As the memory of the Olympic Trials and all of the craziness that preceded it becomes more distant, I get asked a lot: what's next? I have been very insistent in my response that nothing is next--at least for the foreseeable future. I want time to enjoy running for the sake of running, and, in so doing, build a solid base. That base includes a slow ramp up in mileage and a new strength training program. I want to give my body time to adapt to both.
My running life is actually quite normal right now. I am slowly increasing my mileage, 5 miles per week, and am running just about every day. I'll complete 40 miles this week. For the most part, the issues I had before the Trials are all but gone. I had some soreness in my right achilles tendon pop up the day after I started back to running, but that has faded as my mileage has increased. I have been doing eccentric heel drops on a daily basis to urge it along and that is definitely doing the trick.
I started hip mobility exercises when I started running again. I do a series of 8 exercises as a pre-run warm up. It takes about 5-10 minutes and is designed to maintain/increase the range of motion in my hips. Dr. Ball explained that I need to do this 3-4 times per week to maintain the range he helped me achieve during my last visit. When I left his office, he told me I was good to go but I needed to work on my flexibility and my strength to keep injury at bay.
I mentioned in my last post that I started working with a strength coach. I received my strength program from Tim and did the routines for the first time last week. The exercises I'm doing now are designed to get my body primed for more intense workouts in the future. I'm on a 4 week plan where I do about 12-15 exercises on Tuesdays and a different set of 12-15 exercises on Saturday. The workouts progress over the 4 weeks and then Tim will decide what's next based on my running plans.
One of the breakthroughs for me was learning that I should be doing the strength work on my hard running days, though I don't have any hard running days right now. I had always been told to strength train on my rest days. Now I see that makes no sense. Rest days are rest days. If I'm taxing my body on a day that it's trying to repair itself, I'm shortchanging my body of the recovery it needs. This was helpful for me to hear, especially since I stopped strength training over a year ago mostly because it left me feeling run down even though I was only doing it twice a week.
I haven't felt particularly sore with the strength workouts that I have done so far, and that's just fine. Tim explained to me that we're in the "honeymoon phase" right now. He needs to get a sense of how my body responds to the exercises and intensity. So far so good. I can see this will be a long and progressive process, and I can already tell it will be a very good thing for my running.
Next week, I'll progress to 45 miles/week of running and will be ready for two, six-week blocks of training that my coach says will make me very fit. I'm starting to get the itch to do some workouts again. Then, maybe I'll think about some racing. I'm also anxious to begin the slow process of losing some of my post-marathon fluff. I like to let my body fluff up a bit after a marathon because I firmly believe that staying at "racing weight" for an extended period of time is unhealthy. It always comes off in good time as workout intensity and weekly mileage increase. Right now, that's the last thing on my mind as I get ready for a yummy dinner with the Genius!
Happy Valentine's Day!