Yesterday was Gavin’s birthday, so we enjoyed a few cocktails for happy hour before meeting my parents for dinner at Lobster Bar & Grill. OMG that restaurant! Words cannot describe how delicious and fresh the food was, from the seafood tower of humongous shrimp (that’s about 3 sizes above jumbo), lobster, oysters and ceviche followed by Dover sole, buttery quinoa, sauteed spinach and the most amazing Parmesan truffle fries.
Okay, enough about food. Today I want to talk about what we runners struggle with the most in our training. When runners talk to non-runners about their training, the non-runners’ response usually goes like this: “oh, you must be so disciplined to get up early every morning to do your runs! I could never do that.” We runners chuckle when we hear that, because we know that getting up to run is not the hard part.
Here’s what I think is hard to do as a runner:
Take rest days. Oh boy this one is tough. Runners and athletes in general tend to be perfectionists and performance-oriented people. We’re used to pushing ourselves and we often feel guilty if we spend a day without exercising. Come on, admit it. You have forced yourself to go on a run even though you knew you were sleep deprived, tired, sick or worse, injured? I know I have. Heck, one time I even ran in the middle of a bladder infection. Not smart.
But rest is just as important as the runs themselves, if not more. I would even go so far as to say that if you had to choose between skipping a run or a rest day during a week of training, you should probably skip the run. Extra rest days can be beneficial for training and will not derail a training plan. Hal Higdon encourages runners to take an extra rest day as needed over the course of his training plans.
From now on, I think one of my mantras should be: resting IS training!
Run slow. Or slower. I definitely have to practice this one right now. When I started training for races last year, I never put any thought to running slow. I just ran a pace that felt comfortable or fun for me at the time. And I think I ran most of my weekly runs at a pace that may have been too fast. My body could handle it, but now I have to build my endurance back up so running slow is a must if I want to get the miles in.
I remember a podcast from Runner Academy that was about how running slow can help you get faster. By the way, if you’ve never listened to Runner Academy, you have to check it out! Matt Johnson is an awesome host and his guests are super interesting. Matt Fitzgerald, one of my favorite guests on the show, explained the 80/20 principle of training, which says that 80% of your training should be done at a low intensity and 20% should be done at high intensity. He sums up how running at a lower intensity benefits the runner:
How do you become aerobically fitter? By becoming a more efficient runner.
How do you become a more efficient runner? By running more.
How do you get to run more? By running slow.
You’ve probably noticed that yourself. Have you ever decided to take your training down a notch or completed your goal race and then realized that your performance improves temporarily? Once the pressure to run at a certain pace is off, you usually run better and longer.
I highly recommend that you download this podcast if you want to know more about the 80/20 principle of running. I know I have to start making it the basis of my training.
I’m trying to think of other things that we need to do as runners but that we struggle with, but I can’t think of any right now. Fellow runners, what do you struggle with the most?