Tempo workouts can help bring back running speed after a layoff.
A Return to Racing
About five years ago, after doing three Ironman races in a year, I developed hyperthyroidism. It took several months to diagnose and several more to get it under control. My endocrinologist says my thyroid numbers are normal now and have been for the past two years or so.
My problem is that I can't make any progress athletically at all. Before I got sick, I trained by heart rate and had moved from around an 11-minute mile at my aerobic threshold of 150 beats per minute to about an eight-minute mile at the same heart rate. I have been training fairly consistently over the past two years. I started running an 11:30 mile and after two years, I now can run a smoking 11:00 to 11:15 mile at my 150 bpm heart rate.
My endocrinologist says I am normal and there is nothing else he can do. I just want to know if this is what it is going to be like the rest of my life or if something else is wrong. Do you know of any doctors in the triathlete community that are familiar with this? Any help or guidance you can provide would be appreciated more than you could know, especially by my wife. Unlike most male triathletes, my wife is begging me to go back to racing, but I want to be able to race competitively and I can't like this.
Thanks for your time and help,
Let me start with your athletic question. If you haven't started to elevate your tempo in a couple of your run sessions, give it a try. My suggestion is to select two days a week and alternate between two workouts. The first is a broken-tempo session of 3 x 6 minutes (adding one to two minutes every two weeks).
Each broken-tempo session should be a build-up from your current 11-minute mile pace to a moderately hard effort--legs should feel slightly heavy; breathing rate is deep, yet controlled. In this first session, try to gradually elevate the speed throughout each six-minute block and allow two to four minutes of active jogging between each. You will stimulate the physiological and muscular pathways to reinvigorate your body.
The second workout is a session of approximately two miles, increasing to four to five miles over three or four months. These sessions should be broken up into segment lengths of 400, 600 or 800 meters at a challenging pace of hard to very hard.
During the recovery, do an active jog that starts at a pace of 10:45 mile and slows to around a 12-minute mile pace at the end. Your hard segments (For example: 8 x 400 with a rest interval of three minutes) should be 30 to 90 seconds faster than your current aerobic pace of 11:00 to 11:15 miles. Pay attention to your speed on these efforts. These will jump start your system.
Regarding your physician inquiry, use the American College of Sports Medicine to find athletically-minded physicians in your area. An ACSM registered doctor of medicine or Ph.D. should be able to get to the root of this problem.
Proper Protein Intake
I have been training since last October. I am 6 feet 2 inches, 172 pounds and have a body-fat percentage of 11.6 percent. I was 205 pounds with about 30-percent body fat, though I cut to my current status in about three to four months. I am drinking protein, glutamine and creatine about three times per day, and at 43 years old I'm undoubtedly in better shape then I was at age 23.
I am currently training about 12 hours per week total--cardio, swimming, biking--and steadily increasing my increments. My goal? The Olympic-distance Lavaman 2008 in Kona. I have all the apparel on order and just got a TREK 1500. I'm curious what books or websites you may suggest to aid me in my "I'm doin' it" approach."
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your reply,
It sounds like you are on a very good training regime with diet, weight loss and consistent training. Be careful that you are not consuming too much protein. The recommended range for endurance athletes is between 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. The higher volume(s) should be adapted to your higher intensity or longer days. The consumption of protein should be spread out with particular emphasis on obtaining close to a three- to four-parts carbohydrate and one-part protein post-exercise (15 minutes to one hour).
So let me do the math for you: Your weight is 172 pounds or 78 kilograms. The range of protein per day is 1.2 to 2.0 multiplied by 78, which equals 93 grams to 156 grams. This should be distributed daily within a 15- to 20-percent protein intake per meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The remaining 40 to 55 percent is consumed at a mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack and post-exercise snack (up to six hours after a hard session). Your day might look like this if you consume 140 grams per day--breakfast: 28 grams; mid-morning snack (15 percent of daily): 21 grams; lunch: 28 grams; mid-afternoon snack (15 percent of daily): 21 grams; dinner: 28 grams.
Brad, this constitutes 90 percent of your total daily protein consumption. The remaining 10 percent can be consumed as desired.
Additionally, the post-exercise rule of thumb is to consume 50 percent of your caloric deficit, minus the calories consumed during exercise. For example, if you burned approximately 750 calories per hour, which equates to 60 minutes at 18.5 mph at 172 pounds, and you consumed 30 percent of the total calories burned (or 225 calories), your deficit is 525 calories (750 minus 225). Following that workout, you should consume 262 calories (50 percent of 525). Got it?
Regarding your question about information, there are a number of reputable coaches in the industry. In addition to Active.com, there are numerable websites that provide information. Go to Accelerade.com, slowtwitch.com or why not send me a personal email at email@example.com.