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maintaining (a little) running fitness while focusing on other exercises (Read 1247 times)

zenfurni


    Hey guys,

     

      First post ever, but I've greatly enjoyed lurking here.

     

      I'm a 26-year-old male, and this is the first year that I did any running on a serious basis (not a total novice, in previous years I had run a 5k here and there, on up to 15 mpw), and I safely and steadily ramped it up throughout the winter, spring, and summer.  I got up to 30+ mpw and happily ran my first two half-marathons in June and September (1:51:20 and 1:48:10, woo!).

     

      In any case, I still really enjoy running, but I'm a little burnt-out from running 4-5 times a week and not really leaving time to pick up a weight, play some tennis, or go swimming.  I'd like to get back into all the other activities this fall (and get my strength up for ski season!), but I don't want my running to go to crap.  Given that I'm not exactly performing at an elite level, I should be able to maintain some fitness while running maybe 10-15 miles a week?

     

      Anyway, I'm hoping to hear from anyone in the same situation (maybe you take it easy a few months a year), as I have no experience ramping down after a long period of training. Also, a specific question:  Let's say I get back into training for a race 3-6 months from now.  When that time comes, can I expect to ramp up quickly to the 30 MPW level, or will it be as steep as it was this year?

     

    Thanks!


    Needs more cowbell!

      This is a good question and something I am already contemplating for next Summer.  I got sidelined for much of this Summer with a sprained ankle, which left me lots of time to ride my new road bike...and discover that I am a much MUCH stronger cyclist than I am a runner.

       

      So I'm already looking ahead at concentrating on running during the cold weather months and targeting my usual 15-25k road races in the Spring, a duathlon, and a trail relay...and then putting the running on a bit of a back burner for much of the Summer and Fall and completing more century rides, duathlons, and getting into cyclocross racing in a year.

       

      I've been thinking that 10-15 miles of running/week will be enough to keep my running muscles and fitness from completely atrophying, but still leave me ample time to hit the bike hard.  As far as how long to build back up to 30 miles/week...it probably depends a lot on your existing base fitness and how aerobically active you are, aside from running.  I would think that you could safely be back up to 30mpw in a couple of months, assuming no injury issues or interruptions in training.  

       

      Tennis and swimming seem like activities that would definitely help you keep your aerobic fitness base.  I found that I lost no running fitness during my 5.5 weeks of no running and very gradual return to that activity.  But I wasn't out on my bike for leisurely rides--logging a minimum 100 miles/week for the past 3 months and getting plenty of hill and paceline work in to try and maintain my aerobic and muscle fitness.  You would need to keep your effort level about equal, I believe.

      I shoot pretty things! ~

      '14 Goals:

      • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


      A Saucy Wench

        If you maintain your core aerobic fitness you will ramp up faster. 

         

        And by that I mean when you are cross training you are getting your heart rate up to the same intensity and keeping it up there for at least an equivalent amount of time.  This can be good and bad.  Sometimes after a long running scale back where you have high cross training your aerobic system maintains what your physical structure can no longer handle.  If you return to running with a vengeance you can find yourself injured.  Use caution on the scale back up and hold back on your speed and your ramp more than it feels you need to.

        I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets

         

        "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7

          IMO the danger of doing cross training is that you'll expect a bit too much from it. It can be valuable but it really pays to understand the limits.

           

          The places I've made mistakes are

           

          (1) to expect that crosstraining is sort of equivalent to running and lots of running volume makes you faster so a little running volume plus lots of crosstraining will work the same. This is not as true as we all wish it were.

           

          (2) That maintaining volume with other stuff will allow fast ramps on return to running. Believe this and your chance of injury goes up. Much of the reason for not increasing mileage too fast is very specific to running and time on the bike or EFX or swimming or whatever really doesn't do much.

           

          Beyond that, it's a good thing. And not everyone wants to run 80+ mile training weeks for 52 weeks out of the year.

          xor


            I do!

             

              What Ennay said.

               

              I've had long periods of my running life where I'd run only about 10 miles/week (sometimes less).  While this maintained a certain (albeit not great) level of aerobic fitness, the main benefit was to continue to subject my body to the impact of running so the subsequent buildup in mileage wouldn't start from scratch—from a structural standpoint.

              zenfurni


                What Ennay said.

                 

                I've had long periods of my running life where I'd run only about 10 miles/week (sometimes less).  While this maintained a certain (albeit not great) level of aerobic fitness, the main benefit was to continue to subject my body to the impact of running so the subsequent buildup in mileage wouldn't start from scratch—from a structural standpoint.

                 

                Thanks for the input, everybody.

                 

                There's a stronger distinction in my mind now between the aerobic fitness level (which I hope will stay high) and the structural aspect of running fitness (how my body takes the pounding).  I'll keep that in mind.

                 

                Also, I looked at srlopez's log... yikes!