I’ve been reading a lot about fitness plans and reaching goals. How to structure your running routine, switch things up, adding strength. It can be overwhelming. One article I read had a blurb that a potential reason for a plateau in your fitness levels is due to doing too much. Yes, working out too much might be getting your no where – and no where fast. Read about it here.
This less is more goes hand in hand with my (third) attempt to follow heart rate training. I’ll have a full review on that after I have a few more weeks under my belt, but I can say I see great benefits, as difficult as they may be to swallow.
Coming from someone who loved hitting 100 miles a month, at least 25 a week and trying to work back down to 9 minute miles, running less and slower seems like the most idiotic thing ever. But maybe it’s not.
So far the benefits I’ve found….
After runs I place a high focus on easy effort, I’m able to function after running and not utterly wiped out — although I must admit having a part time retail job over the holidays on top of a full-time gig, I’m pretty wiped out anyway. However, after my long runs on Sundays I can actually get my laundry done and a few extra things around the house instead of being a vegetable in front of Netflix.
Less running is opening up time for some other activities, still fitness related, but I am spending more time on my indoor bike and getting a few more regular strength sessions in. I’ve read a LOT about the benefit of strength training for improving running and I am working on increasing this in my routine.
I’m also placing a higher importance on working out based on feel. Last week I had a pretty awful migraine on Wednesday, normally I would have just pushed through, cranked out a few miles and extend my misery. I didn’t run this time. I also focused on counteracting the lack of exercise with better choices for food, which is very hard for me. Sadly that night I also got a major calf cramp, so my run Thursday wasn’t looking to promising, but I hoped on my bike for a spin instead. Something > nothing.
I managed to do a nice and easy run on Saturday and to my surprise I saw a pretty significant improvement just between Tuesday and Saturday. My run on Tuesday was 45 minutes and 3.25 miles, I stayed within zone two in the heart rate monitor for 71% of the run, which was a new record for me. By Saturday, having taken some needed recovery time, possibly eating *slightly* better, I ran the same as Tuesday, but was in zone two for 83% of the time.
On Sunday I had a race, the Hot Chocolate 15K and I had NO clue how I would perform. I wasn’t sure if I’d do an easy long run, try to “race” it or what, so I just ran. Not quite slow, not quite as fast as I probably could have gone – at least I’d like to claim. I was thinking I’d average 10:45-11 minute per mile. I managed to hold a steady pace from start to finish, even with walking through three of the aid stations – I mean M&Ms, of course I’m having some! I averaged 10:30 per mile, and I know I could certainly do better, but I was very pleased with that.
Heart rate training started on Thanksgiving week, so I don’t have that much under the belt. I think after my next race (RnR Arizona Jan 15th) I will have more of a in-depth review of the program and decide whether it’s something I’ll stick with through my marathon training. So far, I think I’m liking it!