Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You gotta run, Ricky! I don't care how bad it hurts!

When I was younger, I was an insomniac.  It was not uncommon for me to be wandering the halls at 1 a.m., catching up on my reading in the wee hours of the morning, or wrapping Christmas presents while the sun came up.  In the  last few years, I've managed to tame my insomnia and night owl tendencies, though I'm still sometimes visited by sleepless nights.  Last night was one of those nights.  I say all this as a really long introduction to the fact that I am running on four hours of sleep today, so that by the time I hit 6:30 p.m. running time, I was pretty beat.  I had 4.5 miles on the agenda, but it was all I could do to lace up my sneakers and get outside.  I ended up only doing three miles, and not a stellar three miles at that.

However, those three miles got me thinking.   I was glad I got out there.  I was proud of myself for actually getting outside and doing some mileage, rather than giving into fatigue and the siren call of the couch.  I wasn't so tired that I didn't want to get my heart pumping and my blood flowing, and I think I am better for having gotten the workout in.  This past weekend, I was reading through the latest issue of USAT, which is focusing this issue on speed - in the swim, the bike and the run.  One thing that it warns about in the run is the tendency for those mid-week miles to become "junk miles."  We get out there, we bang out our 3, 5, 8 mile runs, whatever mileage, just to do it.  And maybe we're tired, our form isn't so great, but we just want to be able to fill in our Daily Mile report.  The article, which had some wonderful points,  was written by Matt Russ, and argues that it's useless to do those miles, that grinding out those distances is really hurting us because we are letting our hard work with our form and our stride go to seed, plus out of all the triathlon disciplines, running breaks down your muscles the most; better to take rest where you need it.  That's not to say that mid-week mileage is a waste, but it was interesting to think about.

Mostly I found it interesting because I am still contemplating a marathon and realized that it makes me think of my current training from two different perspectives.  If I am training for one half, with a fair gap in between, then I think about the fact that I maybe have a break to decrease my mileage and perhaps get in some speed work, some more strength training, etc.  If I do go on to do a marathon, than I am now a quarter of the way through my marathon training, which is kind of crazy.  Mentally, it's one thing to think "I can get through 13.1 miles, and if this first one is terrible, I can make up for it with the second."  The other train of thought is more along the lines of a great running (no pun intended) joke amongst our athlete friends, from an exchange we witnessed at a race between two brothers, one older, one younger.  It was just a 5k, but the older one looked at the younger one and said "C'mon, Ricky!  You gotta run, Ricky!  I don't care how bad it hurts, you gotta run, Ricky!"


  1. In a 5k you are at most 3 miles from the end of the race. In a Marathon you are only in that territory after Mile 23. Don't care about the pain then (at +23mi) but not before!

    In terms of training all week long - for some this has positive benefits. But for others it doesn't. Generalizing training is difficult - and learning from Dr. Google is even harder.

    Get yourself a coach! :) I got won and she's awesome - every time she says fun I know I'm going to be in pain!

  2. P.S. the "won" is a pun ... because I am improving with every week.

  3. I'd like to read that article. My first thought about it, though, is that (at least for me) I run/bike/workout for several reasons. One is obviously to get faster, better, and achieve my goals during races.

    My other goal is for my health and wellness. The calories I burn during those runs (even if they are junk miles) are still calories burned. The heart rate that I have that helps my body work more efficiently is still happening during junk miles. My stress that disappears as I clear my mind, the stronger bones and muscles that form, the fat that melts away, etc. etc. still happens during junk miles.

    This is just my gut reaction though. Maybe if I read the article I'd feel differently.

  4. Stephanie, I would agree with you. Every calorie burned is worth it to me, and it's great for my head and my heart to get out there and move. I appreciated his point, but didn't entirely agree with it. I'll dig around and see if they posted the article on their site.

  5. I had issues with all of the speed articles in that magazine, it was written for beginners, but beginners usually dont do speed drills yet, they are working on there base in the beginning, making sure they can run xx miles for a race, speed comes after the base is down. You need "junk" miles to build your base. He should have rephrased it based miles and said if you have a base, you dont need to keep doing base workouts, but work on some speed

  6. I agree...it seemed too narrow of a focus and not very clear in its intended target.