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The Most Difficult Part of My Training Schedule

My attire for a nice summer run.

The most difficult part of my training calendar started this past Monday.  It’s a two-week period that I’ve been dreading but know that I need to commit to in order to improve my chances for strong performances these next few months.

This is when I cut back on my running.

On paper, this makes perfect sense.  With the completion of the Dam to Des Moines on June 1, I’ve ran four races over the past six weeks.  Five, if I count both stages of the Market-To-Market Relay last month.

Although I’m feeling fine, I know that my body will benefit from a little more rest following this mini season.  If I’m being completely honest, there have been hints for a few weeks that I could use this break.  A sore abdominal muscle from my strength workouts.  Some minor twinges in my right latissimus dorsi ("lat" for short).  A few mornings where my pectineus needed more stretching. Then I had a piriformis injury a couple months ago.  

None of these have cost a minute of running.  And I’ve no intention of letting them do so.  

A Lesson to Remember

Two years ago, I talked Coach Ives into letting me run six days a week instead of five.  I thoroughly enjoyed hitting the pavement that additional morning, putting in quality miles and setting a PR at the Bix 7 late that July.  

One week later, I had plantar fasciitis on my left foot.

Just over a week following that, I had a hamstring injury that kept me out of races until December.

Last year, a strained lat poured cold water on a sizeable portion of my June training.  While frustrating at the time, that injury had the unexpected consequence of granting my body some beneficial rest that helped fuel a strong finish for 2023.

No one needs to draw a map for me to figure this out.

Pop Quiz: I only use three pairs of these shoes currently for running. Which ones are they?

What That Looks Like

Following my first season of college cross country way back when, I had the wild-haired notion that after months of intense training that often included two workouts a day, I would take three weeks off from running.  Zip.  Nada.  Absolutely no running whatsoever.  A noble if ill-advised notion that presented problems when I needed to be in shape an early January race.

Having hopefully gained some minor wisdom in the ensuing decades, I will run only three days the first week with no more than five miles for the longest run.  Week two picks up an additional day again with five miles as the longest run.

Week three will go back to five days per week, but also with minimal intensity and up to six miles for a total distance.

One benefit is that I'll also be on vacation in Boston for a week, giving me an exquisite excuse to both sleep in and engage in walking over running.  

Honestly, I use the "Oregon" tag because it makes my otherwise mundane suitcase stand out in the baggage carousel.

Why Is That So Hard?

I know that’s not exactly letting much dust accumulate on my Nike's.  A valid argument could certainly be made for either less running or more time away.  But that’s not going to happen.

Why not?

Because I enjoy running.  Because I enjoy stepping outside into the predawn morning, taking in the scenery and listening to whatever music is buzzing on my earbuds.  Because I enjoy that feeling of satisfaction when I hit the button on my Garmin that brings an end to my workout.  Whether three miles or fifteen, that first step afterwards lets me know that I’ve started my day the best way possible.

(That and the knowledge that both chocolate milk and a pot of freshly brewed coffee are in my very near future don't hurt either.)

Blame it on endorphins. Call it an addiction.  I don’t care.  I just know that I like to run and can’t wait until I’m back to my normal routine.

Other Challenges

Another reason taking time off qualifies under “Easier Said Than Done” are the false mantra’s that constantly pop into my head when I'm not hitting my normal miles.  I have to continually remind myself that:

  • I will not suddenly find myself looking like I did 15 years ago when I lived in Wisconsin, immersed in a steady diet of brats, beer and anything else that was steeped in butter and/or grease.

  • My conditioning will not immediately wither away, requiring months of intense training to restore it to that previous level.

In reality, the time away will most likely benefit future training. 

What Awaits Me

My next race will be Midnight Madness on a Saturday evening 10K in mid-July.  Two weeks after that, I’ll find myself once again facing the heat, humidity and hills adjacent to the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa for the 50th running of the Bix 7.  

From there, it’s on to my Fall racing calendar, highlighted by my final “tentpole” races, the Des Moines Half Marathon and Capital Pursuit - one of my personal favorites.  It’s my hope to have strong performances for each of them.

But that starts with what I do and what I don’t do in June.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Let me know below or in the comments on Facebook.

Don't worry, guys. I'll be back soon enough.

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