Doing the least amount to get the maximum result is a good plan when it comes to running and racing. HOWEVER, the popular phrase: practice makes perfect also applies to running.
This past year, I’ve started to experiment with running more. In the past, this has led to injury and burnout – which led me to believe that I needed to keep the mileage low. Better to do less and stay injury free than run too much and end up sitting on the sideline come race day.
Coach convinced me otherwise this year… she said the difference is in how I run those extra miles.
I used to think all miles were the same. This was before I met my coach, but I still didn’t really get it until this past year. Suddenly, running on soft surface trails and running a SLOW pace – and by that, I mean really. really slow, have made a huge difference.
The soft surface was an instance relief. Coach has been a fan for years, but I’ve been slow to adopt it. After months of her urging me to give it a shot, I realized you can tell the minute you hit the trails that you legs feel better. Plus, you get an extra core workout at the same time trying to get traction against the sand. It’s a lot harder than running on pavement, that’s for sure. It’s been great since a local neighborhood just unveiled a huge new system of dirt trails this past fall. I’m also lucky enough to live out in the boonies with some great dirt roads that are not far from my home.
But the biggest difference I’ve seen, and the one that has come as the biggest surprise, is the slower paced runs. Running an entire minute slower than my marathon pace feels like a crawl. I used to run everything at only 30 seconds slower. It’s still all too easy for me to fall back into that pace – old habits are hard to break and I think my body is used to it as the default setting after so many years.
However, if you can slow yourself down a full minute, it makes an enormous difference in how you feel for the next day’s workout. It’s worth giving it a try for a week or two.
All of which has led me to hit a weekly mileage total of close of 50 miles this week. I’ve been holding myself back to 30-40 for so long this seems crazy, but here I am and (fingers crossed) my legs are still holding strong. It’s only the second week of a higher volume, but I’m hoping this holds out and I can keep up the slow pace.