Sometimes you just need a break.
I began training for a goal 10K almost immediately after crossing the finish line at the NYC Half. I took the requisite recovery time, but dove back in as soon as my body felt ready.
But I chose a training plan that was much more vigorous than even my half marathon training plan had been.
After a few weeks, I started to look back at my training log and I didn’t like what I saw.
Rather than running four times each week, I was down to three. My Tuesday morning speed sessions were so intense that I felt I could go back to sleep immediately after and swore off Thursday morning runs in favor of extra rest. I was running a long run and an easy run on the weekends, but was pretty lethargic for both. This went on for two weeks.
Then I reassessed.
What was the big difference between this training plan and my previous training plan? Tuesday morning tempo runs.
Those Tuesday tempos were wearing me out. Stringing together 3+ miles at just shy of goal race pace was simply too much for me — even if I felt strong while I was running.
My half marathon training plan had me running intervals for both of my speed sessions, so this was a huge shift.
Another problem: if I look at my recent race data, I can see that I rarely run more than two consecutive miles at the same pace. Then I’ll drop back, or speed up. I listen to my body when I’m racing, but on these Tuesdays I was focusing exclusively on my training plan.
When I started this training cycle, I was excited to have such a challenging routine ahead. But I can see what it’s been doing to me, and frankly…I don’t like it.
Burnout happens, and when it does you need to pay attention.
Burnout can lead to injury, fatigue or even getting sick of the sport.
Those are chances I don’t want to take.
So last week I made a deal with myself. I would treat the week as a do what you can do week. For most of the week, I struggled to motivate myself. I all but promised myself that I would make it out for at least three runs.
Last Tuesday I set out hoping to run 5 miles. After 3.5, I called it quits and walked home. Thursday’s run was skipped, again.
I wasn’t going to let myself out of my weekend runs. The weather was perfectly sunny and brisk. It was dream running weather.
My brain wanted the run, but my body wasn’t enthused.
In moments like these, ask yourself what would be the least awful place to run.
The answer led me straight to the bridle path in Central Park on both Saturday and Sunday morning for four and five mile runs, respectively.
A few dirty, dusty runs later and I’ve regained my focus.
I revisited my training plan and have made a crucial decision: Tuesdays are now hill repeat days, and Thursdays are for running intervals.
I’m not eliminating the tempo entirely. I may try to string together a couple of miles at tempo pace during long runs, and I’ll be running some sort of mile repeats on interval days. Maybe I’ll do them two at a time, once in a while.
This morning I ran a one mile warm-up followed by two loops of Central Park’s northern hills. Then I ran 4 x 200’s. Afterwards, I cooled down with another easy mile. Total distance: 5.5 miles.
I like to follow tough training runs with lower body strength training, this way I have at least one recovery day before my next hard run. So I did a series of squats, side lunges and reverse lunges before hitting the mat to stretch and foam roll.
I feel so much better.
I feel stronger and I feel like I can stick with this routine as I train for a shiny new PR!