Monday, 11 July 2011

Like Verbal Kint: I'm the man with the plan

Well, part of a plan anyway.

Actually, its not so much a plan as an objective.

In fact, not so much an objective as some objectives, plural.

But I can measure progress. To some extent.

With me so far?

No, me neither.

Let me start again, as vague though this all seems I do feel quite enthused.

Last week's news from the physio wasn't too bad and whilst doing the exercises since has made the achilles periodically sore, I'm managing that okay with ice. I do think its already getting stronger and I'm very hopeful that a week from now I'll be given a cautious green light to return to running. Beyond that, though, I don't know how quickly mileage will build or even if I'll avoid any relapse. Its all a bit unknown.

Without running I've struggled. I've struggled to maintain much in the way of fitness. I've eaten very poorly and gained a lot of weight. I'm sure my mental well being has taken a knock too. Its not been easy.

Obviously a return to running will help all that but as the speed and certainty of return are a bit vague I decided I needed something more. As a result I joined a very swanky new gym on Saturday, initially on a 16 week membership, and got very excited at being able to use that 16 weeks to make a really concerted effort at achieving something.

So, I thought a little of what I could do and began to imagine what 16 weeks hence could look and feel like.

My initial thoughts were very much running focussed. By that time I will have needed to make a decision on whether a spring marathon is achievable, and realistically that means I'll need to be running 40-45 miles a week, pain free, and be including some form of speed training by the end of October.

That seemed a pretty decent, realistic, tangible objective, as even if I started at 12 miles a week a 10% increase weekly would still take me over 45 miles by the final week. I soon expanded this idea to wanting to be as injury proof as possible and very much ready for the ramp up in mileage marathon training would entail.

That all started leading me towards a gym based programme geared up to support the running based objective. I hope that will be fine but on the basis that I don't really know how quickly I'll be able to increase mileage (the physio could very easily suggest 3 x 2 miles a week for 2 weeks before increasing to 3 miles etc) it might not be achievable, so I decided I needed to widen or supplement the objectives.

Building on the theme of getting injury proof I then came up with a seemingly vague idea that I wanted to be as 'fit' as I was at the beginning of April. Naturally, even at 45 miles a week I wouldn't have the same endurance as I did in April but maybe I could still be as fit by being 'differently fit', in other words stronger or more flexible, as well as getting my weight down to a similar level. It might also mean that my methods and objectives need to be flexible in line with rate of progression and injury rehabilitation.

On that basis, and starting from today, I'm recording changes daily in:
  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Body composition
  • Resting heart rate
  • Blood pressure
Then weekly I'll be taking body measurements, and Sue has taken some Usual Suspects style pictures of me which we'll re-do monthly.

There's little more that I can measure, and whilst I recognise that figures will go up and down I'd hope that over the 16 weeks they will all have moved very clearly in the right direction. Its wooly perhaps, but I think its as precise as I can be in the circumstances.

In terms of process I'm committing to exercise 6 days a week wherever feasible (i.e. unless I'm ill or incapacitated!). With luck the running element will slowly increase but until then I'm looking to do a fair bit of work on the x-trainers* (3 different types at the gym) as well as core stability, flexibility and strengthening work. The what and when should be decided this week as I have an appointment with an instructor this evening where I'm hoping she'll have a few suggestions so we can develop something together for the next 4 weeks (then review and agree a new plan at the end of that time).

How does that sound?

* I've done 40 minutes on the cross trainer on each of the last 2 days and it doesn't seem to have aggravated the achilles.


Rose said...

It most definitely sounds like a plan - and a good one at that!

Can I throw a few things into the mix?

1. Don't measure weekly, save that for no more than monthly and if possible do it on the wks where your weight loss hasn't made you celebrate - this way the loss of inches can stop the 'flippin eck, that's not enough loss I must eat sweets' type reaction

2. What about thinking of a different kind of marathon, one that will be something completely different....challenging terrain over 'about' 26.2 miles (might be a bit more), beautiful scenery etc etc..... There is likely to be one down here next Autumn but there are others such as Loch Ness etc - maybe then you wouldn't always be trying to beat what you've previously achieved but could create totally new goals?

3. Daily anything? Is that good for your head. It might be what works for you but I know that if I do it then every time the numbers don't say what they should then it affects my whole day...even though we all know that a single day can show some very weird blips....

Anyway, enough of my waffle! I like a man with a plan and I'm looking forward to seeing some of those progress pictures and to hearing how the adventures in 'gymming' are going


tam said...

Sounds like a plan, the cross trainer is a great machine to use when you are recovering from a running injury. I used to use it when my shin splints were playing up, it uses the same action as running but is fare less brutal on the joints. I think you've made a good choice joining a gym strength training is so important of you are a runner it will make your muscles so much stronger and I bet your running will improve from it! Doing a lot of core training has endless benefits for runners, have fun with your new plan : )

~Jessica~ said...

Err, what Rose said?

Cross-trainers are great for maintaining fitness even while not running, as are swimming and cycling provided you really amp up the pace and put a lot of effort in. Elites usually use the Nordic Ski machine when they're injured, but there are no gyms near me that have one!

As always you're the man with the plan: in the most non-stalkerish way possible picture updates would be interesting if you feel like posting them. I think it would be good to prove to yourself that you can still look the way you want without running, because then injury-induced depression might not be so all-encompassing? Easier said than done, as I know all too well!


Maria said...

I like the sound of the plan. I would say though that maybe weekly measurements are better than daily ones? I know others have said it, but if you have stats that go the wrong way one day, will that be disheartening to you? Whereas if you did it over a week the trend should be more the right direction all the time. I like the sound of the gym though, and I am sure the cross training will do you good, allow your running muscles and bits time to recover and regenerate and hopefully come back fresher.

Sarah said...

Rose's suggestions are spot on - I think you need to concentrate on feeling better, not how some number makes you feel.

I like what you say about getting "differently" fit. When I was injured I vowed I was going to get strong and get killer abs. Well ... I didn't quite get there, but when I was able to run again I had retained enough fitness so that my running improved quite quickly.