Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Good Reasons to Train Smart


It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The graphic above is one of the charts from my 2009  Running Log.  The log is actually an Excel workbook into which I enter every available daily running stat-- miles, time, heart rate, temperature, humidity, which pair of shoes I wore, etc... you get the idea.  Yes, I'm a stats junkie.  The daily stats feed formulas for daily calculations of pace and mph, weekly and monthly totals and averages, and charts!

The point of posting this chart is to illustrate two reasons to train smart.  I'll call the first reason March, and the second reason December.  The distinguishing feature of each month was a forced reduction in mileage.  Both were results of poor training decisions.

March, 2009:  I had been running fairly seriously for about a year, and had become very comfortable with distances up to about 5 miles.  I was running 7 days/week, 1.5 to 2 miles on weekdays, and 5 miles on weekend days.  In late February, I felt like I'd kind of reached a plateau, and decided it was time to step things up a bit.  So, I doubled  my weekday miles. Two weeks later, after a severe flare-up of plantar fasciitis, I was unable to run at all.  I decided to walk 2 miles daily while my foot recovered, but on the first morning, I was limping before I walked 100 feet down the road.  So, I stayed off of my feet almost completely for two weeks, limping around the house and at work.  As it improved, I cautiously started running again.  Looking back at the stats later, I realized that I had disregarded the "10% Rule," increasing weekly mileage by 44% at one time!  Bad move!

December, 2009:  The week before Thanksgiving, I was proud that I had just run my first 40-mile week. I'd been following the 10% Rule, and everything was going well.  I ran a 10K "Turkey Trot" race on Thanksgiving morning.  Having taken several rest days before my race, I was low on miles for the week.  I ran hard on Thanksgiving, and ran a pretty good 10K race.  I stubbornly wanted to log another 40-mile week, so I followed the Thursday 6.2-miler with 8 miles Friday, 10 miles Saturday, and 12 miles Sunday.  By Monday morning, my right knee was hurting.  I ran short and easy, and the pain didn't go away.  This case of Runner's Knee resulted in a week of no running, followed by 7 weeks of very cautious, lower mileage running.  I'm sure my mistake was running 4 days of progressively increasing distance, the last 3 after running hard in a race.  Good training programs alternate distance and intensity, giving ample recovery between hard runs. 

Lesson learned:  small lapses from smart training principles can really be costly.  Greed for a few extra miles can result in downtime and the loss of many miles. 

Train smart!  Don't learn the hard way, like I always do!

10 comments:

Keith Peters said...

You speek sooth. I think I learned my lesson early on, and luckily avoided injury. I was doing 3 days a week for a total of about 9-10 miles for several weeks. I started a program that started with 17-18 miles in 5 days a week, and increasing from there. So, yeah, close to double what I was used to. I guess it wasn't enough to cause injury, but I had all the other symptoms, tired, cranky, mentally and physically feeling pretty bad. I feel lucky to have avoided hurting myself. And I've been pretty cautious since then.

Vern said...

Keith, you were fortunate to catch it early and back off a little before it became a problem. The more miles we are running, the less forgiving of mistakes the miles tend to be. Hence, I recovered from the earlier mistake (at around 20 mi/wk)in two weeks, but took about two months to recover from the second one (at 40 mi/wk).

kara said...

Yeah I learned that lesson the hard way.
Plus the older I get - the longer it takes to heal!

Vern said...

Kara, unfortunately, most of us have to learn too many things the hard way! I just wish I didn't have to learn a similar lesson twice in the same year!

Jenn said...

Yep - like Kara I learned this lesson the hard way as well.

great post!!

Vern said...

Jenn,
There's one that's guaranteed: whenever we talk about learning things the hard way, we find we have lots of company!
Thanks!

Sandi said...

Wise words, my friend!! I think, if I remember correctly, we were both being a bit pig headed about our training around the same time. If I did my stats the dips in my training would be very similar I think! :-) As long as we've learned something along the way, right?!

Vern said...

You are correct, Sandi! We all make mistakes; the key is to learn from them! I've become a lot more cautious in my approach. I still want to push my envelope, but within the limits of sound principles!

Travis and Teniah said...

This was just the perfect post for me to read tonight! I was kind of feeling down on myself for not running for three days, and then I read your post and realized that listening to your body is so important. Maybe that little break was what I needed to prepare for a more faithful training program! It's so important to find the balance between being faithful to your "plan" and not over training. Thanks for the perspective.

Vern said...

I'm glad the post was helpful, Teniah! Rest is just as important as activity!