Sure, long distance running is an endurance sport, but have you ever considered what a hamster in a recycling plant has to go through? This story about a hardy hamster named Mike makes running 26.2 miles look like a cake walk.
This week I was reminded of what “overtraining” means.
Work demands have meant lots of last minute changes to my training plan. This past week, I somehow managed to schedule “hard” (or “quality”) runs two days in a row. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this and paid the price.
On Tuesday, I did a hard tempo run. A few miles easy, followed by 20 minutes at 5K race pace, followed by a mile or so easy. Fine.
Then, on Wednesday, I’d somehow managed to schedule a 14 mile “cutdown” run. This is a long run that’s done at an easy pace, but ends at a faster pace. This helps you build the sort of speed endurance needed for longer races, as it teaches you to leave some energy in reserve.
For the first few miles of this run, my legs felt like wood. My leg muscles felt very tight and fatigued from the get go. I waited for the pain to go away. After about six miles, I was able to relax a bit, but running still hurt. I finally threw in the towel at 10.5 miles.
Then (yes, I’m this dense) I remembered that just 24 hours ago I’d done my tempo run. No wonder I felt like dog shit! No recovery time!
On Thursday I felt awful, especially after waking up for half the night due to leg pain. I was walking like a spastic all day and going downstairs was a challenge. By Friday afternoon I felt fine again and did an easy 9 mile run that evening.
So this is a reminder to check your training plan (or run log) and make sure you’re not scheduling two “hard” days in a row. Doing this regularly not only results in pain, but also raises your chances of injury. And it makes you mighty cranky too.