Slowing It Down
Most of you know that I’ve been on a running quest. This officially started in June — June 18 to be exact — the day after Sean’s funeral. I’ve been plugging along ever since. I’m loving the practice. I’m loving the constant work on form. I’m loving the meditation of it. I want to run far eventually. I want to work up to a marathon, if my body will have it. Maybe a 50k after that, if my mind will allow. Seems crazy now, but that’s what I hope for – what I’m working toward; one mile at a time.
Each run offers a new discovery for me. The latest: Just because I have surprised myself with new-found speed as I continue to lock in good technique, it doesn’t mean my body has caught up to my desire yet. I’m realizing it may take much longer than I expected to condition my body to do what my mind wants it to do. I didn’t think I was pushing the miles too aggressively, but a couple weeks ago I started to experience a nagging calf … thing. Dr. Britt thought maybe it was a deep strain. Maybe posterior shin splints? I’ve mobilized daily and she’s needled, massaged, and electric stim’ed it. And yet every time I hit the four mile mark, a pain started to glow on the inside of my upper ankle to an annoying intensity. It became frustrating.
As a human-movement geek, I’ve been reading a lot about running, and I came across the Maffetone method. Dr Phil Maffetone is fairly controversial, but one of his major philosophies lies in heart-rate training for athletes. He feels most athletes no matter their level don’t have a strong enough aerobic base. In the 1980’s he worked with a quite a few elite endurance athletes who were plagued with injury and who — despite solid finishes in their sport — were not PRing or getting better. He felt most elite athletes depend too much on an anaerobic system, which causes more stress to the body and they were more likely to overtrain or become injured. I know there are many debates on aerobic vs. anaerobic training especially within CrossFit, but I was intrigued with the idea of slowing down to build a better endurance foundation and to have my body catch up to achieve the distances I want to run without injury.
I’ve just started this experiment. Because of my age, my heart rate — according to the Maffetone method — should not go above 136, which is pretty low when exercising. Within my own experiment, I’ve tried to keep my heart rate between 140 and 145. And I’ve discovered that this 1. takes a big dollop of patience and 2. is a kick to the ego. Maffetone noted that frequently with his own students, they had a very hard time running at the back of the pack or even slower to truly test this philosophy. Their egos often got in the way of the big picture. Those who stuck to it were PRing injury-free after six months.
Though I’ve only been at this heart-rate training for a couple weeks, all runs so far have been pain-free. No calf thing. The runs have also been slower by about one minute to almost two minutes (when going up a hill) per mile. Which gnaws a me just a little. But as I run much slower, I can guarantee that my form stays truly intact when before, when I pushed pace, I’m sure I got sloppy now and again. Feeling pain-free, however, takes top billing in all of this. I again feel that the longer distances are within sight.
10 Kneeling squat jumps
20 Lateral hops
10 Handstand puhsups
–1min Rest between rounds–
144 Double unders
24 Lateral KB swings
Odd: 4 hang power cleans, 2 jerks
Even: 10 TTB
“Franklin (Hill) Five”
9:00 Back up
12:00 Back across