Friday, March 27, 2009

Adaptive Running...Part I

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!

15 comments:

Melanie said...

interesting post! with going to San Fran, I will now learn to love hills :) have a great weekend!

Pearl said...

such a thoughtful post! do you like the suggestions that the book is providing?

Count of Monte Christo said...

Excellent post. I totally agree with your rules 1 and 2. Not sticking to both has caused the first few months of this year to be quite painful.

Interesting insight on cross-training...
I look forward to your next post on this issue

J said...

That is interesting about the hills. I run hills and also lift weights as part of the program for my track team. I think that lifting is really important for a runner. I might have to check out this book!

Abby said...

Hmm, thanks for sharing those tips. It's funny how many different philosophies and approaches people have to training, especially the cross-training stuff. How do you know who to listen to?!

D10 said...

Interesting book. You know there is just so many philosophies, that you just have to find what works for you.

The Happy Runner said...

Well, you know I liked the book! I understand the point he makes about cross training, but I actually like some of the other workouts that I do. I'm enjoying my once a week yoga, for example.

I do agree full-on with the hills. My legs have gotten so much stronger from them!

I Run for Fun said...

I do like the book. I like differentr perspectives on running, and obviously his ideas have been successful. And I can't wait to incorporate some of these ideas into my workout.

Marlene said...

Sounds like some great info. Glad to hear you are getting a lot out of it.

Here's hoping 3rd time's the charm.

Heather said...

Sounds like good stuff. I love hill training . . . planning on getting back out to my favorite hill course this week, now that the snow is finally melted!

X-Country2 said...

Interesting stuff. I always need good book recs, so I may have to check that out.

Lakshmi said...

I am not a runner but your blog had useful information. Good Luck with your running.

Roisin said...

I think you're pretty fast without the speed work! Faster than me anyway!!!

Thanks for the info...I really need to pick up this book.

lauren said...

great info. I am one that doesnt enjoy speedwork or interval training - although I know it is what I need the most. Cant wait to see how you incorporate some speed/hills/intervals and hoping that injury stays away!

aron said...

thanks for sharing the info... i am always interested to see what other people do for training and their philosophies. very interesting on the hill vs. weight training!