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Comebacks don't get any easier

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I set out for this morning’s 10k (the Avoca/Ascot Ave loop) not expecting to feel any better than yesterday and wasn’t disappointed.  My quads ached quite a lot and my right Achilles tendon was painful, but I knew my best strategy was just to keep going and not force the pace and that’s what I did.  Comebacks get harder as you get older, I have found, but there are no shortcuts and you just have to look ahead to the time when it will get easier.  The longer the lay-off, the longer the comeback will be.  My rule-of-thumb for shorter lay-offs (less than three months) is that it will take about as long as you had off to get back to where you were.

Official results for my PB marathon
I am optimistic that after a couple of weeks I will suddenly feel that I am moving better.  It has worked this way in the past after a lay-off, and I have only missed three weeks of running while hiking this time.

I believe that the most important training session for any runner not blessed with great talent is the long run, regardless of speed.  My theory is that running efficiency develops through repeating the action, within reason.  The more running you do the more your body adapts to that action and the more efficient you become.  Your running muscles strengthen, your stature improves, your stride lengthens and your cardio-vascular capacity grows.

On earlier occasions in my running career, when I was trying to come back from a lay-off and was reasonably confident that I was uninjured, my fast track way to fitness was to do a very long slow run of approximately 40km every third day and run “no pressure” shorter runs on the intervening days for recovery.  It can be gruelling and tiresome on those earlier long runs, but when I have followed the regime for two or three weeks, I quickly gained good fitness.  Of course, things don’t always go to plan, and there’s no value in persisting with this program if injuries become apparent.

For the next three weeks, I will be pursuing a version of this comeback strategy, starting with a 22km tomorrow morning after the regular track training session I supervise at Terrigal Haven.  At the end of these three weeks, I will move to a more well-rounded training program that I have outlined in Excel but not yet completed.