Can I Keep Doing ME Gym Based Workouts…Long term goals.

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  • #60933

    Hi there, I have been browsing through the forums to figure this out for myself, as well as reading through my copy of Training for the Uphill Athlete and listening to your podcasts. There is still a real unknown in my head regarding ME and if I can continue the gym based ME workouts.

    I am a 32yo Scotland based female and my goals are to race 50km in 2022, but ultimately progress to greater distances – I’m trying to be careful and build the distances slowly.

    I am following the training plan in your book for Cat1 Mountain Runner, 50km goal race. I am approaching Week 20, and the distances I am covering are already surpassing those in the plan and I feel good, not overreaching too much but I do feel the fatigue I believe I should expect.I do not have a race upcoming so having read other forum posts I think I just start the cycle again but with additional distance?

    I love the ME gym based workout and feel it gave my massive boosts in the races I did this year. I slowly added additional weight up to 20kg, I felt beyond that weight I was going to hurt myself. I definitely felt the DOMs afterwards! But ultimately I surprised myself and others with my race results and was thrilled not to have DOMS like I would have previously felt post-race. Maybe it’s in my head, but I really fear having to let these gym based routines go as I believe felt the gains, and I am struggling to feel similar gains from long hill repeats and I definitely feel more “niggles” in my legs/knees/feet.

    I do not have an A race yet, but I see my training as a lifestyle now and want to continue for many years to come.

    So! … How do I maintain ME over the years if ultimately I’d like to race longer than 50km, but 50km and high in 2022? Do I let the gym work go already?! Or can I keep cycling it back in every 10 weeks or thereabouts with the ME hill repeats? I appreciate there comes a time when adding more strength is useless, so I am looking for the right balance without the losses.

    I do maintain a core and upper body strength routine going as I love to swim and do the odd triathlon too.

    Was I right to stop at 20kg weight? I found it difficult to interpret keeping adding 10% body weight week on week, as it would have been far too heavy for me. Yet listening to the female specific podcasts I thought I was correct to stop adding weight.

    Thank you so much.

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    andy-2158 on #61004

    Speaking solely as another athlete, I’d say you do have to dial back the gym work.

    You also already say you’re exceeding the mileage as per the plan you’re following, and that you have niggles in your legs/feet as a result of the long hill efforts.

    Sounds to me that there’s some small signals there that you could be heading for an overtraining/over use situation.

    Sounds also like you’ve had some great race performances aided by the gym work – so maybe the gym work has done its job, and the only gains to be had from it now are marginal? Maintaining what it is has given you could maybe be done at far less intensity/frequency than the ME sessions that have so far worked well for you?

    Maybe try dialling the gym stuff right back, sticking to the planned mileage and building up the long hill efforts and see how you react and then perform. As the manual says (as I understand it) the strength/gym work for mountain running athletes is primarily about correcting any imbalances and supplementing training – its not something for runners to really focus upon.

    I love the gym, but in returning to mountain running I’m dialling it right back to 2 all body sessions a week – with posture/core work being the focus and other stability exercises aimed at injury prevention rather than dynamic or power based exercises.

    As I say, they are simply my observations, based solely upon my own (often bitter!) experiences of over training and getting the associated injuries.

    Hope you race well next year!

    Anonymous on #61010

    Dang Andy, you pretty much nailed it. I have only a few minor points to mention.

    I’m very happy to hear how well that the ME progression has worked for you. Your comments about the fatigue resistance, durability and lack of DOMS after races are just what I have seen with many athletes over the years.

    The way I have used ME with the athletes I have coached is this:
    I try to get at least 8 weeks of ME in a build up to a race. I’ve used as long 16 weeks one time. But usually manage to get 12 weeks of ME during the build up.

    But I do not use the ME continuously through the year. By stopping the ME you will lose some of its benefits. But remember the principle of periodization. By changing the training stimulus you give some systems a little break while enhancing others. Like Andy, after an A race and starting into another building I shift the focus to more prehab injury prevention or power training with hill sprints. Some of the pros I coach have been on this sort of program for 6 years. Every single time they complete another ME phase they are fitter than the last time even when it has been several months since the last one. I know this because all of them have training hills where we can do time trials or interval training year after year and there is performance improvement each time. So, don’t worry about losing a bit now. It will come back stronger than before.

    20kg. I don’t have anyone ever who has used so much for the gym ME. I would not go heavier as I think you are running the risk of injury. It is very impressive that you can handle that and I’m in no position to tell you not to do that since it has worked in the past. My guys usually end up with no more that 10% of body weight. I guess they are wimps :-). I have seen substantial results just with body weight. You must have very strong legs. Yuri Verhoshansky would be proud of you. That’s getting close the weight he was using with hi top middle distance runners.

    Remember this very important fact. The best training is NOT the most training. It is the LEAST training to get the required results. Translation: If you are seeing your best results do not expect to continue that for long. Your body is in new territory. Continuing to push for more and more, getting greedy can have very bad consequences. By dialing back you give your body a chance to consolidate the gains you have made this year. I have see way more athletes fail to reach their goals by getting greedy than by doing too little training.

    I’ve just done a pod cast on ME that you might want to listen to. It’s not published yet but should be within a few weeks.

    I hope this helps,

    Jane Mackay on #61013

    Erin, I can’t add anything to what Scott and Andy have said, but it occurred to me you might benefit from the Female Uphill Athlete group training programme coached by Carolyn Parker and Maya Seckinger, even if solely for the learning aspect. I was a participant in round one, which began last January (each round is three months), and it was so beneficial I joined for rounds 2 and 3 as well.
    I did my first mountain race last Sept and I’m hooked! but still, like you, for me this training is even more about life than it is about goals. Now after a year of the FUA programme (we took a break over summer), I’m going to apply the massive amount that I’ve learnt to structure my own training to address my weakensses and work towards more long-term goals.
    I’m a huge advocate (unpaid!) of the FUA programme, because I have benefitted so much from it, and anecdotally, I know many other women have too. The guidance from Carolyn and Maya is amazing. There’s a private forum where we can ask all our questions, and they do fortnightly Zoom calls around a particular topic where we can ask more questions 🙂 There’s also a Zoom call with dietician Rebecca Dent, which I have found invaluable. As far as ROI, the FUA group is an outstanding investment.
    The info about the group is here: If you wanted to have a quick WhatsApp call to see if it would be a good deal for you, I’d be more than happy to do that.
    There are three levels, and it sounds like you’d be ready for the advanced level. However, if you were to do it, I would think it would be a good idea to take some time off first to allow your body to absorb the big training load you’ve just put it under, as Andy and Scott said. You could take a break over the holidays and enjoy time with family and friends, do some recreational skiing or whatever, and then jump into the group training. FUA 4 starts on 10 January.

    erinmcfadden39 on #61185

    Thank you so much Scott, Andy and Jane for the extremely helpful and kind replies. I think I’ve asked just in time before I do overtrain and hurt myself!
    I did wonder about the 20kg, glad I asked…! I’m definitely built quite “strong”, which definitely makes me self conscious at a start line although I think I finally found the benefits this season so that helped my own mindset. I’ll dial back the gym work for sure as it seems I’ve ticked that box for now.

    I think I was understanding certain aspects of why you drop gym ME and move onto long hill reps, but this has really helped me see it all so much more clearly.
    I will certainly look into the FUA training program, my one concern is being in Scotland maybe the timings don’t work so well for the online meets. but I’d be keen to have that WhatsApp chat Jane 🙂

    Thanks again all! Seems like I need to embrace some recovery/chilled cross training for a couple weeks and come back to the build but maybe not increase the distances beyond what I’ve reached and let my body absorb it properly.

    I’m so pleased to read these replies as it confirms a big reason I became interested in hill running here in Scotland – the scene is kind, helpful and it seems we all just want to embrace the outdoors.

    Jane Mackay on #61220

    Thanks, Erin. I just emailed you.

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