Everything Not Running
Updated: Apr 8, 2018
Okay, so not everything that isn’t running. But, the other exercise activities. In my intro blog, I called this aspect of training “cross-training”. The more I think about it, I’m not certain that’s an accurate term. Cross-training usually refers to activities done in place of running. I use it do describe things done in addition to running. So, maybe “fitness training” is a better term? Whatever you want to call it, some coaches, and many athletes, swear by it. Others say the only way to get better at running is to run. A lot. You don’t tell a basketball player to practice swinging a golf club. So, why would a runner do anything other than run? There is certainly a logic to that. One that I happen to really like and agree with, for the most part. And, when I first starting marathon training, that’s pretty much what I did. Run.
Then, I ended up with hamstring tendonitis. It’s called a pain in the butt for a reason! This happened with me doing everything “right”. I followed all the rules about slow increases in mileage. Slow increase in intensity. Don’t increase mileage and intensity at the same time. After the previous injury that almost caused me to never have a marathoning career (see the ABOUT page), I was careful. Oddly enough, this was in a down time in my running mileage. A few weeks after my first Boston Marathon. One easy run, I felt a twinge. From my glute to the back of my knee. I was convinced that I pulled a hamstring. But, according to medical professionals, I was wrong. It was tendonitis at both insertion points of the hamstring. Upper and lower. That’s why I felt it the entire length.
Enter cross-training into my world. I was told four weeks of no running. I cheated. I don’t advise or condone my behavior. But, it’s what I did. In my defense, I did learn as a college freshman that most tendonitis injuries will not get worse with use. They just hurt. So, I ran. Easy, twice a week. I spent another four days a week grinding out time on the elliptical. I started to look into why this happened, so I would never have to be back here. After a little research, I suspected it was because I have weak hips and/or glutes. Turns out, it is super common for these areas to be weak in runners. So, I searched for exercises to strengthen my hips/glutes/core. I found a great book (“Quick Strength for Runners” by Jeff Horowitz) and followed it religiously leading up to my 2nd Boston Marathon. Injury-free. Ever since, I can certainly feel a twinge of the high hamstring tendon if I slack off of my strength training for too long. I’m a convert.
However, as good as the Horowitz book is, doing the same routines over and over is boring. So, I ventured out. Found another great book “The Runner’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Roundtree. Something I really liked about it is that is asks you to do self-tests to determine where your weakness are. Then, it tells you which exercises to incorporate into your routine to strengthen those areas. I was looking for options. I still get a hard copy of “Runner’s World” each month. Found some good exercises in there. I took exercises and principles from the Horowitz and Roundtree books and threw in some from Runner’s World to create my own fitness regime. I incorporate work on a BOSU or stability ball, when I can, for an extra challenge. Most of the principles here are based on balance and stability. Strengthening the accessory muscles, tendons, ligaments that hold our bodies together. Running strengthens the big muscles. The powerhouses. This works the smaller things. The building blocks that hold it all together.
This still serves as the basis for my “cross-training”. I mix up the routines every couple of months, to keep it interesting. There was a time I got into PiYo for a few months. Right now, I’m not doing much of yoga. I incorporate it as I feel a need. Mostly easy stretches. Some sun salutations to loosen the whole body up as needed. Warrior poses. Triangle, to open the hips. Pigeon poses are my favorite. In my recent training logs, you may have noticed “stability sessions”. These are for the fitness and strength of those accessory parts of my legs. The things that hold everything together. I also have planned “upper strength/core sessions”. These are for a more general fitness. There is also some thought that a certain amount of leg drive comes from the upper body (arms). Some of the exercises incorporate core and hip work that helps with stability too. I haven’t been doing upper or core work because of that pesky rib injury (unless you count throwing the ball for Marlin!). You’ll see my fitness routines change over time, but I keep some key exercises constant.
I said near the top that I mostly agree with the notion of to be a better runner all you need to do is run. Yet, I do these other things. All to help me be a better runner. I’m not going to spend time that could be extra miles doing cross-fit or kickboxing. Nothing wrong with those sports. But, they aren’t going to help me be a better runner. I focus my non-running fitness activities on those that will make me a stronger, faster, and injury-free runner. I've learned that to do that I have to do more than run. Because I’m a runner.
Training Log March 12-18, 2018: 82.9 miles for the week. Planned, 88.
Paces: R (recovery) = 9:09 or slower; E (easy) = 8:08-8:36; S (steady) = 7:30-7:50; M (marathon pace) = 7:15; T (threshold) = 6:58; 10K = 6:38, 3K = 6:12, 1mi = 5:48, WU/CD (warm up/cool down) = easy by feel
Monday – planned: 5-7R in AM/ 3E in PM and stability session
4.4mi @ 9:35 in the AM. Nice and easy.
5.0mi @ 8:59 in the PM on the treadmill. First two miles at R-pace, then three at E-pace (8:27). Skipped stability as it was getting late in the evening.
Tuesday – planned: 3E, 2T, 1@10K, 4x(0.2@3K-1mi w/ 0.1 rest), CD
8.3mi @ 8:21. A very tough workout. Didn’t hit most of my paces, but got somewhat close. Legs and lungs dead when done. A perfect feeling of exhausted accomplishment. 2T=7:20, 7:10; 1@10K=6:49; repeats@3K-1mi=6:12, 6:00, 6:05, 5:45).
Stability (make-up from Monday): 2 sets of 10 leg swings (front and side, each leg), 10 clock lunges (front, side, back, each leg), 6 pistol squats, 2x20sec superman.
Wednesday – planned: 7E in AM/ 4E in PM and core/upper session
6.2mi @ 8:19 in AM. This was a slight push to stay at E-pace, but felt okay. Late work day, so I skipped the PM run and core/upper skipped because of the still nagging ribs.
Thursday – planned: 8-9E + 8x10sec Hill Sprints and stability session
10.1mi @ 8:19. Felt good. Smooth run. A little heavy-legged at the end, so no hill sprints.
Stability: 2 sets of: 10 leg swings (front and side, each leg), 10 single leg deadlifts (bodyweight), 10 squat side leg raises. Skipped the planned planks (rib).
Friday – planned: 6E in AM/ 4E in PM
5.7mi @ 9:23 in AM. Woke tired. And a little late. Changed to easy by feel (turns out that was 9:39-8:40). Felt okay. Added the 8x10sec hill sprints skipped yesterday. Another late day at work, so skipped the PM run again. This is why I have most of my mileage scheduled for the AM!
Saturday – planned: 3WU, 4M, 8E, 3M, 3CD
22.1mi @ 9:02. Woke tired and sluggish again. Decided to swap Sunday and Saturday workouts. Added a little extra distance to help make up for the two missed PM runs earlier in the week. Started at E-pace, but it was a little warm and not sure I was mentally prepared for 20+ miles, so backed down to R-pace after mile 13. It was a beautiful day!
Sunday – planned: 19-21E
21.1mi @ 8:56. A little stiff from Saturday’s distance. So, WU, E, and CD were closer to R-paced. Took a bit to get speed going, but the point of the workout was to lay down some speed on tired legs. Mission accomplished. 4M=7:35, 7:20, 7:23, 7:15; 3M=7:39, 7:40, 7:46. Those last three speed miles were into a headwind and my legs were dead tired. Heavy. Last mile of the three also had the big hill of the bridge in it, so I’m content with this workout to wrap up a pretty successful week.
Until next week.
Own it. Live it. Be it.