Week 07 Summary: 14.7 miles (4.5 mi speedwork Wed, 7 mi LSR Fri, 3.2 mi easy Sun) plus abs on Monday.
There was only one weight session in Week 07, and that’s because on Thursday I went back to my doctor’s office to go over my x-rays. The x-rays report that I have arthritis in my spine. The degeneration is what’s causing all of the nerve pinching and the tense muscles. I also have arthritic degeneration in my toes, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise to hear that it’s in my spine too. It’s depressing and scary, though: depressing because there isn’t much you can do to fix arthritis; you just have to avoid aggravating it or setting it off ; and scary, because I need to confirm that it’s osteoarthritis and not rheumatoid arthritis (RA is an autoimmune disease which might explain some of the other things I’ve been suffering with over the years, but can be fairly debilitating).
When I asked the doctor what this meant for working out, he told me that I could continue doing anything that didn’t hurt, but that he recommended avoiding heavy weightlifting (especially upper-body, anything focused on lats or traps) and high impact (running or high intensity cardio).
There’s irony here:
I’ve been lifting heavy a) because it’s the most efficient way to build muscle and b) because it’s a proven way to stave off osteoporosis in old age.
I’ve been running a) to keep up cardiovascular health and b) to improve (to what extent I can) my asthma.
#1 and #2 are apparently what is ‘causing’, ie. setting off, my arthritis. These “good-for-you” exercises are actually acting as trauma to my body. So what I’m gaining in one place I’m losing in another.
I want to talk about this at some point on the blog, because I feel like this is an important place I’ve found myself: This is why it’s so important for us to define health in a way that makes sense, for each body. People have talked for years about how heavy weights are the only way to ‘get slim’, to the point where it can get very judgy or preachy. And here I am, evidence at 30 years of age that not everyone can do “the best” workout. Is heavy lifting still “healthy” for my body if it keeps me hovering at a 5 on the pain scale of 10, if it aggravates my neck to the point where I can’t drive a car? I don’t think so, but I think the industry has a ways to go until that message is received.
So based on that, what’s gonna happen during Week #08?
Technically it’s a rest weekfor me; also, I’m doing the Warrior Dash on Sunday 26 August. However, I still want to maintain running fitness. I did ~15 miles last week; I’m going to aim for 12.6 this week as a rest/race week. 4.5 miles of easy speedwork, 5 miles easy on Friday, and then 3.1 miles at the Warrior Dash.
I won’t be weight training this week either. If I have a free day I may try to do some core work, but I also won’t beat myself up if I simply take it as a rest day.
I’m going to try a new gym that has a pool. I haven’t talked a lot about it here, but I was a state-level varsity swimmer in high school and I have always loved swimming. And when you’re looking at low-impact cardio and muscle-building activities, I’m not sure you get much better than swimming. I have a couple free trial passes to a new gym that I’m going to try twice this week (Mon and Thurs) and if I like the rest of the gym and the pool, I’ll be doing a 3-month trial period and incorporating lap swims and intense pool cardio into my overall workout plan.
Physical therapy. The doctor prescribed some PT for my neck, and I’m super whiny about it, because PT is expensive (especially on my insurance ) and time-consuming. But I need to go if I ever want to figure out what’s wrong with my neck/shoulders/back.
I’ll update as I can. Has anyone gone through PT before? Any words of wisdom?
Summary: A lot of rest days this week, because I was at my parents’ house from Thursday night to Saturday evening for a short visit. I’m impressed that I actually got up on Friday – in a different state – and went out for a long run. I had hoped to do 7 miles, but I’d forgotten just how hilly it is where my parents live; that 6 miles involved me walking a couple hills, because, damn. So on one hand, sure, I had a lot of rest days, but on the other hand, I manged to put in 6 miles while on a trip. That’s something, and I’ll take it.
Week 07 Plan:
Mon: BR + weights
Tues: 4.5 mi tempo (0.75 warmup, 3mi tempo, 0.75 cooldown)
Wed: rest or BR + weights
Fri: 7 mi LSR
Sat: rest or BR/weights
Sun: 4 mi easy
This would put me at 15.5 miles, with 3 days of running, and 2 days of BR/weights/crosstraining. I think 5/7 days with workouts is a worthy goal.
My first LTA post talked about the parts of a training plan, and my second LTA post talked about how to put the parts together. What I want to talk about in this third one will be shorter, I promise: I want to talk about a couple fun run workouts you can do once you start getting up there in mileage, to keep your runs more interesting and add variety. Remember, if you keep running the same thing, you’re going to keep running the same thing. Changing it up is what makes you better.
Most of these variations involve some kinds of speedwork, so you’re really going to want to save this for a day your legs need that extra push — an actual speedwork day in your schedule, a week you aren’t also upping your long run, a recovery run where you feel great and want a little extra push. Or, maybe you’ve reached a weekly mileage you’re happy with – your body’s used to the long runs – and you need to step it up in intensity another way. (Please don’t overwork your workouts — injuries and burnout are so prevalent, and so easy to do. Make sure you’re listening to your body overall.) Or maybe you have to run on a treadmill because it’s really freaking hot where you live (…) and you need to make that run interesting.
Here are some of the things I like to throw into my runs …!
Well, I should know this by now, but the best way to beat the workout-health-emo-doldrums is to work out.
Today’s run was great. It felt great – which is something I can’t often say for running; I’m a chronically injured asthmatic, so most of my runs feel like something passed through a meat grinder – and I’m happy with my performance.
The goal was 4-5 mi of speedwork. I decided to do what I like to call a Mile Dial Down (sounds cool when you say it!): run a mile at a medium tempo pace, and then step down – 1, 0.75, 0.5, 0.25, and 0.1 – getting faster for every interval. They’re separated by a recovery jog (which for me today was a recovery walk) just to recover breath and heart rate; I did 0.2 mi jogging or walking in between.
The overall average speed is slow, sure, but each leg gets significantly faster (it’s easier to see the progression looking at the splits; the overall averages are a little wonked because of the treadmill’s slow response to speed changes), and the average is weighted down by warmup and cool down respectively.
AND – important – my heart rate actually came down during my rest/off intervals. I’ve had problems not taking my rest intervals seriously enough in the past, and it’s ruined runs before, whether from asthma or exhaustion. Surprise – taking your running a little easier makes it more enjoyable. WHO KNEW
I’m pleased with this run. 4.8 miles, with some speedwork, and it felt good. Maybe I’m ready to put more speedwork back into this plan; maybe the last two weeks have been good for me and I’m ready to step it up.