Making the most out of low mileage (Read 385 times)

    With that, I'd say, even more strongly than before; I would NOT suggest you substitute long run, which you probably need, with quality workouts.  You said earlier that you actually enjoy fast workouts???  I guess if you don't have any problem with your discs, but remember, faster running actually cause even more pounding.  I've found out myself that my lower back gets tired/sore during the long runs but that goes away when I do more core type of strengthening exercises.  I'm not sure if those exercises may help--I'd say I'd leave that up to your doctor.


    When preparing for RUNNING, you cannot substitute any other exercise with actual running--it's because running is somewhat unique in a way that you take lots of poundings during the action.  No amount of cross training, even alter-G treadmill, can do the job.  So, if you are limited with certain amount of running, but you are serious about doing well, I'd say you run as much as you can AT EASY EFFORT during the week--say, you do divide your total weekly mileage of, say, 20 into 5 miles each of 4 sessions; all done at easy effort so you won't put too much stress on your discs.  Then include one long exercise of a sort--say, 1:30 up to 2-hours of biking or even aqua running (I know aqua running can be noisiness...); and one other workout of anaerobic nature--this, I mean you do any sort of exercise in a form of intervals.  You can do something like hard biking for 5-minutes, followed by easy 5...or same thing in pool running or even rowing.  The idea is to get yourself in a breathless state so you are stimulating your metabolism so, once you switch it to running, your body can handle that sort of stimulus.


    The idea behind this is; considering your disc issue gets aggravated from running, I really don't think it's a good idea to pound along with intervals or hard tempo running even if it doesn't take as long as, say, 7-mile long run.  You DO get more pounding by running faster so I would assume you're not doing your discs a favor by substituting your long run with high quality workouts.  That's my opinion.  Now, others MAY think otherwise and that's fine in the end which opinion you decide to choose--I won't take it personally and/or I don't get all bent out of shape or mad! ;o)  But, again, assuming your goal is to improve your running performance, you would (1) need to improve your aerobic development and you've got to do some long aerobic exercise and, if you can't do the running, you'll need to do it some other way; (2) you also need to stimulate your anaerobic metabolism and the idea of doing quality running workout is right on; however, considering your discs are giving you a problem, I don't think it's a good idea to pound away--so do this also in other form of exercise; (3) some degree of running would have to be done and you can do so as much as you want/can but keep it at the level where it won't aggravate your discs.


    Now, some knowledgeable people might jump in and say that it's not true that faster running causes actually less pounding.  Actually that's true.  When your Center of Gravity moves over where you land FASTER, you actually gets less shock from landing.  However, where you are at at this point--26-minutes 5k or approximately 8:30 or so per mile pace and most likely be doing intervals somewhere around that pace--is where you actually do get more pounding.  It is unfortunately not so much what FAST pace is for the individual but rather, in physics, what FAST is, say, sub-5 minute pace where C of G moves very fast over your foot.  Most of us are not quite there.  Again, this is MY opinion.  Like I said, if you feel perfectly fine with doing lots of intervals or tempo runs, probably my assumption is incorrect.  But, if that is the actual case, I would try doing some degree of long run--if not weekly, maybe once in 2 weeks.  Because that's what gives you real "strength".

    Nobby - I get what you're saying.  I do.  But I guess the part that I don't understand is telling me what I was doing was wrong/stupid, etc - yeah, I kinda was hoping for advice going forward because I *know* I was winging it last time.  I was just trying to give folks a frame of reference of my last approach.     So it's sort of like someone saying "Hey, I did it this way but I'm looking for some better way to do it" and someone coming around and saying "Yeah, that was stupid."  Well... great lol   I wouldn't have asked the question if I thought I knew what I was doing Smile


    My 5K time comment was to Parklife.  Considering my first 5K was 34 minutes a year ago, I am happy with my 26 but hey, I guess that puts me in a different class than all the "good" runners.  I'm ok with my times.    Like I said, I have no delusions here.  Just trying to make the best of it.


    If it helps the frame of recommendations for me, I have four levels of disc herniations - L4/L5, L5/S1, C5/C6, C6/C7.   The lumbar ones cause me the most trouble when running.  Once I get fatigued or maybe it's just the repeated impact, my symptoms appear - pain down the leg/numbness, etc.    The cervical ones make my arm go numb on occasion but that doesn't so much bother me running.


    Right now I am on my second unplanned rest day because of back pain.   It's just something I deal with.     The important thing is that I stay active - all of my doctors know I run and have no issue with it so long as I stay under the threshold where problems arise (and rest when they do).  And  my symptoms are way worse if I sit around all day, so that's not an option.  Keeping weight off, keeping active and moving are important parts of both dealing with the physical issues and mentally staying sane - it is not easy dealing with pain as frequently as I do.


    I enjoy the racing aspect and am happy to compete against my own times versus "winning".   So I would like to continue doing that, too.


    Not sure if that helps or just opens me up for more criticism, but there's the full story.

    Hip Redux

      OK - thanks, Nobby.  A few follow up questions - what about hills?  Worthwhile in low volume scheme?  I probably did more hill workouts than any other quality-type stuff last year.  (and I live in a pretty hilly area).  I felt like that gave me pretty decent gains in strength, but again I was winging it.  Smile


      As far as speed/interval stuff - I definitely see your point.  It may be that I don't feel any issues because I do relatively short speed work (esp. compared to what a normal plan may recommend).   But I don't "like" it  LOL  I was doing it more because I felt I needed to... I am certainly ok dropping them, or doing them more infrequently - like the occasional 5K and such.


      Thanks again.


        Thanks, BoilerTom - question - is there a benefit to doing the 4 days with the two back-to-backs like you have?  As opposed to one of the xt days in between?


        I suggested that for a couple reasons:


        1) when you take a day off of running, it's common to feel a litle ackward the next day back.  This easy day before is to just have your legs a little used to running. It will make your hard/key day more natural feeling.


        2) by running the day before, you will have a little fatigue (not much, just a little) for your hard days. This will keep you from running them too fast.

          A very good point that I have to admit I'd overlooked!!  Thanks for reminding; yes, in fact UPHILL running would be even less pounding and that might be ideal for situation like yours.  However...of course, when you go up, you must come down and, unfortunately, downhill would give you double the pounding than even flat (actually, to be more technical, I think it's like X3 body weight on flat and X5 on downhill...depending, of course, on the degree of the hill).


          In past, if you can afford to, elite runners like John Walker who had some knee issues on downhill would do the uphill repeats with his wife (or friend) driving him down.  You may be able to do that (I know I can't--instead, probably I'd be doing that for my wife!!); or you can do the uphill running on treadmill where you can completely omit downhill part.


          Downhill actually does have its place and purpose.  Downhill running is an excellent eccentric exercise to your legs and this is also a good reason why you SHOULD do some running to teach your legs to take poundings.


          By the way, if the duration is really an issue, try doing the long run over undulating course.  I've noticed the flatter it is for the long run, stiffer my lower back gets.  If you can do that over some rugged cross country course, it may even be better.  It makes a perfect sense to me, even you said it, that activities actually helps; not being active hurts your back more.  The more chance you have to move it around, the better.  Perhaps the issue with a long run might be because you'll have to keep it in the certain position for a long time and it stiffens up.  If in fact you can switch the position WHILE you're running, it may help.  When they set up Rotterdam Marathon in 1983, they set it up as a super-fast flat course.  But they included some bridges.  You do need some level of ups and downs or your body will totally stiffens up.  Take it the other way around and do so in extreme; find some nature preserve or some rugged cross country course and run around as you feel--forget exact distance or minute-per-mile pace; just run by how you feel and by duration.  If you can do 1:30~2:00, you'll be so much better off.

          OK - thanks, Nobby.  A few follow up questions - what about hills?  Worthwhile in low volume scheme?  I probably did more hill workouts than any other quality-type stuff last year.  (and I live in a pretty hilly area).  I felt like that gave me pretty decent gains in strength, but again I was winging it.  Smile


          As far as speed/interval stuff - I definitely see your point.  It may be that I don't feel any issues because I do relatively short speed work (esp. compared to what a normal plan may recommend).   But I don't "like" it  LOL  I was doing it more because I felt I needed to... I am certainly ok dropping them, or doing them more infrequently - like the occasional 5K and such.


          Thanks again.

            A couple other thoughts. Have you tried any core strengthening stuff?


            Hills. Smile  A lot may depend on your goals (flat road races or hilly trails), what topography you have available to you, and types of races you do, etc. If you have any local mountains, you might hike up - at subLT effort. To get down, try a gentler route, tram from a ski area, sled (haul it up behind you - I'd be cautious about how steep I did this on), or if there's a road, maybe someone can shuttle you. A good stiff hike up gives a good cardio and strengthening, and is very relevant if you're training for mountain races or races with lots of big hills (most of my races HM and above have 2000+ft of vertical). If you pick something not as steep or not as long, you might be able to run up. (You've seen the elevation profile of one of my races in another thread. My avatar is from one of my races.)


            A less interesting way is a tm, but it has its place.


            Your snowshoes (or your husbands Wink ) - again you can get great cardio even while walking. And if you use poles (nordic walking), you can get even more benefits. If you have any snow left, running on them may provide a gentler landing, unless your trails are hardpacked for skiing.


            Again this comes back to progressing with running itself or just being able to get some hard cardio, which may be a mountain race.


            I'd use caution on a "rugged cross country course" unless the hills are gentle. Most of ours are 10-30%, but less than 100ft tall (a few are near 200ft). We call them "meat grinders" because of the constant up and down with the downs being pretty hard if you're trying to keep up effort. (I was just out there for 3+ hrs today in rotten snow.) That said, it's a great training area, and the local hs xc run and ski teams use it as well as some of our top trail runners..



            About 3 yr ago, I had laproscopic colon surgery, which definitely affected my core stability. In that first month, I made use of a tm (free pass) and set it on incline (went up to 30%, but I didn't set it that high), and walked - no impact, but as much cardio as I could tolerate and no downhill to worry about. I was fine with no core stability. Outside, I was having trouble even doing much walking on the fresh snow, and finally used my snowshoes - my legs could lift them, but they added a lot of stability. So outside I worked on just regaining normal motion abilities and inside worked on cardio.When I started running again, I started on grass and real short run portions - like 10-20 sec, iirc, until things felt ok, which only took a couple runs. I recognize your situation isn't the same, but just trying to provide some suggestions on things that might make it easier for you to run. (I might add that surgeons love people with a 10k race 2 months after surgery because they know those people will be working their butt off to heal.)

            "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

            Hip Redux

              Thanks to both of you Nobby and AKTrail.   Lots to consider.   I actually have planned out routes with the help of the husband to avoid downhills.  Big grin  And we live in a pretty hilly area so even my flat routes are pretty undulating.   Of course, I pick my longer runs to be the flatter routes, I'll have to pay attention to that more.


              As far as core strength - I have been through four rounds now of PT for my back issues since 2009.  This last time she had me in 'advanced' moves - and couldn't find anything I couldn't do!   This is a huge change from ~4 years ago where I had absolutely no core strength, and has certainly helped the recurrence of major symptoms but I still deal with some level of annoyance from it.


                I am low mileage and rarely get too much above 25 miles a week but will a few times as I approach a goal half marathon in May but never 30 min. I expect to run 1:33 ish in May. Currently, I am doing no speed work and ran a 20:25 5K yesterday. With ample speed work I probably run a bit under 20 min so that gives you an idea how  my miles are more important than my "speed work". I have had some upper hammy issues for a few years but below is a typical week for me when feeling good on 20-25 miles per week. I have run a 1:30 half, 41 min 10K and sub 20 min 5K with this plan and build in progression into as I approach a goal race. Below is general plan - I tweak it for variety throughout the year. I hope to get back to this soon.  I would recommend you gradually work up to this (quality) rather than just jumping into it.


                Day 1  5-6 miles easy (at least 2 min slower than 5K pace)

                Day 2  6-7 with CV reps around 10K effort  (5 x 1K with 90-60 sec jogs) 4 x 200m quick or 4 X 1 mile. Warm up and cool down is easy.

                Day 3  3-4 easy with striders

                Day 4  9 miles comfortable with last 2-3 miles faster (tempo effort) or run a bit more aggressively like 1:30 slower than 5K pace.  If a seven

                mile, I would mix in some tempo miles at around 60 sec slower than 5K pace and do 4 x 200m quick. Do this tempo for 3-4 miles for

                your fitness level.


                Again, most of my miles are very comfortable other than a couple in the long run and about 3 miles in the Day 2 work out when healthy. I have not done any quality this year yet other than striders.  I got myself in trouble years back by doing too much speed work on those 25 miles. I am still paying for it.

                Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!


                Pace Prophet

                  I'd recommend two things.


                  1) Run/walk intervals for longer runs and races.  This is a bit of a trick to extend your endurance, when you don't have the miles.  I ran my first two half marathons and full marathons using walk breaks and despite running less than 20mpw they were all enjoyable races. I am certain I would not have been as fast as I was (not that I was fast - my best marathon this way was 4:07 and my best half 2:01) had I attempted to run continuously.


                  2) Trail running is gentler on your body than road running, the hills provide a good workout, and as it slows you down you get more time on your feet for the same mileage run.  I always run faster when I've incorporated a lot of trail running into my workouts.


                  Also,  a third thing - try to get to the bottom of your physical problems, and solve them if you can. Good luck!

                  PRs: 10 1:12:59 (4/2014) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

                  bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org

                  Hip Redux

                    Tchuck - do you mix in crosstraining to your running shedule?


                    ilanarama - I love trail running, but limit my time in the woods.  We have fairly technical trails (particularly for a noob) and I fell badly twice, once hitting my chin and the other wrenching my back.  Mostly bruises, but this is sort of a tricky situation for me, as I can really do some damage when I fall with spinal instability.    And yes, working on getting better!  Smile