Running is a balancing act, and figuring out how much your body will tolerate before it cries "Uncle!" can be tricky. This is especially important for masters runners. Magazines, blogs and training plans all offer prescriptions for improvement, but in the end, you need to listen to your body and learn what works for you. You also need to be brutally honest about the difference between feeling a bit tired after workouts –normal and necessary as your body adapts to the increased stimulus and work load – and true fatigue, which can lead to overtraining and sideline you.
Most runners use what's called a "3 on/1 off" approach to training, meaning they spend 3 weeks increasing mileage and or intensity (eg, speed work, hills, intervals) and then spend 1 week "off," cutting back on mileage and doing less intense runs to allow their bodies to catch up and recover. I discovered years ago that my body responds better to a "2 on/1 off" approach.
I ended this week feeling good – challenged, sharp and appropriately tired. My coach called it a "Goldilocks week" – not too hard, not too easy, juuuuust right. Here's what I did:
- 4.05 mile Aerobic Run: Nice and easy.
- Align and Flow Yoga, 1.25 hours: I've been trying to take one yoga class per week in lieu of a second strength workout. The funny thing is I usually feel much sorer after yoga than I do after my strength routine, because it targets muscles I usually neglect. Plus, it forces me to take time to thoroughly and properly stretch. The teacher had us do side planks in tree pose – several times, holding them for a decent stretch of time. My core is very strong. Although I could easily do the plank tree poses in class, my obliques were burning on Tuesday morning, so I guess they needed work. Burning in a good way! Burning = progress.
- 8.18-mile Track Workout with my team. Roughly 2.5-mile warm up, running from my place to Franklin Field. Zandra and I did 2 mile repeats (6:57, 6:56 - target pace was 7:10-7:05) with 3 minute recoveries, then 4 x 400 meters (6:41, 6:25, 6:34, 6:34- target pace was 6:40), then I finished with a 2.5-mile jog back home. Track was still covered with snow and dotted with puddles.
- 6.5-mile morning Recovery Run: My legs were tired from the previous night's workout, but it felt good to shake out the legs.
- 6-mile Aerobic Run: Did this one on the treadmill. Just went by feel. I actually enjoy treadmill running much more than I used to.
- 1 hour strength work: Core, stabilizing muscles, arms. wobble board and the usual suspects. I'm trying to embrace strength work but it is still not my favorite.
- 7.02-mile Gear Changing Run: 2 mile warm up, 12x :45 (6:43, 6:24, 6:18, 6:16, 6:06, 6:07, 6:21, 6:17, 6:21, 6:18, 6:23, 6:03) with 1:15 recovery at moderate pace, 2 mile cool down. I love this workout! It includes hard, fast running, which is fun, but the intervals are short enough time-wise to allow you to hold a faster pace. The killer part is the number of reps. By the time you reach 5 or 6, your heart is pounding and you need to think ahead to pace yourself so you don't run out of gas. It's a good workout that everyone should try, adjusting the pace and number of reps to suit your own level of fitness. I still need to work on my pacing so my intervals are more even and so they slowly progress from slow to fast. But I'm happy I banged out a final 6:03 for the final interval. This was my favorite run of the week.
- 11.6 Long Run: Sloan and I ran in the soup-like humidity. You never know what Mother Nature has in store for you when you live in Philadelphia. My legs felt heavy after the previous day's workout. Not tired or sore, but heavy. After about 5 miles or so, they felt fine.
- OFF. Rest day. I cleaned my kitchen and bathroom which ended up being a workout!
Total miles: 43.3