How Much Exercise is Too Much Exercise?

The North Face Endurance Challenge Ultra Marathon

A pit stop during my first 50-mile ultramarathon

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?

 

We Will Run–You Can’t Hide

Silence.

2013 Boston Marathon Bombings Typically, this is not what you hear on the day of the Boston Marathon, nor in the days that follow its completion. But in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, this is all that I heard today in my great city. As I walked onto the subway platform at Downtown Crossing this morning, I was struck by the eerie silence I was greeted with.

On any normal day during the rush hour commute, the tracks are abuzz with people shuffling off to work. It’s not uncommon to hear people on their cell phones, loud music blasting from headphones or even people complaining about the crowded cars and lack of seats.

Today, I heard nothing.

As I walked through the crowds of solemn, silent people towards the steps to go upstairs, I caught a glimpse of magnificent sunlight. For a brief moment, I thought that perhaps I was still in the middle of a nightmarish dream and the sunlight was my cue to wake up. Then I saw four armed guards standing patrol at the entrance of the station and everything came crashing back to reality.

Yesterday began as any of the past Marathon Mondays Boston has seen: Runners were preparing to conquer 26.2 of the most celebrated miles in the world of running, spectators were excitedly awaiting the arrivals of their friends and family along the course and race officials, police and medical staff were prepared to offer some minimal crowd support and a throng of Band Aids and Vaseline.

Sidelined from my previous marathon injuries and not able to compete myself, I settled for a long bike ride to the course and positioned myself in a prime viewing location on Beacon Street to await the 50+ people I knew running the race. I took countless pictures of elite runners and friends alike. For all of us out there, running or not, it was as I’ve always referred to the Boston Marathon–26.2 miles of smiles.

Little did I know that all of that would change in mere minutes.

Knowing that most of my friends were getting closer to the finish line and that even more friends were already stationed in the area, I began to head to the finish line to meet up with everyone. What happened next is something I won’t be able to shake for a while. As I was heading into the Boylston area, I had one last turn to make when I noticed a bunch of college students near the curb. One female was clearly having a rough day of partying and was physically sick. Knowing I had two extra bottles of water in my backpack, I stopped to give her one.

Then, for some strange reason that I cannot explain, I decided I’d had enough of the mayhem for one day and turned home instead of continuing to the finish line. When I arrived home, a flurry of calls, texts, emails and FB posts greeted me. Since I had been biking home, I had no clue that two massive explosions had just erupted at the finish line.

The same finish line I had been headed to.

It turns out that had I continued on my way to meet my friends, I would have been in the exact spot that the explosions went off. And pretty much at the exact time the bombs detonated. While I’m clearly fine and my heart literally aches for those who weren’t as fortunate, I’m still wondering what it was that made me turn around. Did some drunken BU student really save my limbs and/or life?

While I’ll never be able to answer that question, I can answer the question of what I plan to do in the wake of such tragic, unfounded hatred.

I’ve just registered for the Legs of Love Marathon (such an apt name) for June 9th in hopes of being able to squeak in one last BQ before the 2014 registration opens. While the time for training is short, my motivation to be part of next year’s Boston Marathon is unending. Throughout the remainder of this week, I’m participating in various runs and events to honor all those affected by yesterday’s incident. Today, I lace up in honor of those still fighting for their lives in hospital beds around the city.

If you look at some of the photos from yesterday’s heartache, don’t focus on the carnage, gore and sadness. Instead, focus on the spirit that lives in each and every one of the first responders, bystanders and neighbors that fled TOWARDS the unthinkable scene unfolding in front of them. Think of the people who put their own lives at risk all in the name of helping others.

The next time you find yourself thinking about Boston, the Boston Marathon or any other distance running event, know that as runners, we bond together and we always get back up. Sick, exhausted, injured or stressed, we always end up back on our feet with running shoes laced up and ready to go again.

And we don’t do this alone.

This post goes out to the innocent souls who were taken from us. It’s for the friends, family, government officials, medical personnel and volunteers who work their asses off every year to make this the spectacular event it’s always been who were thrown into the depths of despair as duty called in a way that nobody could have imagined. It also goes out to the many of my fellow runners who were stripped of their Boston Marathon finish line dream and all those who are hurting in various ways right now (a good friend of mine actually saw those dismembered people lying there in agony).

On Sunday, I ran the BAA 5K and I had the pleasure of completing yet another “Right on Hereford, Left on Bolyston.” Even though it was a 5K, crossing that finish line caused memories of my previous Boston Marathon completions to come flooding back. I can only wish that I’d been able to share the same euphoria with the thousands of runners who were stopped a mere half mile from the finish line.

To all of those impacted by this incident in any way, shape or form, my thoughts and prayers (and miles) go out to you. And to the senseless people who did this, we WILL run. You CAN’T hide.

Please send your thoughts & prayers to Boston!

Oldies but Goodies: Welcome to the Happy Homeowner

Oldies but Goodies Today is an exciting day here at The Happy Homeowner as my first post for a new staff writing position with Quizzle (external link) has just gone live!

If you’re visiting here for the first time, welcome! If you’ve been reading for a while, today’s post features a collection of my favorite posts; the oldies but goodies….

Also, don’t forget to enter my cash giveaway!

Personal Finance

 

Travel

 

Fitness

 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

 

Photo credit: Circlesofsquares

Fitness Fridays: Breaking Out of a Fitness Rut

Road Race For my first Fitness Friday post, I want to share my strategies for breaking out of a fitness rut. Whether it’s injury, boredom or general workout apathy, we all fall into ruts from time to time with our fitness efforts. Regardless of how you get there, it’s important to have a game plan for breaking out of it and getting back to work.

Right now, I’m coming off of the third major running-induced injury I’ve had this year (despite the injuries, it’s been a great year for marathoning–I ran the Disney Goofy Challenge in January, the Boston Marathon in April and the Chicago Marathon in October). For me, breaking out of this current rut will be more about getting active again and less about needing to change up my routine. The following strategies work in both situations:

Baby Steps

Setting yourself up for success from the beginning is a key part of truly breaking out of a rut. Therefore, baby steps are in order: Start small and add more (distance, minutes, weight, poses, etc) gradually over time.

For me, I have my eyes set on running another 50-miler at the end of May. But it’s not like I’m going to go out tomorrow and run 25 miles; I’ll be happy with 3! I’ll be focusing on adding mileage slowly and methodically and doing so will help stave off any future injuries.

Shake it Up

Doing the same old thing over and over isn’t a recipe for fitness success no matter what your sport or interest may be. After all, hasn’t it been noted that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over and expecting a different result? To completely bust through a rut, it’s sometimes necessary to shake things up; to try something new.

Whether it’s cross-training or new fitness classes, weights or laps in the pool, throwing new activities into the mix is a great way to re-charge your fitness spirits and efforts. I’ll be adding in some P90x and taking part in an interesting mix of workouts by a new, local running club.

Write it Down

Just like you may write down your professional or financial goals, setting fitness goals is an important part of maintaining your motivation and keeping yourself out of another rut. The caveat? Your goal(s) need(s) to be specific, attainable and practical/realistic for your situation. Fitness goals are a tangible, quantifiable way to chart your progress.

My fitness goals will include building my mileage base again, maintaining a core strengthening routine and incorporating some cross-training (most likely biking to/from work again).

Partner Up

You don’t need to shell out hundreds on a personal trainer to keep yourself accountable and motivated. You can simply reach out to a friend, neighbor or family member to become your fitness buddy. While you don’t necessarily have to work out together, you should make it a priority to check in with each other at least weekly. During these check-ins, you can discuss your progress, vent about any aches/pains, chart your course for the next week and generally just be supportive/supported in your endeavors. Definitely a win-win situation!

I’ll be partnering up with my BF–we have different fitness interests (he loves volleyball, I’m a runner), but we have common goals of wanting to be fit, strong, healthy and ready for the next fitness challenge.

How do you break out of a fitness rut? Please share your tips and strategies!

 

Photo credit: Dru Bloomfield

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...