Monday, January 26, 2009

An Unconventional Approach - Cody

I have never been someone who runs just for the sake of running, I have generally done it in order to get in shape for some other sport, probably since high school. I've kept it up somewhat since I don't participate in organized sports anymore, but I've never done it all that consistently. The furthest I had run since beginning my training was seven miles. So I suppose I really started an organized running program in November when I learned I would be running the Marathon.

As a physical therapist, I have worked with many people who have run marathons and the idea of doing it at least once in my life has been something I've been thinking about for a while. I guess I want to prove to myself that I can do it. When I was in physical therapy school, I worked at Marathon Sports (the shoe store), and there was always lots of talk about training for and finishing marathons, especially Boston. I've worked with many people who have been training for a marathon, but have been interrupted by injury. I also volunteered at last year’s Boston, working with the wheelchair athletes and I worked at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Post-Marathon Injury Clinic. Despite being around it so much, I hadn't experienced it myself. Now I have that opportunity.

I am taking a slightly less conventional approach to marathon training. Most programs prescribe variable lengths of long, slow distances as the primary form of training. My experience as a PT working with people who are training for marathons along with my time at the shoe store tells me this is not the approach for me. I've seen far too many people with training-related injuries that are made worse on race day. I've had ex-professional runners tell me that conventional programs have a lot of “junk miles.” I also think that I would go crazy if my only training was running, so I'm taking a different approach. Whether this is smart or not, I'm not sure yet, but we'll see. The program consists of five days per week of workouts I'm taking from a website ( consisting of high-intensity, often circuit training using body weight, dumbbells, barbells, and Olympic lifts, combined with running. One to two of these days will be supplemented with an additional workout of short-distance interval running. Additionally, I will have one medium distance run per week (six to 10 miles) at my fastest possible pace. Long, slow runs will be every two to four weeks with distances approaching 20 miles. So, that's the plan at this point, but if I feel that my long distance runs are not progressing as I'd like, I'll switch to a more conventional program. So far it’s working though, because after three weeks of a less involved version of this program, I ran eight miles (the furthest I'd ever run) easily.

To get in two workouts a day, two days per week, I have to wake up earlier to get the first one in. That means up at 4:30 am for me. I will also have to switch to driving to work rather than taking the T because the T does not run early enough. Training has also made me become much more efficient with my time (which really means I watch less TV) because I have quite a few other things swirling around my life and I need to make sure I have time for everything while still enjoying the journey!

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