Do you recommend I stick to my mon/wed/fri training schedule? I'm getting cardio each day due to cycling but I do honestly miss running on my off days.
Here's how I practice with my team:
When I'm in season I run 6/7 days of the week:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Mileage days
Tuesday, Thursday: Strength days
Sunday: LSD (explained later)
Mileage: You want to be running here around 60 percent of your full capacity. The goal here is to tone your muscles, so when you demand things of them, they don't give out. It also serves to ease the strain caused by strength days.
For your goal time, you should be able to do a 5-7 mile run in around 40-45 minutes, reasonably hilly. But you've got a few weeks--so you don't need to sprint to hit this time on the nose. The golden rule for mileage pacing: you should be able to hold a conversation while you run. If you can't, you're going too fast. The time here is a rough guideline--not an absolute standard you have to meet. This is, as the name describes, about putting miles on your legs, so the muscles get used to this kind of work.
Strength: Strength days include hill workouts, fartleks, and lengths:
Hill workouts: Find a nice, long hill (paved). It should be around two blocks long. Because you have sort of bum ankles, jog (or if it hurts, walk) slowly down to the bottom. Make sure as you go down the hill, your heel impacts first, then your toe. Otherwise you're going to kill your ankle. When you reach the bottom of the hill, sprint up as fast as you can. When you reach the top, jog slowly down, and when you reach the bottom, do it again. In the first hill workout, target 3-4. You should be up to 4-5 by your 3rd week.
Fartleks: Swedish for "speed-play," a fartlek is a timed interval run mimicking the format of a race. Find a reasonably flat loop you can run (a few blocks, a path, etc.) Set your watch for 24 minutes in total. Try a 2-2-3-3-2. What's that mean? 2 minutes fast, two minutes slow. Then another two minutes fast, two minutes slow. Then three minutes fast, three minutes slow. Then another three minutes fast, then three minutes slow. It'll add up to 24 minutes, which is longer than a race. During the fast segments you should be moving at around 130% of your comfortable pace. During the slow segments you're free to jog as slow as you like, but try and keep it to 50% of comfortable. Do not walk. Ever. Ever. It ruins the fartlek.
Lengths: These are also known as loops. Find a place with a known distance (.8 miles seems to work out best for your goal time). Run it as fast as you can. Rest for two minutes. Run it again. Rest, then again. The goal here is to try not to lose more than 15 seconds between each of your "loops"--it's a pacing and mental exercise, as you learn how to control the speed you run your first loop, then your second, then your third.
Saturdays: Off. If you are hurting, stretch+ice, but don't run. Let your body relax. Take a bath or long shower.
Sundays: LSD! Not the drug, silly (insert canned cross-country laughter.) What's LSD? Long, slow, distance. Run a long, gentle loop, taking it as slow as you like. Try not to walk, but you can really jog as slow as you like. This is meant to put more miles on your legs, and work in all the improvements you've made over the week. Teach your muscles that after healing yesterday, it's a) time to get back to work, and b)they're stronger than they were before. Nice, gentle, pacing. No sprints. None.
My only concern at the moment is the stiff ankles I have for the first 5 mins of my run until they warm up. It's not painful it just makes is hard to run properly and could really hamper my time
I've been doing the ankle rotation stretch thing (I'm not an athlete
) from the Emi stretching guide and have looked up a couple more to try. Any suggestions?
first things first about your ankles: treat them nicely. i've had all the ailments a runner could have (my other sport, tennis, ruins your body), and here's the short story on ankles.
sorry if i'm rambling (switch to lowercase indicates this,) but knowing the entire story will help you understand your ankles.
your ankles are suffering because you're running. simple. why? the root cause of this is impact. every time your foot strikes the ground, your entire body weight leverages on and off your ankle. if you do this every day, your ankle will start to complain. it's only natural.
there are two types of stiffness you can have:
1) leftover lactic acid stiffness. after a hard workout, you'll notice your muscles don't want to move. they're tense and all ripped up from you working out (i'll discuss work-out theory in another post). this can be taken care of with long, careful stretching routines, as well as nice long cool downs and warm-ups.
2) tight muscles: this is different. this is when your ankles clearly aren't being used to the way they're being treated (running), as other muscles have been handling the weight for the previous part of your life. as a result, they tighten up as an effort to tell you to use those other muscles.
okay, well which one is it?
if you feel a lancing, sort of searing pain while you warm up--that's not your muscle warming up. that's a tight muscle complaining. take it slow that day, and icyhot your muscle afterwards.
if it's just stiff, well, warmup+stretch.
now, on to helping your ankles:
god this is turning into a athletic ramble. okay: two types of stretches--static and dynamic.
static: you don't move.
dynamic: you do. buttkicks, high-knees, etc.
dynamic stretches, even though no-one does them, are better for warm-up because they actually engage the muscle the way it's going to be used. in all the elite camps (think bollitierri) , dynamic is preferred as a warmup, while static is good for cool-down.
this video is a pretty good guide: http://www.nyrrf.org/ycr/ars/activity/m ... un/m11.asp
do these lying on your back, feet straight in the air. don't do them standing up. the only thing people don't understand about stretching (sorry, ranting) is that if you put weight on what you just stretched, you're not helping anything. if you stand while you just stretched your ankle, you're putting your entire body weight on what you just stretched. which defeats the point of a slow stretch. which defeats stretching in general.
that should help a bit. onto the next part.
unfortunately, the best thing you can do for your ankles is a pretty rare skill.
medical taping. if you know how to tape ankles, this is the answer. looks like this
if you have access to a trainer or gym, they can do it for you. this forces the ankle to move correctly, and supports it better than anything. if not... it's not something you can really teach yourself.
i think you're in college (from your previous post), so stop by your trainer's office and ask him to teach you or him to tape you one afternoon. it should be included in your tuition, and this really, really, really, really, helps. it teaches you the perfect way to run while supporting your ankles.
if you don't have access to a trainer, you can try these
at a wal-mart or something--buy the lace-ups.
i've used these, and they help--but you sort of get dependent on them because they add a spring to your step. i used them for a season and they slashed two minutes off my time in one race... but i stopped because when i forgot them, my ankles were screaming bloody murder. try tape, then stretching, and as a last resort, the muellers.
if you've got any more running/medical q's, i'm here. wrists, ankles, knees, back, rotator cuff... i've had them all.