Monday, March 21, 2011

running hard DOES make you stronger

saturday was 14 days since the marathon. during yesterday's sunday afternoon easy run, terri and i were thinking about what a good week we had so soon after the marathon. just one week after the race, we ran 8 miles, then the next day 6. on tuesday of last week, we started back with some speed work and had a great tempo on thursday. saturday's run followed suit and was solid with 10 miles in 1:33, averging around 9:20 or a little under. considering that our first 4 miles on the trace were 10:05 average, we really kicked it in and our last miles were all at 9 or under, with our last one being 8:31. when we were at 9.60, with .40 left, terri said to kick it hard that last bit, so we did. it felt nice to stretch out the legs a bit at the end.

i am of the belief that it hurts less to run a little harder sometimes. i've heard some of the runners i look up to say that it hurts them to run slow. it doesn't necessarily hurt me to run slow as i'm doing it, however, i hurt less when i run harder. i work on the second floor of my building, and we have stairs and an elevator. 9 times out of 10, i take the stairs. stairs are hard work and in the past, it was not uncommon for my legs feel the burn when i take a trip. right before the marathon, at the peak of my training, i had a lot of fatigue in the legs and really felt some burning. but on any given day, i can sail up and down the stairs with little to no discomfort from running. not only is the speed work making me stronger and faster, it's opening up my stride and allowing my muscles to fully engage. i really do believe that this makes me hurt less and suffer less after my run. don't get me wrong, it's not easy, and like we always say, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

so speed work and quality runs have a great purpose in training. i know there are many schools of thought on training. how many days to run per week, how many miles to run per week, speed work or no speed work, LSD or quicker long runs. everyone has their own way of doing things and what works for one might not work for another. to me, it's simple. if you want to run faster, you have to run faster. not everyone is built to run the same speeds, but your speed can be enhanced to your full potential by adding some quality, purposeful runs to your training. the proof is in the pudding - my race times only get faster when i'm training harder. currently, i'm running 4 days a week - a speed day, a tempo day, long run and a recovery day. i have one day where my run is 'easy.' easy is relative here cause that run usually hurts the most as it is at the end of a pretty hard week.

now that i've said all that about training hard, i'm also a big believer in recovery and allowing your body time to recover. i'm not one of these who can run a 5k one weekend and a marathon the next. i'm a very slow recoverer, but i know this so i allow for it. this is not something i do only, every runner does it and should do it. after a few hard days or weeks of training, it's a perfect little reward! it's ok to take some time to put your feet up, go for a walk, or take an easy ride on the bike.

i've been running for a few years, not that long compared to a lot of people i know, but i'm finally putting all this stuff into practice. i've always known it, but i've never had the mental toughness to get behind it and do it. now i do!

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