Are you a runner? And are you looking to run a longer run this year? Or faster? Then I bet you have asked yourself, How often should I run? Or, you will.
Last year I ran my first 50km, and I had no idea on how I should be training. So I did what most people did, I Googled it, found a program that looked good and tried to stick to it.
But, there was a problem. This program called for 5 days of running a week. At first, I thought that this was going to be no problem. Sure my body was complaining a bit, but I was also running more kms then I have ever run. But, after a few weeks the body was complaining more, not less. Like pretty much every runner, I ignored this and soldiered on. Ya… I know not the smartest.
Luckily, I did not get injured. But, I also thoroughly hated running. My body was ALWAYS tired and sore, and I was getting grumpier and grumpier. Looking back I can see that these are sure signs of overtraining. But at the time I was too busy beating myself up for not working hard enough.
So, what happened? Well about 8 weeks into my 12 week training program I realized that things were not going well. I dropped out of the 50km and instead ran/limped through the 25km. Since this was an early season run, I still had lots of time if I decided to attempt a different 50km.
For a lot of runners out there, I don’t have to describe the feeling I got from running the 25km instead. Somehow it just is not as satisfying.
A few weeks passed, and I found out that a couple of buddies were running a different 50km (the Fatdog) about 3 months down the road. I immediately became interested. Figuring I had just enough time to start the 12 week training program over. Ok.. I have never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer. Looking back I have no idea why I was not questioning the way I was training. For some reason it is easier to blame my lack of results on a poor diet, or in my case just not sucking it up.
This time, I made it to the race and finished. But, the joy I had previously experienced on the trails was gone. Instead the entire experience felt more like a trial then something I wanted to do.
This year, things are going to be different
After my 2014 experience, I still want to run Ultras but I want to enjoy the experience. I want to look forward to a training run, instead of like something I have to do.
So what is the difference? Well for starters I am running less often. Now I run 3 days a week, with the occasional 4 day week thrown in to spice things up. I counter this with 2 – 3 days of cross training.
I make sure that I include the three essentials running days in my week. Where one day is for speed, another for hills/pace, and lastly I am committed to one long run.
What I have learned
Some runners can pound out the miles, day after day and feel great. At the moment I am not one of them, even though my mind likes to tell me otherwise some days.
Instead, I am going to commit 2015 to be more about the Quality of my runs as opposed to the Quantity.
If you are struggling with how you are feeling during your weeks, then I would advise to take a good look at how you are training. Some people just do not feel good when they ask their body to take a daily pounding. Also age is a factor. Especially when it comes to recovery. I am 45 this year, and I know that there is no way I recover like I did 20 years ago. Another factor could be diet. I now keep my wheat intake to a minimum, this seems to help me and who knows maybe it could help you as well.
When it comes to training, we are all different. Sometimes our bodies can adapt to a certain program and sometimes we have to adapt the programs to our bodies.
Keep working. Happy training!