Mulling Over a New Challenge

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    After 10+ years of endurance athletics, including 15+ marathons (incl Boston and many other destination races), multiple ultra-marathon challenges, and lots of cycling, I’m getting a little antsy, bored even, and mulling over taking things into a new direction.

    I’ve always been far more fast-twitch than slow-twitch by nature, and it took several years of consistent training to mold those fast-twitch fibers into a decent, certainly not great though, set of slow-twitch imposters and allow me to be semi-competitive in the world of endurance running. I’ve migrated more and more though to trail and ultra events just because those are more interesting to me, but even those are starting to lose appeal.

    So I’ve found myself thinking about doing some Master sprint-type events, i.e. the 100/200/400 distances. I think this is what I am far more suited for physiologically.

    The problem is I enjoy the lifestyle of endurance sports, the diet “immunity” you get from all that calorie burn, and I’ve made a nice social group in that area… so I wouldn’t want to cut that type of activity altogether, but long running doesn’t jive well with sprint-training it seems.

    Am I crazy to want to continue to do both or can a little running/cycling compliment a sprinter training schedule? I’m not finding a lot of research/advice in this area online so would appreciate any discussion/guidance.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Hi Brian,

    If it’s mainly a matter of motivation, it doesn’t matter if your training is not physiologically optimal. If you enjoy it, mission accomplished. And to the extent that endurance training does interfere with speed development, the effect will be relatively small provided you prioritize the latter. ICYMI, here’s a blog post I wrote a while back that is germane to your current situation:

    Is Motivation Ever Really the Problem?


    Hey Matt – At first I read your post and reacted “motivation? I don’t have a motivation problem!” but then I gave it some time and read the blog link and I see now where you’re coming from. (and that’s a worthwhile link for anyone to read through)

    Regarding motivation, I’ve always said I don’t particularly enjoy running, but I enjoy HAVING run. By that I mostly mean I like all the side benefits I get from running (health, getting to eat more, vanity).

    But I don’t get up at 430am for a 12 mile run for those side benefits, I do that so I can achieve a hard goal, like a BQ, or to beat my rivals. That’s motivation and that’s the part I’m reconsidering, the obsessive part that has me running 50-60-70-80 mile weeks and crosses over into an area of “probably not all that healthy” (I’ve had surgery for running induced injuries, there’s cardiac risk from excessive exercise, etc).

    Switching to something else might mean I can dial back the “volume” and still keep that competitive motivation (to run a fast 100 or 200).

    Good to know I can keep one foot in my endurance world (maybe I can still run 20-30mpw for the social/health benefits) and try putting the other foot in this other sprint-focused world to try it out.

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