I’m notorious around these parts for creating training logs and then disregarding them completely.
But not in the normal way one would disregard a training plan. No, not me. The rest of the world skips runs completely, or re-arranges the days… or runs fewer miles than scheduled, ignores speedwork, etc.
I go rogue in a different way. I run more mileage than the plan calls for, skip rest days and run on the cross training days.
And what’s wrong with that?
I’m an injury-prone runner who needs rests days. Too much mileage, and my need for expensive sports massages skyrockets. Worst of all, this leads to overtraining. Overtraining killed my BQ attempt in May, and resulted in a three-month vacation from running that I’m still working off (if you know what I’m saying).
If I know this, why can’t I just stick to my training plans? It’s complicated. If you recall, I’ve lost a lot of weight. Part of the reason I can’t obey my training plan can be traced back to that. When I see “rest day” on the schedule, I read it as “gain 50 pounds day.” I have an ingrained fear that if I don’t exercise, I’ll gain all the weight I’ve lost back overnight. That I’m going to have to deal with all on my own; no training plan or lack thereof can fix that mental block.
But the other reason is that I’m one fickle runner! Training plans often goes against my normal cycles. They normally last seven days, and I’m more of a 10-day training micro-cycle gal. They want me to run my long runs on Sunday, and I prefer Friday and Saturdays. Most important, they tell me to do an easy five-miler on the day I’m pumped and want to do a speed workout. Or, they tell me to do a speed workout and I really just want to do some pool running… or nothing.
This isn’t the fault of the training plan, or the coach, and it isn’t remedied by me creating my own training plan that puts long runs on Saturday and follows a 10-day cycle, because I still have a plan that tells me to do something that my body isn’t in the mood for. I can’t anticipate my body’s moods three months in advance (although I’m learning) – so I push myself to run on days because my training plan tells me to, run more than my training plan calls for because I’m feeling good, and I don’t reap the adaptive benefits that come from alternating easy, hard, and medium runs.
That’s why, for my early-April 50-miler, I’m not creating a training plan at all.
Don’t panic yet. I’m not throwing out all structure, just the day-to-day parameters. I know from the ultramarathon training books that I’ve read that I need to do two cumulative “long runs” every week. Every week, I’ll run my first long run on Friday (starting with 12 miles) and a shorter long run the next day (starting with 6 miles). I’ll increase the mileage every week until I max my Friday long run at 31 miles and the Saturday long run at 16 miles (not on the same week). I’ll take an easier week every month where my mileage drops on the long run days and I skip any speed workout and hill training. Oh, and I’ll follow a taper plan three weeks out no matter how I feel because I’m going rogue, but not that rogue. I know tapering is important. Finally, I’ll take at least one rest day a week, but I’ll let me body tell me when I need it.
Other than that, however, I’m going to run during the week whenever and however long I want to. I’ll fit in a speed workout and hill workout for each 10-day micro-cycle. I might take two rest days in a row or cross-train for three days one cycle. Heck, I might even go crazy and do a hill workout following a speed workout day. I might be feeling a little crazy like that.
I hope this helps me to both listen to my body and get to the start of the ultra as healthy as I can. I’m not about the lose another summer to overtraining blues – I have to maximize the time I can run outside here in freezing North Dakota!
What do you think? Am I falling into dangerous territory without a training plan?