Coaching Myself, Week 1: Nov 28th – Dec 4th

Blog, Sue Cloutier

My first week of coaching myself begins next week because this week is Thanksgiving, and my normal schedule is way out of whack. I did get to the gym yesterday to do a workout on the ARC trainer, and one on the bike, and I have been eating low-carb and cutting out excess junk, but the plan doesn’t officially begin until the craziness of this work-week and the gluttony of turkey day has passed.

So, the plan for next week is as follows:
Monday: Upper body workout; Work 9-1
Tuesday: Lower body workout; 40 min ARC trainer, 20 min HIIT cycling
Wednesday: 40 min swimming, 20 min aqua jogging; Work 9-3
Thursday: Lower body workout; 40 min ARC trainer, 20 min HIIT cycling
Friday: 40 min ARC trainer, 20 min HIIT cycling; Work 9-2
Saturday: Upper body workout; 45 min elliptical, 15 min stairmaster
Sunday: Lower body workout
Target cardio time: 5 hours
Target upper body workouts: 2
Target lower body workouts: 3
Target weight loss: 1.5lbs (water weight)

Upper body workout: pushups, pull-ups, incline rows, dips, planks, hollow hold, superman, v-sit
Lower body workout: leg lifts, clamshells, side steps, hip hikes, squats, calf raises, wall sit

And my reward for hitting all of my targets for week one will be a new pair of running tights!

Coaching Myself – The Plan

Blog, Sue Cloutier

There are several goals that I am keeping in mind for this training period between actual marathon training cycles:

  1. Maintain aerobic fitness, minimize fitness loss as much as possible, or possibly even improve aerobic fitness without running, using various cross-training methods (ARC trainer, elliptical, cycling, aqua jogging, and swimming).
  2. Resting my bones while they recover from fall marathon training by not running.
  3. Strengthening various muscle weaknesses and imbalances, such as my hips, glutes, pelvic floor, and core.
  4. Lose about ten pounds to get back to racing weight. 
With that in mind, my plan for this training cycle is to do at least five hours of cardio cross-training each week to replace the time spent running. I will focus mainly on ARC trainer, which best replicates running motion, then elliptical and bike, and occasionally swimming and aqua jogging. Since I don’t have unlimited pool visits, I must use the pool judiciously. This recent study that I read suggests that elliptical workouts can help to maintain most running fitness, and I suspect that ARC trainer and cycling could also do the same. In fact, I believe that if I am able to significantly increase the time spent cross-training over what I would normally spend running, and incorporate scheduled high-intensity workouts, I may be able to possibly increase my Vo2 max during this time without doing any running.
I also plan to do several different strengthening exercises each week to work on areas of weakness, at least 3 lower body workouts each week, and at least 2 upper body and core workouts. I plan to alternate each day with upper or lower body workouts. 
Obviously, no running at all during this time period as mentioned above. I haven’t had any pain while running, but there is some slight tenderness if I press hard on my upper left tibia. I want to give this area plenty of time to strengthen before I attempt any more serious training. 
And lastly, I need to lose some weight. I don’t have a goal weight in mind, but I have gained 12 lbs since July, and I’m sure that has affected my running. Now is the best time to focus on cutting carbs and calories from my diet since I won’t be doing any running. I probably won’t cut calories too significantly though, as I will still be burning quite a bit with the extra cross-training, so I will play it week to week with the goal of losing around 1 to 1 1/2 lbs per week until mid-January, which should result in a loss of about 6 to 9 lbs, putting me closer to my weight from last summer. 

Becoming my own coach

Blog, Sue Cloutier

It occurred to me today that I need some structure in my running routine when I’m not actively training for a marathon. I have a tendency to make plans, then change them, and never fully commit to a transition or recovery plan. I need a coach.

The thing is, I know what I should do. I know what a coach would tell me to do. But I rarely follow through. So I thought I’d do a little experiment in this downtime between training for marathons: being my own coach.

I will give myself a very detailed plan of action each week, and in terms of this overall time period, with the goal of keeping my fitness up between trainings, letting my legs recover from the last training cycle, and strengthening my weaknesses (hips, glutes, core). I also need to lose about ten pounds that I put on since beginning my fall marathon training, which has resulted in increasingly poor race performances.

So having a plan of action is all well and good, but the important thing here is accountability and following through. I must follow through to ensure a great start to marathon training in the spring. But how?

Firstly, I need to be definitive. I need to know exactly what is expected of me, and that it is expected. I am the coach, and I must not let the coach down. I think it’s also a good plan to have rewards. I want to stay on track, and positive reinforcement will be pretty helpful. I will plan a reward for each week of the plan that is followed through. The ultimate reward at the culmination of the cycle will be registration for my spring marathon.

Second, accountability. I will detail each week of my plan on my blog, and will also post a review of my training for that week. Then at the very least, I will be publicly accountable for my actions.

This should be a fun experiment to see a) if I can be a successful student to myself, and b) if I can set myself up for a good spring training cycle. This plan will begin officially next week, and will go for the next six weeks, ending in mid-January. Next post to follow will be an overview for the plan, and the first week’s details. Let’s go!