Friday, May 29, 2015

Faster and Slower, More and Less, and Sometimes None

I like to think of myself as a decent runner after 9 1/2 years since getting back to fitness.  Six marathons.  One Boston.  Four under 3:16.  One of them under 3:10.  

But I had my first setback in a while on Mother's Day--as recent readers have read about.  I had my slowest 5K in a while two weeks after.  And since Sunday, I have been rebuilding confidence and rebuilding my sense of "running like me."

But I have to relearn some lessons along the way.  Lessons I first learned when I ran with Charm City Run.  Lessons I learned again when running with others (especially those from Back on My Feet) and comparing notes.  Lessons I learned yet again when I got a plan from coach Shannon at Creating Momentum.  Lessons that now that I am enjoying running with friends but basically planning on my own, I am having to either re-learn or at least remind myself of again and again.

This morning's lesson was about quantity.  Call it the Goldilocks Lesson.  Each day of training has a pace.  Sometimes a steady tempo.  Sometimes increasing tempo before pulling back for a cool down.  Sometimes the ups and downs of a track workout with intervals and active rest.

Then there are weekly patterns.  Some weeks I run more.  Some weeks I run less.  Occasionally two weeks are about the same.  But running a lot every week is just not the right thing to do.

Then there is within the week.  Make sure to take at least one day off.  Make sure not to do two intense workouts in a row if it can be avoided.  (Intense can be faster or further.)  And with those rules in mind, generally don't plan more than 4 (and usually just 3) intense workouts a week.

What happens if I break those rules?  I am probably not going to get faster.  I am probably not going to run stronger.  I am going to increase my chance of injury.  And by not respecting my body's needs in training, I will at best tread water.

So, when I missed my second track workout of the week yesterday, I made a choice.  I ended up with a sort of progression run over a hilly seven miles.  

I really wanted that second track workout and went to bed last night thinking "wouldn't it be great" to get that workout in this morning.  8x400 instead of 6x400.  Rest intervals of 200 meters rather than 400 meters.  I had it all in my mind.

Until I woke up and thought about it while my body was preparing.  

And I realized how many rules I had already broken this week.  

And I realized that breaking one more was not going to help me to prepare for my next 5K.

So, I thought better of it and ran just 3.2--with no mile faster than 8:40.

And I got on with my day.

But I am thinking long and hard about the "Goldilocks plan".  What is not to fast and not too slow.  What is not too short and not too long.  How should I plan that out and what goal does it all center on?  

And how can I take this lesson from running and apply it to the rest of life?

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