musings on mileage

One reason weekends are wonderful: You can run in the sun!

“Sleeping in” until 8 this morning (yes, I realize that’s not late at all) meant that I got to step out for a stroll around 9:30. It took me a while because I was spent some quality time with Anthony and these pancakes this morning. But anyways, back to the run:

It was a good one. I ended up going for 9 miles because my hip was feelin’ fit. This is the farthest I’ve run since our run in Puerto Rico!

I especially loved this run because I had no set route or mileage in mind, and had nowhere to be afterwards. Oh-so-freeing. My mind wandered and around mile 8 I decided I should dye my hair, which I just did. Haha.

Don’t worry, I didn’t choose a color as vibrant-yellow-orange as these trees.

So, like I said, this was one of my first “longer” runs since I got injured about a month ago. Since my injury, I deferred my entry to the Richmond marathon and haven’t really run more than 7 miles.

Today I was almost worried that 9 might be too much on me — not on my hip, but more in terms of my cardiovascular health — and was happily surprised that I was just fine with the longer distance. Which got me thinking: At what point do you “lose” your level of fitness? If I took a month off, could I run 9 miles just as easily next time? Since I ran a marathon 5 weeks ago, could I run one next weekend too? (Don’t worry, I’m not running a marathon next week.)

I think a common problem among runners — myself included, definitely — is fear of off days. Rest days are scary, because you’re convinced you’re not making any progress toward being a better runner when you don’t run. What can be especially challenging, psychologically, is missing long runs. Basically every marathon training program hinges on these weekly long runs that, most runners believe, are the bread and butter of training.

This is getting a little deep so let’s pause and admire some street furniture I spotted at mile 8:

I hadn’t seen any in so long!

But really, back to running. This Runner’s World article says that mileage isn’t everything. Linked to the amazing story of a 43-year-old woman who ran a 3:11 marathon with far fewer miles under her training belt before the start line, the author argues that less might be more when it comes to performing well on race day. Of course, this depends on a ton of factors: how fast you are, what your base endurance/fitness level is, how resilient your body is.

As for the mega-long runs (22-25 miles) before the marathon, I think this sums it up: “The mental benefit of knowing one can handle the distance must be weighed against the down-time required to recover.” Exactly.

I want to write a big conclusion here, but I don’t really have one. Other than running is a hugely mental sport and I will continue to be dumbfounded by the mix of physiological science and psychology behind each step. Good thing I generally just focus on the pretty trees and the John Mayer album playing in my headphones. Oh, and again, I’m not running a marathon next week. I will be stuffing my face with turkey and pumpkin pie instead.

Speaking of which, tonight is the Second Annual Friendsgiving! Anthony is hosting friends and everyone is bringing food. Like last year, we’re in charge of making the turkey. Our goal this time is to learn how to properly “carve” it. Photo of us hacking away at random bits of meat, 2011:

I know we’re going to have to go around and say what we’re thankful for, and I’m sooooo stressed because there are just so many good things. So many.

  • Do you struggle to take rest days?
  • Turkey-carving tips?
  • Thoughts on Bisquick vs. homemade pancakes?
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2 comments

  1. I find rest days difficult. But am determined to learn to take them. It might be easier now that I’m getting into core strength training bc I will have something that helps me feel I’mstill making progress

  2. Ricardo Bueno

    Re: “I think a common problem among runners — myself included, definitely — is fear of off days. Rest days are scary, because you’re convinced you’re not making any progress toward being a better runner when you don’t run.”

    I totally struggle when I take an off day. I feel like I”m not making any progress, and like I need to keep moving and getting those miles in to get better…stronger…faster. But I’ve also learned to swim on those off days. It’s not the same of course, at least, the feeling isn’t the same. But I have noticed that it’s helping. Because when I’ve injured myself and have to take a week off (or even two), I still swim. And when I get back on the trail, I’m running just as fast if not faster than before.

    Swimming is definitely helping me build that stamina.

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