As I got further into my break I realized that running had, indeed, made me a happy person. I was getting antsy. I had to hold myself back from going for a short run. The further I got into this running hiatus, the more I realized that I needed a goal. However, I wasn't sure what that goal should be. I knew that a marathon would be a lot of work and I wasn't sure that I would want to do one right off the bat. No, a marathon wasn't what I was looking for.
So what was I looking for? A Half-Marathon! It was perfect. It wasn't so long that the training for it would be overwhelming, but it was short enough that I felt I could still take advantage of my natural speed. I looked around at the local races. There was the Ogden Half, Salt Lake City Half, but for some reason they just didn't seem to have what I wanted. I kept looking, eventually finding the Provo City Half Marathon
. It was just what I needed. A solid course, solid competition and it's only $40 to en
Now that I had a goal, I needed a plan and, in my seven years of running, I had never created a training plan for myself. I had always had some one there to guide me along. That said, I consider myself a student of the sport. In the last seven years I have spent countless hours accruing more knowledge about running by reading books, message boards and talking with my coaches. I had the knowledge to create a plan, and so I did.
Fast forward to right now. I have completed the first 5 days of my plan: 5 miles every morning, at whatever pace I felt like. It has been going well, the pace I've been running isn't slower than it used to be, although I am running far less than I was before.
It will be hard work, training to race this Half-Marathon, but it will be worth it. Every step.
Here is a link to my running log
While there you can view my current plan
up through the first week of November.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions!