Short answer: not yet.
It has been two months since I completed the peak performance program at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, in an effort to determine whether a middle-aged, middle-of-the-packer could benefit from the same kind of attention and advice lavished on elite runners. I have given all the recommendations a fair trial—well, except for the weight training, which will wait until the off-season.
I do flexibility and core-strengthening workouts. I run strides and do butt-kicks. I use motivational techniques. And I have radically altered my diet. The positive effects have been dramatic, but not quite in the way I expected.
I started the peak performance program very far from my peak. I was just coming off a six-week layoff due to shin splints, and because I run only shorter races in the spring, my longest run of the year before the injury was 9 miles. My peak performance at the time was managing a 14-mile week and a 30-minute run without collapsing.
I had already registered for a half-marathon that was about a month away, and I told anyone who would listen there was no way I would manage it, and I planned to switch to a 5K. I wasn’t expecting any immediate benefit.
Things were still ugly at first. But my speedwork splits gradually began working their way down to their old level. I credit my diet and vitamin supplements for quickly building my endurance and enabling me to increase mileage beyond my projections.
Five weeks after completing the program, I ran the Cowtown Half Marathon in 1:51:33. That was a full 10 minutes slower than my PR, but extraordinary in that it was my longest run of the entire year.
I also had already registered for the California International Marathon on December 2. That I knew was completely out of the question. Except I continued to build mileage at a steady pace, completing an 18-miler two weeks ago, with my one and only chance for a 20-miler coming this Sunday. If I complete it successfully, it’s taper time and I’ll give the marathon a shot.
So while I’m undertrained and still very far away from a peak performance, my recovery to the point where I can even attempt a marathon I credit entirely to what I learned from the program. And watch out next year!
If you’re interested in Canyon Ranch’s peak performance program, or just like a good pampering at a luxury spa resort, there are several group excursions you can join during the year.