"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vacation Going on Retirement

I took five days off, then tried to run the Surf the Murph 50K: 12 good miles, 11 bad, 1 limped and a DNF. Then I took off a week to recover. Today I tried to run. My legs and back were stiff at the start and I had sharp pains in my right hip (opposite one from the one that's given me trouble this year). I managed a couple of miles at 9 1/2 min./mile, then my knees wouldn't let me go downhill. I walked a few minutes, then tried to start running again. I'd hoped for a long run and managed 4 miles.

Maybe this break should be permanent. Every couple of years, I think it's time to hang up the shoes and this time the feeling's pretty strong. It's not just the injuries or the fact that I don't seem to recover before the next one hits. Most runners have 10 good years, get an injury and quit. My 10 good years were 20 years ago.

Usually, I get out of this funk after coming up with a plan for another race. That's not happening this time.

A couple of thoughts:

When shouldn't you run on an injury?

If the pain gets worse the further you go, you shouldn't be running. If the injury makes you change your gait, you shouldn't run. If you start getting other injuries because you're babying the injury, you shouldn't run. If you have a fever of 102 or more, you shouldn't run.

Different plans for 100

There's basically three ways one can prepare for a race. First, do what everyone else does. Second, do what's worked for you in the past. Third, follow some esoteric plan concocted to get results and test it. That third one's a killer.

The problem is finding out what other people do to train to run 100 miles. One hears of runners who do 140 miles per week and others who claim to do only 15-20 (note the word "claim" - they don't count the almost weekly races they do). All the different plans seem to have a few things in common, so one can make a sort of schedule.

The important feature is the long run. Typically, those who finish 100s run a four week schedule. The first Saturday, they run 20 miles; the second, 30; the third 20; the fourth, 30, followed by 20 on Sunday. Every other "double" can be substituted with a 50 mile race. The miles seem to be constant, regardless of speed, though the time on one's feet gets pretty long for slower runners. Faster runners often include several miles at marathon pace during the 20 milers.

The other days appear to average an hour running, often with one off day per week.

To this is often added speedwork on Tuesdays, typically repeat miles or half-miles, often done on hills. Faster and younger runners tend to add a short tempo run on Thursdays. These faster days are often longer than an hour, typically 90 minutes.

Those who do low mileage appear to do the above, except that the easy one hour runs get substituted with other aerobic activity. Those who do high mileage do the above, but add a second run most days.

Of course, first you have to be able to run more than 4 miles without being reduced to a walk.


Wayne said...

Londell is counting down to Christmas (45 days)... you could try to count down to Thanksgiving before hitting it again.

Diane said...

The third training plan you mentioned is the most interesting, though...

Both times I had injuries in the past that kept me from running (possible stress fracture late summer '04 and possible shin splints late spring '05), I specifically took a black marker and wrote through 6 weeks of calendar "NO RUNNING". Seemed to have worked for me.

Londell said...

I know the feeling that is why after the 100, I quit running, but have been working out. I was once told 2 months off will bring repair which is needed. Maybe just follow my lead, quit until Christmas, enjoy life and see what happens after the holidays. Winder is a real hard time to start hard training... I am finally, after 6 weeks, starting to feel a little recovered from my hard summer...

Carl Gammon said...

I agree with the other comments. Hang up your shoes, but don't throw them out. Give youself a longer recovery period before jumping in again.

I don't necessarily agree with the 10 good years of running theory, especially since I'm going on 30 years. Yes, the running changes over time, but there is still joy in getting out there and doing it. I like to do well in races and meet my time goals, but the first thing is to have fun.

Anonymous said...

Steve - thanks and great timing with all of this. This was a great post for me on a couple of levels. For one, I took last week off running because of ongoing piriformis discomfort that started before TCM. I thought I could run through it, but can't. I was going to take a week off, now I'm planning for this week too... but maybe I need to just really back off and take a serious break like many of you are.

I was planning for the Superior 50 next Fall, but have lately started thinking seriously about the 100 - this would be my first. So I'm researching various training ideas, and I like your third approach. I found what you did with very high and very low mileage trainers - I'm intimidated by the high numbers (I would never be able to devote that time with family) and cynical about the low numbers (they are either hiding info like you say, or I would totally regret that halfway through!). It's hard to find good info on training for a first 100.

SteveQ said...

Carl, I was thinking in terms of 10 years at peak for competition. If you look at the top runners, their best times all are within a few years of each other. Some people taper off more gradually than others, but for a competitive runner, there's an end.

Carl Gammon said...

Oh, ten peak years make sense. I'm glad I've been saving mine! :-)