Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Schedules and Pool Running Easy Runs

So, within about 24 hours of my foot going "pop", I decided to retain a running coach for the first time in my life.  I had always been reluctant to do so -- part of it was pride (wanting to do it all myself), part of it was that I genuinely enjoy learning about physiology and experimenting with how different types of training work for me.  And part of my reluctance was that I have previously competed at a decently high level in another sport, and I had learned there that I do NOT do well with aggressive coaching.   I tend to push myself pretty hard, and when a coach pushes me on top of that, I end up in a bad mental place.  I implode, I psych myself out, the sport becomes a miserable place, and the fun is gone.  My thinking was that I'd rather run slightly slower but have fun, and so I was self-coached. 

And then my foot went pop -- a nice punctuation to a year+ of injury despite doing all the anciliary prevention stuff -- massages, drills, continuing PT.  Clearly, I needed help.  And so I selected a coach who met three key criteria -- a) he was local, b) he had a solid reputation for repeated success (especially with women in my age range), and c) he was known for being conservative with injury (and d) he was NOT a screamer).   Points b) and c) supported each other -- I needed someone whom, when he put the brakes on me, I could not possibly disagree with, as he clearly knew so much more than me.

And so I retained him, and asked what I should be doing.  I was advised to keep up my normal running schedule in the pool, with one interval workout, one tempo, and one long run.  The balance of my runs were to be easy, and I was to maintain the same volume (i.e. "mileage") in the pool as I had on land.   So, my schedule is something like:

M - Interval/"track workout"
T - Easy mileage
W - Easy mileage
Th - "Tempo"
F - Easy mileage
Sa - Long "run"
Su - Easy mileage

Interestingly, exactly mimicking one's dry land running schedule when in the water diverges from a lot that I've read about pool-running while injured -- the online consensus (and we know how accurate the internet is) is that near daily intervals are necessary and appropriate to maintain fitness while pool-running, due to a) the difficulty of elevating heart rate in the pool, and b) the increased rate of recovery associated with pool running.  I read stuff like this and this and this, and spoke to numerous friends and fellow poolrunners who have all done/are doing near daily intervals.  An added benefit of doing intervals is that the time goes by much, much quicker.

So, I thought, and read some more, and decided that maybe I'd try inserting a shorter interval segment into some of my easy runs -- not a full out session like my Monday "track workout", but just some fun stuff to raise the heart rate and make time pass.  In terms of equating to dry land, it would be like including some fartlek pickups into an easy run, or doing an easy run on hilly terrain.

Makes total sense, right?

Emailed the coach this, and was promptly, and EMPHATICALLY shot down.   All "easy runs" in the pool are to be EASY -- no exceptions.

He gave me examples of runners he had trained who had run fantastic performances shortly after returning from injury, when following this plan.  It was very nice to read, but he didn't need to.  This is why I reached out to him, right?  To stop me BEFORE I shoot myself in the metatarsal once more.

Duly noted -- no quality in the easy runs.  :)


  1. This is excellent stuff! How exciting to have hired a coach, during this time particularly. I love that he was emphatic about it, somehow that's more trust-inspiring to me then if you guys talked about it and he acquiesced. Sounds like he knows his stuff. And what was your previous sport? Or is that a secret?

  2. I rode horses as a teenager - did "the big eq" and "showjumping".

    Yup -- he's pretty emphatic about not overdoing it, which is exactly what I need. And it also means that when I get back to running, if he gives me a workout, I can rely on the workout being within my capabilities (always that bit of doubt).

  3. Ah, that's right! I knew that. :-) Very happy that you're in great hands, I look forward to reading your progress reports in the pool and beyond.

  4. Coach G knows!! Like I said, if he said dye my hair red, and wear a tutu, bc this wil get me a 3:30 marathon....Id do it! lol He' a great coach! :)
    Cant wait to have u on land and to run track with ya! :)

  5. It's great you are following your coach's advice on this one. I know how tempting it must be to do more intervals!

  6. I started pool running 3 years ago in lieu of my easy run days, G was the one who told me I didn't need to run any more than that and I could pool run my easy days. It's really worked great for me, I do no intervals, my two pool run days are 90 minutes & 2 hours and I do not do any intervals in the water (unless I missed a track workout) I think you'll be fine, you just have to free fall a bit to realize it! :)