Monday, March 9, 2015

Trying to run while having a job

Last week I had to travel for work.  The hotel where I stayed had a nice exercise area, but I know from experience that my personal limit on the treadmill is about an hour, plus time would be somewhat limited.  

So I planned this for last week, meaning to move the long run forward a couple of days:
Monday: easy, 50-60 minutes.
Tuesday: easy, 50-60 minutes.
Wednesday: easy, 80-90 minutes.
Thursday: off (travel day)
Friday: 50-60 minutes
Saturday:  8-10 hill repeats on the treadmill. (Wednesday's workout from the following week.)
Sunday: off (travel day)
Monday: 90-105 minutes (the long run)

Wednesday would get the fartlek run originally scheduled for today.

What actually happened.
Monday: 6.2 miles, easy (treadmill)
Tuesday: Eight inches of snow meant no chance to get to the road, trails, or gym.  Half an hour of Jillian Michaels, half an hour of weights.  Good workout, but not a run.
Wednesday:  So I woke up at 5AM to get to the gym.  I figured the roads would be slick,but they weren't, but I was already committed to the treadmill.  I should have come home and changed and run outside.  I wasn't feeling motivated, my body was stiff and sleepy, and by the time I managed to get out the door and warmed up, I would have had at best 70 minutes for an easy run, so I pushed a hard 50 minutes instead. 5 or so miles, with hill intervals.
Thursday: My flight got in at midnight instead of 2PM.  I got to the hotel by 2AM.
Friday:  hahahahahaha run wasn't happening.
Saturday: 3 miles + weights.
Sunday: 3 miles + core.  Flew home

Today: screw it.  Warm-up, 10 x 1 min fartlek 1 one minute recovery, cool down.  5.4 miles total.

Best laid plans gang aglee up in here....

So, I'm just pretending the weekend didn't happen.  Trying to make up mileage is a recipe for injury.  For whatever reason, the long run is the "workout" that bothers me the least.  I missed this weekend.  But I really have no fear that I'll pull two hours on Saturday with no trouble.  Long runs are mentally easy -- you just run gently, and don't stop till you're done.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Minimalist Movement Went Flat Because It Was a Trend.

Hixson argues that minimalism went flat because "[the runners who switched to minimalism] were either unprepared or continued to run with poor technique and didn’t reap the benefits they thought were theirs."   I think this is wrong.  I think it went flat because it was a trend, straight up, and trends simply don't last.

I liked Born to Run like everyone else I knew in 2009, and why not?  It's a great tale of a completely insane race, and it holds out the promise of being special to every middle-aged hobby jogger out there.  You have the lineage, it says.  You and all human beings are to the manner born, the manner of running free and easy.

A lot of my friends -- as an educated late-20 something at the time, I was basically the target audience -- fell in love with the book.   Vibrams seemed like the sensible path for a bunch of city dwellers, and away they went.

A solid majority developed stress fractures.

Now, you can say this is a case of too much too soon.  And perhaps it was, although my friends adhered scrupulously to the guidelines.   You can say they ran with poor technique, but the thing is, they weren't getting injured in traditional shoes.  I believe that many runners could benefit from changing their running style, but the minimalist movement, or at least elements of it, seemed to argue that people should change their style solely to fit the ideal promised by a book.

If you think about it, this gets it backward.  Most of us attempting to run in minimal shoes aren't naturally talented human runners, and years of sitting, injuries, weight gain, years of living have left their imprint on our bodies.  For many of us, starting slowly and easing into isn't enough.   Why not buy shoes that work, instead of those that fit a story?

I never went fully minimal.  When I started running in fall 2013, I began by walking in a pair of Vivo Barefoot I had bought at the height of the craze.  Then I ran in Altra Torins, and learned that I have better rearfoot control in a zero-drop shoe.

Unfortunately, I also learned that better rearfoot control is not good rearfoot control. My hip has to take up the slack, and while I don't have weak hips, they aren't strong enough to control a foot that developed bunions at age 13.

I'm fit.  I foam roll, mobilize, everything, but I do not have good feet for running.  They are fine and flexible, but trying to pretend they're really strong doesn't make them rigid.  I believe the lighter shoe might have worked well, if I had different feet.  No amount of toe exercises is going to change bone.

I can't believe I'm alone.  I'm glad the trend happened -- it's nice to have lighter shoes, and I really like the 8mm offset Saucony adopted across the board.  But the trend didn't last just because it was a trend.