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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Planks, Blogging and Short Runs

Planks and more planks, that's what I say.  I still hate them.  But I can tell they make me stronger, more stable on my feet as a runner.  I am now up to five sets, more than a minute each.  I know that doesn't sound like much.  Consider this:  when I first tried planks, I crashed to the floor yelping after a few seconds!  That's how weak I was.  Sure I could run for five/six hours straight.  But there was always that nagging hip.   And then with my last injury (when I finally visited the dr.) he was amazed at my leg strength, but frowned at my core strength.  He actually used the words, "very weak." 

I knew my core was weak.  I didn't want to do anything about it.  I knew it was more difficult to keep my column straight with a weak core, and that I bent at the hips when I grew fatigued.  And I knew that the more rugged the terrain, the more apt I was to get injured.  But this is the funny part.  Nevermind that running period, is hard -- it was just too hard, in my mind, to work on core strength.  And so I didn't.

Now, I'm not saying that planks are the "end all" answer to my weaknesses (that is physical weaknesses :).  I've added all sorts of weight training and hip exercises, and I'm returning to a schedule that includes more cross training.  But I am saying that planks are the clincher in this strength training journey I'm taking.  Thanks to Runner Dude's blog.  I'm not sure I would have began my plank regimen if I hadn't stumbled upon this blog.  He convinced me:  planks, planks, planks!

I've been running for about seven years.  I've been running trails for about two years.  (Another plug:  thanks to OCTR).  Since my first blog on myspace back in about May/June  2008, I have blogged every single run, even those runs I put in on the treadmill (which by the way, now I can't even look at a treadmill without anxiety shuddering throughout my body).  Recording every run is just something I do -- 1) because I run, and 2) as an exercise in writing (because I love to write, but don't have enough time otherwise).

AS THUS (spoke Zarathustra -- joking) I feel I must blog today's run, eventhough today's run was my short run, and I don't have much to say about a run that lasts well under an hour.  (Obviously that's not true, because how many pages have I written so far?)

My rule for these newly added "short runs" (thanks to Tom, who inadvertently convinced me on Harding Truck Trail that I need short runs) is that they must be less than five miles.  At first the idea repulsed me.  Seriously.  Was it even worth tying my laces to go out for a 3 or 4 mile run?  I mean, if I'm gonna run, well dang it, I want to put in the time.  (As I've mentioned before -- I'm a glutton). 

Now I am here to say -- Yes!  It is worth it to tie my laces and run for 3 or 4 miles, even less.  This afternoon I was joyous from the very first step.  Because from the very first step, the run is almost over!  (For those who don't understand the logic to this, because I wouldn't have 7 years ago, part of the joy of running is FINISHING the run, that is the last step).  With the short run, that last step is "just around the corner!"

I ran the wharf and Doheny Beach today.  And to add a little excitement (did I say excitement?  I meant, pain : ) I added seven bursts of speed throughout the run.  That is, I ran for short distances the pace I would run if I were coming into the finish line of a 5k race, which is basically the fastest I would ever run.  (Thankfully I haven't had to run from a predator, human or otherwise, because that would probably be the fastest I would ever run, which would be faster than my bursts today).  

I originally planned on 6 bursts, but in the end added one more.  I have to say that after each burst I wanted to stop running, but I kept on going, and in time, I was ready to add another.

At the end of my short run, I walked about for a cool down same as usual.  And I drank some water before a regular stretching routine (same as my long run stretch session).  The only thing different on these short runs is that I don't carry water, nor do I stop at fountains.  I also don't take in calories on the run.  And my snack back at home was a mere apple (of course, lunch was just around the corner).

Running!  It has taught me to change things up. It has taught me so much.

Miles logged this afternoon: 4.27


  1. Thanks to you, I have started doing planks every day now. After holding the position for about 20 seconds my whole midsection starts shaking. Yes, my core is that weak!

  2. Twenty seconds is good! Better than five : )