Honest Workouts

A few weeks ago I was out doing a long run on my own and as the miles passed by and I looked at my watch I was getting more and more frustrated.  I just couldn’t understand why my speed wasn’t coming back after my injury.  I had been running for almost two months since my return and although my speed had somewhat improved I was still 30-45 seconds off from the pace I was used to.

That was when it clicked.  Just as a few months ago I posted about dieting honestly, I wasn’t being completely honest with my training.  On one hand my Achilles isn’t quite healed up enough to do speed work but at the same time when I was doing my runs I was never pushing myself past that threshold that would help improve my speed.  While I was being honest with myself I had to admit that a part of me didn’t want to endure the pain that comes with picking the speed up a bit…..which is partially fair because hey it has been ridiculously humid, and who wants to pick up the pace through that?!

Doing long slow distance runs will help improve your endurance, a key component to improving your running especially as you begin or come back from an injury.  But unless you do speed work, it is unlikely that your speed will improve.  It is essential to really tapping into any potential speed you have.  While speed work can be “fun” it is truly hard and most people either hate it or have a love/hate relationship with it.  I fit into the love/hate category.

As you probably already know if you have been around this blog for awhile I am a pretty Type A person.  When I get a speed workout plan I follow it from start to finish.  If you tell me to run 7:30 min/mile pace for 5 minutes I will run that as close to pace as possible for 5 minutes not a second more or a second less.  I am a coach’s dream and worst nightmare.  They don’t have to worry about my accountability but they do have to worry about my sanity.  The fact that I don’t budge can often make those work outs pretty hard and I can dread them before I even get started.  However, when they are done and I have finally caught my breath, I feel incredible and am flying high on endorphins.

When I talked about dieting or eating honestly I mentioned that sometimes I overindulge and then get on the scale the following day and shrug my shoulders and say, “I just don’t know why I gained,” or  “I don’t understand why the scale isn’t budging.”  I realized over time that there isn’t some real mystery to weight gain for me.  It was all about being honest with myself.  Typically I eat really well but I have a hard time putting the fork down when something tastes delicious.  Being honest with portion size is key for me.

As a runner I know that sticking to a training plan and doing my speed work are the key components to getting my speed back to where I want it to be.  I really want to try and qualify for Boston again but until my body is fully healed and I am ready to tackle those workouts I will have to stick to just getting back to 100% and enjoying my long runs.

So what can you do if you are not my crazy Type A personality?  There are a lot of options to help you train honestly.

This coach looks ready to lead some speed workouts!

This coach looks ready to lead some speed workouts!

The first option is to work with a running coach.  Although this option is likely the most expensive, there are affordable ways to make this work for you.  You will get the benefits of having a personalized plan made just for you as opposed to group training that may be more of a cookie cutter fit.  Keep in mind that working one on one with a running coach is great for a person who can hold themselves accountable to sticking with the plan and prefers to do most of the training on their own.

There are also a lot of groups to run with.  These can range from free groups at local running stores to running clubs and teams that you will have to pay for.  Here in the Chicago area there are several running clubs that you can sign up for a fee and train with.  These clubs offer coaching and training plans as well as pacing options.  If you are looking for some coaching assistance but also want the group experience this is a great option.

Chicago also has several running stores that offer group runs on a weekly basis.  Fleet Feet does an incredible job of offering runs and clinics to the community.  They have several locations throughout the city and have runs almost every night of the week at various stores as well as weekend runs too.  During the summer and fall months they also have aid stations along the Lakefront Path for athletes in training.  Almost all of their runs are free and they even do a pint night once a month where they buy you a beer if you come along on the run.  I have been to their Wednesday night Chick’s Night and had a really great time running with some really awesome women.  Note that they also let you keep track of your miles at Chick’s Night and you can earn free running swag.  Bonus!

Whatever it takes to help you stick to a plan and be honest with your training is going to make you a stronger runner in the long run.  There are so many options available to most athletes through both local and virtual assistance.  Finding a way to make yourself accountable and honest with your training is key to enjoying continued improvement.

16 thoughts on “Honest Workouts

  1. Hey Coach, just as a side note… You’re not going to see weight gain in the form of fat after indulging. I guess it sort of depends. Remember a pound of fat is equally to 3,500 calories. If you’re burning through 2,400ish on a regular day plus 2,000 over the course of a long run, I doubt you’ll consume the 7,900 calories that would show a gain of 1 pound of fat. After all it is only fat gain we should be concerned about. My weight fluctuates by over 5 pounds any given day based on many factors. You’re probably well aware of this info, but wanted to throw it out there just in case.

    • Thanks Jargall27. Totally true. I guess I am referring to the scale over the long term. Some days I FEEL like I consume that many calories. I’m sure you’ve noticed how ravenous some of those runs can make you feel!

  2. It is so hard to push pass your comfort level (your threshold) But it’s amazing because once you do it… The next time it is easier to do (mentally). The dreaded speed days… 😉

  3. I fluctuate daily. One day I’m 160 next I’m 170 next I’m 166 next I’m 162. Sometimes it’ll go from 164 to 168 in one day and another 170 to 167 in one day, its strange. I still see inches coming off!

    • That is definitely the key to remember. A lot has to do with what you might have had the day before. Things that make you retain water can make that scale look angry the next day. I always remember this if I eat pizza, sushi, or salt laden soup!

  4. So true. I had to be honest with myself at the start of this marathon cycle–did I really care if I qualified for Boston? Last year I didn’t, then I did, and then i got hurt. This year, I know exactly where my mindset it going into the race, and if I get a great time, fantastic, but this is all about the ride. Afterwards? Sure, I will get back to speed training, but I am honest enough with myself to know that that isn’t what I want right now!

  5. I HATE SPEED RUNS, but I know I need them. It really can be torture to me sometimes, but after the run, I feel so good. I guess I need to get back to them, but I think I’ll wait for the temperature to get below 90. Hopefully that isn’t just an excuse. 🙂

  6. It is definitely hard to not over indulge after running a butt load of miles. I try to be good, but that can be hard. That’s a nice big track you’ve got there! I agree, running with a group will make you go faster fo shizzle!

  7. You look amazing and I always love reading your posts and hearing such great advice!! Being honest with your training is definitely a key component to being an athlete!! I definitely find that to be true!! XOXO!!

  8. This is me with my pace after achilles injury. I too am 30-40 seconds slower than my pre injury pace. I had to be honest with my self as to why it wasn’t faster. I got comfy with just running different distances and using the injury as an excuse not to push it (though it did hurt at times). A year later it’s nearly 100%, still has niggle days and Summer put a stop to speed work. Now it’s getting cooler, I’m incorporating one interval run a week (love/hate too) and follow advice from you. It rings true a lot of the time! I really must look into a running club, but am a little shy and don’t won’t the be the one lagging behind!

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