So, it’s Thursday, and I am officially 4 days into my 8-week program to lean out, build endurance, and prep my body for racing season. Which means I guess I owe you guys an update. I am happy to report that I will not be moving back the start date by another week. Not only have I been sticking with the plan this week, I’m actually feeling about 100 times better. Big smiles!
Okay, okay. Maybe not quite that big. Smiles that big are reserved for butterscotch sundaes in San Francisco. But you get the idea.
Anyway, I have been hesitant to post the specifics of what I am doing, mostly because I am not at all an expert on any of this stuff. I’m not a registered dietitian or a nutritionist, nor am I personal trainer or trained in exercise science. Not even close. In fact, my undergraduate degree was in International Politics and German, and my graduate degree is in law. (I’m actually not an expert in any of those things either, but that’s another post for another day). But, while I may not have any formal training, I am at a point in my life and my running where I have a pretty good idea about what works for me.
With that caveat, because some of you have asked, I will tell you that my initial 8-week plan is based loosely on the program and guidelines contained in this book:
I picked this up at Barnes and Noble right after Christmas, and I really like the basic principles it contains. Unlike so many diet/training programs, it acknowledges that the caloric needs of an endurance athlete are completely different than those of your basic recreational gym-goer, even in the off season. It also combines different forms of cardiovascular training with circuit training and strength training, which allows you to lose fat and maintain and build lean body mass. I also really love that the exercise plans focus on running for a certain amount of time and not a specific distance. As I mentioned, I was really hoping that this would allow me to stop pushing myself on speed/distance and just relearn how to enjoy the run.
And, so far, it seems to be working! I’ve run 3 times this week (M, Tu, and W), and every single one of them was pretty darn good. I didn’t have that feeling of dread beforehand, and I actually felt really good afterward. On Monday, being out in the “feels like” 26 degree cold felt invigorating and freeing. On Tuesday, doing hill intervals made me feel alive. Even if it was on a ridiculously steep hill.
Seriously. That change occurs over just 1/10th of a mile. I’m totally a badass. And yesterday, on an unexpectedly gorgeous, 50+ degree January day, I felt strong, healthy and, for the first time in a long time, excited about the upcoming season.
How can you argue with results like that? I have plenty of time later on to worry about pace and exact distance. For now, I’m just enjoying being out there. Without pressure. Without GPS technology. Without having to think about what is at stake or what might have been. Turns out, when I let go of those things, I’m doing pretty damn good right now.
I’ll take it.