I have to say that for a while I was known to have publicly said that Insanity is not necessarily a good workout program to use as a PRIMARY training program for distance running. My rationale was that every workout with Insanity is in your anaerobic zone and that you still need some basic aerobic training and long distance runs to see major improvement. It was while I was saying this that I had some bad luck. I fell on some ice in Philadelphia (I'm pretty sure it was planted by Phillies fans) last February and since then, my right knee on the outside edge, the IT band, was swollen. I couldn't run for more than 5 miles before feeling a nasty tug in my right leg, and would then be hobbling along for about 24 hours afterward. After consulting with a sports medicine doctor, I went on 9 months running rest, but still did Insanity almost every day, with some p90x thrown in. Oddly, even though Insanity is a high impact exercise, it never affected my knee and IT band like the constant hitting of the pavement did, so I was able to complete the exercise. I was disappointed though, because I had plans to run the Hartford Half Marathon in October of 2010 and wasn't able to when I went on running rest starting in July.
Well, finally it was March and I was ready to run again. I bought new shoes, socks, running gear (because you all know you can't just buy one thing when you go to the running store). My friend Kate asked me to join her in a 5k on March 19th. I have to say, I was very nervous about this. I had run my last 5k in June and ran about a 25 minute race. Given, it was an "Xtreme Scramble" that included running up 50 flights of stairs, mud, gravel etc., but 25 minutes was slow for me. In High School, I ran around 20:00 - 20:30 for most of my races, and my PR was about 18:45, a one-time fluke when I was 16 and it was the perfect storm of conditions (easy course, perfect weather, good nutrition and rest, good mental game!). So when I ran this race in March, I had hopes to at least match my time of 25 minutes, since I literally had only run once on my new shoes the week prior to race, the only time I ran since July of 2010.
To my surprise, I finished in the top 10 in the race and ran a 21:48, which is just under 7:00/mi pace! I was shocked, I had literally only been using the anaerobic intervals of Insanity and strength training of p90x for 9 months and yet took over 3 minutes off my last race! Now that I am able to run, and have added aerobic runs and an LSD each week in addition to Insanity, I ran another race on April 27th, and ran a 20:35, and the course had more trails and hills than the March course. This is the first time I matched my "High School Pace" since being 17. You see, when I was 18 I decided practicing piano was more important than training for my distance running, so my senior year of X-Country wasn't exactly my best :). In addition, I am already up to 10 mile LSD runs in my training, which, again, for taking months off and not having the base mileage is perhaps the biggest surprise for me. I guess it isn't too much of a surprise that my 5k's are improving from the interval training, but for my long distance endurance to have improved as well is a surprise to me.
Either way, I am so excited to begin half-marathon training "for real" come the summer so that I CAN do the Hartford Half this October! My legs feel stronger than ever, as does my heart, and I haven't had any problems with my IT band since coming back. I obviously have Shaun T and Insanity to thank, but also my supportive running team the Mud Mafia for the encouragement and support, and my friends Kate and David who have made me run with them!