Once more, browsing the Internet brought me back to the constant warning about hard core running:  moderation is the name of the game. British journal Heart and Germany’s European Heart Journal offer the same conclusion. Now, American College of Cardiology is joining the chorus and this time, it is more specific: safe running will be 2.4 hours per week and pace should be no more than 5-7 miles per hour. And as we have probably heard too many times in the past, AHA (American Heart Association) consider that thirty minutes of exercise every day at training heart rate (www.clculatenow.biz) is most beneficial to our health. I am afraid these recommendations would not sit well to hard core runners. But so far, all experts seem to agree on the same warning. Note; there is a rebuttal to this claim on (http://www.runnersworld.com/health/the-supposed-dangers-of-running-too-much)

 

These are evidence-based conclusions so, unless they are proven bogus, I’d like to believe them. Within the framework of these recommendations, it is imperative to establish a baseline when it comes to exercising:

 

1. Twelve minute per miles x 1 hour is safe so long as I do that in 2.4 hours TOTAL per week.

2. I should exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day preferably every day to keep a healthy heart.

 

Whew, I need to warm up at least fifteen minutes and cool down for 10 minutes and that leaves me 5 minutes of real workout. Cool :)

 

Ha ha ha! I do not disregard these warnings based on studies but let me point out that I will never, in my wildest dreams, ever, run faster than 6 miles per hour. I am pretty much hovering between 5-6. So the pace is never a problem for me. What will be problematic is when I push and push hard to keep up with the others. I believe that so long as what I am doing is as less strenuous as fast walking, there should be no problem. One person’s fast walk may be equivalent to another’s jog in terms of effort. One’s jog may be equivalent to a fast runner’s pace is terms of effort. My rule has always been the same: Enjoy the activity first, do it at manageable effort, and allot yourself  sufficient  resting and recovery time.

 

I suppose anything extreme is detrimental. To push your heart rate to its maximum beats for 4 minutes maybe alright, but for 4 hours is an invitation to disaster.

 

Anyway, during my last week’s training schedule, I have realized a few things: I may be proud to say I never got injured except once (after I sped on an elevated treadmill at home a couple of years back) in my more than ten years running, however, there are constant sensations I feel that remind me of potential injuries. And in managing these, I have concluded a few things. These  pertain only to my 52 year old body and may not apply to everyone else.

 

  1. There is always the possibility of miscalculation. I did not run long distances for at least two years on a regular basis so for me to assume I can train for a half marathon in 90 days is simply wrong. First, I need to re-calibrate my joints, muscles, capillarization, endurance and that takes longer than 90 days, as I found out.

  2. Then there is the inherent ‘competitive’ nature all residing within us - we are organisms of survival of the fittest so we tend to at least out-run anyone we think is worth out-running. There is this runner’s mentality that we should be faster, less tired, more athletic than the next guy which is inviting possible injuries constantly. This is why I always choose to run alone. Of course being alone does not exclude the possibility of trying to beat my old personal record, which is as bad. The solution to this is  accepting my  limits and educating myself all the time as to knowing  how to re-start a running program, what to look out for, what and how to monitor oneself, and this requires a lot of humility (yes, sometimes I need to let others even those who look weaker than me, overtake me) and patience. A tree does not bear fruits overnight.

  3. There is nothing wrong with scaling back even if I feel bored and am confident enough that I can do more. That is the reason why I  record and tabulate my personal data. I find it very helpful. I learned a few things about my body. I started running faster too soon so I developed right knee pain which is on the  lateral side (outside). This pain is more pronounced when I increase my strides and when I am at  the last stage of my knee extension ( last 15 degrees to straighten my knee as the right leg is touching the ground). During my runs, I tried many ways to eliminate this pain: shorter strides helped to a certain degree, I avoided elevations which also helped to a certain degree, until one day I made my leg turn-overs (advancing one foot after the other) slower and my stride lengths not too short and not too long. What I did basically was to limit my speed and convert my running mechanics to the most comfortable, least tiring, and most fluid pattern. I am talking about reducing my speed from 10:00 -10:30 pace to 11:30 -12:00 pace and it made all the difference. With this pace, I began running one mile at a time and could run up to 10 miles with very minimal discomfort towards the end. Obviously I don’t run 10 miles every time but nowadays, 5 miles is becoming comfortable and easy so long as I keep the slow pace. Eventually I would advance,  but for now, I am happy at this level.

  4. Remodeling and Capillarization and Patience are becoming sweet and endearing words for  me nowadays. I have added leg and core strengthening program to my running and it looks like it is helping although my busy life has limited me to only 1 to 2 strengthening sessions every week. I go to a gym for this. There are many ways of building strength as we all know. I am using the progressive resistance approach, mainly by using weights. Others may prefer the explosive/burst approach which means increasing the reps (with no or little weights) until muscle fatigue (and some runners prefer this in an interval way). As for me, I am a structured person who prefers to have some actual measurements. (to be continued)