A New Plan!

CRAP – I just wrote nearly an entire post and somehow deleted the whole thing with one keystroke! And of course it was beautiful prose that I’ll never get back – GRR! But I will try to rewrite!

Okay, so for the past month I’ve been on a running program that has me running 5 days a week, with emphasis on speedwork, hill work, and long runs. And I’m super proud of myself that I only missed one of those workouts, despite my crazy work travel. I was hesitant to try this program because I feared the constant running would trigger my hamstring to flare up, but it really does feel okay (it’s definitely tighter than my right leg and I do feel it from time to time, but it’s totally manageable). I’ve run faster speeds than I ever have before, and I feel like I’ve improved a LOT.

Technically the program goes for 8 weeks, so it would culminate right around the time I have to start official training for the NYC Marathon. And after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to stop it now, after just 4 weeks. For one thing, I don’t want to risk overtraining, and being worn out before my real training even begins. And for another, while this program was GREAT in that it really emphasized pre-run dynamic stretches and post-run cooldown work, there was no room for any weights or strength training. Over the past four weeks I’ve only done one HIIT class and one straight-up strength class, and boy did I feel it – not weak, per se, but definitely less strong.

So my new approach for the next four weeks is a more holistic one – run when I want to (inc one long run on the weekends), and enjoy my other classes otherwise. Because once the marathon training really kicks in, the fun classes will fall by the wayside. So ideally by July I’ll have better rested legs and a stronger body, and I’ll be ready to go.

I’m also experimenting with heartrate-based training (Google Phil Maffetone if you’re curious). The idea is that you want to keep your heartrate in the aerobic state (which is challenging but not stress-inducing) vice the anaerobic state (which does level stress across your nervous system). Ideally you’ll be focusing on slow-twitch fibers vice fast ones, and VERY ideally you’ll burn more fat vice sugar. We’ll see about that. 🙂

I took this new concept for a spin on Saturday. My running plan called for 9 miles but I wanted to make it an even 10. I sent my Garmin to beep every time I veered from the aerobic stage to the threshold stage – and it started beeping away in no time. I felt bad for the runners around me – the damn thing was chirping like a bird every 5 seconds, or so it felt like!

In order to keep my heart rate low, I had to slow way down – which is hilarious considering how slow I already am! I actually thought it was going to be kind of pleasant – I’d look like one of those effortless runners – but because I had to go so slowly, 10 miles took FOREVER. And I don’t know why, but I was super dehydrated during the run – which is rarely a problem for me. Technically it was the first warm run of the season, but I ran in Hawaii in Feb in temps way hotter and did fine. Not sure why I was guzzling water like a lunatic, but god bless Chicago for having so many water fountains along the trail!

So the point is – the run was a slog. I was exhausted by the time it was finally over. And the funny thing is that, in the end, it really didn’t take me all that much longer to finish, it just felt like a lifetime. But the data didn’t lie – I plugged my Garmin into my computer today to compare yesterday’s run to my previous two long runs, and sure enough, those were faster but my heart rate was way up.

I have no idea if I’ll be successful in adapting to this new way of running (new for me!), but I’m totally willing to test it out over the next month. Supposedly your body and heart rate start to adjust and you’re ultimately able to go faster for longer stretches of time, with a decreased risk of injury and an easier recovery time,  so we’ll see. I can at least try it out!

And now you’re up to speed on me (LOL no pun intended! I am so funny!). 🙂 Today was a rest day but I spent the better part of the morning cleaning and then walked to the beach this afternoon, so I still got in a little bit of movement, and tomorrow I’ll get back to running with the heart rate monitor and we’ll see how it goes. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!!

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