The toughest part of running for me right now is I remember the way it used to be. Back when I could confidently say “Four miles? Bah. It’s not even worth tying my shoes for.”
Well, these days I can’t even run half a mile without breaking into a brisk walk. Sure – some of it has to do with the extra 20 pounds I’m carrying (yes – I really let myself go during the last year and a half), but most of it has to do with the fact that I’ve lost *all* of my aerobic base.
Here’s a statistic for you – do you realize that your aerobic system provides about 95% of your energy needs in a 5K and almost 100% of them in a marathon? Yet most of us neglect proper cardio vascular training by doing our long runs too fast and doing too many intervals and hills way too hard.
Building our cardio vascular system involves slow, persistent training over a long period of time. I don’t know if I’ve ever told this story, but (time for some proud parental bragging) two of my children were rowers (the kind who row the big boats like you see in the Olympics, or the opening credits of House). My daughter scholar shipped at an NCAA division I school, and my youngest son was racing internationally at the ripe age of 16. Both of them received coaching from people who rowed internationally at the highest levels (World Cup and Olympics). The two of them would literally spend hours every day on rowing machines or running at *very* low heart rates (65% of max or less) building their aerobic base. Why? Because that is how the elites train. All I know is within a few months they were able to row on the water for hours and not really break much of a sweat.
What can I take away from this? This time I’m not going to fall into the trap of thinking that I *need* to train hard. The key this time around will be weekends – long runs at low intensity. Back to back. Miles of slow running until my body says it’s ready to train hard. How will I know when I’m ready? When my long runs become easy.
Yes. This time I’m going slow and steady. Say, wasn’t there some Greek fable about that?
- Monday: 6 miles easy
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: 4 miles easy.
- Thursday: Rest.
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: 10 miles easy.
- Sunday: 8 miles easy
- Total: 28 miles