I no longer have a reason not to run.
We signed up for our second marathon - Chicago marathon earlier this week. There are some complications but we are trying to work around it. But at least, we have a race in place.
I have been running regularly, although to a much lesser extent, since the marathon. I don't think I will stop running even if there wasn't a race to do because when I don't, I get grumpy and restless. But having a race does keep me motivated. There is a goal to work towards, something to train for. I just need one good race a year and I'm contented. Even if I can't hit my targeted time, I'll be disappointed but I won't regret trying for it. As they say, it is the journey that truly matters and not the end goal in mind.
When I trained for last year's marathon, I was on a professional training program. It wasn't specifically tailored for me, but it worked well and I was pleased with the results for a first marathon attempt. We have been discussing training methods when we decided to do the second. We have a number of friends who train on various programmes and methods and I am just curious, how many methods are there out there?For the runners that read my blog, please do share your training methods or which program you are on and how it has worked for you.
A friend introduced to me this book by Runners' World. It is called the FIRST program and the training methods are the complete opposite of what I have been doing. However, it has been tested and proven since 2002 and many have tried it out. It promises a time improvement of an average of 18 minutes off your personal PR if you follow it closely and understand the terms and conditions. It follows a 3+2 methodology where you run thrice a week and do two other sessions of cross-training. There is a lot more details but that is the main gist of it.
The training although doable, is rough. If we try it out, we will need to find a track to train. We will also need to find a way to track our paces. After I signed up for the marathon, I decided to invest in a training watch. My current Polar only provides calories burned and the heart rate zone. During the marathon, I realized that if TS and I didn't depend on her Nike+ to track our pace, we probably would not be able to make it to our time target. It was the fact that we meticulously tracked our pace at every single mile, that helped us to keep an even split time and achieved the results. I wasn't exactly tracking my heart rate during the race and went on a personal gut feel of how I felt. I also ensured that I stopped at every single water stop to hydrate and took my gels and salt pills religiously according to schedule. So I decided that if I did another marathon with the goal of achieving a PR, I would require some sort of tracking device. I ordered a refurbished Garmin GPS enabled watch and looking forward to trying it out next week!
My biggest struggle with the FIRST program is the definition of cross-training. Cross training here is defined as an activity that builds your cardio endurance. Swimming, rowing and cycling are given as examples. I've stopped swimming because it pumped up my arms and I looked bulky. Yes, I know people are going to roll their eyes after reading this. But I firmly believe the notion that every sport works differently for everyone. For example, I bulked up a lot when I did kick-boxing many years back. It was pointed out to me by my dance teacher. Likewise for swimming. When I stopped doing triathlons, I got leaner by just focusing on yoga and running. For others, yoga bulks them up. I've been lucky. I have been doing it for a year and it has been beneficial to my overall flexibility and body tone. Cycling for me works otherwise. I don't cycle at the intensity that keeps the muscles lean, my quads got bigger and bulkier. Yoga is not considered a cross-training sport. I've checked and confirmed it with the people behind the FIRST program.
So which program am I going to train on? I seriously don't know. I'll update when I figure it out.
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