A return to running

After my first Olympic distance duathlon last August, I decided I was pretty burned out on running and endurance activities in general, so I very purposefully took a step back and changed what I was doing to stay in shape. I started off with a 12 week cycle of P90X. Looking back on it, I don’t think P90X was the best option for what I wanted. The first 6-8 weeks of that program I felt like I was getting stronger and leaner, etc, but by the end my strength gains were going backwards and I was developing some nagging pains that I attribute to overuse injuries. I eventually moved over to a more sane strength and conditioning program that has me lifting heavy and running balls out for very short distances.

The amazing thing was that after the first couple of weeks of P90X during which I still went out and did some sprints on yoga days, I ended up not running at all for a couple of months. As a result of this no running phase I never felt like I was getting out of shape. To be honest with you, I feel like too much long distance running isn’t conducive to functional fitness. By functional fitness, I mean the go out and chase your kids around the playground, play on the monkey bars, climb the pole and play chase type activities. This is always my dilemma; there’s some deep passion I have for running, but I don’t want to be one of those skinny-fat runners that can go forever in a straight line at a steady pace.

I’m not sure you can have it all, but I’m going to try. I don’t have any plans to run a marathon or anything like that. I’ve done that, and it was a great accomplishment, but I just don’t think that’s what I want from my running right now. I want to fulfill that deep down desire I have to go out there and put some miles in, but I don’t want that pursuit to stop me from hitting the weights hard. Right now I’m focusing on getting back in enough semblance of endurance shape to complete a sprint duathlon 5K/30K/5K with some dignity.

Don’t laugh, but after 6 months of lifting weights and running hill sprints and shuttle runs, it’s harder than I imagined it would be to go out there and run 2 hilly miles. I’m building up slowly. By mid May my last long run before the duathlon should be 9 miles, which I think should more than prepare me for the race. I’m also building back up on the bike slowly. I started with 20 minute sessions 3 times a week this week, and I’m planning on building up 5 minutes per session per week for the duration of what pretty much amounts to base training for me.

After that race is over, as summer starts to set in I’m going to focus on getting ready for the olympic distance duathlon I did last summer. Last summer I wasn’t really in shape for it, so that last 10K run was a suffer fest, I don’t want to see that happen this year.

So, for now, base training with the reward of a fun little race in May. After that, focus turns to training a little more smartly for the next race. I like to think during all of that I’ll keep up the strength training, but we’ll see.