Allow me to reflect on my recent exertions. I think it’s an important practice.
Yes, we should always be striving forwards, looking forwards, not lingering in the past, especially on something transitory like running. But I reckon that when we’re training ourselves sometimes we have to reflect on our efforts to fully understand what we’ve given, and where it might be sensible to ease up.
So: there was a 5:11 mile, which has given me the confidence that I can go on and run sub-5, soon.
Immediately after that there was a 65 mile mileage week, which has given me the confidence that my body is strong enough to manage a general increase in my volume.
And then, otherwise, I’m having quite a bit of fun, mixing up the sessions and the speed. I’ve even managed to squeeze some hill training in, which is a long forgotten and sorely missed portion of my practice.
Finally, I have to admit, there are parts of my body which hurt.
I woke up the other morning and had a whole list of grievances. My back hurt, my achilles was tight, I was tired, grumpy and oh hey, yeah, I think my body might have been telling me something.
These are not injuries, they are warning signs. They are not commands to stop, but they are opportunities to assess. Would it have been sensible to smash out another interval session with my body speaking to me like it was? Would it have been sensible to attempt a tempo run? Or even a long run?
Maybe you can get away with those sessions. Sometimes you have to get away with them.
You don’t need me to tell you that to get better at running, well, shit, to get better at anything, you’ve got to hurt a bit.
What experience has taught me, is that you don’t have to hurt a lot though, not beyond those few minutes of desperately sought, white hot struggle, in the middle of an interval session or a race. Pain belongs there. If it follows you out of that session into the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and on top of that pain you keep piling on the miles, you’re going to be accumulating some fatigue.
Eventually, something is going to snap.
Or pop. Twist. Strain. Break.
So, listen to your body. Take an easy day. Take two off days instead of one. Or, if you’ve got access to other forms of exercise take a low-impact cross training day. Cycle, row, swim. Your body will thank you for it, I know mine does, and in the long term, your results will reflect it.
A fit runner beats an injured one every time, no matter how many miles they did in training.
I’m always anxious to progress, to hit those running buzzwords: Further, and Faster. Further and Faster. Further and Faster!
I keep repeating it, but it’s obviously important: there’s no racing right now. Whilst that remains the case, Further and Faster needs to take a back seat and allow another F Word to take the capital position: Fitter.
And when it comes to Fitter, our bodies know best. And even when the racing comes back, being fit and healthy remains the key.