Over the last few weeks of my training, I have learned something about my running. Easy runs are important. Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. So, why do I feel the need to race the clock every time?
My ego. For sure.
I think for a hot second, I got caught up in my fitness and pushed several runs in a row. It was great, I ran such quick paces and for long periods of time. Then, the week following these amazing runs, I felt like crap. I was tired every run. Each run was a nightmare. I skipped a workout because my legs were lethargic and since I don’t have a physical therapist handy, I am so afraid to get injured; I just didn’t run as many miles.
At first, I thought I was a failure. I can’t even follow a 12-week training program? Then I thought about it some more. I have been following it as well as listening to my body. I run more, I run less. It’s a program to be adapted, not the bible. I skipped a workout, but that’s OK. I still got in a short run and if my body needed the rest, it needed the rest. It’s OK to run the easy runs, well, easy. My paces are nobody’s business, but mine. The funny thing is no body cares. So, why did I get so caught up in proving myself? I lost my sight, but it’s all good because lesson learned. I’m doing this for myself and no one else. During this week, I used the time and horrible runs to reflect on why I felt this way. I forgot why I started running seriously again in the first place. Not to race the clock, not to prove I’m better, but to have fun with it. To challenge myself mentally and commit to something that I love.
Of course, I want to be the best, who doesn’t? I also don’t want to lose my love for the sport, like I thought I almost did a few years ago. Running slow isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t make you any less of a runner. Getting out and running makes you a runner. I have been really focused on challenging myself on my workouts and maybe longer runs and now more so on my shorter or easier days and making myself run slow. Easy runs are just as important on your body as intervals or repeats. Recovery time gives your body the opportunity to rebuild itself, so that on race day you can use your fully-trained body at its maximum potential.
Running is a science and during it we learn a lot about how our bodies function. We know they’re working, but what exactly is going on. Well I did some research and distance running involves both anaerobic and aerobic metabolism to get you through runs and races. During aerobic running or easy runs, your body develops more oxygen, which in turn helps with your breathing and energy break down. Your easy runs are a perfect time to train your body to do this. According to the runner’s connect, Aerobic training (easy running) increases the number of capillaries per muscle fiber, thus improving how efficiently you can deliver oxygen and fuel to your working muscles and how quickly they can clear waste products.
Running slower and more relaxed for one to three days after tough workouts gets blood flowing to muscles. This helps flush away the broken-down proteins, delivers new proteins to rebuild damaged tissue, and carries carbohydrates to replenish depleted stores in muscle cells, states Greg McMillan, M.S., an exercise physiologist and running coach in Flagstaff, Arizona in an Active article.
Basically your body is building strong muscle fibers, more mitochondria for energy and oxygen, and you’re putting less stress on yourself. If you’re running fast every time you run, you’re actually depleting your bodies oxygen levels and making injury and over-training more likely. Which is bad. Trust me, I have injured just about everything you can in your leg and foot. It sucks. Smart training is the best training. So the next time you’re thinking you’re too slow, just know that variations in runs is crucial. Don’t hurt yourself to match up with paces or another runner. Just run and love it.
I told you I would list the Week 8 of my Carlsbad Half Marathon training after completing it after my last blog post, so here it is:
Week 8 Carlsbad Half Training:
Monday, Dec. 14: 3.4 miles @ 8 min pace with 8 x 100 m strides. I was supposed to take today off, but decided since I took two Monday’s off in a row, I should just do an easy shake out run with some strides to get the legs moving.
Tuesday, Dec. 15: 7.1 miles. My legs felt light and lean. Just zoned out and got this run done. Getting stronger on the hills around my office. Pure Barre in the evening (this class went really well).
Wednesday, Dec. 16: 9 miles. #WorkoutWednesday: 2 mile warm up, 5 x mile repeats with 1:30 – 2 mins of rest in between: 6:04, 5:54, 6:15, 6:24, 6:06, 2 mile cool down.
Thursday, Dec 17: 5 miles slow and easy. My legs felt like lead, but not in pain. Pure Barre class in the evening.
Friday, Dec. 18: 5 miles slow with Nic’s mom Kathy. I didn’t wear my watch, but when I run with her it’s usually around 9-9:30/mile pace. I felt great during this run and just enjoyed the conversation. Pure Barre class in the morning
Saturday, Dec. 19: 10 miles at 7:30 pace. I felt fine, my stomach hurt a bit, I think it was from brunch, but it went away after a few miles. The back of my knee is starting to bother me occasionally. I have to pay attention to that. Boot Camp at Yoga Six with Lanai in the morning before brunch.
Sunday, Dec. 20: 12 miles around 7:30 pace again. I was slightly sore from boot camp, but the run went by really quick. These 10-12 miles runs aren’t feeling like long runs anymore, but just like regular runs. Right foot and knee bothered me a little bit.
Total miles: 51.4 miles
I got in some decent runs this week. I’m excited to start the last 1/3 of the training before the Carlsbad Half. I’ve really enjoyed seeing my training unfold itself. I never thought I would be back to where I was. Never say never! My goal for December is to finish at 200 miles. I think I can do it and that’s without adding too much more to my schedule!
How is your training coming along?
Do you enjoy your easy runs too?