Monday, December 21, 2009

Training Secrets Revealed. . .ssshhhhh!

This is how the ideal training program works:

1. Commitment.

Since I have an addictive personality, I know that the exercise that I get done will be "responsible," or useful. There you have it: addiction, responsibility and usefulness all holding hands, equally contributing participants of team Gotta Run. But seriously, I am not going to go for a run for any other reason than to contribute to my fitness. The first principle of any good program, then, is commitment. Run everyday if you can. Do something active. Go for a walk, a jog, do some lifting/core work, but if you're running, run. And if you can't run, it's because you NEED a day-off. You NEED to get fit; so if you must take a day-off running, then you must NEED that. Unless you're doing some much needed recovery (see below), you HAVE to get your daily FIX. Commit to that.

2. Common Sense.

The best addictions work. For them to work (for you to get away with it), you have to be rational about the whole thing. In other words, you're really into something and things could get out of hand if you aren't careful, so easy does it. Make the commitment last. For a running program, most of the running is aerobic. For you to run everyday, this just means that most of your runs revolve around getting out to "smell the roses." Yeah, I omitted the word "stop" from that old saying. In effect, a daily run is a "stop" or "break" from the quotidian hog wash.

However, if you want to run fast, you have to practice that too. I'm not going to elaborate on speed work (there are so many "work-outs" from "experts" it's kinda silly). Just run. Hard. Sometimes. Use common sense. I'm on the 80/20 to 70/30 plan. There is a school of thought that says you get faster by going slow. Aerobic ("slow") running is obviously the staple. You can get fit and fast by just running slow, allegedly. But running fast is fun too. So is running up and down hills and mountains. So mix it up. To run often, you simply have to be able to recover from yesterday's run to run today, etc. Use common sense.

3. Tracking.

A lot of people keep very dedicated logs of their training. You see a variety of styles of tracking as much as you see a variety of styles of training, or raising kids, etc. To each his or her own.

I looked back at this blog's dirty footprints that I refer to as my training log and noticed I've been having a pretty steady go of it. I do not have mileage totals nor am I keeping track of total time spent running. This is very very important actually. At my age, I can totally get away with that. Moreover, trail/mountain running aspirations DICTATE that I must not over analyze; rather, one must simply fall in love with the desire to climb and crest, descend and devour. Given the ethos of my chosen slice of running fare, IPA selection becomes as important as which training software I use to track my progress (though Garmin and Sport Tracks have represented themselves nicely if by chance I decide to micro manage this menagerie of desire and discipline). That's my style of tracking. I know, based on my blog, that I've been fairly steady.

But here's where my program has a lot to be desired. I am not racing enough. Racing means you are comparing yourself to others, including yourself. For most, it's the latter comparison that means the most. So even if you're not "competitive," there is reason to race. To see how you compare. This kind of tracking, I think, is necessary to stay committed and improve one's common sense.

And even if that doesn't mean much, the experience of racing is a blast. I happen to love the trail race. I won't elaborate now, but it's as inspiring as I'm sure the 1500 meter men's final is for the track star. So, my program needs more racing.

Which is what 2010 is all about.

My build to January 9th. I have been steady for a couple of months now. Just a lot of little runs, but I think the consistency has been good. I have mixed-in some harder efforts, so the plan has been fairly on track. But not enough length and specificity is my sin. About a week ago, I got a little cold, which corresponds with my last post. This last week was all about recovery.

I took Monday off.

Tuesday I ran 4 ez miles.

Wednesday and Thursday I spun at the gym and did a little hiking. Not much, but broke a sweat.

Friday I ran 3 miles and spun. This was all knowing that I won't lose much if any fitness from taking a day or two off, but the addiction "suggested" I do something.

Saturday I ran 9 miles, not flat, and felt great for the first half. Coming home was a little too much. The cold was still lingering.

Sunday, spinning for an hour.

Monday 4 miles including 2k of 7-8% pretty steady (~9 min pace). On the recovery, I worked on turn-over, so this was a hard effort. Cold still lingering.

Tuesday 5 miles ez.

Today I might take off because tomorrow is a little mountain running and I want to be really well for this.

The point I want to make is that the week off, though forced because of a cold, has been great. I have gotten in a few months of steady running. The week-off has been a great opportunity to recover and refresh. That, I am finding, is so important. Hitting that refresh button. On my 9 miler, I was so fired-up to run. Probably went out too hard. But again, a little down time is money. It often happens when we're sick or injured. Everything happens for a reason.

So, hopefully I'm on the rebound from this cold. I can put in another solid 10 or so days of build with some steady/hard efforts that include specificity (mountains). Then a little recovery, and then 2010 race season begins.

I just have one goal for 1/9: break 2 hours. Will be tough, but I'm looking up (at the mountain). Gotta keep looking up. Gotta run. . .


  1. Bro - Merry Christmas.

    Hope 2010 goes well for you with these secrets :) (because I know you know that we all know there are no secrets). With you, family, running and employment. And a nice bonus would be if our trails crossed.

  2. Amen.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. right on! Good stuff and got me out the door for my daily dose. Thanks!

  4. Slater,
    Right on! Thanks for reading.
    30 4 30 sounds epic. I might have to look into that. Cheers.