Anyone who knows me knows that I love to run. And I mean LOVE to run.
To date, I’ve run one 50-mile ultra-marathon, 36 regular marathons, and too many half marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. to keep count of.
I joke that it’s really the only thing I’m coordinated enough to do seeing as how anytime there is some type of sporting equipment thrown into the mix, the results are often hilarious yet disastrous. Let’s just say nobody is willingly going to choose me to be on their softball team…unless they don’t mind if I’m napping or searching for four-leaf clovers in the outfield while the game is being played!
Now that I’m officially training again for my 37th and 38th marathons (which happen to fall on back-to-back weekends in January…eek!), I’ve found myself wondering just how much more
torture, I mean, fun (!!) my body will endure before it systematically begins to fight back.
After all, I’m no spring chicken anymore. It’s high-time I begin to be smarter about my training plans and recovery times.
Finding Wisdom During My Long Run
While out on a run recently, I was chatting with my friend about how much training we should actually be doing for our races in January (she is joining me for the second marathon–both are part of endurance race weekends which I’ll be posting about next week).
While we both know that we need to finally adhere to some sort of training scheduled as opposed to our past habits of just running whenever we felt like it, we agreed that there’s no need to over do it in the training department.
Is There Such a Thing as too Much Exercise?
There’s been a lot of speculation in the media and medical community lately about the perceived benefits of distance running. While it’s widely accepted that moderate, regular running leads to a host of health benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress/anxiety levels, improved bone health, etc., studies are showing that too much intense exercise can actually have a detrimental impact on heart health.
As someone who has survived a heart scare, I am not about to jeopardize my health for a few more medals to be thrown into the shoe boxes under my bed. True, I might have laughed off any idea of young, fit runners having heart attacks a mere year ago, but after this past summer, I’m willing to put my money on the idea that moderate training trumps the intense stuff when talking about the long-term picture of health and wellness.
Changing My Running Ways–Sort of
I’m a changed woman! A distance runner who has learned that there are limits! Piss, I can’t run 15 miles every day for the rest of my life!
That being said, there will still be weekly workouts that are difficult. There will still be cross training that will kick my booty. And there will be plenty of sore muscles in the mix.
The difference is that these intense workouts will be limited in number and will be followed by ample rest and recovery efforts. Stretching, ice baths, foam rolling, yoga, and acupuncture are already paving my way to a healthy and balanced training regimen. I’m also focused on getting enough sleep (at least 8 hours each night, baby!), eating well, and listening to my body.
A Training Plan that Allows for Life to Happen
Overall, my training is scheduled yet flexible. My friend and I have agreed to the following structure for our running days:
- Sunday: Long run (started with 10 miles last week and will be adding 2 each subsequent week)
- Tuesday: Easy 4-7 miler depending on how we feel
- Thursday: 5-mile tempo run or hill workout (rotating these each week)
In between, I have volleyball on Tuesday nights (Tonya, I’m attempting to learn so I can do the beach vball thing next summer!!), spin Wednesday mornings, and yoga on Fridays or Saturdays depending on when I feel like going. This means there are two full days of rest each week, which, even if it sounds crazy, is way more weekly rest time than I’ve ever taken in my 20 years of running.
I’m not sure if this will end up being too much exercise as time goes by, but I’m on board with changing things up depending on how my body is feeling. Gone are the days of pushing myself to the max no matter how tired/sore I am. Now it’s all about being smart, balanced…and happy!
How Do You Balance Your Exercise/Training Efforts?