Saturday, September 21, 2013

Developing a Comeback Training Schedule

Hello friends!

It's a soggy wet day today in Parry Sound and the perfect day to kick back with a cup of tea and do some blogging. I've been brainstorming topics of blog posts and currently have them sitting in my account pending to be written. I hope ya'll are ready for some running inspiration.

I know this has come up time and time again... but my big marathon flop has really affected the past 11 months of my life. All the hard work and dedication I put into training for that marathon seemed belittled by my terrible performance. And by that - I'm not necessarily talking numbers (a 4:20 finish in my first marathon is not dreadful). I'm talking how each of those km's felt, my extreme cramping, the leg spasms! That marathon  ruined me emotionally and physically. As you can tell by my past year of blog posts I've struggled to find my motivation to get back into it. I've had plenty of failed attempts and lost myself within the process. I feel I dealt with a bit of depression because of it. I gained 10 lbs and just wasn't myself.

Fast track to about 8 weeks ago. When Daniel and I took that risk to move 3.5 hours north and make such a dramatic change to our once comfortable and secure lifestyle, I became inspired again. I don't know if it was the weight lifted off my shoulders or pure beauty of this town that inspired me. But, I was immediately itching to run. So, I broke out that dusty running gear once again and then remembered:

Running is not easy.

That's the problem that I struggled with over the past year. I could not pick up where I last left off, nor could I have the expectations that I could run as fast as I once could before. I was such a time driven runner (which I believe is why I was so ruined after my marathon attempt). I could easily run a 5 km at a 5:15/km pace, and could easily clock 4:50/km during track tempo sessions. Every single attempt I made in the past year I was struggling to keep up with a 6:20/km pace. I would end my run feeling defeated and pack away my running shoes at the back of the closet once again.

So let's get back to that "aha" moment.

My first run in Parry Sound; I laced up my shoes, turned on my GPS and just ran. I didn't look at the speed on my watch once. I frankly didn't care. Instead, I enjoyed the sights around me. Then it clicked: I had to develop a training schedule for my level of fitness. Who cares if I could only run 3 km? I just needed to commit, find my passion and build back up... again. No one is judging me, only myself. Who cares who I once was, I will find that runner again!

I remembered all of the advice from my marathon coach Bob, broke out my Jack Daniels Running Formula and John Stanton running books and started developing my comeback plan.

Here were the points I had to consider:

  • What was my current level of fitness? I could run 2 - 10n1 sessions. Approx 3 km.
  • What was my goal? To run another marathon of course! This time: pain and injury free. 

Some things to remember when making your training schedule:

  • Remember the 10% rule. Don't increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. You cannot become a marathoner overnight. You do not want to become injured. 
  • Try to avoid running back-to-back. I wanted to run 4 days per week, this means I would run 2 days back-to-back, but I ensured the other days were every other day. 
  • Don't worry about pace. It will come naturally overtime. 
  • Building your base will take at least 10 weeks. During this time, DO NOT do any speed sessions or hill training. You will be prone to injury as your body and muscles are adjusting once again. 

And last but not least:

  • If you miss a run, do your best to make it up. Remember your 10% rule? Say if you miss a 5 km run (you are running 20 km per week), and jump your mileage the following week up 10% on your previously planned mileage. This means you will have actually increased your mileage 23%. If you continue on this path, you will most likely be headed on a path of injury. I can attest to this.

This is a sample plan and how I started getting back into it:

Please note: I am not a qualified running instructor and this plan was developed solely for myself with my current level of fitness. Take caution before starting any running plan and consider your own personal needs.

I've been running for 8 weeks now and already am starting to feel like myself again. My fitness has dramatically improved in such a short time. Last night I logged my steady 5 km run at a 5:32/km pace. All it took was a little patience (ok, a lot of patience) and dedication. I'm naturally eating better again and have started my cross training. My plan is to run the Ottawa Marathon in May 2014. This gives me enough time to gain distance and train smart.

Never forget:
Running: Cheaper than Therapy!

If you've lost your running self along the way, I really encourage you to get out there and try to find yourself again. It's worth it.

Once a runner, always a runner!

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