Run Faster has provided me the motivation I need to get off my wimpy ass and do some speedwork. If you've been reading my blog, you know that my runs are referred to as 'easy', 'slow' or 'very slow'. None of the hills, intervals or LT training that you hardcore runners throw out casually in conversation.
In my defense, I have attempted intervals before. Before I was jerked back to reality by a painful achilles tendonitis.
Lesson 1: Never increase mileage and speed simultaneously.
So, I chugged along peacefully at snail's pace, completed my first marathon and then attempted a very conservative (or so I thought) tempo run while increasing mileage. Tendonitis again...this time, shooting pain all the way from toe to shin.
Lesson 2: Still the same rule: Never ever increase mileage and speed simultaneously.
As you can see, I am a slow learner!
So, since February, after nursing myself back to a pain-free state, I have been working on my mileage again, building my base slowly, following the 10% rule. So far so good.
Now, I am tempted again. But I want to do it wisely this time. Third time's a charm, right?
The author passes on lessons that he has learned in his life as a runner, then a coach. He talks about Adaptive running and training responsively, effective training methods and how to set running goals and plan a customized training cycle.
I am not going to prattle on, parroting the author and reproducing the entire book here. I will be quoting from the book a bit though, so consider yourself warned.
One thing that surprised me is the author's take on cross training. I have been peppering my weekly workouts with liberal doses of cross training, in the form of spinning classes, swimming and BodyFit (aerobics with core workout). I usually limit this to 2 spinning classes a week, one 20-40 minute swimming session, and 2 hours of core exercises (including a 1-hour BodyFit class).
The book says, "These days, I'm seeing more and more runners who seem to cross-train just to cross-train. I believe in a very selective approach to cross-training...
A little core-strength work goes a long way. I recommend doing five or six exercises two or three times each week. The most important muscles to target are those of the upper and lower back, buttocks, hips, lower abdomen, and thighs...
Alternative forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as bicycling, can be useful when running is painful or impossible due to an injury. The best way to approach alternative cardiovascular exercise is to duplicate the planned running workouts you're missing as closely as possible in whichever alternative activity you choose."
Which puts all my vigorous spinning and swimming in question. It makes sense that if you want to become a faster runner, you need to run more. But doesn't alternative cardio help boost your overall fitness and make you a stronger runner?
Another thing that floored me is his philosophy on hill running. It may be commensensical to you advanced runners (or even to beginner runners), but for me, thus far, hills have always equaled injury. When I went to a sports doctor for the achilles tendonitis, the first question he asked me was, "Have you been doing any speedwork or hill running?" Of course, the immediate assumption that hill running brings injury is based on fear, not fact. I have not even progressed to a point in my training where I feel comfortable researching the scientific pros and cons of hill training, let alone incorporating it in my workout.
But, it's interesting to know that the author uses hillwork throughout the training cycle as strength training and...get this...as a way to make a runner less injury-prone. In fact, he says, "Hill running is the only "weightlifting" my runners do. They hoist no barbells or dumbbells. They do some exercises to develop strength in their abdominal muscles and lower back, but that's it. Some other runners lift weights to build strength and prevent injuries (that's me, of course). I believe that short hill sprints achieve the same effect". Hmm...this book is breaking all my myths.
More to come. Have a great weekend!