There’s just something about sitting down in front of a calendar and penning out a training schedule that signals the start of not just a new season but a new attitude. The training schedule is first a dream about what might be possible, the writer imagining each written activity as if it had already happened. Months of running transpire without effort, the benefits of work magically accruing without discipline or suffering.
Then, when the schedule is completed and laid out on the calendar, the daydreaming ends. The bastard stares up at you, a 31-eyed beast of a thing. It asks whether I have the patience, the discipline, the body, and the mind to complete it. It wonders if I know myself well enough, or if I’ve bitten off too much. It wonders if I can make the necessary sacrifices.
Blind enthusiasm takes its toll.
Just this afternoon, I laid out a three month calendar of miles and hills, with the help of Siggi, who has been training for a few week yet in Iceland. At the beginning of this month, the weather turned warm and I jumped on the trails too fast and too hard, my knee flaring in warning and quickly quelling my blind enthusiasm.
I decided that I would not be such a fool this year, and immediately stopped running. I sent out the feelers for a good physical therapist and found Annalisa Fish at Endurance PDX.* She poked and prodded and helped me to come up with a plan. In light of her observations, I’ve redefined my approach to training and my season goals; instead of thinking of the Summer season in isolation, with a peak in the early fall and a strong beer-taper into ski season, I want to run this season as if it is a stepping stone to a life of running better, pain free and stronger by the year.
So with that, I have a few goals for the season. I share them here because it’s committing, and because I hope that it will give you some insight into how I think and approach a season of running or skiing. You might even be inspired to make your own, which would be ideal.
1. Treat recovery like training. Be smart. Stretching, nutrition, sleep, prehab, and off days are more important than on days. I want to cut it short when it hurts, and attack problems as they arise. Tools: prescribed PT and stretching plan. Voodoo floss to attack hot spots. Subscribe to a CSA and eat the hell out of some veggies.
2. Build volume in a way that makes sense. I have a plan and I want to stick to it. No jumping 30% in volume because I watch a cool race video or dream up a cool objective. I racka’ diciprine.
3. Run alone less. I like people and need to spend more time with them. I want to run more with Taylor on my easier days, and find partners for the more punishing efforts. Community is where it’s at.
4. The Enchantments Loop: Beautiful mountains, gotta run through them. Completing the loop on the road is contrived and masochistic– I’ll add some peaks instead.
5. Mt St Helens Circumnavigation: Mt Hood’s ugly sister. Shorter, vaguer, lonlier, and lower-quality trail. What’s else could you want?
6. Speedbag™ in the Stuart range. Maybe Stuart itself. Combine running with mountaintops.
7. Get after it in Iceland. Enough said.
8. Build rather than taper into Winter. This contributes to the 5-year Big-Goal™ (top secret). If I work hard to earn fitness and a resting HR of 40, theres no point in giving it away for nothing.
9. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.
That’s all for now. I need to go hit the foam roller, stretch, and shower off today’s training time. Is this the summer you’ll join me in getting serious?
*A note on physical therapists: few are worth anything to an athlete. The profession is so concerned with the treatment of chronic back pain in fat people that the average physical therapist finds it remarkable that you can even navigate stairs without pain, let alone execute a single air squat. If you need a PT, and this year 70% of you runners will, find one by recommendation of other athletes. If your PT is not used to working with endurance athletes, they will not understand your quest to build a body that is capable of not just daily activities but of great things. Hiding out there under the radar is a cadre of well-educated PTs able to understand you and possessed of the persistence and knowledge to ferret out the subtle movement flaws that become big problems over great distance and efforts./font size>
In time, I’ll be writing a piece on shoes, because I love running in them and I destroy a few pairs every season. This year I’m a convert of the S-Lab. The hype is true. Check it out for yourself and support MountainLessons in the process: