Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sporty Sunday: I'm Running Less, Running Faster

I was unhappy with my performance during last year’s marathon (my first). Although I finished, I walked a good deal between miles 18 and 24. I wasn’t walking because I was out of breath. I was walking because I was out of energy (despite frequent infusions of Gu). Not only did my legs feel heavy, my inner and outer thighs and lower back ached. When I did run, it was a hunched over, head-down shuffle. I felt that I could have trained for a better performance.

When choosing a training plan for my second marathon, I knew I needed more experience with long runs, more opportunities to cross train, and scheduled strength training. I was also curious about incorporating speed intervals. The Run Less, Run Faster plan gives me all that.

Simply put, the plan consists of 3 quality runs plus 2 aerobic cross training workouts per week. The three quality runs are (1) track repeats, (2) a tempo run (6 – 8 miles at a pace faster than my marathon pace), and (3) a long run. The intent of the runs is to improve endurance, lactate-threshold running pace, and leg speed. The cross training days allow me to recover from the runs, while still giving me the aerobic training I need to prepare for the marathon. The cross training must not be non-weight-bearing in order to allow the legs to recover from the runs. I choose to swim 60 – 90 minutes with a Masters team for my cross training.

The plan also encourages strength training. Twice a week, I complete a Nautilus circuit at the gym. Once a week, I complete the strength training exercises outlined in the book (in lieu of the Nautilus). I began strength training last June, after completing my first marathon.

I’ve been following the “3plus2” program since January 16, 2012. The runs are challenging. I’ll go more in to depth on each of the three types of quality runs in future posts. I definitely need the days off in between runs for recovery. I love having the “plus2” as a part of my official marathon training plan. Swimming is one of my favorite activities and I’m so happy to have found time for it. (I only wish Zumba wasn’t weight-bearing!) . The variety in runs and activity types keeps me challenged and interested in my workouts.

This marathon training plan is not for a beginner. The plan’s authors recommend that, before beginning the marathon training program, the runner have a 3 month base of 25 miles/week and be able to run 15 miles. I actually began training for the RLRF training plan in late November. I gradually increased my mileage over seven weeks until I was capable of running enough to participate in the plan.

I’m 11 weeks into the 16 week plan. I’ve had setbacks, like icy roads and food poisoning, but I’ve recovered and settled back into the schedule, with a few adjustments. Except for muscle aches after my long Sunday runs, my body doesn’t hurt. I’ve come to expect knee and ankle pain with running, but I’ve had no joint pain this year. Last year, in mid-January, I deveIoped piriformis syndrome (aka “pain in the butt,” an irritation of the sciatic nerve) and it only got worse during my training. This year, probably thanks to the cross-training and strength training, I’ve avoided the syndrome. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. We’ll see how it all plays out on May 6th!

I’m following the program found in Runner’s World Run Less Run Faster by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. In the next three installments of Sporty Sunday, I’ll describe each of the quality runs and my experience with them, so far. In the fourth installment, I’ll go more in to depth on the cross-training and strength training.

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!


annabananna said...

That's awesome! I've just started training for my first half marathon
This is so inspiring, gives me more of a goal (long term, obviously...)

Anonymous said...

I love Sporty Sunday; I've just taken up running and love your helpful tips and hints. Good luck with the marathon - I'm not quite there yet so its only a a 5K "Race for Life" for me in May. : )

Purple_Sheep x

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of Sporty Sunday and look forward to future posts. You said it so well that a healthy, strong body is the foundation of a wardrobe. No matter how great your outfits are, if you don't feel good in your body, you won't project the confidence to pull it off.
Thanks for the ideas and tips for staying fit.

Adrienne said...

I am curious as to what motivates you to do so much exercise. Is it a bucket list kind of thing:run a marathon? I only experience pain from intense exercise not the endorphin rush everyone else speaks about. Had a hip replacement last year and due for a knee replacement next month. I was told I ended up this way from excessive exercise in my 20's and 30's. People are so much more informed now about how to do it properly. I am happy you have good mentors. A very interesting post.

Kasmira said...

Adrienne - I enjoy pushing and challenging myself. I want to know where my limits are and what I can do to expand them.

Daytime Night Owl said...

I am enjoying Sporty Sundays very much! I hope that you write about what you eat while you train. Do you follow a specific eating plan?

Kasmira said...

Daytime Night Owl - I plan to talk nutrition in some future posts. The scoop is that I eat quality foods every few hours and I use MyFitnessPal to ensure I've got the right mix of nutrients.