Coming back from injury means spending an awful lot of time doing rehab and strengthening and all kinds of things that I clearly wasn’t doing enough of before. This has become absurdly evident with my new routine, which requires me to do these hip strengthening exercises and assorted recovery techniques DAILY, when I previously did half as much and only three times each week max. I thought I was doing well, foam rolling after every run and incorporating core and hips two to three times each week, but clearly, it wasn’t enough. I’ve learned it’s better to do a little every day to keep yourself consistently healthy and aside from those first few weeks, when it really felt like all I was doing was rehab, it really is manageable. My routine is now so streamlined that it takes roughly 20-25 minutes to do the whole thing. Twenty minutes out of my day is comparatively nothing. And I’m still healing. When I’m back to fitness, it will be more like 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes to keep my body healthy and happy is a good deal, if you ask me.
But this whole comeback has me thinking. I’m starting from scratch, so to speak, with my mileage currently at around 10 miles/week and (unbearably) slow. It’s a unique opportunity to approach my running as trying to design the “perfect” version of my runner self. One thing I have always been notoriously awful at is hitting negative splits. Even in my best races, I have never hit them. I’m an even-paced girl all around. Almost every run is kind of ridiculously even paced, but I have had my share of positive splits in races (ahem, marathons). One thing I’d really like to work on as I train is hitting negative splits in most of my speed workouts and doing progressive long runs. I’ve failed those in the past, somehow I could run at a faster pace for the entire length of a run but unable to start at a more moderate pace and finish fast. It’s like my body doesn’t like to change speeds, which I’ve noticed in races if I get stuck behind a crowd and end up going slower, I can’t speed back up and hit my paces without blowing up. It’s definitely something to work on.
Another thing that is high on my list of priorities is slowing way down on my easy runs. I’m going to focus on nailing workout days (once I start those! base building for now), and running a true easy pace on easy days. I’ve got a heart rate monitor that I don’t use nearly enough and I want to monitor my effort as I’m returning to fitness and make sure I’m not doing too much too soon on days that are supposed to be easy. That way I can truly put 100% effort into the speed days. I have been very guilty in the past of taking the easy day for granted. Not that I tried to race my easy days, but I’d often run easy and start to get “bored,” especially on medium-long runs of 9 or 11 miles and I’d throw in pickups or end the last 2 miles at nearly tempo pace just to feel like I had some pop in my legs. Ideal training means letting each run serve its purpose.
If you could had unlimited time/resources to incorporate an ideal element into your training or racing, what would it be?
Give me your favorite training advice!