Ever since I got back to NYC the weather has slowly been working itself into spring-like conditions. After being away for many months and finally being able to wear shorts again I got a little crazy with my mileage. My daily norm started to become 8-10 miles at a time and on the weekends I was packing on the miles just to see how many I could fill into a day and how many places I could see in one morning. It was fun while it lasted but my Achilles is aching a tad and when I started adding up my mileage I realized that 60 miles per week was probably a bit much to be doing consistently.
I am about a month away from Team Momentum starting its marathon training and my husband has decided he might just run Chicago as well (on a side note he did call me a marathon bully for yelling at him to register already). I myself have also been considering running a marathon in the late fall. With all of this exciting running action in the near future I made the decision last week that I should pare down on my mileage by quite a bit, for me.
My new daily norm is 5 miles and I allow myself a 10 mile run on the weekends with at least one day off each week. This is almost half of my mileage. I thought I would go crazy but it was actually refreshing. It is funny when you only need enough time to get 5 miles in each morning instead of 8-10 miles before work. Look at all that extra time to get things done! Although more often than not I use those extra minutes to sleep.
I was afraid that by drastically cutting my mileage I would lose a lot of the benefits I had gained while running like crazy. Funny thing happened when I started running a lot less. On Saturday I was making a true effort to do my 10 mile run as a long slow workout. But each time a mile passed and I looked at my GPS I would have to yell at myself to slow down. It was odd because I felt like I was taking it easy but my pace was much faster than it seemed. Yesterday I finished my run with a nice mile that I allowed myself to push a bit but I was not out of breath and was shocked when I looked at my watch and saw 7:05. So what gives?
There is a fine line between running extra miles to build a base and going a bit overboard. While I probably wasn’t overtraining, my body likely needs some time to heal and repair and just relax! Let’s face it, running 35 miles a week isn’t going to ruin my running. But tearing my body apart doing 60 miles a week is not doing me any favors either. My legs feel truly refreshed these days after paring down the miles.
Before training for a race it is important to build your base up. I recommend spending a month or two before you begin a 5K or 10K program just doing daily 30 minute run/walks. If you are thinking of running a half marathon I think a few months of regular running are going to be a huge benefit to you. For a marathon it would be ideal to have been running for at least a year and hopefully have tackled a race or two at the 5K-10K distances, even better if you have done a half marathon too. Having this base will allow you to begin slowly tacking on mileage with your training plans without risking injury. This base doesn’t need to be huge though in most instances. You certainly don’t want to overload the miles and over train yourself. Getting 30 minutes or 3 miles at a time is a great start to running long distance races.
Remember that training plans consist of macrocycles and microcycles. There are small building blocks built within bigger building blocks in any type of training program. Each of those cycles tends to work upwards for awhile with mileage and then come back down a bit before moving up to the next level. Just because you might not be training for something at the moment doesn’t mean you should ignore this plan with your regular running. Give yourself a mileage break every once in awhile and your body will thank you for it. Try cutting back by 25-50% for a week or so and then slowly build back up. If your body still feels sluggish go ahead and give yourself some more rest time or try tapering even further. If you have races planned later this summer or fall this is the perfect time to rest your body and get ready for the hard work ahead.