Thursday, September 13, 2012

My legs' message finally cracks through my thick skull

Last month, it seemed like my Rockford running buddy Doug's posts on Daily Mile were consistently gloomy. I almost felt bad clicking on any of the smiling emoticons when I saw the grim-faced ones he was selecting.

Eventually, he blogged about making a change in his running routine, going from longer weekday runs and medium-long weekend runs to shorter weekday runs and truly long weekend runs.

It had paid off for his legs and thus also for his psyche as of the end of August, and judging from his tweets and Daily Mile posts, it's continued to work.

Meanwhile, the running routine I've sort of adopted/sort of fallen into is exactly what Doug had decided to quit — several four- or five-milers scattered throughout the week, plus one run of up to eight miles.

I didn't fret about it too much at the time. Runners aren't all made the same, and I kept going with what I thought was working.

Last Thursday, I started my morning with a seven-miler that felt about how most of my recent runs had been feeling: slow and heavy. I blamed the humidity and unexpectedly sunny skies. The next day, I did a four-miler that felt just slightly better.

Then, for 48 hours, I didn't run at all. Only on Sunday morning, more than 48 hours after I'd finished the four-miler, did I hit the road. And it felt great, not at all like every run in recent memory. On Monday night, I embarked on another run — same conditions, same route — and had the same strangely springy result.

Not even the strong winds and 60th Street hills on Wednesday afternoon could dampen my spirits or frustrate my legs, which were moving after another 48 hours of inactivity.

What changed?

Each run was no more than four miles, and they had more than 24 hours of rest as buffers. Looking back, I probably shouldn't have added "increase short run distance" to my training style without dropping "run frequently because you feel like too much rest makes your legs rusty," or at least adjusting it.

Also, having a wide range of run distances was a theme of previous half marathon training plans, but not my most recent one's — the training for which featured a lot more stopping and starting than past ones had, back when I was more of a noob and supposedly in worse shape.

Mystery possibly solved. I know I'm supposed to listen to my body, and I was trying to. I just couldn't interpret what it was saying, until a travel-heavy week and the memory of Doug's blog post served as a Rosetta Stone for runners.

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