Cross-Training for Longevity

Featuring TheRunZone?s resident coach Tinman. All participants are welcome to post and reply to topics in this section whether you?re looking for advice, or sharing your own coaching experience.

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shug
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Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by shug » Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:29 pm

It seems that some coaches (Hudson/Fitzgerald) advocate taking a cross-training approach towards training after age 35. For instance, Hudson's book has master's plans that have you running only 3 days/week and doing core work or x-training on the other days.

I realize this is a very individual thing and highly dependent upon your running goals; and of course, how injury prone you are.

But let's say your primary goal is to be competing in the sport for many decades. Is cutting back volume (and perhaps replacing it with cross-training) a smart approach?

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:19 am

Being a Grand Masters runner at 52, I feel that I am qualified to answer this question. I have had many arguments with people (well, let's call it discussions in which they disagree) and I feel very strongly that nothing will replace running if you are looking at maximizing your running fitness and reaching your potential. Now this obviously comes with some caveats as well.

1.) Maximize your mileage to the point where you are not getting injured or are on the verge of injury. Take your time in building mileage though.
2.) You need to have the ability to recover from this mileage. If you can run 100 MPW but can't recover from it, then you are doing yourself a disservice and this will lead to overtraining and/or injuries over the long term.
3.) Keep your quality limited to two days a week as over the long term this will provide the best stimulus. If you really have a hard time recovering then go to a 10 day cycle or only do one hard session a week.
4.) Don't race your quality workouts and really try and keep them at the right intensity. This is tough to do and it is easy to over run these sessions when things are going well.
5.) Keep your easy runs easy and don't be afraid to go slow.
6.) Listen to your body and if you are really tired then take a day off or skip the quality session if it is on your plan. I have dug holes in the past by not following this advice. You may feel really good after the session knowing you gutted it out, but the following week usually turns into feeling really tired and missing or cutting short quality sessions. Just remember that one workout doesn't make you but it can break you.

Try and maximize the amount of mileage you can run without getting injured and in which you have the ability to recover from. If you are injury prone, then you can consider cross training if the volume is low.

Cross training really doesn't convert over that well. It may for the 3 day a week 20 to 30 minute session people, but if you want to try and see what you can do then running comes first.

As an FYI, I used to think volume created all the injuries I had. I used to get injured all the time around 60 MPW and thought that was my cap. I even ran over 90% of my miles on the Towpath thinking a softer surface would help. I can now consistently run 90 MPW over a long period of time with no issues and all of it is on asphalt (Do stay away from cambered roads. Fortunately the roads in my area due not have camber). What really helped is keeping my easy runs easy. Before I ran my easy runs way to hard. In fact, I am finding if I keep them even easier, then I feel even better.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dilluh » Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:49 am

Dave's advice above is pretty much gold. I'm not even in the masters category yet and I adhere to pretty much everything above. A big mental bogeyman many runners have to conquer is two-fold: (1) some specific number of miles is going to suddenly make you a better runner and (2) running easy runs too hard. Both of these things can eventually lead to breakdowns in consistency of training and consistency of quality workouts. I find that the mileage thing is something people really get hung up on. What's the point of hitting 100 mpw when you're dog tired and only manage to "peak" at that mileage one week before having to take a major load off your training volume? What's the point of hitting 100 mpw when you can't complete a quality workout without having to be dragged off the track? It doesn't make any sense. Dave's point about slowing down his easy runs to get more miles in is good advice too. On normal easy runs I'll always do quick body checks to ask myself, "is there any struggle in my effort right now?" If there is, I ease back a bit. While this method does not take pace into account, I do often find that the pace of those easy runs tend to line up pretty solidly in the middle of easy pace of Tinman's calculator.

There are caveats for younger folks for sure in both cases where you might want to run a finer edge in your training but as we age, staying healthy and consistently running good workouts is going to trump pretty much everything. There are also caveats for folks who have some imbalance in their stride or something wonky with their feet that limits the number of miles they can do per week. If it's something that can't be worked out with PT or a Dr., then yes, you're going to have to adapt with cross training. If you're healthy, and you adhere to the principle of 'keeping the ball rolling,' I don't see a reason to do cross training unless you find it pleasant on it's own. Running is the most efficient training to be a better runner, IMO.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:27 pm

dilluh wrote: A big mental bogeyman many runners have to conquer is two-fold: (1) some specific number of miles is going to suddenly make you a better runner
I have had many a Sunday where I am at 95 to 98 miles and I think abouting going out to get some miles to get over 100. I have to remind myself and ask the question "what benefits am I going to get by doing this?" I now come to the conclusion that rest is more important and will end up benefiting me than 3 to 5 really easy miles.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dilluh » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:34 pm

I wanted to add one other thing I think is important for runners of all ages, and again, something I see many people doing all the time. The idea that training paces are attached to a far off goal race pace. Tinman has commented on this many, many times and it took years for this to sink in for myself. It makes no physiological sense to simply pick a 5k time that you “think” you can run and base the training on that.

I know at some point I can likely dip back under 18 min for 5k but that has no relationship to my state of training or ability right now. It is simply wish-casting to think I can run 17:30-17:45 right now. At best, my wish was a modest one and I might pull off a decent string of workouts that are slightly too fast for me and have it turn out mostly ok. At worst, I wouldn’t last a month training like I was a sub-17 runner right now. Yet, this is what many people do and even some coaches prescribe. I think a summary of Tinman’s idea on this subject is best: use a recent race time to calculate training paces. Even with that race time in hand, modify the paces as needed to be training for how well you could race THAT DAY. If you key off of 5k race pace, just ask yourself when you’re warmed up and ready for a LT session on the track, “what could I legitimately run for 5k today taking sleep, health, mental fatigue, weather, etc into consideration?” It can be a humbling question to ask when your 7 month old daughter was up 8 times the previous night and you’re just barely getting your legs back under you fitness-wise. =]

The caveat to this is that when done properly, one will naturally speed up on a given workout over the course of weeks because you are getting fitter. That’s why if we don’t race frequently, it’s important to try to maintain that same effort for the workout. It should naturally get a little faster each week for the same effort on the same or similar workout.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by westerndog » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:40 pm

Expanding on this (as a 50 y/o), do either of you do planned scheduled "down times?"
Besides after a long race/hard effort, do you schedule a few weeks off a year or something similar?
I often wonder if this will add to longevity or if it would just make life more difficult having to rev it back up again.

Rob

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by runthe8 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:11 am

As a 52 year old female, I am always wary of taking too much time off. I almost always get hurt after a lay off. If I am consistent and "keep the ball rolling" as Tom says, even if I have days where I only run for about 10 minutes (!) it helps me stay healthier. I am finding that just trying to run every day, even a little bit, lift weights focusing on glutes and hips (fairly heavy, not too many sets or reps, not even too organized about what lifts I do), and work on my sore spots by foam rolling, self- massage, etc, I can stay at least functional, if not very fast anymore. I am horrible about cross training. I will only do it when I am injured and can't run at all. Probably should rethink that, as I have a couple of extremely injury prone kids I coach who have to alternate run days with elliptical days and are racing pretty well on this schedule.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dkggpeters » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:56 am

I don't schedule any extended down time. I will usually take the week off after a marathon or do very little running. Then I will easy my mileage back up over the next 4 to 6 weeks and do mainly easy running for the most part.

I tend to notice that I usually feel worse if I don't do anything or keep the mileage really low.

There is nothing wrong with scheduling 2 to 3 weeks of downtime every year and it may be beneficial for you. Just give yourself time to build a base back up. Recovery from a marathon is just as much mental as it is physical so you need to take both aspects into consideration. You may be able to recovery quickly physically if you are lucky, but if you are mentally drained then there is no use in trying to force things.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by Tinman » Sun Oct 11, 2015 11:18 am

Much of what was posted aligns with what I've written about for the last several years. I'll say once again that keeping the ball rolling (momentum) is the fundamental principle upon which all training - or at least the training I prescribe and describe to others - is based. I noticed back in the 1980s that I was more susceptible to injuries following days off from running. I formed rules back then to reduce my potential for injuries. The foremost of which is never run a hard workout or race after a day of rest. I kept detailed training logs, starting in 1982, and perused them periodically with the idea that I'd be able to discover my own patterns of failure or success. Within my logs were answers. For example, About 80% of injuries incurred were after time off - rest days, following extended rest periods, after a day off due to travel with my family, etc. Another pattern showed up too: a series of good performances followed at least 3-4 weeks of blended /balanced training.

My definition of blended training includes a mix of distance running, longer intervals (or tempos, etc.), shorter reps, some hills, etc.; the opposite was over-emphasized training, including just distance work, hard intervals, or various forms focused speed-work, etc. Any extreme form of training(only distance training or only speed-work/hard intervals), with little else of substance, increased my chances for injury, illness, or unpredictable and frustrating poor performance in races or in standard workouts that "should" have gone well materialized. Thus, I formed the cardinal tenet of my training philosophy: Keep the Ball Rolling! Avoid extremes, create balance, identify the forms of training that preserve what was developed and also make it possible to either do new forms of training or race well on a regular basis.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:55 am

I also feel that if things are not going right then don't force it. Every time that I forced training making it harder than it should have been, it has almost always come back and bitten me. Don't be afraid to reset if needed. I have had to do this a couple of times.

I even had over this last summer that things just didn't feel right. I was having ankle issues where it just felt like I was running with bricks for feet. Knowing that I still had a Fall marathon, I didn't force it and waited until things came back naturally before trying to run more challenging sessions. If I would have forced it, I am certain that I would have gotten injured.

Keep the ball rolling and sometimes to keep it rolling, you may have to step back for a bit.

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by dilluh » Mon Oct 12, 2015 11:12 am

dkggpeters wrote:Keep the ball rolling and sometimes to keep it rolling, you may have to step back for a bit.
Consistency (keep the ball rolling) and patience (if something feels a bit off, don't push on it). Seems like good words to live by as a distance runner of ANY age. :)

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Re: Cross-Training for Longevity

Post by TexNav » Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:41 pm

To follow on something Runthe8 mentioned, regarding 10 min runs.
Along with running I've been working on ruck marching lately, typically 1 hour on Wed, and 2 hours Sunday. Since those are not full-on run focused days, I've found an easy 5-10 minute run before and after the rucking has helped a lot in bridging the gap to the next run day.
Monday was starting to be a crapshoot sometimes on whether I'd run or not, depending on how I felt the day after my long ruck. Sleep as recovery is usually the real deciding factor. But similarly to before/after my ruck workouts, if I need some recovery and don't get in a Monday morning run, I find an easy 10 minute run before and after my Monday evening upper body lifting/PT session helps a lot when then resuming with a regular Tuesday run workout.

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