With snow storms, sick children (including a scary ambulance ride and day at the hospital) and a nasty fall that took me out of commission for a few days, February wasn’t a great month of training for me. While my monthly total was a few minutes longer than last February, I certainly didn’t manage as many quality runs as I would have liked (mostly due to weather). Thankfully I had some decent training in December and January, so for this three-month block, I’m about 33 hours ahead of last year’s efforts. As long as I take a long-term perspective on my training, there’s really no need to panic about a low-volume month (particularly in the shortest month of the year).
Anyway, I’m now on week two of an eight-week block of focused training to get me back in shape for my spring races. I’m calling this my Race Rehab. As long as I remain consistent, I should be ready in time.
Mild panic attacks aside, I think that an occasional month of reduced volume is good for runners. It not only gives our bodies some time to recover, but our minds benefit from the break as well. If you’re training hard month after month after month—particularly in nasty weather—it’s quite possible to end up overtrained or burnt-out before the race season even gets started. A reduced volume month (or week) also gives us the opportunity to spend more time with family or friends. Some of us get so focused on our running hobby that we neglect essential aspects of our lives without even realizing it.
For the past two weeks I’ve been running in the Salomon S-LAB Sense Ultra. A more robust version of the Salomon S-LAB Sense (which I’ve been wearing since October), the Ultra offers a bit more traction, protection and durability than the original Sense. Although I’ve been able to get nearly 1,000 kms on my pairs of the Sense, I am looking forward to the increased durability of the Ultra. And just like the Sense, it’s lightweight (about 7.5 oz) and features a low-profile and comfortable fit. Except in extremely muddy conditions, I’ll be wearing the Ultra for my training and racing this year.
Now that I’m transitioning back into race mode, I’ve also started to think about my long run/racing nutrition. Last year I had great success using Clif Shot gels in my races. Although I didn’t always race as well as I would have liked, I never had a problem with nutrition or stomach issues. So, I will continue to use Clif Shot gels (vanilla is my favourite) this year. I’ve also been using Clif Shot Bloks as a variation on the gels. Since I get up quite early on Sunday mornings for my long runs, I’ve been eating a Clif Bar while getting dressed in lieu of breakfast. It’s a nutritious snack that doesn’t feel too heavy prior to a run. And then after any hard efforts, I’ve been eating a Clif Builder’s Bar, which offers some quick protein and carbs for refueling.
On the broader nutrition front, I’ve cut down on the amount of chocolate and ice cream I eat. While I have no plans to stop eating either, I did see the need to reduce the quantity I was consuming. It wasn’t an issue of calories, but more the excessive amount of sugar in my system. It was hard for the first couple of days, but I’m feeling much better now (and sleeping better as well).
I’ve also started a diet (again not about the calories or weight) called VB6, which stands for Vegan Before Six. It’s based on a book about becoming a “less-meatatarian” by Mark Bittman of the New York Times that will be released soon. Essentially, I eat a lot of meat and dairy products, which limits the amount of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts I eat, so by waiting until 6 p.m. to eat meat and dairy, I can easily limit my consumption. I’m also not eating meat every day anymore. Feels good so far.
OK. That’s enough rambling for now. Oh wait, I almost forgot that I was interviewed by Distance Obsessed for their podcast series. Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://distanceobsessed.com/episodes/2013/2/21/episode-4-john-mcalister. I take rambling to an art form in that interview.