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Running Smart

Posted Aug 26 2010 12:45pm
It's amazing what a few days of rest can do for your health and training! A few days back I wrote about how burned out I was feeling. My trail run last Sunday was a disaster. I only went about 1.5 miles before I started getting the pain in my right calf muscle. In addition, I was feeling exhausted and really didn't want to run. So I stopped at the 1.5 mile mark and walked the rest of the way.

When I returned home I dug into the books and searched online sites so that I could learn more about how I was feeling. I was fatigued, wasn't sleeping well, I was irritable, and I had lost my enthusiasm about running. I was experiencing symptoms of overtraining . I also learned that the best way to counter overtraining is to stop training! So I decided to take a break until my symptoms subsided.

I haven't done a thing since my disaster run last Sunday. No running, no cross-training, no strength conditioning, just rest, rest, and more rest. I even stopped blogging (with the exception of my last weight loss report). Well, the good new is that all the symptoms have passed. I felt better yesterday but decided to give it one more day of rest before resuming my training. My run today was better than I've had in weeks! Here's a quick L-Five Trail Run Report.

Length: 3.44 miles, 43 minutes 

I went out a little earlier than usual today. I couldn't wait to get out on the trail. A cold front came through yesterday, so the temperature was in the high-70's, unusually low compared to the last couple of months (mid-90's during my runs). I decided I would run my normal loop and just take it nice and easy. However, I found that I had to force myself to SLOW down! My last few runs have been the exact opposite--I've had to push myself. Turns out that even after forcing myself to slow down I ran about 2 minutes per mile faster than I normally do. I can only imaging what I could have done if I let myself go. But I have learned the value of running smart (will expand on this below) and kept my trail run today in check. Here's a pic from the trail. Scroll down for the rest of the report.

A small creek along Northshore Trail . The creek is usually
dry this time of year. However, due to rains over the
last couple of days, water is flowing once again.
Limbs: Strong

My legs felt great. I could feel the difference immediately. I felt like I had a spring in my stride and they felt like they wanted to go faster and faster. As mentioned, I restrained myself to a nice easy jog so that I didn't injure or sap my energy on my first time back out. I had no issues with either calf muscle and my legs felt great by the time I returned to the Jeep. I felt like I could do the run again without a problem.

Lungs: Normal

Same as always... coughed for about the first mile and then they cleared. I know I am still recovering from quitting smoking .

Laughs: Excellent

I probably saw the biggest change in my mental state today. First, my enthusiasm has returned. When I woke today I couldn't wait to get out on the trail. I will repeat what I said earlier... one major difference I noticed today is that I had to consciously hold myself back. Once I started running I was having so much fun being back out on the trail that I was concerned I would overdue it again. So I decided to take it easy and to limit my distance so that I ease back into the running. Even now as I write this I want to get back out there. So my enthusiasm has definitely returned!

Learning: Running Smart!

The major lesson I have learned over the last couple of weeks is that I need to run smart. By running smart I am referring to listening to my body and making the adjustments needed to ensure I am training within my current capabilities and continuing to improve. I am now aware of some of the symptoms of overtraining and I realize that I am in it for the long run (pun intended). However, listening to my body isn't as easy as just deciding to do so. For now, I am still learning what my body is trying to tell me! For example, when I wrote about my long run a couple of weeks back I talked about the victory I won over my mind. I didn't want to run that day and instead of giving in, I pushed myself further than I was planning to go. In hindsight I believe this was the event that pushed me overboard and triggered the onset of overtraining syndrome. But at the time I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was teaching my mind a lesson. My body was speaking loud and clear--I just didn't understand how to interpret the information.

I now realize that running smart by listening to my body isn't something I will master overnight, but instead, gaining the skill (and art) of interpreting information correctly is an ongoing process that I will have to develop over time, by trial and error. Just like everything else in this journey, if I stay at it, I know I will get there.

Thanks to everyone who has left comments here on my blog and on Twitter and Facebook . Your words are very encouraging and help to keep me motivated. That's it for now. Until next time, happy trails!!!
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