As I enter my fourth day of no running I am officially climbing the wall. Actually I don’t think I can actually climb a wall at the moment, so I’m officially looking at a wall thinking ‘I wish I could climb it‘. My calf knot is still hidden deep within my calf hiding from all attempts to release it. I have a third appointment booked tomorrow for some more one-on-one time with my friend ‘mr.needle and his many mates’. I’m hoping third time lucky and once this knot is released it’s back into training for the Joondalup half in 3 weeks.
On the bright side I suppose this has given me an excuse to rest, one I would not have normally taken. I understand the benefits of rest, especially when you are as advanced in age as myself, but I struggle to not run. I love running and must admit find it hard to run just twice a day normally. I mean we eat three times a day, why not run three times a day? The reason I don’t is it could so easily become the ‘norm’ and then the ‘expected’. This would be dangerous and put a serious strain on my happy marriage (my Wife insists we are happily married and if anybody asks I must reiterate the fact. If I don’t she beats me .. only joking Karen…) and also upset the kids. My family are ‘supportive of my running‘ but you’ll notice that is in italics. Maybe ‘put up with’ is a better description.
I’ve mentioned this before about running and family life being a fine balancing act, spend too much time with either and balance is threatened, resulting in grief. It really is a tight rope, and one I manage to walk just , daily but to increase my running any more than I do now would be suicidal. (My Wife is Scottish you know.) Also would I see benefits from running three times a day? All of us have exponential returns from running, we all have our ‘sweet spot’ be it with distance or pace. Any more gives us exponentially less return, so running 100k a week may be as beneficial as running 130k. The extra 30k serves no purpose and only serves to increase the risk of injury as you would be fatigued. Finding your ‘sweet spot’ takes time and experience but once you find it it is best to adhere to it religiously.
Personally I consider 130k as my ideal distance. Any more is more for my sanity and ran very slowly, so the extra is really a ‘time on feet’ exercise to protect myself from injury. My logic is I’m either sitting watching rubbish on TV , far too close to the fridge, or outside running, albeit slowly, gaining some extra cardio fitness. To me it’s a no brainer, to some of my running friends the fridge wins hands down.
There is also crosse training and I did manage a 75k ride Saturday and 50k Sunday. Both days I pushed myself and felt better for it so the bike can be a good alternative while you recover. There is also water running but must admit too never trying it. Circuit training and core fitness would also be a good alternative while you recover and core training should also be part of your weekly training programme. I myself need to do more core work as another benefit of getting old is the mid-section can tend to ‘give up’ and unfortunately even expand. Gotta’ love this ageing process.
I’ve attached an article on cross training which has a photo of cyclists, I apologise in advance.
There are many cross-training options available, but not all of them are of equal value to runners.
In choosing between the different modes of cross-training available to runners, keep three considerations in mind:
1. Is this option aerobic? As we talked about earlier, one of the main adaptations that your body makes to endurance training is learning to use its fat stores as fuel. To be effective, any cross-training mode that you choose should help you achieve this goal. That means it has to be an exercise that you can engage in for hours at a time, at a moderate intensity level (at an RPE of 6–7).
2. Is this option low-impact or nonimpact? Sometimes high-impact exercise gets a bad rap. When faced with repetitive impact, your body adapts, increasing bone density and strengthening the muscles related to absorbing this impact. If you don’t engage in high-impact exercise, your body will be unprepared for the stress of race day. The result? A bone bruise or stress fracture.
But remember our motto: every step necessary, but not one step more. High-impact exercise is crucial, but after the essential benefits have been gained from engaging in it, high-impact exercise raises the risk of injury during training. Running three days a week will prepare your body for the stress of racing. After that, you should aim to increase your endurance base without adding unnecessary stress to your body. This is where cross-training comes in; it will help you achieve your race-day goals while lowering the risk of injury associated with intense high-impact training.
3. Does this option complement your running? Any aerobic cross-training will help you become a better endurance athlete, but to get the most from your routine, you should choose a cross-training mode that doesn’t simply mimic the running movement, but instead works different muscle groups. The point of doing this is to strengthen the muscles that support your running. After all, your running muscles — particularly your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calves—are already strong from running. By focusing on strengthening your other muscles, you’ll become a more balanced, injury-resistant athlete.
So what cross-training exercise should you choose? Much of that depends on what your preferences are. Would you rather train in the great outdoors, or does the convenience of a gym appeal to you? Are you looking for a low budget exercise that you can do anywhere, or are you intrigued by a new high-tech machine? There are plenty of options to choose from, both traditional and cutting-edge. All of them provide an added benefit of one kind or another for runners.
Four popular cross-training modes are cycling, swimming, elliptical exercise, and stepping. All are low- or nonimpact exercises that provide excellent aerobic workouts. That makes all of these valuable training options for runners. The elliptical trainer and the stepper in particular are good substitutes for running when running isn’t possible—when you’re injured, for example. But apart from reducing the volume of impact, working on these machines won’t add anything to your running that running itself doesn’t provide. Of the four cross-training options above, only one effectively works muscle groups that are complementary to running: cycling.
Perhaps you’re thrilled to read that because you are already an avid fan of cycling, but if not, don’t be discouraged. An old coaching aphorism is that the best exercise is one that you’ll keep doing. So if you have another form of aerobic exercise that you currently enjoy, feel free to continue doing it. But my goal in this book is to make you a faster runner with the lowest risk of injury, so keep an open mind as I explain why I think cycling should be your number one crosstraining choice.
Cycling primarily works the quadriceps, a big muscle group that running doesn’t effectively work. Insufficient strength in the quads can allow the knees to buckle on landing during the foot-plant phase. This is the primary cause for the up-and-down bobbing motion seen in some runners, which can lead to patella tendinitis and other knee problems. Cycling can help with that.
Cycling also works the outer hips and gluteus medius muscles, which are crucial for running. These muscles help keep the hips from swaying outward on the landing phase. When this happens, the iliotibial band—a thick strip of connective tissue on the outside of the leg—is pulled tight, which can result in knee and hip pain. Again, cycling can help with this.
Cycling also provides you a chance to take your workout outdoors, something important to many runners. Even though there are ways in which you could take your cycling workout indoors, cycling, for most people, represents a chance to get out for some fresh air.
For runners, this is a natural fit. You probably fell in love with running not in the gym but on the roads and trails, just like the rest of us. During our workouts and races, we have the opportunity to experience the sublime beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the changing of the seasons, or the thrill of extreme weather. Giving this up to spend time in the gym is one of the biggest hurdles some of my training clients have to overcome. But with a good bicycle, you don’t have to give up your love of exploring during your workout.
Being outdoors also helps ward off the biggest problem with indoor cross-training workouts: boredom. You can do a 3- or 4-hour session on an elliptical machine, but who would really want to? But a 3- or 4-hour bike ride is not only commonplace among cyclists; it’s also considered fun. On a bike, you can cover wide stretches of territory, and with a little planning, you can map out a grand tour that includes beautiful local scenery, as well as key rest stops.
You can also more easily rope friends into joining you, which makes this a much more social form of crosstraining than the other modes. Don’t have any cycling friends? It shouldn’t be too difficult to find some. Most town and cities have cycling clubs. Stop by a local cycling shop and ask; staff will be happy to fill you in on all the local options.
For swimming, aim to spend half as much time in the pool as you would for a bicycle workout on the schedules found later in this book. For the elliptical machine and stepper, spend 75 percent as much time working out as you would if you were cycling