Sometimes Following ‘The Plan’ Is Just Not Worth It!

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For someone who spent 23 years of ‘running’ doing little more than a 12-15 mile per week slow jog, I never really cared about the ‘running community’. But for the past year and a half I have immersed myself pretty heavily into all of the online discussions, blogs and so on.

I have been reading loads of things, watching videos, trying numerous nutrition and training ideas to help develop into a better, smarter and faster running. But over the last few months I have learned a couple of things that are more important than anything else:
– No run is worth an injury.
– There is no running goal more important than the joy of the daily run.

One thing I learned last year was that it was important to actually prepare for a longer road race – and by that I don’t mean training, but tapering. The taper is the wind-down before the race that allows your muscles to heal while maintaining fitness. This includes nutrition as well as running speed / mileage.

Most taper plans are two weeks, meaning you shouldn’t be doing any long runs less than two weeks out – so the 11 miles I did last weekend should have been it, and last week should have been reduced mileage (really no more than 30).

Instead I ended up on Friday with nearly 40 miles as I felt great and decided to just let myself run – I didn’t do any tempo runs or hard pacing or anything else, just took long, easy runs every day and enjoyed the miles.

On Saturday I had planned to do somewhere in the 7-9 mile range depending on how I felt. But once I got going … I decided to keep going. Here is the elevation chart:

Saturday Run

The first hill is near Gardner Road elementary for those who know the area, and it you have ever run or biked the hill you know it is a solid little climb! After I did that hill and maintained a solid (but not too fast) pace and was on the flat section, I made a decision – this would be a good time to test keeping pace under control and have fun with the large hill.

I do love the torture of the 1400 ft hill in our area – but what you really can’t see is the inviting flat area between the end of Gardner Road hill and the big hill. It is straight and flat and I always find I get going too fast and burn myself out as I enter the big hill.

Since my self-sabotage mechanism is ‘going out too fast’, I thought it would make sense to try this. The phrase ‘run by feel’ means learning what certain paces or conditions feel like on your body, so I wanted to work to hold down my pace as I ran towards the hill and keep myself consistent throughout.

And it worked! In fact it worked so well that rather than head home after the hill I headed the long way around the airport! I only stopped as I was starting to come down the hill to capture the gorgeous shot at the top.

It was a great run – it was 45 degrees, cloudy, and with an occasional brisk breeze. In other words – it would be cold if you were out and about, but for a run it felt awesome!

I did 15.5 miles, which is WAY more than I should have done – but I decided that having this glorious run was more important than exactly what pace I manage next week at the Red Baron Half Marathon. If I manage a PR, great. If not I won’t sweat it. My biggest goal for the race? Do NOT go out too fast! I don’t care if I average a 12 minute mile for the first half so long as I do negative splits for the last half of the race!

What was your weekend like for running?

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