This past training week has been fun. That's right, fun. Even though I'm still on the low end of the upswing of things, the unorthodox approach coach and I have been using has been enjoyable and still pretty challenging (I know, I know....wait til I actually get in shape!;)). Since a few of you have asked for some more specifics of things, I though now would be a good time to share. I am prepared to even give...wait for it....some numbers!!
So what has training looked like in the past couple weeks. First, a slow and gradual return to running on land; astro turf to be more specific and I moved to the cinder pathway at a local park the other day. I have been really careful listening to everything happening in the bottom right hand corner and slowly am playing with different surfaces, except concrete because I'm allergic to it. Ok not really but it's a fun excuse.
Besides circling a soccer complex on padded and very fake grass, I've been on a steady rotation of Alter-G treadmill running at Sterling Ridge Sports Medicine in The Woodlands, pool running, weight training and recently started doing stability and plyometric work at Athletic Republic, which is right down the road from my office. All of those, plus throw in some spin bike every now and then and a yoga class. It's busy, but my running form feels like it used to and am becoming less afraid as I chip away at the mental task of both trusting the training and learning to trust my body. This of course is a constant work in progress, but that's what makes it interesting.
Since I have covered the soft surface stuff many times and also the pool running (NOT to be confused with aqua jogging!), I will share my experience on the Alter-G treadmill today. For those not familiar, picture a regular treadmill with a plastic tent-like thing around the base and belt. The tent-like thing houses a zipped-in athlete at the waist (using triathlon-like shorts that attach) and suspends by creating more or less air pressure to lift or lower while you run. You can use 20 percent to basically all of your body weight. I have mostly been running at 75-85% currently. I basically show up to the facility, get the shorts on, zip in, and wait a minute or so for calibration of the machine. The rest I am in control of (or more like Doug has control of! LOL).
The best thing about this sweet machine to me is that I can run at paces dictated by my VO2 Max versus my compromised parts. My first session consisted of an 8-mile run with one minute intervals at a 6:10-6:15 pace. Been a while since I've seen numbers like those! Of course it's not using all of my mass, however, my cardiovascular system and running-specific muscles (i.e. fast-twitch especially) get a particular training stimulus at much lower risk. Gotta say that it is awesome to go hammer out some solid paces without worrying about spontaneous combustion. Well, I don't really worry about that per se, but you get the idea.
After the maiden session on the Alt-G, I have put in a 20 minute tempo run at 6:45-7 min pace and today was a nice pseudo hammer-fest with a fartlek of 2 min, 1 min, and 30 seconds at slightly lower than 10k pace (like 5:35-5:50- eek!). Minus the impact of the road, and using just north of 80% body weight, this was both challenging and fun. Disclaimer: paces may or may not translate currently to on land, however, through all the high-intensity, low-impact training, I have reconnected with my odd enjoyment and satisfaction of putting a little hurt on every now and again. With a focused and quiet mind, its encouraging to see that I still have some speed-even though I have a ways to go.
The best part of this past week is that I have been able to see the "engine" inside is still well-intact. With the copious stability and supplementary work, this is turning into a fun science project. Or perhaps this is how I should have been approaching things all along.....
So here we go on a fall of just training and strengthening, with a 5k race in January. I love to set a goal and put together all the pieces and right now am enjoying not having to rush into a race. I've always enjoyed the process of getting back into form.
Below is a pic of a mounted camera on the Alter G that shows a multi-angle picture of footstrike patterns along with the short video of me warming up for my first workout (cheesy, I know, and I think the PT there meant to take a still photo). Thanks goes out to Sterling Ridge SM and Athletic Republic for helping make this "old" lady fast again! So there you have it-some of the crazy facets of a new training system!
|Mid-stride on Tuesday.|
Also, research from the Alter-G company can be found here giving the rationale for progressive loading in training. I find it fascinating.
Stay the course.