The Training Corner
Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul
Q: : I am a cardio animal, and have been running for years, primarily indoors on a treadmill, until I moved here. Now I can run, hike, bike and ski outdoors. I really enjoy the sweat and heart-pump I receive when running for 30-40 straight minutes. I strengthtrain twice a week at home, too. Recently I got back on my treadmill for 4 consecutive days, and I feel like I got run over by a truck. Everything from my low back to my ankles aches. I am stressing-out because now I can’t run? Any advice for me? Anne , 51
A: Hello Anne. I fully understand the feeling after a great run, having been a runner for 40 years. Don’t be discouraged. There are a slew of solutions. Here are just a few:
1. Now that you are living the mountain lifestyle, and can train OUTDOORS, think of your treadmill, bike, rower, etc., as back-ups for horrific weather or time constraints. Remember, too, that interval training provides a bigger bang than steady state exercise. Harder is more effective than longer, for improving cardiovascular fitness, especially when pressed for time.
2. When mapping out your week of training, alternate impact and gliding or non-low impact days. Maybe you XC/ skate ski on MWF and run on TThSa. Include TWO interval days, whether it’s on the skis or on foot. Designate a day for a long walk and some additional recovery work.
3. Consider expanding your repertoire of ways to stoke your stamina. Reap the benefits of fresh air and mountain views. XC ski, skate ski, and snow shoeing all fill the bill. You will need some skill to push the pace, or you can just add hills and/or a Ruck to increase intensity.
4. Worried about slipping on hard pack or ice? Buy a pair of grippers that fit over your running or trail shoes. Enjoy your run without feeling tentative with each stride, whether it’s up or down hill.
5. There is an orthopedic cost to impact activities, when our shock absorbers don’t do their job. Snow and gliding sports are friendlier to joints than a treadmill or road. Going uphill taxes the cardiovascular system for sure, but flat and downhill grades require stronger and more powerful brakes. The trunk, hip, leg and foot muscles need to absorb your body weight with each foot strike. Great brakes come from regular strength and power training, along with DAILY breath and soft tissue work [foam rolling] and stretching.
6. Kudos on doing strength work at home, but consider tweaking your regimen. A program lacking in progression will not produce results, nor will it help you counter father-time. Be sure to include power and motor skill work with your strength training. Runners in it for the long haul, need to restore and fill all of the Simple 7 S buckets. See my previous Mountain Grit articles for details. Sleep, nutrition and hydration are also key elements of recovery and restoration.
7. Anne, if you are stuck indoors with your treadmill, consider walking in lieu of running. Try this workout: Start at a 1% grade. Walk at a 15:00 mile pace, 4 mph for 3:00. Increase to 4%, and walk for 3:00; this is your recovery zone between incline intervals. Ready?
• 1:00 @ 6% - 1:00 @ 4% / 1:00 @ 8% - 1:00 @ 4% / 1:00 @10% - 1:00 @ 4% /
• 1:00 @ 12% - 1:00 @ 4% / 1:00 @ 14% - 1:00 @ 4% / 1:00 @ 16% - 1:00 @ 4% /
• Reverse the order; recover for 1:00 at 1%
Aches and pains can provide a wake-up call. It’s a great time to take stock and revamp. Healthy habits and patterns set the foundation, but ruts require a shake-up! No change, no gains!
Need some coaching? Contact Pat through www.activeandagile.com. See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.