With the Q-C Marathon in the rearview, it’s now time to shift gears. If that was your “A” race for the year you’ve hopefully taken the last week (or a few days) off. If you don’t have another race planned/soon, I highly recommend taking a little time off from all things running.
My wife recently mentioned that I’ve been able to run and race long distances consistently for the past 5+ years without any major injuries/time off due to running itself. Over this time, my racing preference has been focused around ultra marathons, which is any distance greater than a marathon. The 50K (31.1 miles) is the most commonly agreed upon entry level ultra distance. Besides 50K’s; 50 mile, 100K and 100 mile distances are the other most commonly found races here in the states. Over the past few years, there has been a surge in 200 mile distances as well.
I guess I just take training and racing for granted because it’s what I’ve become accustomed to. I’m not an elite athlete, just a guy who enjoys running and signing up for challenging events. But her comment did ring true. I heard about a lot of folks being injured this fall racing season and thought maybe some of the things I’m used to doing and telling my clients, might help everyone in their future training cycles.
1. Don’t do too much. Making big jumps in your weekly volumes can create a big mess. There is a common 10% rule (no more than 10% of previous week’s volume) that is widely used. Depending on your last 4-6 months worth of mileage, the 10% rule may be very conservative though.
2. Schedule and follow rest days. As with every other thing we do in life, too much of something isn’t always the best. Your mind and body need a break to rebuild and recover so make sure you aren’t scheduling runs on a planned rest day. Some easy cross training isn’t a bad option on rest days if you still want to be active.
3. Listen to your body. Just because you have X amount of miles scheduled for the day doesn’t mean that you should run through an illness or the start of an injury. Think big picture and how that run might impact what you have scheduled for the next week or two.
4. Schedule down weeks. For every 2 or 3 weeks of hard training, you should have a week where you drop your weekly volume by 30-40%. This allows you to still log miles while giving your body a little breather.
5. Appreciate the finish line. I read something a few months ago about how crossing the finish line now, or in the future is never a given. Take the time to savor your recent accomplishments and let your body get a bit of rest. We never know if/when the next finish line will come so focus on the now.