Friday, January 28, 2011

Marathon to Couch Program

Everyone's heard of a Couch to 5K Program.

But has anyone heard of a Marathon to Couch Program?

[Apparently google hasn't either.]

One Saturday morning last summer, while doing a double-digit long run, my friend Sara came up with her post-Marathon program.

Instead of deciding to train for a winter or spring race, she had plans to turn off the training for the winter. Some quality couch (and gym) time.

Sara's reasoning is quite simple. It's too freakin' cold in Chicago to run outside in the winter. She thinks winter runners are crazy, which is quite a statement coming from someone who's run three marathons.

The Marathon to couch program goes something like this:

You take the hours you used to spend running and convert them in to couch time.

2-3 hours one weekend, the next weekend 5-6 hours, and then you cut back to 3-4 hours.
Kind of like the Hal Higdon program -Two weeks of increase followed by one cut back week.

By March you should be ready for a marathon of 8-9 hour couch-laying.

Maybe you have special clothes that are good for the couch. Sara has special socks, but she didn't buy them at Fleet Feet.

You can get injured if you don't have the right support - think pillows instead of running shoes. TV neck is a common injury. You can also lose circulation by laying on one arm too long.

Instead of energetic 'running' music (progressive house per say) , couch music is more like cafe del mar or tantra lounge volume 3 (think chill out music).

Energy bars or gu may be substituted for your favorite sugary or salty snack, and don't forget to sub your Gatorade and water for beer.

[Thanks for the idea and the input Sara!]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

See You in April, Nashville

It's January and, or so it seems, all the runners I know are planning their race season.

I may be reluctantly running on a treadmill while the sidewalk's a sheet of ice, but my sights are on...Nashville.

Why Nashville you ask?

I need a spring race.

I need a goal. I need to be able to mark off progress of four months of training each day.

I need a training schedule to be staring me in the face every time I open the fridge.

I need a reason to buy a new pair of running shoes and to continuously update my ipod's playlist.

And it certainly helps to have a race to blog about.

So, it's been decided that a small group of us will travel down to Nashville at the end of April to run the Country Music Half Marathon & Marathon.

This year will not be my first Country Music Half. In 2009, I ran this race with Mary Beth, her sister Katie and her cousin Meghan.

It's a very hilly race, which makes it challenging when training in completely-flat Chicago. It was also unseasonably warm the day we ran the race. Sounds like a familiar theme to my races, eh?

The Country Music Marathon & Half is unique in the way the race is set up. It is a large race which has all distances start at the same time. All runners estimate their finish times and are then placed in to corral assignments based on that number. Both the Marathon and the Half run the same first ten or so miles, then the Half Marathoners turn off to head to the finish while the Marathoners continue on.

I vividly remember standing in the corral in 2009 looking down and then up a very steep hill and around at people's bibs and picking out those who were doing the marathon. At that point, I'd done my first marathon just the October before, but regardless, preparing for a spring Marathon seemed like a far-fetched dream rather than a possibility - mainly due to the winter weather training that would be involved.

I guess that goes to show you how much time training takes for a single race, and then how quickly your body falls out of that shape. That is the great challenge of distance running.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Running on Water

I've run in Chicago,

San Diego, Orlando, Miami,

Charleston, Nashville, Indianapolis,

London, Beijing and Shanghai.

But I'd never run on water...until last week.

I'd like to add St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Grenada to my list, but in truth, I didn't run on land there.

Instead, I used a treadmill in a cruise ship's gym to stay in shape and burn off last night's marvelous dinner.

Can I still add them to my list? Maybe I'll just have to visit again and run on land.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello Again, Treadmill

Towards the end of 2010, I was tough.

I ran in the cold. I ran in the snow.

I was close to invincible.

Then 2011 came. I started off the new year by sleeping in late and hitting up a McDonald's drive thru for lunch (complete with a Big Mac value meal).

I followed up this great start by getting only one run in between January 1st and 5th.

Now it's very early morning on January 6th and I'm dragging a 50 lb. suitcase filled with everything I'll need for my best friend's wedding and a seven day cruise to the Blue Line, and eventually, O'Hare airport. I've packed running gear as I plan on using my spare time to use the ship's gym.

Somehow my workout formula seems destined to fail.

We arrive in Puerto Rico ahead of schedule and walk out of the airport in to beautiful, sunny, 80 degree weather.

A thought cloud appears above my head. It reads 'I want to run!'

So the next day, I head out early with Jim and Jen to do just that. I went about a mile and a half with them before I have to turn around and head back. Apparently I'm a breakfast then exercise sort of gal.

Now we're boarding the boat and thoughts are running through my head of how this trip will be a big exercise fail. So I make a promise to myself that I'll get up at 7am the next morning and get a few miles in on the treadmill before getting ready for the wedding.

The next morning I walk up to the gym after breakfast. The ship is surrounded by St. Thomas. Absolutely beautiful. We have a big day ahead of us, so I need to get to work. Jim's already on mile 6 of his interval run when I start in on my workout.

As boredom sets in after mile one, I start remembering how much treadmills and I don't get along. I have magnificent views and a great new playlist on my ipod, but I'm still searching for entertainment. How incredibly boring it is to run in place. My mind wonders from wedding day details to the ship's itinerary to wondering, 'How long has it been since I've run on a treadmill?'

Good topic. It requires thinking and thinking takes time. I have lots of time.

My gym membership expired at the end of October. I did all of my training runs for the marathon outside, so that sets me back to June. I started preparing for marathon training back in the spring after my knee had heeled. Hmmm. Ok, my last physical therapy appointment was at the beginning of March. That's when I was told I could start running again. But by the end of March when I was in Miami, I was running outside already so...middle of March?

Wow, I've successfully avoided using a treadmill for ten months - and they were a sweet ten months indeed.