I’m guilty of running junk miles. I’ve done it regularly for four years straight. Yeah, occasionally I mix them up with hill repeats or visual fartleks, but they are few and far between. And I rarely ever, voluntarily, run slow.
I own and have read Ben Greenfield’s book Beyond Training, but apparently I didn’t pay close enough attention to Chapter 3. Since he recently began releasing the audio version of the book on his premium website, I have been listening to it as I run. It was mostly becauise I ran out of other things to listen to. But I’m so glad I did. Because clearly I didn’t ingest nearly as much as I should have by doing it the old fashioned way.
Junk miles. Do you know what they are? In a nutshell, they are miles which are run over and over again, at the same pace, similar durations, same effort (medium hard), day after day, and month after month. In fact, I’m compelled to define them much like the definition of insanity by Albert Einstein. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” From a training standpoint, they are in fact pointless. And they will exhaust you, not to mention open the doors to overtraining and possible injury.
It was by listening to Ben read his own chapter 3 that made me realize this. In fact, I listened to the chapter 3 times to be sure I understood what was being said and how I could possibly fix it.
It all makes sense. And in my case, I think running junk miles worked for me when I first began running, because my pace became increasingly faster over three years time. But more recently, as I steadied with a 8:00 pace for most of my easy runs, it was apparent this number wasn’t going to get much faster, unless I stopped the insanity.
Training with a sore leg takes gumption and concentration on a completely different level. I’ve had to swallow my pride and take rest days. I’ve had to stop and take the time to walk at regular intervals during my runs. I’ve had to slow down. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’d become a much more efficient runner if I followed Ben’s advice.
In fact, looking back at how I trained for the Twin Cities Marathon, it was obvious that I inadvertently did just this in preparation for this event. I followed my own training plan. I didn’t succumb to a pre-published plan that required me to run an 8:00 pace during every training session. I only had two long runs prior to the marathon (a 16 and a 20-miler), and I refrained from running long every day. I did, however, run my shorter runs fast and my longer runs slow.
After the marathon, with my new found pride from running it so stinkin’ well, I returned to the junk miles. I guess I figured I could handle it. Or else, my ego just took over. And with the approach of winter, running fast is sometimes the only way to run. The faster you run, the faster you’re done.
The past three weeks I have started an experiment of sorts. It incorporates all I have learned from Ben and all I have learned from listening to my own body. Plus, it takes into account the advice I have received from my phyisical therapist. Most of the time, it isn’t necessary to run fast.
It is just necessary to run.
With her help, I have managed to crank out some longer distances by using the walk/run method. I set up a program on Runmeter to help me with this. My timed walk/run intervals go like this:
- 2-minute walk warm up
- run 3 minutes
- 1-minute walk
- run 3 minutes
- 1-minute walk
- run 3 minutes
- 1-minute walk
- run 4 minutes
- 1-minute walk
- run 5 minutes…
and this continues all the way to 10 minutes followed by a 2-minute walk cool down. This is generally how my weekend run works. This past weekend, I was able to add on 2 additional 10 minute runs to get me to 10 miles rather successfully and with no discomfort in the left leg.
This same running program is how I got started on Tuesday and Thursday’s as well, but I’d only run less than 4 on Tuesday and less than 6 on Thursday, working up to the longer Saturday run. I also work on form during the week. I focus on using my hips and firing my glutes, rather than running with my legs. This takes extra effort altogether, so it naturally slows me down.
The last 3 weeks, I changed it up just a little by incorporating some speed work in on Monday. It seemed to be the logical day as it followed a running rest day and would allow me to get a 4th day of running into the week.
This Monday run is a treadmill run that I do around midday or early evening. I give myself plenty of time after P90X and my physical therapy exercises to recover. I set the timer for 50 minutes and run intervals “up the ladder” as follows:
- 2-minute walk warm up
- 2 minutes at 5.5 mph
- 1 minute at 7.5 mph
- repeat 2x
- 2 minutes at 5.6 mph
- 1 minute at 7.6 mph
- repeat 2x…
This continues until my time is up. I end up at a 07:30 pace for the final minute before the treadmill sets itself to cool down.
The first Monday I did just 40 minutes.
The following Monday I did 50 minutes as above.
This Monday, I did 50 minutes but only repeated each interval once. This meant my final minute was run at 07:19. It isn’t an easy workout, but already I can see the benefits.
How? Well, today, I did an easy paced run. I actually turned off everything but my heart rate so that is all I heard every half mile. My aim, after listening to Ben, was to keep the heart rate below 170, while breathing only out of my nose. I knew this would slow my pace down, yet I didn’t want to know how slow as I was running. I felt at ease the entire run. In fact, if it weren’t as humid as it was, it would have been the perfect day to run forever. I never tired and I never was at a loss for breath. In the end, it was a hugely successful run. No walking needed!
So, yes. I am inspired. I have a plan to train for Chicago. My biggest challenge will be continuing to do my physical therapy exercises religiously, and foam roll, ice, and elevate my leg after each run. Every week, my long run will get a little longer. And with two half marathons scheduled before the marathon, I should have enough to combine with two long runs to make this all work.
Here is the training plan:
Monday: P90X Upper Body resistance workout du jour/Physical Therapy exercises/midday speed intervals on treadmill
Tuesday: Medium length run (heart rate training – no walking – light effort) 5-8 miles/Yoga
Wednesday: P90X Legs and Back/Physical Therapy exercises – Running rest day
Thursday: Run/Walk intervals (slightly faster than Tuesday’s avg pace for running intervals) 4-6 miles/Yoga
Friday: P90X Upper Body resistance workout du jour/Physical Therapy exercises/60 minute cycle or Zero Runner at low resistance
Saturday: Long run day using timed walk/run intervals. Light effort.
Sunday: Yoga/Running rest day – Walk or house cleaning
This will take me through to my first half marathon on August 29th. After that, I may regroup.
For the first time in months, I’m hopeful. I’m more than hopeful, I’m inspired.
Get ready for neon, Chicago! I’m-a comin’.
How is your marathon training going? Fill me in!
I’m just a wee bit behind with my race recaps. Between the kids and their band activities, their driving classes, and the surprise arrival of the new granddaughter, it’s amazing that I can get anything done at all!
The Lakeville Pan O’ Prog 4-miler is our local run…you know, the one that is just 10 minutes away. And it is a good thing, too, because it happens pretty early in the morning. As for the name – Pan O’ Prog – (Panorama of Progress), I’m not sure if I want to meet the marketing genius who came up with that name or not. However, it has been the slogan for 49 years, and my husband and I still snicker at it every summer.
I do enjoy the run, though. It’s never overly crowded, and there is always plenty of parking. So, it’s a no-brainer. And you always run into people you know. And that is always fun!
My husband wished to accompany me this year, which is always a nice treat. But the 7:45am start still meant a 6:00am wake up time, which is kind of a bummer for a local run. And, unfortunately, I had a lousy night sleep the night before. I’m not sure why, but there has been so much on my mind, from our friend Jeff, to my pregnant step-daughter (at the time). In fact, the evening after the run, we were expecting her and my son-in-law over for dinner so I had some food prep to do when we arrived home.
We were off a little after 7:00am. I picked up my race packet and was surprised to learn I signed up for the 1-mile run, too. What WAS I thinking? This time, the 1-mile run was after the 4-mile run. I’d have to decide later if I’d actually do it.
We ran into a few of my running friends from a nearby neighborhood. These are the same ladies I run the Monster Dash with plus a few other local events. It is always great to see all of them! Unfortunately, my mind was not working correctly due to the lack of sleep, and I inadvertently forgot a few names. I swear, I have early onset Alzheimer’s…or else just a terrible short term memory.
I hit the bathroom late, and as I emerged, it was time to hit the start line. I spotted my husband just ahead, camera phone in hand, ready to snap me as I passed!
It started out as a lovely morning. In fact, the first mile of the run wasn’t that bad, but suddenly, the wind turned off and the humidity turned on. Ugh! I quickly backed off of my pace and decided to wait it out until mile 3. As I ran, I saw Laura and Stephani pass me. They are a few of the friends I referred to earlier. They are younger than I am, so I figured they could handle way more than I could. HA HA! In fact, I paced behind Stephani for quite a while, until I saw her take a walk break and passed her by. I think this was about mile 3, and I tried at this time to pick up the pace.
I felt barfy. Ugh…the humidity was that bad. For the first time ever while running an event, I felt like I would lose my cookies. I didn’t eat any breakfast, so all I had to lose was bulletproof coffee and some energybits. Still, it wouldn’t be pleasant.
At around mile 3.5, I passed by my friend Laura who was clearly fighting the awful humidity as well. And a few minutes later, I crossed the finish. Gawd, that sucked! I met up with my husband and we walked around the circle of the park a few times so I could catch my breath. He thought I did well, and later I would find out I came in under 30:00, which is the time I ran the Farmington Dew Days 4-miler. This pleased me, considering the weather was much worse for this run. I did notice, however, that I didn’t have a stitch of leg pain throughout the run, nor did I have it at the finish! This pleased me as well.
My husband wanted to head to Fleet Farm after the run, but I knew it was going to take a while for the award ceremony. I had asked in advance if I could get a medal for Delaney, so I wanted to hang around. I sent him off and went off to find the race director.
The 1-mile was slated to start soon as well. But I was still a little nauseous, so I decided to nix it. Although, I did have to stop and think twice.
In the meantime, I met up with all my friends and we chatted up the run, plus some other gossip. I quickly lost track of what I was doing when my husband pulled back up after running his errands. And then I learned I got 2nd in my age group! So, we sat around for another half hour, collected the booty, and shoved off.
No, not a PR for this run, but still a respectable time. I can’t help but think that next year, I’ll graduate to the next age group. My husband says that then I’ll be a true contender. I just hope I can keep it up…and stay injury free until then!
Another year, another Pan O’ Prog!
Another year to snicker…
How are your summer events going? Is it hot and humid where you are?
Author’s Note: I just realized that the Lakeville Pan O’ Prog and I are the same age! We will turn 50 together…that means 2016 has GOT to be my year!
My husband and I have spent the last three weeks watching our friend die.
Jeff is only in his early 50s. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. The worst kind. Stage four. Already, signs were showing that it was spreading to other organs in his body.
Somehow, among miracle of miracles, he made it passed his expected life expectancy of two years.
I swear. I can’t even quit with dignity. Instead, my body says, “It ain’t over. There’s no givin’ up yet.”
How can I complain? I don’t want to quit anyway. I just want to run…and run…and run.
Last week, after a combination of some leg pain, serious mood swings, hormonal imbalance, and a severe lack of sleep, I told my physical therapist that I’m just about ready to call it. Nothing is working. There will be NO comebacks for this lady. I was down…I was out. I was being handed my hat.
I was so hoping to be able to blog today about how wonderful my leg is doing and that my therapy has been going so well that I have been able to start training for the Chicago Marathon. But alas, it is not the case.
I know as well as anyone that healing takes time. It doesn’t happen with just one physical therapy appointment, or after a week of performing my exercises verbatim. Nor does it happen after a Graston session, or even after taking a few days off from the run.