My Three Step Approach to Training
17 days until the London Marathon.
I am constantly asked why and how I am still running almost 40 years after starting. The why bit is easy, I just love sport and cannot image life without it, the how is harder, as it takes more and more effort to stay fit and injury free as you get older.
After years of poor performances, due to over work and family commitments or accidents, I finally got back the work, life, family, balance. Last Sunday after a 5 year gap I made it into the Belgrave Harriers A Team for the Southern 12 Stage Relay Championship at Milton Keynes. At 46, it was great to take on the fast boys half my age at a distance just over 5.5km. Belgrave won the relay in a course record time and I was delighted to be part of the winning team.
But to get back into that shape after so long has involved a lot of planning, although after many years this comes more naturally to me than it may do to others. For ease of documentation, I have split my approach to training into 3 simples groups.
Although this blog is not intended as a training guide, I hope that the following offers some snippets that may be useful.
In terms of nutrition, the key thing I have learnt is the metabolism slows down with age and so I find it increasingly harder to lose weight and get down to race weight. It means focussing on what I eat and not eating any junk calories, which youngsters may be able to get away with. When I was an Ironman triathlete using upwards of 10,000 calories a day, I didn’t need to think so much, so long as I ate a variety of foods, I was able to get a good nutritional diet through the sheer volume I was devouring, at only 2,000 Kcal a day, I must ensure they all count, and so I have been forced to dump the junk food…I think we all know what that is by now.
The right training is key, for me I build up my training in blocks, two weeks hard one week easy. This has allowed me a safety net to recover. After the age of 40 I discovered that I could manage 2 hard sessions a week. Up to 40, I could cope with three. These days no matter how good I feel, I never deviate from the rule “2 Hard sessions a week”. I have in the past, and it has always ended in injury or illness. On top of this, the two hard sessions must always focus on race pace training, at various distances.
Finally, something I have touched on in earlier blogs, is the recovery process. I always monitor my sleep via a Quality of Sleep Index (see the 13 March entry below for more details of this). Stretching is done religiously after training, and I make time for at least one massage a week. I also ice my legs down and take a Jacuzzi most days. For me I have found that one extra hour sleep over the eight is needed for each hour I train. It is a simple but effective rule.
Motivation must never be over looked, you need to enjoy what you are doing or you will not be motivated, I keep moving the goal posts to allow me to keep setting tough but achievable targets.
And Finally keep it fun, remember it is only a hobby?