The idea is simple – run every day for advent. The question is why would you bother? For all athletes running is the most stressful of the three disciplines on your body, as it is the only full weight bearing activity in triathlon. Each time you take a stride while running the impact can be between 1.5 and 5 times your body weight depending on factors such as speed, gradient, technique and running surface.
Most of us have reasonable cardiac fitness through our multisport activities which means when we run it is quite often our legs that give out before general fatigue overcomes us. It is muscular fatigue and not cardiac fitness that is more likely to limit your performance. Muscular fatigue can also result in altered running form making you more susceptible to certain types of injury such as patellar tendon and Achilles tendon injury and iliotibial band syndrome just to name a few injuries that tend to plague endurance athletes.
Ok so how does running every day help? Well it might and it might not. Like most things in life there are no guarantees. Running every day leaves you with tired legs, the sort that normally you might decide not to run on. If you do run you need to warm up appropriately. Follow a structured warm up and if the weather is really awful a spin on the turbo indoors is a great alternative when you want to spend as little time as possible outside. Only after an appropriate warm up should you start running. The idea is not to go fast but to keep going. Let the level of fatigue in your legs dictate your pace. This will build the strength and resilience in your legs and prepare your body for the increased training load you will experience as you progress to the next phase of training. If you go out hard on one of the early days you will find the following days running even tougher so pace your sessions wisely, be patient and you will see the fruits of your labour later in the season.
While all this is going on in your legs you will also be building some amazing aerobic or base fitness. Running at about 70% of your max heart rate provides enough stimulus to seriously build your aerobic fitness. If your heart is going faster it struggles to make the adaptations you want and leads to a greater amount of fatigue. Don’t worry about the speed. That will come when you use your new base fitness to hit the spring season sessions with real energy and strength. So that’s some of the science and if you want to learn more read about Maffetone and his theories.
Why else do it? Because it’s fun, it gives you something to focus on and it is as much a mental challenge as a physical one.
One last thing. What defines a run? I recommend a time based objective that you can manage so maybe 24 mins each day for 24 days. Personally I run for 45 mins because that is my basic run around Victoria park. I would not recommend much more than this. And if you miss a run… Welcome to double day running. So you run once in the morning and once later in the day.
See you on Xmas Eve for the last run! Gabriel.