Stuck in Stale

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Stuck in Stale

by Patrick Reed

For a few months now, I have been advocating – and have been being advised – that the way to distance-running longevity and success is long slow distance day-in and day-out. Renowned coaches have touted aerobic training methods which encourage even elite runners to clock their mileage almost solely in the low-moderate heart rate range. And not only have I personally been preaching these methods and nodding in assent as each next coach offers similar advice, but I have also been “walking the walk” — or “running the run”, as it were. I have run every day of 2013, and most often my pace has been at or below my aerobic threshold. For me this calculates to roughly 142 beats per minute – as calculated using the 180 Formula.

Only one problem — for the last few days, I have found myself stale. I am “stuck in stale”, I realized today. And so I asked myself Why? Before I offer my answers, let me first describe my staleness and see if you are presently suffering or if you have in the past suffered a similar R-LOE — “Runner’s Lack of Enthusiasm”? Here are my symptoms:

  • unable to change pace — stuck at a moderate pace.
  • unable to change pace — stuck at a moderate pace.
  • still stuck…

You get the picture. I have been listening to all of the powers that be, but I am in a rut — and I think I know the way out…

But let me get back to the question of Why am I in this stale state? There are countless possible reasons:

  • My nutrition bites (no pun intended:)
  • LOS – “Lack of Sleep” (thought you could use another acronym in case you were getting soporific on me)
  • My new Luna Leadville’s – (I am NOT buying this excuse!:)
  • I never miss a day — this is worth thinking about…
  • I only ever run at one effort level. Always…

Alright, I am going to have to go with this last reason. The threshold training, for all of its science, compels me to train ever at the same pace. Perhaps I am being too religious about the regimen, but without strides and intervals, and without the occasional, inspired fartlek pushes, I am stuck in 3rd gear. And I fear that I have forgotten how to shift. Maybe my clutch no longer even works!

old car

What to do?!

Before I offer my solution, let me poll you for yours. Please take a moment and check the answer which meets your best prescription for how you “un-rut” yourself:

Thanks for filling out the poll! It will be inspiring to see how others deal with early burnout. (Please also feel free to add in other ideas and prescriptions in the comments section of this post.)

And now to my prescription: If you came to me with this “stuck in stale” ailment, here’s what I would counsel:

“If you are healthy — ligaments all feeling good, no traumatized muscle groups aching you — but instead you are just generally flat and have been so for a couple of weeks…. Go out tomorrow – with your GPS watch – and run twice the distance of your normal day’s training. (For me that would be roughly 7 or 8 miles.) Jog for a mile, then run your aerobic threshold pace for 1 mile — yeah, that’s the one you are stuck in. Next, surge (if all is feeling good and you are a healthy individual). Keep this surge up for a quarter mile at your 5k race pace. Then, back off for a quarter — back to jogging. Next, push at 5k race pace for 800 meters. Then back off for the same distance — at that jogging pace. Then surge for a full mile at the 5k race pace. Now, rest for a mile jogging. And here’s the fun shakedown: do 100 meters on, 100 meters off — all at the same 5k race pace, continuing for the magic 7 pushes (7 is totally made up — just do a moderate number of these strides). Finish off the run with a jogging mile — same pace as the first mile of the workout.”

fast cars

Now, wake up tomorrow and see if you haven’t gotten “unstuck”!

Keep shaking things up!

~Coach Patrick

image credits: mohistory.orgpaulickreport.com

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