Congrats to Andrew McKay and Nir who ran the Philadelphia Marathon on the weekend! I haven’t heard their stories yet, but I know there were some battles and demons fought out there. Way to go guys.
Last weekend cross country fans saw the NCAA x-country championships take place. The women’s race was won from the front by Parker Valby. Valby trains very unconventionally by running only 2-3 times a week, and training on an elliptical device for her other sessions. She has a history of injuries, knows what works for her, and confidently does that. She trusts herself. This appeals to me because I think many of us could use some of this “trust yourself to go-your-own-way” confidence. I’ve been thinking about this from a personal perspective as well as I get older. There are a lot of data and experiences and training programs for endurance athletes … up to a point. There is not a lot of research or experience or training paradigms for athletes as they want to stay competitive as they get older. Many of us at the ages of 40’s and 50’s and beyond are still looking at what the best in the world are doing as our benchmarks. Cam Levins runs 280km a week and Jakob Ingebrigtsen does double threshold days. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that more is better. We know we can’t do what they’re doing, but those are the models we are following, and the closer we can get, we figure the faster, stronger we will be. And as we age, we just get worse and worse at following the prescribed program until we stop.
That’s how it used to be. We are a new wave of athletes. Our parents (for the most part) did not do what we are doing at our age. Not many people have. We are high performance athletes. And just as women are not “smaller men”, older athletes are not just “slower, weaker” versions of younger athletes. We are different. We have different strengths and different training needs. The problem (or maybe the exciting opportunity, depending on how you look at it), is that we are still figuring out what those needs are because there have been so few of us in the past. When I lined up for 1500m races on the track last summer beside high school athletes, I had the thought that I could never have imagined my parents racing in the same competitive races as me when I was a teenager! It would have been a spectacle. But we are doing that now. We are forging the path for those who continue on behind us. That path is no less challenging than when we were younger. And no less rewarding. I ran a tempo run with a group on the weekend that ranged in ages from mid-20’s to almost 50 (me). I was not at the front, and I was not the fastest I’ve been. But the feeling was the same. The exhilaration of working hard, legs burning, lungs heaving, body sweating in the cold air. Why would we ever want to give that up?
I went to a show with some high school friends last week which was supposed to be a comedy about menopause. It absolutely missed the mark for us. We didn’t understand who it was supposed to be for. It seemed to have been written 30 years ago and for people who were 20 years older than us. We ended up laughing until tears ran down about how bad it was. So at least it was a comedy. But the point is, we need a new narrative. Getting older isn’t about laughing about getting fat, hairy, hot, and forgetful. Talk about a disempowering message! I’m glad we couldn’t relate, but then we were like, “who’s writing our narrative?” I guess it’s us. So, time to take a page from Parker Valby’s playbook and train confidently in a way that works for YOU. That might mean more rest, more strength, more cross-training, more mobility, less running. But it doesn’t mean giving up, or even necessarily slowing down! Guess what: No one else knows shit, so let’s do it the way that works for us.
(on that note, if you are interested in doing Sunday Power and Speed with me and designed by me and Kerry, at Monarch Track on the first three Sundays in December (7:30-9:30 am – we can start at 8:00 am), pls indicate here: Speed/Powersign-up. It is $100/session for the group, so if we can get 10 ppl it will be cost effective – I’ll only run it if there are enough ppl)
On to tomorrow’s workout: Lakeshore and Leslie. 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO.
Sets of progressive 400’s with 200 easy jog. (this is forcing us to take the sting out of them – it’s all about that base!)
1 set = 4 x 400 w 200 easy jog, getting 1-2 seconds faster each one. So start out measured! 3 mins bw sets.
2 sets would be a solid workout. If still feeling good you can add a set or a couple 400’s.
That is all – see you in the am!
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