Balance – Boston Marathon Training Week 5

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Friday’s long run started and ended at this beautiful spot.

How balanced are you? Can you stand on one leg without wobbling for 30 seconds? What about on the other leg? Can you do it with your eyes closed? If you can do all this (and more) one legged balance stuff then good for you! If you’re a bit (or a lot) wobbly, join the club. My, “I’m just a bit out of balance” club.

In reading “Anatomy for Runners” (Jay Dicharry) I was reminded that balance is important. Doing one-legged balancing drills shows that even with all the work I’ve done to strengthen my body, I still have balance issues, favoring one side of my body over the other. This is a problem when running because it means that the favored side is usually doing more work. For me, that meant my left leg getting overworked in my last two marathons. So, as I strength train, I need to also work on strengthening the weaker.

Balance is not just a term for thinking of how strong each side of our body is or well we can stand on a single leg. Here are some other thoughts about balance.

1. Balance does not mean equal. A balanced diet does not mean that we eat equal amounts of everything. Rather, we eat adequate amounts of what we need. For me, this could get complicated so I’ve settled on a balanced diet is one that is largely free of processed foods (& added sugars) and is filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, some meat, and a bit of fat… and the occassional glass of wine or beer or other treat.

2. Balance does not mean everything is effort is the same. This is important to think about in terms of training paces. Easy runs are supposed to be easy and easy runs are supposed to be the majority of training runs. While the concept has not been hard for me to learn, I do sometimes struggle with actually doing it. It’s tempting to push that easy pace into a moderate pace while telling myself, “look how much better I’m getting!” For proper training balance those easy runs must be truly easy, and when they are, I’m ready for the hard workouts which makes them way more fun! Most seem to agree that a proper balance is 80% easy and 20% hard.

3. Balance means not doing the same thing over and over again. Do you know that our bodies are amazingly adaptive? They are. So much so that if we continue to do the same exercise over and over again, our bodies get used to that exercise. This is another reason for the 80/20 rule from above…or, don’t always run at the exact same pace, and don’t always do the exact same run…unless you are fine with where you are. The same applies when we’re strength training. Don’t do the exact same exercises each week. Mix it up. This doesn’t need to be complicated, for instance if you’re doing lunges (my plan usually calls for 2 seats of 10 on each leg), don’t always do the same lunges. There are lunges with weights, walking lunges, jumping lunges, forward, backward, and side lunges and so on. Mixing it up is more fun and your body will respond better.

4. Balance is important for life. Life is not all running, school, work, family, church, hobby or… I started running as a form of self-care. It was a way to step away from the stresses of my job as a pastor. It’s helped and the time running has helped me to thing through issues and even write sermons. I’ve found a good balance here.

What have you learned about balance in your own life?

Here’s my training log for last week:

Workouts: 1/14/2018 – 1/20/2018
Sunday, January 14, 2018 – Rest Day
7:00 AM  Yoga
Completed: 30:00
Monday, January 15, 2018
9:17 AM Easy Run – 6 Miles Easy
Completed: 6 mi ~ 59:57 (9:59 min/mi)
11:00 AM  Strength & Mobility
Core & Strength Level 2
2 Sets of the following sequence with ~ 30-60 seconds rest between each exercise.
15 squats; 20 sec. plank; 10 push ups; 20 Crunches; 10 lunges on each leg; 20 sec. plank; 10 calf drops on each leg; 20 Sit-Ups
Completed: 25:00
Workout Comments: First set of squats was with ball toss (16lb) and second was 1-legged holding a band for balance…one legged was very hard on my right leg
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 
Rest Day
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
5:47 PM Run – Lactate Threshold
2 x 1.5 Mile Threshold Run
Planned: 7 mi
2 Miles Easy; 2 x 1.5 Miles @ Threshold Pace w / 3:00 rest; 2 Miles Easy
Completed: 7.17 mi ~ 1:12:08 (10:03 min/mi)
Thursday, January 18, 2018
9:00 PM Strength & Mobility
Core & Strength Level 2
2 Sets of the following sequence with ~ 30-60 seconds rest between each exercise.
15 squats; 20 sec. plank; 10 push ups; 20 Crunches; 10 lunges on each leg; 20 sec. plank; 10 calf drops on each leg; 20 Sit-Ups
Completed: 25:00
Workout Comments: This was a very long day (13 hours) which thankfully is not normal. I followed the workout with some relaxation stretches to help me sleep.
Friday, January 19, 2018
7:19 AM 10 Mile Long Run
Planned: 10 mi Nice & Easy
Completed: 10 mi ~ 1:41:21 (10:08 min/mi)
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Trail Run? – See note below
My question: What about doing a five mile trail run (same as 1-12) before my hike church?
Coach’s response: You can do tomorrows 5 miler on Saturday before the hike if you would prefer. Not on both days though.
7:41 AM Run
Completed: 5 mi ~ 59:34 (11:54 min/mi)
Workout Comments: Today’s run felt really nice. It felt easier than it did the week before and when I compared heart rate the average was a lot lower than last week. For some reason though, my new watch thinks that my training was unproductive today (It’s been saying that for a week). It’s weird because I feel good…other than this annoying message I very much like my new watch.
9:07 AM
Walk: 5.1 mi ~ 2:23:17 (28:04 min/mi)
This was “Hike Church.” Something new that we are trying and the reason my long run was on Friday. I ran the loop and then walked it with a small group.
Totals
Completed Cross Training: 30:00
Planned Run: 23.00 mi // Completed Run: 28.18 mi ~ 4:53:01
Completed Strength & Mobility: 50:00
Completed Walk: 5.10 mi ~ 2:23:17

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