I’ve been a runner my entire life. Sometimes I’ve run short and fast; sometimes I’ve done ultra distances or even been part of a multi-sport event. For each type of running, I can see my body adapt and easily become dominant in one area while it grows weak in another. I have also had the opportunity to coach many women runners of all body shapes, sizes, ages and speeds. Though each woman is unique, there have been some similarities, often in terms of weak areas which can be overlooked and neglected during training.
I think life has taught me a few things about training; that even though repetition of the same activity can generate promising results for some - for others - it can lead to any number of musculoskeletal injuries. Maybe I was fortunate, but in my early 20's I realized I was one of the latter.... What I witnessed others do in a training week would leave me broken, icing tendonitis and strains. (Yes, I did say fortunate - so please read on to understand).
I was introduced to interval training in the water when I was a not-so-skilled track and cross country runner in college. Those days, my coach had me deal with my sprained ankle by water running. With my track clothes on, I would jump into the deep end of a pool and run - with absolutely no idea that there were things to consider such as form and intensity.
I didn’t really ‘learn to run’ until I was a junior at San Diego State University, running the streets around the University. I started running with a pair of Reebok High tops, running just a block or two. Then I would walk or run when I felt like it. No one was telling me what to where, how far to run, or what pace to run; none of that.
So, it's November... the months of being outdoors in the fun and the sun are coming to an end (that is, if you live in a snowy climate like I do). You begin to wrap your head around training indoors... treadmills, stairmasters, and the grunt and grind of the weight-room, all sprinkled with some outside snow runs or cross-country skiing. You may be excited about the change, but you may not.
Sometimes I look back at all my years of racing, working full time, coaching/training and having a social life - and wonder to myself: How did I make it all fit? Honestly, I’m not sure. I can say I’m a Virgo; and some people will literally say, “well, that explains it.” But, I don’t necessarily attribute this ability to my sign (but maybe I should?). When looking at my experiences, I can say that I tend to be very efficient with my time and time management skills. I’m a list generator; something I got from my dad.
What does it mean to DNF? On the first glance to outsiders (those who have never competed), a “did not finish” is hard to comprehend. They cannot understand why you “wouldn’t finish.” Asking questions such as “well, you trained for it, right?” or more disturbing, they may ask “why not; what was the matter?”
How can you truly explain racing nerves.... if you are reading this and have NO IDEA what I'm talking about - then you are a newbie. If you read the title and you are an athlete, you just received a jolt of electricity, a flash-back sensation that includes a flutter in your lower belly, a slight chill over your skin, or possibly your heart just accelerated mock speed to about 170 BPM.
Let me answer that question with a statement: I have been a coach and a trainer and can give generalized nutrition and electrolyte information - that is where I draw the line. The detailed information that can be provided by a registered dietitian who specializes in this area is truly outside my scope of knowledge. I can admit this; I know what I know, and I know what I don't know enough about to fully advise. Why am I admitting this? Because I am asked daily. So many people are looking for a quick bit of advice; that certain NUGGET that can make all the difference. Nutrition is a science; it isn't just ONE THING.