Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh, running. Why must you hurt us so?*

Do you not feel our love? Do you not realize that when we tack on those extra miles -- even though we know, deep-down, that we have gone far enough already -- we do so out of love? Out of a desire to keep the good feelings going?

Do you not see that running too fast, too hard, too often is just our way of showing how much we care? How into you we are?

No? You think that if we really loved you we would approach you with restraint, huh? You think we'd run within ourselves, conservatively increasing our miles by 10% a week, building up to races rather than running them weekend after weekend, and interspersing easy runs with the hard, short runs with the long.

I don't know. That sounds so . . . restrained. Doesn't leave much room to show the love.

OK, fine. You think that sometimes we love you too much. Well, maybe we do. But, man. It's just love. And the way you've been known to repay us for this love? It's pretty harsh. Injuries. Insomnia. Fatigue. Never-ending colds. General malaise.

And what happens then, huh? We end up having to take a break from you for days, if we're lucky, weeks or months, if we're not. And let me tell you, that just sucks.

So what's runner to do when all she wants to do is run? When she wants to make sure that her love of running won't interfere with her ability to do it?

I guess a runner follows these guidelines of restraint:

  • Train like an elite marathoner. More specifically, get enough rest. Whenever Deena Kastor talks about her training, she mentions that getting adequate rest is a critical component. In this article, she talks a little about how she sleeps 10-14 hours a day and takes a nap every day. Rest. Yeah, it's important.
  • Balance mileage increases with decreases. I've found that I can't increase my mileage by only 10% a week. Sometimes I have to run more. So, I try to balance a week of higher mileage by pulling back a little the next.
  • If you think you might have the start of an overuse injury, take a day or two of rest. Catch an injury early and you'll most likely be sidelined for less time.
  • Focus on one increase a week. Don't tack on lots of miles to your long Sunday run and complete a tougher than usual speedwork session and go long for your midweek tempo run and run hill repeats all in the same week. Really. Not a good idea.
  • Find something else to do. There are days when you'll want to just get out there and run even though you know that you should rest. On those days, if you must exercise do something other than run. Like what? Well, I'm a runner. I don't do much else so I don't have a lot of suggestions for what has worked first-hand. Maybe go for a walk? Take the 100 push-up challenge? Try yoga? Think about it. You'll find something.
But don't, whatever you do, stop showing the love. You love running, I know you do. You wouldn't be tempted to overtrain if you didn't. But show the love in a more -- dare I say -- restrained way. Do it and running will keep on loving you back.

*This post is part of Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursday. The topic? Overtraining -- Just say no!

7 comments:

Makita said...

Well said. I like the point, "Go find something else to do." This was a huge help to me - and more specifically, it was something entirely different (swimming) which allowed me to give my legs/heel time off and worked other muscle groups. :D

The Happy Runner said...

Makita -- Finding something else really does help. I wish I was more of a cross-trainer. But, I chase my one-year old around and have decided to put that in the cross-training category!

Betsy said...

Great post. The last thing we need is for running to decide we're stalking it and slap a restraining order on us.

tfh said...

14 hours of sleep! That'll be the day. And I don't even have kids yet. Running, I can't spend that much time in bed, not even for you.

SJ Goody said...

I love this post!! Running is my affair. :)

Frayed Laces said...

Great article! Oh, to be paid to run, and get to sleep that much....we can only dream, right?

The Laminator said...

Great post! I share all the same sentiments, more so now because I'm at the peak of my marathon training. I really wish running would know how much I love it so it won't bite me back with this thing called overtraining. Reminds me of my own post a month ago when I described running as a fickle lover.

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