May 2017 - RUNNING & TRIATHLON
Ebb and Flow of Training
By Shelly Binsfeld
There are two secrets to training: one is consistency and the other is balance. Consider balance beyond training and recovery. Look at balance with a multidimensional view. Use the wisdom of the big picture and your long-term goals – at the same time as paying attention to the details. This is where honesty, creativity, and patience will mix to create stunning running art.
Listen to your body. “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure,” says entrepreneur James Altucher.
For a runner, honesty and listening to your body come hand in hand. If you are aware of how your body handles the stress of running and life, then you can be honest with yourself about the best course of action. When you are two miles into your warm up and still have heavy legs try the first portion of the planned workout. Make a valiant effort to get up to pace and see if your body will respond well. If it continues to struggle, back off and finish with a short cool down. Decide if your body needs a day of complete rest or just another easy run before you attempt the speed workout again. Wisely listen to your body’s cues.
Be creative with your training plans. Mix up your routine and color outside the lines. Turn your seven day week into 10 days when you have to plan around travel and days you can’t run. Open up the options by reducing the barriers. Start your marathon training a month early to give you more flexibility in completing all the long runs before the big day. Switch up your long run to the middle of the week when your weekends are jam packed with events. Strictly following training plans formulated for the average runner, will not allow for the ebb and flow of life, training and your individuality.
Be patient. Rest when you are sick and extra tired. Your first action should be to identify how your body is handling the stress. Is it thriving or being crushed? Take that information and make the needed decisions that will with stop you from falling backwards and start you progressing forward. Perhaps this is a call to the doctor or a talk with a mentor. A few days or one week off from running may be all your body needs to overcome and get back to your strong self.
Be aware of your health and care for it. A little rest can go a long way. When I can’t run, I organize closets and drawers or read a book. My mind is active and I feel accomplished while giving my body the rest it needs. Your body does not lose any fitness in one week of rest. There are days for running and days for resting. Use a patient mind set to keep you balanced.
Successful training incorporates honesty about how you feel; creativity to adjust your schedule; and patience to recognize the need for rest. As your training matures, you will become more in tune with your energy level, and how to adapt your training to an abnormally busy schedule. You will have the confidence to stop or postpone a workout when your body is telling you its tired.
Answer These Questions
Can you repeat the workout two days later? Speed and tempo workouts should be run at a level and duration that limits the stress on your body to the level of available adaptation. After one recovery day you should be able to repeat the workout at the same level as previously. This is staying controlled and aware.
Did you dig deep in your race and need to wait for the recovery and the adaption to occur? The common rule is one day of recovery for each race mile that you covered. Be patient and let all that hard work you did turn into a stronger body. Fill your days with short easy runs, walks and cross training.
Do you have stress outside of running? Yes, stress is stress on the body, no matter what form it comes in. Mental and emotional stress need to be calculated in when determining your level of training. Don’t expect your body to handle several stresses piled on top of each other. Decide which one you need to reduce.
What If Scenarios
Scenario One – You have a mild cold and your body has felt tired for the past three days while running. However, you planned to run a track workout with friends that evening. Let it go. One or two days off to allow your immune system to attack the sickness could be all your need. The same immune system that keeps germs from putting you on the sick bed is the same immune system that repairs your body from the easy run or fast workout. It is good to run outdoors and get fresh air when you are battling a cold. However, the advantages and disadvantages need to be weighed. It may be better for you to rest.
Scenario Two – You are invited to join friends for an Adirondack hike on the day of your long run. Go for it. Go have fun with your friends. Hiking is great for runner’s strength training. Throw in a few minutes or miles of running on your way up or down the mountain. Your long run will be there next week. Capture the view at the top of the mountain this weekend.
Scenario Three – Your running group goes two different directions: half to the track for 400s and the other half to the neighborhood for an easy chat-filled run. Go for the challenge. I once stood at the corner and had to pick which group to go with: the faster runners that were going to challenge me on the track or the friends I dearly loved passing the miles with. In those two seconds I battled within my mind but the track workout won. Through being challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone, I was able to forge a new road for myself as a runner. Don’t give up challenges.
The Last Word on Balance
Most of all don’t hold onto your former self. If you keep looking back to the past, and how you used to train and perform, then you won’t be able to move forward. Be who you are today. Forge a new path for yourself.
“Our goal should never be to return to the athletes that we once were. It should be to chart a new course. To build a new identity. To define our own terms.” –Amelia Boone
Shelly Binsfeld (email@example.com) of Clifton Park is a competitive runner, wife, and mother of four children. Her running joy is to guide others through their training as a USATF coach and Pilates instructor.