Transition from Traditional Run/Endurance Training

I’ve pretty much been a hack athlete my whole life… Like most people, I wasn’t gifted with much natural talent, and therefore I haven’t had many opportunities presented to me for exploration (let alone training) of any real skills I may have possessed over time.

In high school, various coaches suffered through my efforts in tennis, soccer, and even track at one point. I’ll admit that the cinder track and used Nike spikes probably weren’t the kindest introduction to running for an unskilled newbie anyway…

Then, in my four years at college, I worked more on growing my mind (and body…think girth…I hit over 180 lbs at one point), landing me into my early twenties with no athletic agenda, interests, or promise, and setting me up for the next 15 years to focus solely on building a career and a family. Athletics and fitness simply weren’t on the agenda. Sound familiar to anyone??

On a random Tuesday in my mid-to-late-30’s when I was gearing up to finish my 47th day of the 90-day in-home beach body workout (and I wasn’t exactly sporting much of a beach-worthy body), I was spurred on by two friends who were training for a triathlon to join them for an ocean swim and bike ride thereafter. Astounded at their drive to accomplish something as challenging and seemingly-elite as a triathlon, I was intrigued and joined in the next day.

A failure at swimming at first, and a clunky cyclist and runner at the time, I built up enough courage to tackle my first triathlon. Subsequent training with the same friends led to a half marathon then full marathon accomplishments. And since that time I’ve built up a not-exactly-impressive-but-not-entirely-lame-either resume that includes two Boston Marathon medals, two full distant Ironman medals, and a handful of other completed races of various types and distances.

Fast forward to 2014, a year committed to taking some pressure off, while maintaining fitness/base through traditional training methods. Swim, bike, run, and strength have dictated my daily schedule through the whole year, with a half marathon in February and a failed-start marathon scheduled for this past September. Plug in injuries to Achilles, hamstring and hip…and that pretty much defines a frustrated year of “fitness.” Again…can anyone relate??

After several years of pounding my body, suffering the trials of miles, etc, I found myself (thank goodness) at a crossroads. Something had to change if I wanted to change the course of my success/results. Not only in terms of maximizing my potential speed and endurance, but in terms of eliminating injuries that were physical and mental burdens on seemingly an on-going basis. I called them the demons, pointing out how they were always on the move yet always present, and I figured that they were the necessary-evil of my sport(s), especially running.

Enter Jeff Ford and his FIRE endurance method – something I effectively knew nothing about until two weeks ago…and admittedly I know only the basics of at this point. What I do know is that this philosophy of training is music to my ears and body. Premised upon building a responsible platform for growth in training, the focus is on strength, mobility, flexibility, form, technique, and…maybe best of all…quality vs quantity in training methodology and volume.

As a traditional-trained runner up to this point, all that I have “known” is that any endurance training program worth its salt must include/entail each of the following: a) the “trial of miles;” b) narrowly avoided (or managed) injuries; and, c) a schedule that aims to be equally (if not more) impressive than the planned race itself.

Well…after a full year of post-Ironman struggles, I am more than open to something different – something that might be more intensive, but still kinder/gentler to my body and psyche. In short, I’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

If any of this rings a bell in your experience (or current situation) or training, consider staying tuned and following along this new and exciting path. I have a feeling the results may be especially compelling.

More to come…

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