It’s time for the occasional reminder to myself that races aren’t won in the middle of winter and that recovery is a key element of a successful training cycle. Even more so as you grow older. Those niggling injuries or aches don’t fade quite so quickly.
This all sounds so basic and cliche but it’s the thing I often find myself wrestling with the most. I like to workout. I like to go hard. I like to sweat. I like to feel tired. I don’t like to take a day off. Even if I know it’s probably what’s best and that I’m not going to lose fitness with an extra day or even two a week. In fact, it might end up improving it instead.
So shut up and listen, Mike, these are the important bits.
After 10 solid years of service, our basement treadmill finally called it quits last fall. We looked into having it repaired but apparently a decade of my corrosive sweat had rendered the circuit board inoperable. The tech was impressed we’d gotten such a long run out of it and suggested a new purchase would be more economical than replacing the board. We ended up purchasing the exact same model (Sole F63) in the newest model year. Why mess with something that works? But…. why buy a treadmill at all? How do you stand it?
Last month I met up with my running club for a Saturday group run. It was going to be a hot day, really hot, but we were going early and mostly running on shaded trails. Eight miles later, my pace had cratered, I was soaked, having sweated through my shoes, and reduced to walking the last half mile to get back to my car. It was a tough and disheartening workout. But it didn’t have to be.
Just like the recent side stitch training question, this other beginner one is also deceptively difficult to answer. Unless you’re one of those freaks of nature that can go out and run 10 miles at the drop of the hat and wondered what the fuss is all about, you are going to find running a miserable experience in the beginning.
You’ll wonder why people voluntarily do this to themselves and then lie when they say they love it. Early mornings? Hill repeats? Thresholds? Intervals? No thank you. It does get better. If you’re smart about it.
On the surface it seemed like an easy question. A friend was getting back into running and asked me why he was getting cramps or side stitches a mile into his run. I started to reply then stopped. I knew what he was talking about. Just about everyone has gotten that familiar acute pain in their side while running at some point. But when was the last time it had happened to me? It had been a while. And what really did cause those cramps? That simple question didn’t have a simple answer.
Turns out, as common as they are, Google and most experts aren’t entirely sure why they happen.
Training for my first marathon is what finally sold me on the benefits of consistent foam rolling. Ramping up the mileage significantly was a challenge and my body was feeling it. My hamstrings, IT bands, calves, even the bottom of my feet were tight and sore and generally complaining about all the miles.
I’m not the most flexible person to start with and this training plan had me hobbled and walking like an elderly man after two weeks. My muscles were tight. If I was going to finish the plan and not miss any workouts something had to change. I didn’t have the cash for a professional massage each week, but I did have ten bucks for a foam roller.
This year I’m making an effort to try new distances, new events, and new races that I haven’t done in the past.
I’m a type A personality and don’t usually have much of a problem getting out and exercising but that competitive and ambitious personality can also sometimes drive me over the edge. I’ll take on too much, or try to do one more mile, or one more workout, and end up running myself into the ground.
For a long time, I would keep checking off the workouts because it was on my list of things to do. Even if it felt like a slog. Even if I knew a day off would be more beneficial. Recently, I’ve tried to pay more attention to rest and recovery. Often we think of those things as part of preparing for the next workout but they also play a key part in developing a long-term love of running.