Laying on the Mileage
Lately, I have been struggling with increasing my weekly mileage. It's not that I don't have the time, but mainly just getting my body adjusted to my current miles. My legs have been feeling particularly tired and achey--Not all the time, but a few a days out of the week. This is been frustrating because I would like to be at certain point in ease, feeling comfortable, and I really miss going on an hour and a half long run (right now I'm at 50 min ones).
So I have been reflecting on where I may be struggling in my training and what I can do to help my higher mileage transition be much smoother. In the past couple of days, these are some things and ways that helped me push through mileage goals:
1. Time of day
Figure out which time of day you feel best at. If you are not a morning person, and your body is not up and running yet at that early of an hour--don’t force it. Try other times in the day when you feel great. Your body will run better when it’s rested, or had time to get going, or is properly fueled with food.
I know plenty of people who normally run well after work, because they are ready to sweat out the stress, or had time to get their body moving throughout their workday. For others it’s a good way to accomplish one more thing and get themselves ready to wind down before bed.
2. Break up the mileage
At times the mileage we want to be at may be too much for our bodies all at once, so breaking up the mileage in two separate workouts may be more suitable for you. Sometimes when I want to get to 8 miles, I will usually plan for 5-6 miles in the morning and then do the remaining 2-3 miles in the afternoon or vice versa. This is one way I like to make sure that I am allowing my body to adapt to mileage safely.
Breaking up the mileage is also helpful for when you know you want to get a good sweat in during the morning before work or school, but don’t have much time spare for a sweat sesh.
3. Increase slowly
I’m definitely guilty of wanting to rush things to get to a certain point in my training that sometimes pouring on too much mileage one week can make me feel overly exhausted and kind of beat up the next. Usually, I find it best to increase slowly. Some days I take a step back down to an easy 3 miles after a longer day, that way my legs have a nice break, but still get a good shake out.
One thing to keep in mind is don’t feel embarrassed or feel like you are going too slow. Remember that everyone’s body is different and will therefore respond differently to running more miles (and any physical activity, really).
Relax, take it all in mile by mile.
4. Eyes on the prize
On days that my running feels very flat, I try to focus on different things in front of me and tell myself to just keep going and make it to that tree,, bench, sign, bridge, etc. This kind of thinking allows me to almost fool myself and body into thinking it is almost done and I just have to feel like this for a little while longer. It also allows my body to believe that the goal is attainable.
I used to always do this on hard workout days when the length of a track workout seemed physically daunting. I would fool myself and say “just make it to the next curve and you’re good” and then when I would reach the curve I would set my goal to the next one, and so forth. There’s some truth here in the saying “the body achieves in what the mind believes”.
5. Turn up the music
Then there’s some running days where music just does the trick in helping me not think about how many miles I am at, or what the time is, because I am going with the flow of the music. I allow for the tunes to carry me through.
Choosing the right music can also help you set a nice pace for certain runs. On longer runs, I like to listen to music that is calmer and allows me to enjoy the scenery. For the short runs. I usually want something that is upbeat and fun, so that I can pick up the pace and get my blood flowing faster.
6. Strengthen your core and glutes
This is something I have had to learn the hard way. After the Houston Marathon in 2014, I dealt with a hip injury that lasted a little over a year. I ended up receiving a corticosteroid injection and later when a chiropractor. Both of these things helped me heal tremendously, but when I first saw the chiropractor, he had suggested that I may have gotten injured because I had neglected my core and glute muscles—the ones that help stabilize our hips.
As a rookie (even a s a college runner), I had completely overlooked this in my training, and simply thought that I would make it through the marathon solely on my running. Since training for a marathon, requires lots of mileage, my body absorbed running impact on a daily basis that eventually led to my hip injury. The lesson here is that more mileage also requires extra TLC to the body. Keep other muscles well trained so that you can continue to run your best, along with hydration, nutrition, and rest.
So find some and do core and glute exercises like lunges, squats, ab work, or TRX exercises that help engage these muscles, so that you can continue to keep your body strong as you increase your weekly mileage.
Getting to a certain a point in training takes time, patience, and lots of physical care. After all the years of running, this is something I have to constantly tell myself when I have a run that is not what I expected. The best thing to do in weeks that mileage is flat is to go with flow, listen to your body, and respect it's boundaries.