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Training Evaluation and Tweaks in the World of COVID

Since my last Breaking 2:00 post, the world has, to quote the 20th Century Poet, Will Smith, flipped-turned upside down. The disruption being caused by the Corvid-19 pandemic is leaving hundreds of races cancelled or postponed, with no certainty of when things will return to some sort of normalcy.  

For me, the March 28th Half Marathon was of course cancelled. I am awaiting the cancellation of my May 2nd Triathlon (I will probably defer even if it goes on, having lost my pool access 3 weeks ago). So a couple of weeks ago, as the world around me was shutting down, I found myself a little lost, wondering what the right next step might be (it was at this juncture, where my Breaking 2:00' regular column became hard to continue to write). Surprisingly, the path forward (at least athletically) quickly came into focus

Evaluation Where I'm At

When the world shut down, I was in the process of getting myself into Half-Marathon shape, adding miles each week leading up to a potential Half Marathon on March 28th. Something can happen when you are focused on a goal tunnel vision can set in. I was working through the speed sessions, logging the long runs and cherishing the easy runs, but pushing through (or more likely, ignoring) some signs that my body was not ready. My knee was sore, but my patella strap was doing its job. My plantar facia was sore, but not unbearable. My hips were tighter and my back was a bit sore, but nothing a foam/muscle rolling couldn't fix.

I am able to run further than when I started a couple of months ago, with seemingly similar effort. 5 mile runs now, feel like 2 miles runs did when I started. I am encouraged that my endurance is improving

But I am not getting faster. My longer runs (5-10 miles) remain in the 10-10:30 minute per mile range. To break 2 hours in the half marathon, I need to be in the low 9 minutes per mile range for 13.1 miles

Finally, the training to this point has been has been a group activity. I have a number of people who provide the accountability I need to make all this happen. In a socially distanced world, options for accountability may prove difficult.

Training Tweaks -What to do going forward

After truly evaluating the nagging aches and pains, I realized I needed to make a change to my training. I realized all of the exercise I was doing involved forward motions (running and biking). For me, my sore (not injured) knees, ankles, feet, back were repetitive stress ailments. While building the running miles, I have completely neglected my core and mobility exercises. I have since incorporated 2 boot camp style workouts a week into my fitness. I have also done more walking/hiking with a child carrying backpack, with that being one of the last acceptable reasons to be out of the house. I will also be doing some strength training in our basement gym (thank you to my 17 year old for setting it up), working mostly upper body/chest, but also lower weight, higher rep leg work to build muscular endurance for running and biking.

I am still running, but I have cut the LSD (Long Slow Distance) run from my week. I am keeping runs to 6 miles or under and will focus more on building speed, with tempo runs and hill/interval work.

With the weather turning warmer, my favorite exercise activity has come back into play Road Cycling. I have a consistent long ride on Sunday mornings and I am looking forward, with extra time in the schedule and fewer cars on the road, getting in rides during the week in the coming weeks and months.

As for accountability

I am blessed to have a large family to spend time out in nature with. But, in addition to this, I am continuing to work out in very small groups (1 or 2) and we are practicing social distancing. A couple of us are meeting for boot camp workouts a couple of times a week, a couple of us run miles together once a week and I have a weekly ride with a friend on Sunday's. While understanding the risk associated with meet-ups during this time, I believe there is a similar risk in completely isolating yourself from friends and confidants.

Final Thoughts

As we move through this pandemic and things hopefully become a bit more clear on when the world will open' back up again, I will look to get back on track with my Breaking 2:00' goal. For now, I will use the time and the space we have been forced into having to position myself well for the next half marathon training cycle. My best guess is that my first attempt to Break 2:00 will be in the late fall, early winter time frame (Maybe the Charlotte Half or Huntersville Half). In the meantime, this column will be changing a bit. I will be sharing some boot camp routines, running and biking workouts, all geared toward beginners. Overall I hope to help encourage people to take this time of uncertainty surrounding this illness and make strides in making strides in our overall health and wellbeing.