15 March 2012

Work and Recover

Remember, even 13-year-old girls are training three times per day.
                         --Brother Colm O'Connell talking about the success of his Kenyan athletes

Today the weather was almost perfect for running.  I ran for the second time this year in only shorts and a t-shirt.  No sleeves, no pants or tights, no gloves, no hat.  I felt free, but I also still felt slow and stiff.  I did get six hours of sleep last night, so I had more sleep, but still not enough. I have a 5k tempo run planned for tomorrow, but The Jewish Stallion and I have agreed to warm-up and see how we feel before committing to running hard.  We're both in the middle of a recovery week this week, so any hard running would be more a bonus than a necessity.

My lack of sleep reminds me of something Deena Kastor discusses during an interview with Matt Fitzgerald:

     When you look at the workouts we’re doing, we’re all doing pretty much the same thing, from
     the recreational runner to the elite distance runner. Our workouts are similar: We’re doing
     interval sessions one day a week, long runs one day a week, tempo runs once a week. The
     difference comes with the elite runner being able to dedicate so much time to recovery.

Those of us who are not elite runners and do not have our running life sponsored by a shoe company must work a job in addition to engaging in the training we do.  Our training is not our profession, and because we work so intensely when we're not running or biking or swimming, we are often left with little time to allow our bodies to rest, to heal, to adapt, and to grow stronger in response to the vigorous workouts we perform.  That's why, at minimum, we all should focus on getting the sleep we need.  Sleep, more than any other type of recovery aide (i.e. massage, acupuncture, dietary supplements, chiropractic manipulation, etc.), holds the most benefit for a body worn down by aggressive training.  It also costs less than other modes of restoration.  Deena Kastor herself slept 12 hours per day.

I believe that to perform at his or her best, a runner needs to run as many miles as possible while running as much quality as possible without getting injured.  And the only way to do this successfully is to make sure that you are treating the body well when you are not working out by sleeping well and eating well.  I also think that we should be careful in building mileage and in adding quality workouts.  (I have found a lot of success following Jack Daniels's method for building mileage: Run the same mileage for three weeks and then add one mile for every run completed during the week, up to ten miles total.  Run that mileage for three weeks, and so on.) We shouldn't be impatient in our urge to do more and to go faster.   But I don't think we necessarily need more days off or we need to only complete the quality workouts and skip the "junk miles."  (There are no junk miles, but I'll save that discussion for another time.)  We just need to care for ourselves better than we do.  We should let our fear of injury scare us into recovering properly, not doing less work.

Today's Run Details: Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details

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