Sunday, May 19, 2013

This is Where Running Trouble Starts

It's funny, but injuries tend to strike at odd times...and they are usually preventable. When we are coming off illness, or recent injury, we tend to be conservative and don't re-injure ourselves. When we are in a slump, we usually don't get injured either. Sure, we might push harder to break through that slump, but often, we just wade through and eventually improve. Based on my past profile, the most dangerous time for me--the place where running trouble starts--is when I'm running well.

Yes, when I'm running well, that's when things go wrong. When my training runs are going smoothly and the paces are quickening, that's when I tend to do too much. I want more. I want longer runs and I want faster runs. It's fine to want those improvements, but it's dangerous to think you deserve those improvements. When your running is going well, it's time to look back and see why it's going well. It may be a good time to take an extra rest day and consolidate those gains. Why keep pushing? If you push harder, eventually your body will break. Accept your improved fitness, enjoy your health, but don't get greedy.

Ah, greed. It gets all of us. I get greedy when I'm running well. I think I can push harder and achieve even greater things. I'm coming off one of my best running achievements ever, a sub-24 hours at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run, and I am beginning to feel invincible. It took about 4 weeks to recover and now I'm logging regular miles at reasonable paces. I'm getting in shape! I'm running well and I'm thinking about racing a lot. Not just finishing races, but setting new personal records at distances from 100K to 5K. That's crazy. This kind of thinking will get me injured before summer is over. I need to step back, look at what I've achieved, and set reasonable goals for my future training and racing.

I'll slowly ramp up my total miles over the next few weeks. I think my paces may improve, but that won't be my focus. Everything will be monitored by my trusty heart rate monitor and I'll stay in certain zones. My main easy runs will be kept under 70% heart rate reserve (148 for me). Long runs are allowed to reach 155 (75% HRR). Once a week, I'm allowed to throw in a tempo run at 80-85% HRR (162-169). No speed work at this point. This controlled program should encourage further aerobic development, but not risk injury. I'll do a shorter race here and there to test my fitness, but the main goal for the entire summer is the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour race on August 10. Running 8 hours in the summer heat requires endurance and heat acclimatization. It doesn't require speed.

If I have the discipline to hold back in my training, I'll remain injury-free and become a stronger runner. If I let my goals get out-of-hand, I'll become injured and never make it to the starting line of my goal race. This post is my reminder to remain disciplined and train smartly.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, Chris. This is a good reminder for me as well since I tend to want to do too much too soon.


Chris said...

Slow and steady progress beats an injury every single day.