On the surface it seemed like an easy question. A friend was getting back into running and asked me why he was getting cramps or side stitches a mile into his run. I started to reply then stopped. I knew what he was talking about. Just about everyone has gotten that familiar acute pain in their side while running at some point. But when was the last time it had happened to me? It had been a while. And what really did cause those cramps? That simple question didn’t have a simple answer.
Training for my first marathon is what finally sold me on the benefits of consistent foam rolling. Ramping up the mileage significantly was a challenge and my body was feeling it. My hamstrings, IT bands, calves, even the bottom of my feet were tight and sore and generally complaining about all the miles.
I’m not the most flexible person to start with and this training plan had me hobbled and walking like an elderly man after two weeks. My muscles were tight. If I was going to finish the plan and not miss any workouts something had to change. I didn’t have the cash for a professional massage each week, but I did have ten bucks for a foam roller.
This year I’m making an effort to try new distances, new events, and new races that I haven’t done in the past.
I’m a type A personality and don’t usually have much of a problem getting out and exercising but that competitive and ambitious personality can also sometimes drive me over the edge. I’ll take on too much, or try to do one more mile, or one more workout, and end up running myself into the ground.
For a long time, I would keep checking off the workouts because it was on my list of things to do. Even if it felt like a slog. Even if I knew a day off would be more beneficial. Recently, I’ve tried to pay more attention to rest and recovery. Often we think of those things as part of preparing for the next workout but they also play a key part in developing a long-term love of running.
I’ll admit it. I really don’t mind the treadmill. Objectively, it’s a great training tool and lets anyone run year round without excuses. It’s especially good for beginners as you can control the pace, due it from the comfort of your home, and keep water or fuel nearby.
If you’re coming back from an injury or trying to start a new running habit I’m a firm believer in easing into your relationship with running to give your body time to adjust to the physical demands. The best way to stop a budding exercise habit in its tracks is to (over)do one workout and get so sore that you never want to use the treadmill again.
Its been a solid year now that I’ve been regularly lifting weights and doing strength training to support my running and triathlon habit. What started as a necessary evil to rehab my knee has morphed into a necessary habit. In the offseason, I’ve been regularly doing strength work twice a week. Last season, I dropped that to once a week with more stretching and bodyweight exercises.
The weights have given me more speed, more stamina, and stronger ligaments and tendons allowing me to stay active with my arthritic knee. This gym work (along with smarter recovery time as a master’s athlete) has led to an uptick in the consistency of my training, and that has led to an improvement in my face results, including a new 10k PR last year at age 41.
So you want to do a triathlon? Funny the crazy ideas that pop into your head in January, but kudos to you! Triathlon is a fun and exciting sport that can help you train in different ways, get you out of your comfort zone, and lift your fitness to a new level.
One of the most common questions I get, especially for early morning workouts, is around found. Do you eat? Should you eat? What do you eat?
Twice a week during the off-season, I find the will to motivate and get up early for a gym workout. One is a 5:30 a.m. HIIT class and I rarely eat before that one. I just don’t have the appetite or the stomach fortitude to get up and eat and get out the door. The other day the workout is an hour later and I find that by that time I do want and need something to eat to really get the most out of the workout. Sometimes a little carbs are just as good as coffee at warding off the fatigue.