Bolder, Better, faster, stronger

One of the best parts about coming to the end of a training cycle is that you suddenly find yourself with this ‘free’ time that seemed non-existent leading up to your goal race(s). While it’s important to rest up and relax during this period, it’s also a great opportunity to sit down and look back over your training and see what went well and what can be improved for next time. Over the past 4 weeks since finishing my Chicago marathon and Killer Creek 50km training cycle, I have been investing my time in becoming stronger and building a stronger base to build from for my next training cycle. I ran 4 times total in the 3 weeks after my 50km (scary, I know), and frankly, it felt great to have that break both physically and mentally, and gave me space to focus on other areas.
My Chicago marathon was disappointing for me, and there were many reasons that contributed to that (which i won’t bore you with right now), but one of them was simply that my body was not strong enough. My form was sloppy for most of the back half of the race and as a result I walked (literally) away from that race with some very angry body parts (most noticeably my knee). The past 4 weeks I decided to make my strength a priority and to kick start a healthy habit leading into my next training cycle. Thankfully I had some help from the local community which I want to share with you.

First off, I checked in with our partner Physical Therapist, Clay Sankey of TruMotion Therapy. I had done pretty well up to this point to avoid making it into Clay’s office, but this was the perfect time to break my duck and check in and get a fine tuning. I’d honestly spent the first week before visiting doing the dreaded Google search and trying out some different things to see if it helped my knee (spoiler alert, it didn’t) and I spent several nights dramatically stressing over if my running career was over or if I’d torn my meniscus as several articles had suggested. My visit with Clay put all that at ease.

We went through some basic movements, talked about the build up to the injury, what triggered it now, and things I’d already tried. Whilst performing some movements, Clay was able to identify that #1 I have terrible dorsiflexion (ankle flexibility) and weakness or fatigue in the quad muscles which attached to my knee. The good news was, this was all fixable (although not quickly). Clay gave me 2 key stretches I’d need to do several times each day. I love that it was just 2 as this was not overwhelming and definitely achievable for me and my schedule, and highlighted some strengthening exercises I’d need to continually do. Additionally, he gave me the green light to start some light running, with some restrictions, such as walking the start and end of the run and keeping any run short. I popped back in a week later to check on my progress and all was good for now. Has this fixed all my injuries problems? No, but it’s put me in the best position to tackle these issues early on in the hope I can put them to bed long term.

Secondly, I started putting my $200, ten class pass, to good use at Cross Conditioning Training and attended a mixture of their Strength and Mobility classes and Strength and Conditioning classes. I love their classes because the I find the exercises are challenging, but not overwhelming, and they are not overly intense like some other strength gyms I’ve attended in the past. There are no egos in the space so you can focus on you and not worry about comparing or competing with others, and trainers are supportive and motivating without having to yell.

They also host a weekly run club (Saturday 7am) so they get runners and their programs fit nicely into a runner’s training cycle. The social part if also a big factor for me too as I personally enjoy working out with others. Note: I have a code for team members for a trail class, message me if you’re interested.

Additionally, I was also offered the opportunity to trial Catalyze Performance’s new virtual strength running program, perfect timing. My office is less than 100m away from my school’s weight room, yet I avoid it like the plaque. This program had me set up to do 2 strength workouts a week, each lasting around 30-45min. The workouts were easy to follow along, thanks to instructional videos for each exercise and it was nice not having to plan the workout out for myself. My schedule is pretty hectic so it was especially convenient to just be able to load this up and go in small pockets of free time I had during a day. This definitely motivated me to hit the weight room more frequently. If you’re interested, Catalyze Performance are currently offering a free 2 week trial by signing up here:
Full disclaimer: Catalyze Performance offered me a free trial for a month (Usually $39.99/month) in return for sharing my experiences with them. The information in this email is not part of that agreement as this is something I willingly wanted to share as I think that they offer a great strength program that you could benefit from. They are currently offering a free 2 week trial if you’d like to try it out for yourself.

The temptation is to keep training after your goal race, to utilize that high level of fitness you’ve built up and channel it into another race, but there has to be a period of recovery. Your body is not invincible and it will break down at some point if you don’t give it the recovery and strengthening it needs and deserves. Did I lose my fitness over these past 4 weeks? Did I get slower? Absolutely, that’s part of the process. Here’s the part we often miss though, what did I gain?

My base is stronger so that my body is better equipped to handle more in my next training cycle. By targeting strength gains now, I’ll be able to focus on targeting different fitness adaptations later during my training cycle without overly stressing my body. If I was to introduce strength work in the middle of my cycle, while also looking to increase my mileage, I’d be double stressing my body with 2 different stimuli and this often results in injuries. I’m now also more aware of some mechanical issues that I can now address early on so they don’t become an issue down the line.

Outside of doing strength work during this recovery block, I was also able to strengthen relationships with friends and family, who often don’t get the attention they deserve during an intense training cycle and in the process earned myself some brownie points for those days I’ll be gone half the morning on a 20 mile run.

The key takeaway. It’s okay to take time off from running and prioritize other areas of your training. When your next training cycle ends, I encourage you to take a step back and look back on your training and see if you notice any areas you can improve in and invest some time in it. Don’t worry about the losses, focus on the benefits. Try it out, see what happens to your running during the following training cycle.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *