Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Endurance Training

If anyone had ever told me that I would choose to train for endurance athletic events in my mid-40's I would have told them they were out of their mind. There is now way I would ever have predicted that I would be running let alone running distances. To run long distances or for hours at a time, you need to train. The body needs to build up to long unending cardio sessions. Today when I was cardio-knitting I was pondering the depths of endurance training as it relates to running half marathon races and as it relates to sweater knitting.

My goal of running 4 half marathon races during 2012 had me logging in quite a few miles. I ran three and four days every week. Yes, there were a couple of weeks since January 2012 that I did not run. The only reason I didn't run those weeks was because I was sick. I feel fortunate that those weeks were few this year. Now that the final half marathon race is only 5 days away I have my training eyes on a new goal. My first marathon race in March. To prepare for that longer endurance I'm increasing my running and my cross training. The goal is to have the body accustomed to exercising for hours. Not hours and hours and hours, just 4 hours.

As I posted last week I've begun cardio-knitting for and one-two hours on my non-running days. This past weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to experience the benefits of that cross training before my big race. I ran a 12K yesterday. I ran it as a coach with a client who had never run more than 5 miles. Instead of running at my normal pace or pushing myself to run a personal record, I ran at her pace. That slower pace was what could be called an "easy run," if you can imagine running 7.5 miles as an easy run. I was so proud of her for running 99% of the race! What did I gain? A huge wealth of knowledge! I learned that cross training has extended my cardiovascular capabilities without me needing to run more miles. I learned that with my current level of running fitness I could easily have run another 6-7 miles. I learned that I'm quite prepared to run my next race exactly the way I want to, as though it were "just another long run."

How does endurance training relate to knitting sweaters? As you can imagine knitting a sweater requires a good deal of time commitment. Before you embark on the adventure of knitting said sweater you need to assemble all the materials, tools, and pattern. Reading the pattern from start to finish is always recommended. A knitting pattern is just like any other set of instructions, it tells you where to begin, where to end, and what to do along the way. One item that all knitting patterns list is gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows knit per square inch. Master knitters, and knitters who want their item to actually fit, will knit a gauge swatch. This swatch is much like a practice run. You knit a piece of fabric that is four inches square. Just a mini practice sample of the garment itself.

I usually knit lots of socks and shawls. Gauge is not very important with shawls. It is not important for a rectangular or triangular piece of knitting intended to drape over the shoulders without a particular fit to be the exact same size as the pattern directions. With my sock knitting I'm not terribly concerned with my gauge either. I knit so many socks I'm familiar enough with my gauge that I can pick up my needles and yarn, match choose a pattern and go. Sweaters though are a completely different story. I need to swatch. I need to swatch using two or three different size needles to get the right number of stitches.

I've been wanting to knit the Gathered Pullover for 5 years. Yes, some patterns hang around and wait for me while others grab me by the throat and demand to be knit immediately. This sweater has been patient. It has even waited while I have the yarn in the house to knit it up with. I decided this would be a fun sweater to take to the beach this weekend. I'm hoping for some beautiful weather to sit outside and knit in. I'm OK with sitting outside in a sweater or sweatshirt while I knit. I just want to be able to knit on the beach. My yarn is a lovely hand dyed yarn. I have four skeins and each is slightly different than the other. I needed to swatch all four skeins of yarn to find the perfect blend of colors in order to come up with a pleasing sweater. My swatches are my practice runs that gear me up for the endurance event of knitting a full sweater.

I'm finding my endurance training is taking a toll on my cooking. I don't have as much time for cooking nor do I have the same interest in creating new foods in the kitchen. What I have been doing is going for basic protein and veggies. I purchased a large bag of broccoli florets, a pound box of baby spinach, one of baby kale, and one of spring mix. I picked up easy protein too, ground turkey, rotisserie chicken, and chicken thighs. My meals have been an odd mix of these. Example?? Sure!

Odd Spinach Salad

2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped peppers
garlic powder and pepper to taste
1 serving guacamole

Saute the ground turkey and the chopped peppers with garlic powder and pepper. Layer the spinach, ground turkey, and the guacamole on one plate.

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