Just wanted to say hi and provide some feedback how great my running has been since I've read The Cool Impossible.
First heard the name Eric Orton back in Dec'19 when I decided to visit a doctor to check on the pain in my feet. It was 2 months after my greatest running accomplishment - happily heel-striking through a 4:30 marathon. The doctor said there was nothing wrong with my feet but he guessed I just didn't know how to run. He did a couple of sessions with me, showed me some exercises - which brought immediate relief - explained how to transition to front-foot striking and recommended that I read the book.
I went through it in a week.
Each Jan 1st my running team Begach organizes an annual hangover fun-run. I decided that this should be my first awkward front-foot 10k. I gave up after 6k because of calf soreness.
I backed off and started a slow transition. The warm winter allowed for 2 to 3 short runs and 5-6 strength sessions per week. Covid and the Lockdown limited access to parks and tracks so I had to run in the city streets, but by April I was feeling confident with the new style of running.
I decided on 3 goals for my running - improve form so I can finish 2020 with no major injuries, complete a 50k race and then complete the greatest 100k in my home country - Vitosha100 - in 2021.
I did my 1mi test on the first day I had access to a park - no tracks at this stage yet - on a sort of level road/dirt lane I use in my normal day-to-day running. I clocked an abysmal 8:52. I think I could have done much better on a track but I decided to stick with it. After completing my 20min test I setup my zones and kicked off Phase 1.
I'm writing this post 12 weeks later, after completing the same 1 mile test again, this time on the track. 7:33. I'm very happy with the result but I'm even happier with the training plan itself.
This is my 3rd year of heart-rate zone based running - I've tried plans from Runtastic and Garmin in the past - and I was amazed by the difference from the very start.
First of all was the personalization level that Eric provides. Contrary to t-shirt size plans downloaded from the Internet which start from your age and sex, Eric's approach is based on your current fitness level. After spending some time with the odd-looking tables in the book I realized I could potentially repeat this program indefinitely - adjusting zones with the test results at the end of each phase. The other thing was how awkward the HR zones felt in the beginning - I could barely walk before beeping out of Z1, Z2 was much lower compared to what I was used two, Z3 was REALLY short... wow.
Then I had a challenge with my Garmin watch, which tends to adjust HR zones after runs (so you need to remember to set them back in order before your next session). After a couple of weeks I got tired of this and I just switched off the auto-detect options. This resulted in a steady decrease of my Garmin-estimated VO2-max. I freaked out, but then I realized I was feeling more strong with each week and decided to trust my body and Eric's book. By week 10 this trend turned and I'm back to my last year's best even in Garmin's books. Besides Garmins are limited to 5 HR zones while Eric's method is much more granular with 7 zones. So I had to map the zones I planned to train in to the available zones on the watch. Anyway, enough about gadgets.
I completed Phase 1, missing only 1 planned run and I'm feeling more fit than ever. I swapped the occasional long run for a go at the trails when time/weather allowed, did 2 races to check progress and I'm really, really happy with the results. I do decent jogs during my Z1 rest intervals, my Z2 pace is on-par or better than last year - only this time I'm stepping on the front of my feet and there's no pain!
Looking forward to kick off phase two next Monday and I'm still debating which 50k race to pick so I can end the season with a feeling of accomplishment. Covid resulted in a lot of event cancellations and I'm limited to a couple of local options this autumn.
So far my journey with The Cool Impossible has been amazing. I hope to complete the program in full strength and I'll post an update in early October.
Huge thanks to Eric Orton for putting down this incredible methodology on paper and allowing everybody to benefit from his coaching experience even thousands of miles away!
Good luck with your own running and stay safe!