Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: cross-training

Experimental Training: Staying the Course

Back in January, I reported that I was engaging in “experimental training” focused on building speed.  I summarized by saying:

  • I will run less frequently, but with greater intensity.
  • The speed-work I run on the track is going to be much faster and more intense than I would ever recommend to a client.
  • I will work harder on power through intense speed-work and additional weightlifting.
  • My long runs will still gradually increase as I prepare to run the Boston Marathon.  This remains the same.  There is no substitute.  The experimental side of the long runs for now is that my tempo runs will be embedded within those long runs each week.
  • I will replace my easy running days with cross-training on the bike and in the pool.

Has the experiment paid off yet?

No.  At least not in terms of scoring personal records.

In fact, I have had some relatively slow races lately.  Am I getting slower?  No, I am not.  I am training as fast as ever. ImplementationDip

What I am going through right now is called an implementation dip.  I am challenging my body in new ways.  Hence, my body is changing in subtle but important ways.  In the graph at the right, I am somewhere in the red zone.  My performance had plateaued, so I implemented alternative training and my performance dipped down.  As I continue with the new training, the performance will begin to rise again.  When the change is complete, I can expect my performance to not only match my prior level but to begin exceeding it.  By staying the course on this plan, I should begin setting personal records again before fall rolls around.

On a related note, this is messing with my head a little.  In races this year, I have not felt exactly the same as before.  As a result, I have not been able to make good pacing decisions.  When I get past the implementation dip, the feel of races will be more consistent.  This will help me better adjust my pacing during races and maximize my race performances.

Have I seen any benefits so far?

Yes.  I am healthier, with fewer aches and pains.  At 46 years old, that is a big deal.

I am running fewer miles and doing more cross-training that causes less wear and tear.  I am still doing a lot of cardiovascular work to enhance endurance.  It is just in different formats.  Fewer aches and pains means I am more comfortable doing strength training.  This in turn allows me to get faster.

It also breaks up the daily grind by offering alternative training sites and experiences.  Having fewer runs per week makes my runs feel even more special than before. Even though I have added biking, swimming, and some triathlons, I am still a runner.  That is where my goals are.  That is where my heart soars.

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”

    — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & Future Runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

 

 

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life (2nd book)

Wise Running Book 2 is now available via in paperback and e-book. 

Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Wise Running is the follow-up to P. Mark Taylor’s first book on running: The Gift of Running.  While the first book focused more on getting started as a runner, this second book is more about how to move to the next level. P. Mark Taylor tells us how to think about running in ways that will help you be more consistent and improve.

Running is a great metaphor for life. It takes effort. It takes motivation. You have to stay healthy. If you stick with it long
enough and smart enough, you live a more rewarding life. So it is with running.

In Wise Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

The ebook includes:

  • goals, fitness, & health
  • how to think about training
  • designing a race and training schedule
  • aligning your efforts with reality
  • eating for health and fitness
  • a runner’s view on special diets
  • running-specific nutrition, including marathon nutrition
  • the effects of heat and humidity
  • the social aspect of running
  • motivation and encouragement

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The Gift of Running, the first book in the Wise Running series by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

 

Muna’s Fitness Forum: Start Where You Are

Every BODY is different.  There, I said it.  We are all built differently.  The funny thing is that even though all of our bodies are so different, we want to look like the models or actresses on TV.  I, for example, would love to have the body of Pink.  But here’s something I know….. it is never gonna  happen! That is because my body is built differently.

As I venture further into my journey of becoming an ironwoman, I notice more and more how my body is different.  I don’t have the long, lean physique of so many fast runners.  I don’t have the small stature of so many famous cyclists.  I don’t have the long thick muscles with impeccable shoulders like many great swimmers.  I don’t have the small waist like many group fitness instructors.  But yet I have proven that I can become faster, more efficient, and stronger.  It has taken me many years to appreciate my short, stalky legs and learn to use them to my advantage.  I put heavy weights on them during squats and lunges.  I pile on my resistance during cycle class, and I put my risers up during step class. My motto is “Charge the Hills!” I gain momentum on the hills during runs and races.   I now love my legs! They make me strong and carry me for miles and miles.  They allow me to keep up with my daughter and run when she asks me to run with her (even the day after a marathon or long race).

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So today, when I got in the pool for my first of many swimming lessons, I found out that my legs were actually slowing me down in the water.  What?!?! My Powerhouse? Slowing me down?  Yes.  Oliver, my new swim coach, pointed it out immediately.  My legs are kicking, but not in the direction they needed to be kicking.  So when he tried to show me how to position my feet, they wouldn’t even go there.  No flexibility.  Then he put flippers on me.  I felt like Scuba Steve!  As I began using the kickboard and doing as he instructed, I went forward then stopped, then backwards.  That’s when he said I was doing it the wrong way again.  My legs had actually been fighting against my swim all this time.  NO WONDER IT TOOK ME 50 MINUTES TO SWIM 1500M!  I was pulling with my arms, but going the other way with my legs.  Sigh…..

I’ve been grounded.  I am not allowed to swim freestyle until he tells me.  This hurts my extremist fashion.  I know what my problem is, so I just wanna jump in the pool and fix it.  Nope.  Not allowed.  I’m only allowed to kick, using a kickboard.  Grrrrr! Coach Oliver had that look when he told me too.  He knew it would kill me.  He told me that we would nail the kick, and then we will get into the arms and rotations.

Ok, I can deal with that.

Remember This:

Every BODY is different, so we start at different levels. 

Start where you are and seek to improve.

I tell my members and clients that it’s ok not to start out being good at something, and that it’s best to learn the basic steps before jumping in to the advanced choreography.  In my step aerobics routines I give breakdowns and levels.  I see it with my steppers, they WANT to do the level 3 right away instead of mastering level 1 and 2 first.  Its instinct and we all want to do it.  This lesson has reinforced to me that level 1 and level 2 are very important!  Learn the proper form before doing any exercise! Otherwise, you are training the muscle or the body incorrectly.

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run!

Muna Rodriguez

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Health and Exercise vs. Fitness and Training

There is a significant difference between concepts of health and fitness.  Health refers to the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being.  A healthy person tends to live longer and have a higher quality of life than an unhealthy person.  It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and healthy eating are two critical parts of being healthy.  Your sense of humor and your stress management techniques are also critical features of overall health.

sprintingFitness, on the other hand, is not about general health.  Fitness is about the level of fit that your body has in relationship to a specific task or set of tasks.  The measures of fitness for a baseball pitcher are quite different than the measures of fitness for an offensive lineman in football.  There will most certainly be overlap, but there is a big difference between extremely fit players in these contexts.  If you try to place a baseball pitcher on the offensive line, you are likely to end up with an injured pitcher.  He is fit for one task and not fit for the other.

Everyone should have the goal of being healthy.  As a runner, however, you want to make sure that you are fit for the task of meeting your running goals.  This requires all of the aspects of general health, but also includes running-specific measures of fitness:

  • How fast can you run a mile?
  • Are your core  and hip muscles strong enough to stabilize you during a run?
  • If you plan to run a marathon, have you practiced processing your calorie intake quickly and efficiently?
  • Can you maintain a certain pace for a certain distance?

The specifics of your goals will help you determine the measures of fitness that you should be tracking.  Your training should keep you healthy, but it should also move you towards measuring up to the specific fitness to the tasks set forth in your goals.  Accordingly, you can’t just exercise and expect to move towards your fitness goals.  Swimming is good cross-training, but will never replace specific training runs in moving towards your specific running goals.

Stay healthy.
Set goals.
Determine your level of fitness.
Train to improve your health and your fitness.

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Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running,by P. Mark Taylor, is available in both paperback & e-book

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

- Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

Running in the Family: Leading by Example

“My earliest running memories start when I was 5 years old.
My dad was a runner as well, so I would wait for him
to come home from work so that he could time me!”
–Katie MacKey

Once in a while, I get the honor of running with one of my kids.  Three of my six kids have run cross-country and one of the other three has recently become a personal trainer.  Did I cause this?  Probably not.  Perhaps cause is too strong of a word.  Influenced might be more appropriate.  When they were younger, they saw me work out periodically and go for a run once in a while.  That was before I started my second running career.  What was I doing to influence them towards fitness activity?

  • I was working out and jogging for general fitness and I talked about the benefits.
  • I did not require them to join me, but I would invite them to join me periodically.

I must have talked about it and/or invited them to join me hundreds of times before it started to happen.  We had weights in the basement and periodically, the boys would give it a go for a while.  Gradually, one or two kids would periodically ask me to go run a mile with them because they wanted to “get in better shape.”  Each had their own reason, usually for sports or just to look more fit.

Other adults and some of their peers added to the invitations.  Their school added cross-country to their sports and peer pressure pushed one daughter over the edge.  The next year, one son joined the cross-country team.  His stated reason was specifically to add an activity for his college applications.  One more daughter joined the team the third year.  She just wanted something to do.  I don’t care why they decided to start running.  I’m just happy to see them out there doing it!

In the last few years, I increased the intensity and frequency of my runs.  I call it my second running career.  I was fairly competitive in high school cross-country and track, but my first career was stopped short by injuries.  Once I began to give all I had to running, my trips to the gym to lift weights have became few and far between.  At that point I offered my gym membership to my oldest son.  He loves to work out, so he jumped at the chance.  He eventually worked his way into a job at the gym and just recently became a certified personal trainer.  He runs nearly every day as a part of his overall program.

I did not cause my kids to become runners, but I was a part of what influenced them to make that choice.

How do you lead your family and friends into fitness & running?

  1. Be excited.  Display your excitement about your fitness and running activities!   Excitement is infectious.  Talk about the positives for yourself and others.
  2. Invite them to join you.  Be persistent and positive.  Never require.  Never argue.

REMEMBER:    You cannot argue someone into fitness.  Fitness takes commitment.  Even if arguing does somehow manage to get them to do something, they are unlikely to be motivated enough to stick it out long enough to begin feeling the benefits.  They need to want it.  So, stick to the positive influence approach: Just invite.

Enjoy the run!

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The Gift of Running is now available in both paperback & e-book

- Paperback Version – Amazon.com $9.00

- Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

- Ebook Version for Nook $2.99

What Counts as Cross-Training?

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Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, you can benefit from cross-training.  Cross-training is any sport or exercise that supplements your running.  Cross training can add balance to your body by working muscles that do not get much attention through running.

What Counts as Cross-Training for Runners?

The most important aspect of cross-training for running is the cardiovascular workout.  Effective cross-training will maintain or improve your cardiovascular system while giving your legs a much needed rest from running.

Here are some great activities that can count as cross-training for running:

Cycling is an effective low-impact way to boost your cardiovascular fitness and strength, especially your quads and glutes. A long bike ride can be as relaxing as a long run, so many runners enjoy biking as their cross-training activity.

swimmingSwimming is a great cross-training activity for running because it gives your joints a break.  It allows you to build strength and endurance, and also improve flexibility.  It’s a great balance for running because you’ll really work your upper body, while giving your leg muscles a much needed break. Swimming is especially recommended for people who are prone to running injuries or are recovering from an injury.

Water running is a great alternative for injured runners or as a substitute for an easy running day. It’s also a smart way to get in your runs during hot and humid weather. While you can run in the water without flotation aids (vests, belts, etc), you’ll find the workout to be easier with them.

Rowing – An excellent cardiovascular, low-impact activity, rowing strengthens the hips, buttocks, and upper body. As with all activities, it is important to make sure you use proper technique to maximize the benefits of this activity and avoid injury.

The bottom line:  If you need a break, take a break.  If you want to give your joints a break without taking a break, choose a cross-training activity that will keep your heart rate up for the length of time that you would normally be running.  Whatever you pick, make sure you enjoy it.

 

“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor

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Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running:

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners & future runners  Wise Running Book COVER mockup

&

Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life

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