Hey everyone! I hope you all had the merriest holidays and are kicking off 2016 with health and fitness in mind. It’s always refreshing for me to let go a little towards the end of the year and chill a little on the workouts, indulge in some tasty treats in moderation, of course and simply be merry! After kicking back for a bit, I feel ready to set some new goals and refreshed enough to feel like I can accomplish them.
So this year I’m setting a running goals and I know resistance training will help. I’m focusing on shaving some time off of my last half marathon in the mile high city.Running in a city with mountains in the backdrop always makes it worth the challenge of exercising in altitude, a challenge I just can’t get away from. I guess you could say I love to get high! Haha runner’s high that is. If you haven’t experienced anything but exhaustion and misery while exercising, keep at it because it does get better and before you know it you’ll be high on those endorphins too!
I’ve done a lot of endurance activities in the past, so nothing new here. The only difference might be that over the last couple of years I’ve always been so scattered for them. Almost deciding on participating just in the nick of time to start training. Or lining my events up back to back. Like the year I ran two half marathons with a little less than two weeks between the events. Finished, and I guess I could say well because I was never injured. But it really proved to me how much more effort you do put into workouts done at 5280 ft. elevation compared to 3025 ft. elevation, which is home. I ran the half at home at an easy pace because I wanted to take it easy knowing I had the other half to complete so soon. When I ran the second half in Denver, I’ll admit I stopped to snap a couple of pictures but really pushed it more. Interestingly enough, I ended up with the same time for both races 2:39. Definitely a proud to just have finished time and nothing else.
While deciding on participating in an event simply to finish is an excellent goal and wonderful thing to accomplish. This is especially true if you are new to exercise or if it’s what keeps you going. For me, it’s kept me going for almost 14 years. But this year I want to do something different and have set a time goal of 2:10 for the half in October.
what's my plan to accomplish that?
I’ve started off by using periodization and have mapped out the entire year in a calendar. From now until about March I’m working on building muscle and doing some cross training. So I’m running 1-2 times a week, lifting heavy to build muscle 3 times a week and cross training once a week and taking 1 day off . While cross training is beneficial for injury prevention, studies have shown it to only be 25% to 50% as effective as running to improve performance. So that’s why I’m doing my cross training during my hypertrophy (muscle gaining) stage which is now.
I’m ramping up my resistance plan to build muscles to support all of that running which will make it more efficient and faster. Here’s my muscle building plan: Feel free to use it if you wish.
If you're just starting out, the plan is fine to use but just start out with 3 sets of 12 reps and progress to 3 sets of 10 after 4-6 weeks, then 3 sets of 8 after another 4-6 weeks, then 3 sets of 6. Every 4-5 weeks take an “unload” week, where you don't’ lift as much or as heavy, believe it or not this will actually help you get fitter.
As your reps get smaller, the weights get heavier. You want to make sure you reach muscle fatigue by the end of the set while maintaining good form. I usually adjust 1-2 exercises with each progression. So for example, for my next progression I’m planning on doing Lat Pulldown to replace the cable row just for a change and make sure I get every muscle worked during this hypertrophy phase.
So one thing I know I really have to do some work in will be on nutrition. While I’m a pretty healthy eater in some sense cause I love to eat fruits and veggies I know I need to focus on macros. Protein, carbs and fats and getting the right ratios of it. I don’t care for meat and have been a full blown vegetarian for the past 7 years I know that getting enough protein has been a struggle for my active lifestyle. My performance has probably also reflected that as well.
I’m not saying you can’t get enough protein from plants and legumes to support lots of activity, because you can and many people do. However, over the last year I’ve embraced more of a plant obsessed flexitarian diet, added Vega Sport Protein shakes and really noticed a difference. My resolution is to really focus on meeting the protein macro, especially during this muscle building phase and keep carbs in check. They’ll be plenty of time to eat more carbs when I start to pick up the miles. Cause eating carbs is definitely a perk to running!