Monday, April 11, 2011

A Bump in Training

Last week was a particularly difficult week. During my lunch break, I would go out to my car to take a nap.(Somehow the 8-9, sometimes 10 hours a night I was sleeping wasn’t enough.) When I got home from work, I had all I could do to cook and eat dinner before I’d collapse in a lump on my couch. This is far from what is on my running schedule.

I knew coming back after surgery would be difficult, especially when my surgeon said, “you’ll either have the dexterity of a one-year-old or 3 weeks after surgery you can do 10% of what you used to do.” I figured while I’d probably make everyone around me miserable, I could get through “having the dexterity of a one-year-old.” The idea of being able to only do 10% of my normal activity was frustrating. Since I was doing 20 miles a week, the 10% resulted in two miles a week!

Once I was discharged from the hospital and feeling better after my surgery, I dug through my running archives and pulled out my first training schedule- the one that was taking me from non-runner to a marathoner. It was a 33-week program designed specifically for me by my running coach.  After my first meeting with my coach and running a couple miles with him, he combined his know-how with a modified Hal Higdon program to develop this schedule for me. The schedule got me through my first 3 5ks, 2 half marathons, and one marathon. I figured, I did it once, I can do it again; and my muscle memory will help get me there.

The marathon is by far too industrious for me to do at this time given working over eight hours a day at a desk tuckers me out. On the road to running a marathon, my first goal is to run a half marathon. But this blog is about getting in shape to run a marathon. From my experience, you need to be in two types of shape to run a marathon: physical shape to keep your cardiovascular and muscular systems in check to keep you going through those 26.2 miles and then the mental shape to keep you plugging away when you want to quit once you hit the wall and/or you’re feeling a little fatigued.  At this time, I do not have either. The half marathon will be a good way to get me back into the corrals and closer to be in the physical and psychological shape that you need to be in to run a marathon.

I have realized that since work is my own long run, I need to modify my schedule yet again. I will focus on day on day off running… concentrating on abdominal strength and moderate lifting when I’m not running. (I still need to be judicious with my choice of exercises since my neck was cut into during surgery and it doesn’t have the same strength it did, and I’ve found even girly pushups hurts it.)

While not the ideal way to train, the surgery has essentially given me a clean slate to see what different types of training will do. I had resisted abdominal and core training earlier since being those muscles were neglected, the exercises were difficult, but I know these are essential to keeping you going through the longer miles. A strong core will also protect your body on the whole. Prior to my December surgery, my goal was to run a half marathon in October 2011 in a sports bra and pants. This goal is too soon given my circumstances for my original plan of an October race. Concentrating on the core and arms is essential for any runner. 

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