Mar 29, 2016

Training for Tuesday - Return to Running

I am 79% positive that I have another post titled this same thing.  Which shouldn't be surprising because running, despite its popularity, can be pretty rough on your body.  I know very few regular runners who don't have a problem area or two and I had the distinct displeasure of experiencing this phenomenon for myself all of last year when I was trying to convince my body that we could do this half marathon thing.

Long story short, I did my race, but I never did get past 7 miles in a training plan without injuring something, and my longer races always involved a good bit of walking.  I've been out of commission since December, waiting for my foot to stop hurting (it'd gotten so bad that even walking and hiking could aggravate it), and hoping that I hadn't done myself any permanent damage.

I didn't begin March intending to start running again, but at some point I realized the pain was gone.  The weather warmed, and I was desperately needing something to get me motivated again and to lift the somewhat bleak mood I'd fallen into over the winter.

A few short, exploratory runs later, I'm pretty confident that my body is healed and ready to do this.  But I'm also determined to prevent future injury.  Allow me to introduce you to the most cautious training plan known to man.

Yes that's right.  Half a mile increments for each week.  That's it.

Technically there's a 10% rule out there, but even with my history I couldn't bring myself to make a training plan based on tenths of a mile.  When the distances get longer, then I'll switch over from half a mile to 1/10 each week, but for now I'm jumping from 2 miles to 2.5 and so on.  Every 4th week is a mandatory no running week where I'll do only low-impact exercises.

I actually think it's a little crazy to make a plan for 5 months out, BUT I wanted to get myself back up to 5 miles.  Maybe at some point in the future I'll want to attempt longer races again, but for now I think 5 miles is a pretty comfortable, doable baseline.

Now to answer the question: "Why running?"  If running is so hard on my body and such a rocky road with emotional highs and lows, why do it at all?  Why not stick to biking all the time instead of just every 4th week.

There's a few reasons.  I think part of my determination stems from the fact that it is difficult.  The desire to overcome this infuriating opponent.  But a lot of it is just practical.  I can run for 20 minutes and my heart rate will jump up to 140-something and stay there for the whole run.  I can do the stationary bike for 30 minutes and my heart rate will maybe get up to 120.  It burns more calories, it works more parts of my body, it works my lungs and helps me overcome EIRA (basically asthma but only during exercise).  It's also the only exercise Ryan will do with me.  He's just not motivated to do other things so running is a way for me to encourage him to work out as well, and time for us to bond together over a healthier activity than pizza and Netflix.

Whatever the reason, I'm back, the first week went amazing, and I'm hoping I'll still be here in a month to report it on the long, slow crawl back up to 3 miles, and how infuriating a week off can be when you don't feel like you need it.

What are your fitness goals for the next month?  Do you build yourself training plans?

Linking up with Alyssa and Tracy


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  1. This sounds like my kind of training plan! I love to slowly build up the mileage rather than just throwing on a mile each week. That's too much for me and I'm glad that I'm not the only one who does the little increments :)

  2. I am not a runner. I see them out there, in the zone, and a part of me is envious until I remember how much I hate running. But getting a sustainable exercise program in place is something I am committed to doing. Getting healthy is my big goal this year and I am taking baby steps because I have been pretty resistant to exercise. My old go-to move was to make a grandiose plan and immediately fail and give-up. :) Hey, at least I'm honest! But I don't want to do that any longer. I like to swim and my apartment has a pool so that is what I have been focused on.

    1. Being honest with yourself is good! I do that, too. It's very easy to lay out the perfect exercise plan, or eating plan, or budget, but if there's no wiggle room, then chances are I'll stick to it for one or two days and then it's all over. My current plan is pretty relaxed in comparison to my usual, but I'm also not beating myself up if I miss a strength training day. The running days are the only non-negotiable ones.

  3. I've been thinking about the 10% rule myself for the past few hours. It's definitely out there for a reason, as I learned last year when I came back from an injury and tried to pretend the time off never happened, and upped mileage by like 50% several weeks in a row. I think when the mileage is still on the lower side, the 10% rule is a little less important—but slow progress is still definitely the way to go. From where you are, this looks like a really solid training program, honestly!

    And don't let yourself fall into a trap of thinking anything with the word "marathon" in it has to be your goal. It's not everyone's end game. 5 miles is a PLENTY challenging distance to run, and a solid and substantial goal to work toward.

    Your reasons for running are totally valid too, and they make sense. Good luck! Thanks for linking up :)

  4. Oh running. It really is so hard on the body!!! I continue to do it because I feel it is a great exercise and I want to prove to myself that I can burn "x: amount of calories in "x" amount of minutes at this distance or whatever. So I completely get it!!!

  5. I don't think that's too cautious at all. I think it's really smart! You know how running impacts your body and you've learned from past experience that rules and suggestions out there aren't one-size-fits all. Five miles is a great distance to work up to and establish as a baseline. If you're not interested in running longer races right now, there's really no reason to go beyond that.
    Those are all great, valid reasons to get back to running. I had exercise-induced asthma growing up, which is the reason I always hated running, because I'd be out of breath and wheezing and my lungs would hurt after like ten seconds, but running regularly has pretty much cured it. It bothers me like once a year now, if that.

  6. i actually think this is really smart. i have been trying to get back into running for like, um, 4 years, but i never have any real set mile goals or anything. i wonder if i had started with something like this, i'd be able to do 5 or 6 miles easily right now. honestly, i run 6 miles every sunday but we run/walk. on the treadmill i am lucky to run a mile. i need to get back outside now that the weather is warmer, just to see what i can do. good luck to both of us and fingers crossed you stay injury free!


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