Saturday, July 25, 2015

A professional runner's lifestyle experiment

Today happens to be the first day of an 'experiment of one' — the outcome of which I've wondered about ever since I laced up my first pair of Nike LDVs, 35 years ago. The question I'd like to answer is "Will I run faster if I train full-time?" — by adopting the lifestyle of the professional runner? If you're a serious competitor you've probably asked yourself the same question.

I know there are elite runners who work full-time jobs but at the top level they're a rarity. I read recently on Runner's World about Nicole Tully, who works full-time and won the U.S. national 5000m title recently in 15:06.44. She said "running isn’t something that I need to be doing for survival. It’s really just something that I want to be doing." Running is something I want to be doing too! Tully works full-time (with flexible hours) in advertising and public relations. Until yesterday I've been working full-time with inflexible working hours. Therein lies a problem — missed training sessions and tiredness due to 9 and 10-hour working days (longer in December). My day starts at six in the morning (I cycle to and from work), so I'm an afternoon runner, but if we're particularly busy at work I'll miss training sessions here and there — not ideal for maximising athletic performance.

Now I'm on Long Service Leave until January 2016! Woohoo! I can see for myself if the lifestyle of the professional runner (minus the distraction of sponsor commitments) will improve performance. Does sleeping 9 or 10 hours a day (I'm not trying the 12 or 14 of Paula Radcliffe!) help with recovery? Does discarding the stresses of a full-time job help one cope with a difficult and stressful training session? Is running in the warm part of a Canberra winter's day all it's cracked up to be? Will I be able to avoid the temptations of the couch, a glowing fire and my box-set of Survivor DVDs? I'll update readers with progress reports — especially about my goal of running under 22 minutes for 5k. I'm excited!

Speedygeese flew at the 2015 Nail Can Hill Run


Blogger Janene said...

Sounds like a wonderful experiment. I'm looking forward to your updates! I can vouch for lunchtime runs during Canberra winters

7:34 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Yes Janene, I've packed away my running gloves already :)

10:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds excellent, Ewen! I agree with Janene re the lunchtime running in winter! We can expect to see some super speedy times I am sure??!![Miranda]

11:05 am  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

It’s no wonder your economy is going down the toilet. At your age it should be impossible to sleep 9 hours a day so at least you have a head start there. I can’t help but think you’re rubbing it in a little too with that ‘Woohoo’ comment directed at us workers. Then again it’s probably just me feeling a little jealous. I’m excited for you. Now go get that sub 22.

3:15 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Miranda. Noticed it was cooling down not long after lunch today. Come on summer!

Mark, yes! It's all my fault that the Aussie Dollar is down to 73 cents. Thanks for your encouragement re the 5k. Enjoy your Monday ;-)

10:16 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Interesting experiment but be careful. In the Navy I was member of the running team and I could follow a special routine but my problem was.... more training more injures. I am sure you are wiser than me and you are able to look after yourself.

2:11 am  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Training full time? Might have to adjust the 5k goal to 21.

3:14 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

You lucky bastard!

The closest I ever came to that kind of lifestyle was 2 years ago when I ran 10 marathons in 10 days. All I did was sleep, eat and run. I'd love to do that for a longer period of time.

9:30 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Stefano, that's a good point. I plan on getting the most out of recovery/sleep and only gradually increase the training load.

Haha Bob. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Thought a high mileage man like you would be jealous Thomas ;-) I think the longer period of time could be key. I don't expect much improvement for the first month.

9:52 pm  
Blogger Janene said...

When are you going to find time to run given all the cycling you are doing? ;-)

7:04 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

I know! Cycling is time consuming. Guess I'll have to spend less time on social media :)

8:14 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

I plan on doing this same experiment on myself some day Ewen. I know that when I'm on holidays my running goes up my priority list (as does rest and smarter nutrition) and that following that my running improves. I think if you don't go nuts and do too much too soon you could very well find that the life of a retired worker and fulltime athlete suits you just fine. Please keep us posted (no pun intended!!).

4:37 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

That's great Liz! When you do (many years from now) we'll be able to compare how well we're doing as full-time runners at regular coffee catch-ups :)

6:36 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

For sure! In the meantime .... are you going to test your full time athlete success at one of the Melb Marathon events??

6:21 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Yes Liz, I've entered the 10k :)
Looking forward to the coffee catch-ups and shopping (which will be sad without Ruth). I'll probably head down on the Friday and come back Monday.

7:06 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Great! I will see you there - but hopefully before that :)

9:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful opportunity. The increased time for recovery will probably be at least as valuable as the increased time for training

12:12 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Canute, I agree regarding recovery time. I'm feeling better already with the extra sleep I've been getting :)

8:14 am  
Blogger Grellan said...

I bet you are excited Ewen. I'm excited with my two weeks holidays in August when I can fit all my runs and recovery in. 5 months is just obscene. Of course it's a double edged sword as we are all expecting great things from you now.

8:25 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Haha. Yeah Grellan, maybe I should have kept quiet about it and had everyone in awe about my tumbling race times ;-)
Two weeks is barely enough time to get over work! Enjoy the training and what remains of your warm weather.

8:43 am  
Blogger Raina R. said...

How did you get so fortunate!? I'd love to experiment with 12 hrs of sleep.. I think that's achievable with lots of hard workouts! Why not go for broke?!

6:01 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Raina, work for a LONG time! Am I fortunate to have done that, or not ;-) Yes, I think sleep is where the biggest gains can be made. It's taking a while to get used to waking up naturally and not with an alarm clock! Looking forward to afternoon naps too :)

6:31 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

27 - 19!!!!!!!

5:35 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Stefano :)

11:16 am  

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