Participating in a fun run with my girls is enjoyable if I remember that we are not there to break any records and completing the distance is an achievement in itself.
My normal exercise philosophy has been to go as hard as you can and only slow down if you are so knackered you can’t go any faster or you have done so much damage that you can’t move without significant pain.
Apparently there is a better way.
It has taken me a whole year to be able to get back running after the damage I did to myself last April and my resulting knee operation. On reflection I made every mistake possible. When I look back I should have run the marathon in February, at this stage I was still in one piece, was relatively fresh and just completing the distance was my main goal.
The real trouble started when I began to believe my own hype. Feeling supremely confident after a couple of big runs I started to think about running under 4 hours. My training got more intense, I started to ignore the signs that I was over training and ultimately the wheels fell off. The fact I got around at all was due to the help of a few pain killers and lots of cheerful Londoners.
A year later I am gradually running again and I am adopting a new approach.
If you want to go faster, the trick is to actually slow down.
Seems a little strange, but according to my new training bible the secret to staying healthy is to train at a pace that allows you to be able to move and function after you have finished your session, not to push it so far that you have to go to bed for the rest of the day. All of this is measured by using a heart rate monitor and this approach allows you to build a “base”. If you train like this you condition yourself so you can go faster whilst maintaining the same heart rate.
The challenge with this approach means that when you start out you can find yourself running or cycling at an extremely slow pace to maintain the required heart rate. The bible promises me that this is only for a few months but I was tested this weekend when I was out on my bike and a peloton of over 60’s raced past me and wished me a cheery “good day”. Either they weren’t sticking to the rules of building a base or maybe they have known this secret and have been practicing it for years.
A must read for all middle aged converts to any form of endurance exercise.