Rest. We do not become better runners by running hard – we become better runners by recovering from running hard. In fact, after you complete a hard workout, you are now a worse runner than you were before you ran. Have you ever tried to run hard 2 days in a row? The second day never goes very well. Why? Because your body has not adapted from the first hard workout. Only after you fully recover from a workout do you receive all the benefits of that effort.
Younger folks (i.e. 18 year old boys) can follow a hard/easy/hard/easy pattern. Running hard every other day. (Note: “Easy” may mean no running at all, a slow 20 minutes or even 90 minutes – just understand that “easy” has different meanings for different runners.) As you get older, your recovery time slows, and you need more rest. One hard run, one long run and 2-5 easy runs per week is a conversative pattern for older runners. A little more aggressive program would be 3 hard runs, 2 long runs and 3-9 easy runs over a 14 day period. Either way a good rule of thumb is to have an easy day before and an easy day after a hard run or a long run.
During your training cycle, it is a good idea to plan recovery weeks. This is where you break from the schedule, cut your runs in half, and allow your body to fully recover. A recovery week should still involve running. (The only reasons why you would not run at all during one of these weeks, would be if you are nursing an injury or if you just finished your goal race.) In fact, recovery weeks should also include hard running, it’s just that the quantity of your running should plummet. If you are training hard, you should have a recovery week once every 5-6 weeks.
Next week is a recovery week. Cut your runs in half – but still do the workout. For example, if you are currently running 40 miles a week – run 20 miles, but still run the time trial on Tuesday, and next Sunday we will return to Shleby for a hard 3 miles.
This Sunday is not a rest day. In fact for our last week at Percy Warner park there are two challenges:
First: Chuck Hargrove (the inaugural ENOW), is going to take any intermediate runners on the full 11.2 mile loop.
Second: I will take the advanced runners on the Red/White/Blue challenge – an impressive undertaking. (White trail to Red Trail to Candy Cane trail to Blue trail to Candy Cane to Red to White…)
Of course, if you do not feel nasty enough for these challenges, there will be plenty of folks running the 5.8+ the boulevard, or the red/white trails.
See you on Sunday!