Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The training bagel

I talked with a coworker yesterday who's training for the KC half as her first ever half marathon. She mentioned that she's felt very tired lately and has even been tested for diabetes by her doctor. She's done long runs of 10 and 12 miles during the last two weekends, and she's doing some sort of aerobic training, usually either running or elliptical, every day of the week. She commented that she doesn't enjoy running lately and just wants to survive the training and get through the KC half.

I don't have much experience with building training plans, but even to me this sounds like too much training. I suggested building a couple of rest days into her schedule each week and also backing off the training every third or fourth week. Given the recent long runs on the last two weekends, I also suggested taking an immediate rest week with a shorter run this weekend.

The conversation made me think about my own training again. While I don't think I'm overtraining at this point, I do occasionally feel like I'm "grinding out" the training runs just because they're part of the schedule. I've also noticed more joint aches in my legs and a general feeling that the training is beating me up lately.

So, this morning I elected to enjoy a bagel and coffee instead of doing a hard run or speed work, and I really enjoyed that bagel! I know I've deviated from Uncle Hal's training plan more than I'd like to recently, but I'm increasingly convinced that Hal is correct when he says that undertraining is better than overtraining. That doesn't mean frequently skipping training runs will make anyone a better runner, but I think it does mean that there's not much value in running "beat up" or "toughing it out" just to get more miles. Those runs quickly become junk miles that don't do anything other than increasing fatigue. Also,
the combination of biking and running seems to have a bigger effect than I'd have guessed before I started. There's just no way to avoid compromising the running schedule if I'm also biking relatively hard a few times each week.

I'll still probably run over lunch today, but it will be more of a maintenance run with some hills rather than a speed workout because I plan to do the cyclocross clinic this evening. The basic idea here is high value workouts with ample rest and recovery. Getting myself (and coworkers) to stick to that seems to be one of the more difficult parts of training.


  1. You seemed very happy after your coffee and bagel. I am all for that!

  2. Sounds like skipping my run tonight won't ruin my entire training program for the 10-mile. Whew!!

    Good advice to your coworker! Rest days are my fave days of all. :)

  3. I would go through phases like your co-worker when I first started running and racing a few years ago. Now, with time and training under the belt, if I even think about skipping a long run on Sunday, I go nuts!

    What seemed to help for me is to always schedule those much needed rest days. And when I knew a rest day was coming up, I was less apt to skip the current days' run.

  4. Hey, Jon, I think it's time you start a thread about shoes! I train in Asics 2130 and race in Nike Skylon's--and I love the lighter weight of the Nike's. I'm thinking that when my 2130's die that I'm going to go more and more minimalist as time goes on. What are your thoughts on shoes & the minimalist movement?

  5. Yeah... I'll give it some thought and make a post. I'm supposedly a mild overpronator, so I've used mostly stability shoes. Had good luck with Brooks GTS. I think my stride is becoming more efficient, and I've been tempted by lighter shoes recently also.