A question that I have repeatedly received lately is some variation of
“How do you run so much?”
I don’t really know how to answer because “I just do” doesn’t make for a very informative post. So I’ll try to go a little deeper…
The disclaimer: “so much” is a subjective term like “fast” or “slow”.
To an ultra runner, I probably don’t run that much. To my husband who doesn’t run at all, I’m insane. So it’s all subjective – I’d guess I run about 60-65 miles a week on average (I don’t track weeks) and to me, that’s not really high mileage… although I am hoping to hit 300 miles for this month which I’ve never done before.
First, I believe that some people are just born with bodies that can sustain higher mileage better than others. We all know of a runner who’s continually injured – think of Dathan Ritzenhein, a world class athlete who’s been plagued with injuries throughout his career.
It’s important to note that being injury-prone has nothing to do with your work ethic, your pain tolerance or your determination and will; it’s just the way some bodies are made.
Second, I don’t believe you have to run high mileage to be a runner or even a good runner. Do what you can with the body you have. Not everyone has the body that can handle a ton of miles nor does everyone have the time.
Speaking of time, I have a lot of it which makes it indefinitely easier to run more miles – I don’t have kids and only have a part time job. I’ve said this many times, but I’m in awe of y’all who make it work with kids, jobs, school, actual lives…
My friend Nicole has a high powered, high stress job, 2 small children, trains for marathons and blogs. How does she do it? She gets up at 4am to get her workouts in. You make the time for what’s important so make your health and your workouts a priority!
I run as much as do because I love to run. I don’t run out of guilt or “have to”; I run for me and me alone. My running is innately selfish. But even though I love it, there’s still days where I don’t feel like running, where I use the same motivational tricks as everyone else:
-The 10 minute Rule
-Thinking of how good I will feel afterwards
-Scaling back expectations and completing part of the workout instead of nothing
-Thinking of a friend/running partner/future race that’s particularly motivating to you
-Having someone run with you to keep you accountable
“Always aim low.” - funny, the exact same thing my guidance counselor told me
I have many runs where I count down the minutes or miles, where I just can’t wait to finish. Sometimes running is fun, easy and magical but most of the time, it’s plain hard work and you don’t always feel up to it. and that’s ok. Just do it anyways.
One thing that I think really helps me log more miles is that I don’t run the majority of my miles hard. I might do 10 a day but 90% of those miles are run at a relatively easy-medium pace. You can’t run as many miles as possible as hard as possible without dangerously toeing the injury line.
I’d rather run farther than faster so that’s what I choose – more “junk” miles. I honestly do not care enough about a PR to go train for it or cut back on miles. Someone asked me about trying to sub 3 and I said, Ehh not interested. Running’s just not that important to me.
It’s just running, not life. And if it is your life, you might want to think about changing some things.
My style of training probably wouldn’t be considered “smart marathon training”.
Physically to run heavy mileage, you have to put in some TLC time outside of running. For me, that means stretching after every run, icing my knees and hips, wearing proper shoes and being aware of potential injuries (how I recovered from one).
If something doesn’t feel right, I’ll take a day(s) off. For example, after the LA Marathon, my one shin was really sore. I don’t know if it was from running a marathon in the rain (the wet shoe or something?) but I took 5-6 days off from running and 3 days of complete rest along with icing it twice daily and wearing a compression sleeve.
After a week of rest I ran a half marathon the following weekend without any pain.
It’s always better to take an extra rest day rather than push it and risk an injury. Speaking of injuries…
PAIN AND INJURIES
When you’re running races or high mileage, it helps to learn the difference between simply being in pain from exertion and having an injury. There aren’t set rules and it’s different for everyone, but I think the more you run, the more familiar you get with your body and what’s normal pain and what’s injury pain.
If you run a marathon, you’re gonna feel like death at mile 22. Everything from the waist down will hurt and ache. But if that pain diminishes after you cross the line, that’s not an injury – that’s just toughing it out and asking a lot from your body. It’s ok to hurt and it’s ok to be uncomfortable.
Generally I think injuries are more of a long time coming thing, but of course, that’s not always the case and there’s all sorts of different injuries. I also think that runners have sort of a sixth sense about their bodies and can feel when something is off or wrong. If you do, back down, slow down and reassess what’s going on.
Homeboy needs to do a little reassessing; he might be injured.
Summarizing this long post, I have off days like anyone else where I just don’t feel like running, where I lack motivation and where it’s just plain tough. I have bad runs too but at the end of the day, it’s normal. It’s ok to have tough runs and it’s ok to push yourself to be uncomfortable. Just get out there and keep going.