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.
Maybe you are a runner by background or maybe you are a cyclist but you’ve signed up for a triathlon or maybe done one in the past and are giving it another shot. Whatever your single sport background, it’s likely you will not be totally prepared for T2 and the run leg. Or, as it’s commonly called “running off the bike” in triathlon.
I’ve gotten on the podiums with a good T2 and run my way all the way to top of the (AG) podium with a good run leg. It wasn’t be accident. Just like you train hard in the individual elements, you can train, practice and prepare to crush the back half of your next triathlon.
Look, things happen when we age. Muscle mass decreases, flexibility decrease, hormones decreaseNo one is going to defeat the passage of time but we don’t have to go down without a fight.
Lifting weights and staying active as we age is one of the best way to slow down the aging process. It will help increase or keep muscle mass, it will help slow osteoporosis (really important for me with Addison’s), and the more muscle you make, the more testosterone levels may come up. Not a bad return on investment for a few hours of gym time each week.
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.