seeking muscle confusion

This week, my running has been good.

Last Monday, I ran for speed. I did treadmill “intervals”- two minutes at a 12:00 pace, one minute at a 10:00 pace, two minutes at a 12:00 pace, then a two minute recovery at more like a 17:30 pace. Repeated that cycle four times (plus of course my warmup and cooldown) totalling 2.5 miles in 34 minutes.

(Side note: It is CRAZY hot around here. Right now the treadmill is my friend!)

Today I ran for hills. Two minutes at a 12:00 pace and 1% incline, one minute at 12:00 pace and a 2% incline, two minutes at 12:00 pace and 1% incline, then a two minute recovery at 17:30 pace at 1% incline. Repeated cycle four times (plus warmup and cooldown), totalling 2.5 miles in 36 minutes. Slightly slower pace, but I’m very pleased that I got out there and that I did hills and that I did it all well!

Overall though, I think I am dealing with the curious phenomenon of the plateau. These were tough workouts- I mean, I definitely pushed myself. A year ago, this kind of workout would’ve left my muscles begging for mercy, my lungs gasping for air, and my whole body pleasantly exhausted. Now, while I may feel some very mild and temporary muscle tiredness, my muscles don’t get sore anymore. While I definitely have to push myself to finish, my heart and lungs are not struggling so much to keep up. I can’t remember the last time I laid in bed at the end of the day and wondered why the mattress was so hard, because my muscles were so pleasantly sore- but I know I felt that on a regular basis a year ago.

I sent an email today to a friend who is also a personal trainer to ask for some advice on this. I will not quit running. I’m guessing I need to incorporate some other kinds of cross training into my workouts, but I’m not quite sure what kind. I like swimming, but I don’t feel that muscle exhaustion afterwards, except maybe after an long long workout. Yoga sometimes gives me a bit of that muscle exhaustion. I probably need to return to weight training more. Honestly, I don’t “like” it, but I should probably do more push-ups, core training, lunges, and so forth.

It seems almost like I’ve spent my first year as a running adding miles. Now I will spend my next year building muscle. Not sure what that will look like, but I’m looking forward to finding out!