Now that fall is officially here, I’d like to talk a little bit about my vacation from running this past summer. 2014 was very different in the fact that my training went into overtime, culminating in my first 50k ultra marathon. After what seemed like an endless training cycle, I decided to give my body a break and take a little vacation from running. Not a permanent vacation mind you, just time to let my body fully recover from the two years of non-stop running. I’ve still been running here and there, just not part of a structured training schedule. Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be a vacation from training. There were a few things that let to my decision to cut back, the first (and most important) being running stopped being fun for me.
All work and no play make Peter something something
I became so obsessed with reaching peak mileage, nailing my paces and logging absolutely everything in DailyMile that it left me feeling kinda burned out. I really wanted to just head out the door with no Garmin and no map and just run. I’d look at the clock to get an idea of when I left the house and head out for a 40 minute run and enjoy every minute. Running only 2 – 3 times a week felt like nothing compared to the usual 5 – 6 days. Not only did it give my body a break, it gave my family a break and it was nice to actually see them on Sunday morning. Also, if I didn’t feel like running, I just wouldn’t go. That would be almost unthinkable in training mode. The next time when I did feel like running, it was incredible!
The serious cut back in time and distance also gave me a chance to let my achilles heal properly. It’s been pretty sore since I ran a 38km long run two weeks after the 2014 Mississauga Marathon, I’m just thankful that I was still able to run Niagara with it. I knew it was going to take a long time to heal, so I put the majority of my efforts into strength training – something that I’ve ignored for a long time.
Putting on muscle
All of the distance running really took its toll on my body and I ended up dropping down to about 130lbs. I really wanted to put weight on (and keep it on) and old school barbell training was the way to go. I pulled exercises together from different sources and put a weekly plan together. Once I had a weekly routine down, I really started to get into it. My only rules were to not repeat the same exercise more than once a week and increment the weight by no more than 5lbs per week.
Here’s a sample of what a typical weight training day looks like:
- 10min easy barefoot run (or 20min brisk dog walk)
- Alternating bear / crab walks, 4 times each across my backyard
- 4 sets of pistol (one legged) squats, 10 reps each leg
- 4 sets bench press, 6-8 reps
- 4 sets deadlifts, 6-8 reps
- Cool down – farmer carry w/bricks for 3-5min
The part that I found harder than the weight training was eating more quality calories. I know that I have to eat more to put weight on, but vegetables don’t really add that much in the way of calories. I started drinking whole milk with every meal and generally eating bigger portions of my usual healthy meals. It takes a while to get used to, but your body eventually adapts to taking in more food. It has been working as I’ve been gaining about 1lb per week during the summer and I’m happy to report that I’ve reached my goal of adding 20lbs of muscle.
Looking forward to 2015
Since I’m having fun running now (with no more achilles pain) and putting on muscle, my vacation from running is over and it’s time to start thinking about what I’d like to begin training for. The usual Chilly Half, Around the Bay 30k, Toronto / Mississauga isn’t really doing it for me though. I’d really like to break out and do something different. Maybe a trail race? I’ve come up with a few options for the spring: another marathon (Toronto or Ottawa) or a 50k trail ultra (Sulphur Springs). Until then I’m base building, running short distances with my dog every day and loving it!