A while Back I wrote a piece on ways to stay healthy as an Endurance Athlete. The most important aspect of which was strength training. Over the past six months I have had the opportunity to run in a couple of long distance running events with members of The Spot Athletics. The event is called a Ragnar Relay in which a team of 12 runners cramped in two vans traverses over 200 miles over the course of 30 hours or so. Each Runner is responsible for running three legs of varying distances in order to complete the run. I ran a total of 19 miles in a 24 hour period. As crazy as that sounds, the experience more than makes up for the aches and pains that accompany running that kind of mileage in such a short amount of time.
The first Ragnar Relay took place back in May and the second was a few weeks ago. For both races I did an experiment with my training to see how my body would respond. You hear a lot from hardcore runners that the most important part of training for an endurance run is to get your miles in. For myself I found the opposite to be true.
I will preface this by saying that I do not enjoy running.
I will preface this by saying that I do not enjoy running. I competed in my first half marathon back in 2010 and did half way decent but ended up with extreme knee pain which turned me off to the sport. I was corralled by members of the spot to do this running event back in March and l caved to the peer pressure which I am very grateful for because the Ragnar Relay really is actually a lot of fun. Everything I read told me to train like I was running a half marathon with two shorter runs and a long run each week. Some weeks there were four or five runs scheduled. My mind immediately went back to the knee pain that I experienced when I ran my first and only half marathon and I decided to take a different approach. I created a 10 week training plan in which I continued to Strength Train three to four days a week and did anaerobic conditioning twice a week. I squatted and deadlifted every week. I limited my running to two days a week with a Short run (three or lessmiles) and a longer run of no more than six miles.
My results using this method of training were great. During the race back in May I ended up having to run four legs of 4.5 5.5, 6, and 3 miles with average pace of 7:30 - 8:30 min miles. I experienced absolutely zero knee pain and other than my hips being sore, I felt surprisingly well the next day for having just run 19 miles in 24 hours.
For the second race back in October, life got in the way and I was unable to dedicate as much time to strength training as I would have liked. I decided with my time constraints I would dedicate more time to running and less time in the weight room. I did one day of actual strength work with anaerobic conditioning and decided to up my miles. I will be honest, after the first race I caught the running bug and wanted to incorporate more running into my training anyways so I didn’t mind not lifting as much. This idea of not strength training as much backfired. About five weeks into my training I started to experience the same knee pain I had during my first half marathon. This in turn caused my to have to back my miles down all while still only getting one or two strength days in during the week. The results of this training were drastically different in the next race.
I was asked to run the same mileage as the first race but my body responded in a completely different way.
I was asked to run the same mileage as the first race but my body responded in a completely different way. From the start of the race my body felt awful. By the middle of my second leg I was running at a much slower pace of 9:00 - 10:00 min/mile. I eventually had to completely stop and not be able to complete my last leg due to not being able to walk.
In conclusion, my body is not built to run. It takes a lot of work to keep my body healthy enough to be able to handle the constant pounding running puts on it. If you are running and in pain all the time my advice would be to listen to your body and take the time to get stronger. Find a strength coach, get assessed, and see what it is you need to get stronger to stay healthy. If you enjoy running and want to keep doing so you must put forth the time in the weight room to keep yourself out on the road.