“Marathons Aren’t Good Training Runs”

One of my athletes recently sent me an article from Runner’s World titled “Marathons Aren’t Good Training Runs”.  The article and title are dead-on, and I know it happens more than we would like to admit it; typically from social pressures or the lack of a planned season. I’m guilty of it myself, having signed up for a race, then later regretting or tossing it up as “just a training run”. Never thinking about the impact the distance would have on my body.  Even if you plan on running the distance slow or as a “training run”, you might be sacrificing your longer term goals.

“You’re robbing from your goal to pay for a short term thrill”

Don’t get me wrong, one of the reasons I enjoy running is the social aspect of it and planning a “run-cation” with my friends just blends the best of both worlds. However as is stated in the article “You’re robbing from your goal to pay for a short term thrill”. This is especially true if you have a plan and then decide to add an unplanned event, or have been wondering why your progress has plateaued. If that is the case it might be time to take a step back and reestablish your goals.  Or better yet, plan your season with your coach to make sure that you’re not sabotaging yourself from making progress.

As with most things a few exceptions apply for those piling on the miles. However, most of those are endurance or ultra distance athletes which have not only longed in the volume needed to prevent injury, but have also planned heavy volume weeks as part of their goal race. For the rest of us, a simple plan may prevent you from straying too far and risking injury or just another bad training run. With this being the start of the year, now is the time to plan your season… just make sure you stick to it, or have someone keep you accountable. And whatever you do, try not to cave into peer pressure. But if you MUST enter a race, make sure the distance is inline with your training, which might mean entering a half, 10k or just spectating and enjoying the vacation part of the trip.

Dealing with Injury

As much as we hate to admit it, injuries are an unfortunate part of every athlete’s life.  No matter if you are just starting out or in the professional ranks, injuries are bound to happen at some point. Even with a well thought-out and formulated plan the chances of injury or even illness are inevitable. Given these facts, the best we can do as athletes is listen to our bodies.

Yes. It is easier said than done. Specialty when you are in the middle of a great training cycle and your body forces you to miss a training day. Not sure about you, but I try to deny the fact that something is not right and have been known to “try” and push past it. Almost always ending in greater disappointment due to a poor performance or prolong recovery time.

Stubborn? Yea just a little, but most of us suffer from the same type of personality so you know exactly what I mean. For me the fear of missing a workout or two and having it translate to a decline in fitness is devastating. Silly, I know; but we all know I’m not alone. I often need to remind myself and my athletes that there is a practical way to deal with, or manage injury and sickness and it is dependent on what that ailment might be.

First of all, if you have a severe injury, gushing blood or have a bone twisted in a way that is not normal, then you should just go see a medical professional. If your injury is superficial, like a scraped knee, road rash or a minor sprain you might be able to keep training or modify your workouts slightly. Just be cautious of sore muscles, as that soreness can be a warning sign or mask a bigger issue. Keep an eye on those and monitor the recovery progress. If those superficial or acute injuries persist make sure to see a doctor. When doing so, try to find a doctor who understands the type of training you are doing. Often they are able to recommend alternative ways of maintaining your workout routine while caring for your injury.  Most important thing is to do all you can to prevent those pains from becoming a chronic injury.

With that said, if you suffer from chronic injuries, especially if they are recurring ones it might be time to get down to the root of the problem. Most of these issues stem from an imbalance which might be cured with a constant routine of strength training and some modifications to your form. Core, to some this is a four letter word. However, the importance of a strong core cannot be stressed enough. Not only will you have a great 6 pack, but you will be less injury prone, simple as that. So, make sure you incorporate core work along with your regular strength and stretching regimen.

OK, so you failed to do your core work, and now gained an injury instead of that 6 pack. No need to get all depressed, you just need to refocus your efforts and your training. Simply treat your recovery the same way you treat your training, with a plan.  This might require you to adjust your priorities, or even skip a race for the long term good. The important thing to remember is that you should not lose momentum, just replace workouts with some less impactful ones, like swimming, yoga, rowing, or other cross-training exercises which will help you maintain your fitness and aid in the recovery of your injury. Embrace the down-time, you will not only come back stronger but also well rested and able to take on the rest of the season.