Monday, January 16, 2012

A Paradigm Shift

There’s an old adage in the ballet about missing training time and what happens to your body:

Miss a day; it takes a week to get to where you were.
Miss a week; it takes a month.
Miss a month; it takes a year.
Miss a year; consider your career ended.

Having once lost several weeks to an Achilles injury, I can attest to the truth of that saying – I felt as though I’d never been a trained dancer at all when I started back up.  And it took months of hard, hard work to get back to where I’d once been.

I mention this because we’ve just completed Week One of our 5K training plan and the concept of training for distance runs is completely foreign to me.  We’re following the Mayo Clinic’s 5K for beginners program, which is very much in line with Jeff Galloway’s renowned running programs.  The concept is this: slow and steady finishes the race.  The program is based on building endurance by combining running and walking in two short sessions and one longer session each week.  No running at full-tilt every day.  No pushing yourself to the point of complete exhaustion.  No training at the same level of intensity every day.   It’s a total paradigm shift for me and I won’t lie – my mind is struggling with it.  When I feel good, I want to GO and go hard!  So far, the hardest thing about taking up running has been learning to slow down.

We started the week, me and my son, Leo, with a 30-minute session doing intervals of 15 seconds running and 45 seconds walking.  More than once I wanted badly to open up and break into a sprint, but I stuck to the program and felt not so much as a twinge of muscle fatigue the next day.  After a day of just walking for me and karate class for Leo, we did another 30 minutes of intervals… again, a nice, easy pace and no problems the next day.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe there’s something to this crazy approach after all!”  Another day of plain old walking and we had a day off.  A Rest Day.  No cross-training, no walking, nada.  Folks, that was rough.  I felt fantastic and wanted to get out there and run!  But once again, I stuck with the program and settled myself onto the couch for a movie instead.

The next day was our first long run: 3 miles at the same 15 seconds running/ 45 seconds walking interval.  That’s the longest I’ve ever run or walked in one shot and I really expected to feel it.  Adding to the intensity, we chose to take our session to a nearby beach, where it was very windy and about 50 degrees – COLD for us Floridians!

Guess what?

It was easy!  As in, not winded, could easily still hold a conversation at the end, could’ve gone another 3 miles easy.  Poor Leo had a much harder time; he had a karate clinic earlier in the day and he was just mush after a mile and a half, which brought our combined time way, way down.  But you know what? 


And I’m very, very proud of us both for that accomplishment.

Leo earned himself a recovery day with no running after that, while I hit the treadmill for a short walk followed by yoga.  Yes, I was a little sore, but not overly so.  And I took a little time to think about what we were doing… True, my mind’s still having a hard time adjusting to the training program, but my body is clearly responding exactly as is intended.  I’m a believer!

On we push to Week Two…

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