Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FIGHT MEETS FLIGHT: Cross training and Martial Arts – The Half Marathon (Pt. 2)

From the Stick Chick: Today's guest post is the second in a five part series on cross training and the martial arts that will be appearing on Tuesdays (so mark your calendars). Part 1 here.  Enjoy!

16 weeks ago I switched over into a full-time running schedule. No martial arts, no weight lifting. I have always run during my Tae Kwon Do training, maybe 2-4 miles, but nothing like the 13.1 miles of a half marathon.

The first few weeks were pretty easy, nothing over 4 miles. Since my goal was to just survive 13 miles, I didn't care much for pace. I would go as slow or as fast as I needed to - just no stopping.

Stretching before a run along the Trinity River. Being outside beats the treadmill any day!
It wasn't until the 5-7 mile runs that I started to notice some potential problems. I would get really strange aches either in my shins or hips, sometimes forcing me to walk. These aches were soon followed by my right foot going completely numb. After buying some new shoes the numbness went away. This is when I learned about shoe sizes and how your feet swell at longer distances. That problem was solved. But the aches were still there. Old shoes = Adidas Supernova 5 (2 years old), New shoes = Brooks Ravenna.

Over time the aches went away, but I also learned another critical point of running - preparation is half the battle. I would warm up, use a foam roller and make sure I stayed hydrated and full of electrolytes. Problem solved… for now.

Once I started hitting double digits on the mileage I realized a drastic change needed to happen. My knees would hurt so bad from the impact that I began to worry about injury. The training schedule was very gradual, so I don't blame bumping up mileage too fast. It was my diet. I try to follow a semi-strict Paleo diet daily, but that didn't seem to be enough.

That is where a diet cleanse came in. That stuff is way harder to follow than the hardest training schedule! Super clean foods and more water than anyone should have to drink. But it seemed to work. It kept me feeling fresh and helped cut some weight - good for the knees!

During a 13 mile run I would drop 6 pounds in water weight. It was difficult to drink so much during the run which would take over 2 hours each time. In martial arts we train to take sips of water, that way we don't get sick during hard exercise. This was a hard habit to break.

"Break those bad habits!" Sometimes you gotta smash on through to achieve your goals. Sometimes those goals are a stack of concrete. Game on! (Ed Note - don't blame me for the pun, dudes. -the Stick Chick)
Probably the most interesting part to me is the feeling you get when your body is drained of energy. I'm not talking about tired or sore, I mean drained. I felt this way during the Black Belt test, which lasted 4 hours. The only way to experience this feeling is to push yourself for multiple hours without a "break". It feels like Zen, you know your out of energy, but your body is able to keep going. The body is much tougher than the mind, and I think distance running trains that.

So far that is the greatest benefit I have seen from running distance, it teaches your mind to become as strong as your body! You will have that "STOP, you're TIRED!" voice in your head for over an hour with no breaks- it teaches you to ignore that on a daily basis. If you have a hard test coming up requiring many hours of endurance, I highly recommend putting in some high mileage! No other workout has made me experience this feeling, no matter how hard I push.

Next week - marathon results!

Part 3 can be found here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here.

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.