>Running 101>What's happening to my body as I progress?
I'm 250lbs, going from sedentary to running and calisthenics. My goal is to lose 70lbs and score competitively in the Army physical fitness test so that I can join and fly. The nutrition I've got covered and it's coming along well. As for the fitness, I've eased my way in doing about 3 miles a day. In the beginning, about 6 weeks ago, I could jog (around 5-6mph) around 1/8th of a mile before I ran out of air. My legs would be on fire (when I stopped walking I'd clench my fist and seethe, it was like all the pain hit in one final jolt once I'd stopped) and my ribs would have a sharp pain. Currently I try to cover 3 miles in 45 minutes with the following intervals: 1/2 mile at 6mph, 1/4 mile at 3mph (walking), 1/4 mile jogging, etc. until I hit 3 miles then a cool down walk. I don't have that searing pain or the sharp rib pain any longer. I'm hoping to continually improve until I can run two miles at an average of 8 minutes each. I have a year and I think I can do it.
The thing that usually stops me from running, and forcing me to walk, is what I expect is a lack of oxygen. I just can't seem to breathe enough and my legs just say "no". I usually have a heart rate of around 155-160 at the end of my jogging interval before I feel I need to walk again. It's also possible that I've run out of glycogen or I'm not utilizing it fast enough. It's not pain. My muscles don't feel on fire and even if they did I've learned to deal with that pain. It's just... there's nothing left. However, it's slowly getting better. What's happening to my body that allows me to continually improve? More importantly, how might I speed up the process? I feel if I'm going to improve, I need to understand what's going on under the hood.
Lastly, I want to avoid injuries. I've done considerable exercise in the past and ended up with Achilles tendinitis which caused me pain for months. I know now how to avoid that but there are so many injuries out there. I run to a limit that I choose myself. I feel I can do more but the anxiety of being slowed in my progress due to an injury prevents me from pushing the limits further. The main question here is, how do I explore my limits without injuring myself? How do I tell whether a pain I feel is temporary or something serious? Etc.
Thank you for your time!
As I read your message, your core question is "...What's happening to my body that allows me to continually improve? More importantly, how might I speed up the process?..".
Your body is reacting to the stress loads from your training and getting stronger and more capable. That's how training works...you add a stress load, the body builds more muscle, oxygen capacity, etc, etc to deal with it.
The way to speed up the process is to train more. But to train more, you need to manage the intensity to a level that prevents injury -- either trauma injury (shock load) or repetitive injury from overstress and overuse.
So...try some walking to get your daily "time on feet" way beyond the 45 minutes you're doing now. Walk (briskly) for 20 - 30 minutes after your run, or before. You'll build your aerobic system, your leg stamina. Over time transition to longer running periods.
Run lots, mostly easy. Some times hard. To train for your 3 mile Army run...you need to run way more than 3 miles.
Once we rode together in a metal firecracker
Not my usual look
>> More importantly, how might I speed up the process?
>> ...the anxiety of being slowed in my progress due to an injury...
These two comments worry me a bit. You have set challenging goals for yourself. Your body might just say NO, this isn't going to happen. If that's the case, there's not a whole lot you can do about it.
How about having a plan B, say a two year plan? See how your training is going; if it's going well, great, maybe plan A will happen. If you start to have problems, though, it's better to not risk injuring yourself. Tendonitis and a whole range of other injuries can rear their ugly heads if you push too hard, too fast. If you allow yourself the option to ease up if necessary, you might avoid overdoing it, and the outcome, whether plan A, B, or C, will be better.
Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.
Old , Ugly and slow
How old are you.
You need to watch your joints trying running on softer surfaces a few days a week.
I would also add weightlifting twice a week.
pr's 5k 20.08, 5 mile 31:20, 10k 41.19 all done in the 80's
2013 goals 1500 1000 miles , 190 pounds get to 100 miles a month or more and stay there
+1 to everything MilkTruck said.
2013 goals: run a bunch....race some.....repeat...
Try to run more slowly. You want to be running slow enough that you could carry on a conversation - whole sentences at least. By running more slowly, you can run farther. You might consider the Couch to 5k Program - which does a run/walk mix that gradually increases your running segments from 1 minute to 30 minutes straight in about 8 weeks. When you can slowly jog three miles without stopping, then start occasionally mixing in faster running. Run fast from one mailbox to the next, for example, then continue jogging slowly. When you have recovered, run fast another 30 - 60 seconds. But continue to do the majority of your run slowly. Don't worry about the time. If you are running 12 minute miles at first, don't worry about it. Speed will come when you have more volume, and you can't increase the volume without first building the base. Trying to run too fast too soon can lead to injury, so ease into it gradually.
I doubt you're running out of glycogen...if I understand that physiological process correctly (and it's possible I don't), running out of glycogen is more a function of time spent exercising as opposed to intensity (both are factors, but the first more than the other). If you're going 45 mins. at a shot, I doubt you're experiencing glycogen depletion (unless you're on some kind of carbohydrate-restrictive diet).
It's probably that you're hitting your aerobic threshold, which you build by doing what you're doing - putting in miles, some of which are at a faster pace. That said, DON'T think to yourself, "Well shoot, if more miles at a faster pace is what brings improvement, then putting in a LOT more miles at a faster pace will make me improve faster!" As others have said, what will eventually happen is that you'll develop an overuse injury - if you've already had Achilles problems, it's a likely culprit - and then you'll be running no miles and improving not at all. Increase your mileage gradually (sounds like your current rate of increase isn't too unreasonable), and before you know it, you'll be well on your way to your goal.
One quick hint I can give you, that helped me with that "out-of-breath" feeling you described (which we all get sometimes) and is purported to help stave off injury, is to meter your breathing so that you're exhaling on a different foot each time, or every other time. I got it from an article in Runner's World, which was itself based on their book Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter by Bud Coates. I haven't read the whole book (though I'm intrigued enough that I might), but the short, short version is, you tend to come down harder on the foot that you exhale on, and you almost always exhale on the same foot. So if you, say, breathe in for three steps and out for two every time, you're alternating which footfall you exhale during. I find it more comfortable to breathe in three, out two, in three, out three and that accomplishes basically the same thing. And, it seems like I have more wind as I do it (even though I know it's not actually increasing my aerobic capacity).
Sorry it took me so long to return and thank you all properly. Thank you! I will try to make a single reply to hit most topics.
I have extended my workout routine. The other day I was able to run 0.75 miles without stopping, for which I'm very happy! I'm now covering at least 4 miles, of which at LEAST 2 miles will be jogging, and I increased my walking pace so that my heart rate doesn't go too low. My hypothesis is that, in order to improve my respiratory system, I need to be increase my O2 requirements during my "resting" phases. I'm also hoping that, as I continue to lose fat weight, my per minute O2 requirement for a certain speed will drop to something more manageable. It seems it gets easier every week. I must not become complacent.
Yes, my body just saying "no" is my biggest fear which is why I'm being as careful as I can to avoid any injuries. I would love to be able to devote 2 years to this however I am already 32 years old and the cutoff for Army WO pilots is 33 years old. It's possible to get an age waiver, maybe, but realize it's very competitive and I'd be competing against 20 year olds (i.e. a waiver is almost a death sentence unless it's an unusual cycle). My current stressor feedback are my knees, feet, and hips. Sometimes they will ache. Not a sharp pain, just a dull ache. When I feel that, I back off. Maybe I only walk for a few days or I give myself one complete day of rest. So far, the pain only lasts a day.
The breathing is a very important issue, as you've mentioned. As it is, I try to breathe in through my nose and out my mouth. Sometimes that's not possible so I manage my breathe using the method you've described. It's an interesting thing. If I allow myself to breathe quickly, it seems my body just says "STOP!" and my heart races. If I breathe slowly, it's like it calms my body and I can keep going. Sometimes I can feel that desire in my lungs, which feels like a sort of "panic", but somehow I manage to work through it. It's like it's telling me, "You're out of air. You can't keep running. You'll never make your goal. You should walk now." It's a hard voice to ignore.
I actually think you may be overthinking this a bit, and stressing yourself out in the process. Unless you're an elite (or aspiring elite) athlete, there's not much point in trying to plan out your training a year in advance, because something is pretty much guaranteed to get in the way. (Life changes, injuries, illnesses, just a particularly busy period at work or in your family, etc.) Performing competitively in your test can be your overarching goal, but your first step is just going to be building up a base of mileage and stamina. Instead of trying to think what you need to be doing for the whole year before your test, just focus on your week-to-week workouts, with maybe a "wide lens" view of the next 1-3 months. Go by the 10% rule (add no more than 10% to your weekly mileage each week), take a step-back week every once every 3-5 weeks of training, and do mostly easy running for now. Also, I didn't quite understand this, so if I got the wrong impression, then ignore this next advice, but it sounded a little like you're running the same distance every day. Gradually make some of those runs a little longer and some a little shorter. After a couple months of base building, it will feel very natural to add "quality" (that is, speed) elements to some of the shorter runs. I'd also put some races on the calendar and train for those as shorter term goals. They'll serve as benchmarks for your overall progress toward your ultimate goal. Putting a hard effort 5k on the calendar once every 2-3 months will give you a periodic update to the number you can plug into the McMillan calculator and it will help you keep training efficiently as you add quality runs. You'll also be able to see the predicted finish time for a 2 Miler and see the progress you're making toward your goal. (The other option is running periodic max effort 2 milers, but you'll be a lot less likely to find any commercially-run races that are 2 miles--you'll probably have to just do them by yourself, and it's mentally much harder to coax yourself to max effort when you're alone. Maybe rope a friend into being your cheering squad, or if any of your friends are fast runners, to pace you.)
there's not much point in trying to plan out your training a year in advance,
For some of us planning is just a part of the fun. And achieving little day to day goals is a heck of a motivation too. If you are a good planner you can perfectly take variables into account... so why not if he likes it?
Good avice, this.
The quickest way to improve is to avoid injury.....
Personal bests (bold = this year): 5K - 24:20 / 5M - 38:42 / 10K - 51:54 / 10M - 1:24:26 / HM - 1:52:08 / M - 4:13:04
Next races: Millburn Red Cross 5K 12/8; Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 10K 12/15
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