Thursday, October 19

Planning your year? Include an Injury Phase

Everybody "does" Periodization these days.

Maybe Arthur Lydiard was to blame. He seems have been the first to have formally divided the training and year into different phases leading to a final period (or two) of peak form for a goal race.

Right about now, anyone who is not still racing is either having a break or starting to think about the winter phase of base-building.

A ten-week (or so) phase of steady aerobic running at ever-increasing distances, but always within your limits, is what gave Arthur's boys the physical and mental resilience to endure the later fast training that brought them Olympic title-winning spped. In between was a transition phase of strength and power-building hill work so they didn't destroy themselves by moving straight from steady running to speed, and another phase to "freshen", or bring them to a boil.

Well, that's the basic theory. After years of not-very-careful research I can reveal that there is a missing element to this widely-accepted master-plan. No one schedules in the Injury Phase.

Now, there are runners who claim that they've never been injured. The rest of us, not reliant on hallucinatory drugs, accept that there's going to be some point during the year when the body-mind enforces a rest -- never mind what great and glorious plans we have. Injury is the body's way of getting our attention. Don't make it have to shout at you. Why not schedule your injury time?

Put a week or two put by to deal with tendonitis or a gastroc tear. Schedule in a couple of weeks pool running and ice-packing. Book sessions with your PT or other deep tissue sadist so you've got something to look forward to.

I planned a couple of easy weeks off at the end of the year. As soon as I stopped training, I started falling apart. I'm tired all the time. The little adductor strain I wanted to clear up has now soaked up three weeks of hard deep tissue work, acupuncture, low-level laser, ultrasound, infra-red and several tubes of DMSO and other smelly rub-on stuff. Then I sprained my ankle. Then the snow arrived and now I'm getting a sore throat and a headache.

And all this could have been avoided, if I'd just planned in one or two weeks of injury earlier in the year.

It's a bit like one of Bobby McGee's strategies for long races, where he says to plan in a bad patch. Well, being Mr Magical Running he doesn't actually refer to "bad" patches, more like slightly slower periods that give you an opportunity to regroup. The thing is, when your body-mind knows there's one coming, it relaxes and you can breeze through it. It's exactly the same when you plan an Injury Phase.

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