If I were to describe my first week back to a regular training cycle, it would be a quote from Kelly Roberts...“Life with a side of running”. This week has been a bit challenging in the household, which means not as much time for running. Our dog has been having trouble sleeping at night due to arthritis in his back, which means sleepless night and extra time with him in mornings and evenings as we navigate with the vet on the best way to treat this. He is on some new meds which seem be helping,, so hopefully we can ease his pain and all of us some much needed sleep.
Even though my mileage wasn’t where I wanted it to be this week, I have still began this first week of this training cycle with a new kickstart…training to race as a master. Here is a secret I have been too stubborn to accept..If I am going to run and race better, I need to adjust my training for this phase of life. I am a 46 year old active woman, not a 30 year old active woman. That means, not eating what I want (even if it is “clean eats”), and not running hard multiple times a week or heavy weight training without the proper fuel or recovery. With that being said, training as a master doesn’t mean necessarily just run more miles, or push harder, it means train differently with adjustments on some aspects (like recovery) and more attention to others (like nutrition), all while keeping the focus on reaching goals. Now that I understand what doesn’t work, I have spent the last few months trying to better understand what steps I do need to take exactly I should do in order to train as a masters runner. My conclusion, adding new tools to my running toolkit.
First up in the new training toolkit, logging my food intake and macros. I don’t count calories and have no interest in doing so, but what I have learned is I need to be eating the foods that will fuel my body not just maintain a clean diet. After reading Roar, I realized I honestly don’t have a clear understanding of my daily nutritional breakdown; so this is where I will start, tracking my macros. According to Dr. Stacy Sims advice, for a runner of my breakdown (or at least my interpretation) I need a defined combination of carbs, protein and fats in my diet. This fluctuates on training vs recovery days, but I am shooting to range around 185-200 grams of carbohydrates and 90-135 grams of protein per day. This includes a focus on carbs that are low on the glycemic index and natural food based protein sources.
This week, I began step one: logging my food, not really making adjustments to my diet, just a way to determine what nutritional value my food has. What did I discover? I don’t eat enough protein, and need more carbs from vegetables, not fruit. I have been logging my food with My Fitness Pal and while it isn’t perfect, it’s a great tool to start the process. I’ll keep you posted as I journey into this phase to share benefits and challenges to monitoring my food as fuel.
Second item for my new toolkit is…believe it or not water. Yes, I rep a hydration company and still need to focus more on my hydration. One big challenge for me as I get older is running hot. I start out a run or workout and the harder I push the hotter I get (think red face and overheating). Another gem I discovered in the book Roar is that as women age with it a hormonal shift the blood levels carry less water, thus the need keep the body cool and to hydrate before during and after a workout is even greater. (again, see the book Roar for the full scientific explanation) I tested this a couple times over the last month or so, and the days I wasn’t properly hydrated I was hot mess during my runs. The goal here is to monitor my water drinking levels and try to add a little more each day.
My last new tool isn’t actually new, but with a stronger focus…cross training. I will be the first to admit, my cross training has not been as intense as it used to be. A lot of that was due to exhaustion from weeks of hard training but a lot more if it is due to not pushing myself as hard as I can. I think I have a better handle on the exhaustion part thanks to my blood work from Athletes Blood Test. However, the pushing the workout is what I need to focus on. As a masters runner weight gain can sneak up on you and the way combat that is with high intensity workouts, and like it or not longer workouts. It was recommended to get an average of an hour a day in order to maintain the weight at my age. (those 30 minute circuits just don’t cut it these days) Once upon a time, this wouldn’t be an issue, but as life takes over and I get comfortable with an “easier” workout regimen I will need to make some adjustments. I need to build up my endurance and “power” in order to get back my strength (as well as endurance) and have more efficient runs.
So how do I put all these new tools together? My training plan for now is as follows: 3-4 days of running and 3 sessions of cross training a week. This breaks down as, 1 speed or hill workout, 1 long run, 1-2 light runs, 1-2 days of hard yoga (not restorative, but a class that pushes the power), 1 day of strength (especially with kettlebells) and 1 day of a high intensity circuit, such as a November Project workout. (One day of yoga and strength session will double on easy run days). My training plan this session is fluid, as my focus on half marathons distance this season with a buildup to a 50k in the spring.
Stay tuned, it might be bumpy road or smooth sailing, but I will do my best to share the good, the bad and the ugly along this new journey to become faster as a master.