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    It’s pretty funny when you realize that one of your least athletic high school friends (Ben Saunders, I am calling you out) has recently become one of the fastest Ironman age-group athletes in the world. This guy, who used to give me grief at St. Paul’s for rowing three hours a day and sleeping a solid eight, now consistently puts more than that time and focus into his impressive Ironman triathlon training schedule.

    Complete irony hit when Ben invited me to join him in a “swimrun” race called ÖTILLÖ (“island to island” in Swedish) this August in Maine’s chilly Casco Bay. Swimrun is the fastest growing sport in the world, I am told. Participating in teams of two, you alternate between trail running across islands and open-water swimming along marked courses.

    We’ll be covering a total of 17 miles of running and four of swimming, so the training needs to start now. Trying to keep up with Ben will be the tougher challenge. In preparation, my wisdom (age) will have me start training early and slowly this time. Often, we are too eager to ramp up our speed and distance at the risk of injury or nagging pain. Below I have mapped out my first three weeks, which features a slow and steady run progression. As you embark on our own running journey, remember to land softly on the mid-foot rather than the heels or toes. Also, keep your body tall and “proud.” Imagine your head stacked atop your shoulders, and your shoulders on top of your hips, leaning forward slightly. Don’t forget to build in time for active recovery such as trigger point work, foam rolling, and assisted stretching. Need some ideas on how to reset your muscles and mind? Check out my new project

    Week 1 

    Start with 3 times a week for 20 minutes as follows:
    3 min. jog; 1 min. run; 1 min. walk. (Repeat 3 times for a total of 20 min.)

    Week 2

    Run 3 times a week as follows: 
    3 min. jog; 2 min. run; 1 min. walk.  (Repeat 4 times for a total of 24 min.)

    Week 3 

    Run 1: jog 3 min.; run 3 min.; walk 1 min. (Repeat 4 times for a total of 28 min.)
    Run 2: jog 4 min; run 4 min.; walk 1 min. (Repeat 3 times for a total of 24 min.)
    Run 3: jog 5 min.; run 5 min.; walk 1 min.; run 5 min.; jog 8 min.; walk 1 min.; run 5 min. (For 30 min. total.)

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