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Thursday, June 30, 2011


Once you know your enemy, you can face it with strength.

Or avoid it entirely.

Pretty much all the issues that I've been having with running this week have stemmed from one thing: hills. As my quads have regained their strength, the only real problem I was having involved going down any sort of hill or incline. With a rest day tomorrow and an at-pace run on Saturday, I did what any sensible, forward-thinking runner would do.

I took the hills out of the equation.

Many things have changed about my running routines since I first got back into in six months ago. The biggest one, probably, is that I rarely run with music anymore. This is partially due to to lack of reliability of my ipod holder and my fear that sweating on it will break it, but the main reason is that many races do not allow the runners to listen to anything while they compete, and if I can't do it when I compete, I don't want to do it when I train.

In a psychology course in college, we discussed State-Dependent Learning, which is the idea that replicating the environment in which something was learned can help with recall later. Alternatively, if you do something one way every time a topic is discussed and then don't do it when you need to remember it later, you'll have a great deal of trouble. As my professor put it, "Never come to class drunk. However, if you have come to every class drunk so far, as your professor, and as a psychologist, I advise you to drink before your final."

My other big change, though, is that I don't run on the treadmill nearly as much as I used to. For Austin, I did a treadmill 5K every Monday as a way to do some speed work, but I recognize now that speed on a treadmill is not necessarily transferable to a road race. When you run without hills, your body doesn't condition to them. Now I reserve these runs for days when it's too hot to go outside, and for days when I don't want to run a hill.

The thing I like most about them, though, is that I don't have to worry about my speed. The machine takes care of that for me. Much like sticking on the shoulder of a pacer during the race, if I don't have to worry about how fast I'm going, I am able to focus on other aspects of my run, like my form and how much time or distance I've got left to go. I recognize that at some point, I'll have to learn to regulate my pace on my own, but when I don't have to, I'll take the opportunity.

So in a form of pre-rest, I gave my legs a break from up and down and simply went out to test a little speed on my first week back, and it felt great. Because of my own ego, I had to push the last mile pretty hard, but I did not feel winded and my legs, though feeling worked, recovered quickly and I had little to no pain in the muscles that worked so hard just a few days ago. Tomorrow morning, I still want to get up nice and early, but instead of doing any workout at all (since it's a full rest day), I'm going to spend that time putting together my "other" training schedule, including lifting and core work that I'll do in conjunction with the runs.

Last season, I let this go by the wayside, especially as I got up in my mileage. Part of this was simply the time issue, in that I was doing hour-long runs in the middle of the week, which didn't leave much time for anything else. However, I think the other issue was that my plan was very repetitive, doing the same exercises several days a week, so for this season, I'm going to try and mix it up. Also, I want to plan out a progression, involving how much weight I'll be doing, how many repetitions, and how quickly I'll require myself to do them. Ideally, I'd like to do something like P90X or CrossFit, but this might be a little more than my body can handle, so I'll start slow. I don't want to risk hurting myself doing "other" workouts and not be able to run.

Because for me, running comes first.

Thursday's Run:
Indoors / Treadmill
3.1 Miles
20 Minutes, 57 Seconds

1 comment:

  1. I so admire your tenacity and discipline. I Stil cannot imagine running in the heat and humidity of Austin. I could hardly go for a walk in Dallas in April. Thanks for the update. Aunt Joan