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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Earning Rest

Wednesdays and Saturdays are my rest days, and God knows I need them. Since I didn't actually have a run to report on today, this seems like a great time for a disclaimer:

In preparing my marathon training, basically all I did was search online for a plan and then tailor it to what I wanted to do. There is no medical basis for what I'm doing, and I certainly do not have a licence in medicine or physical training or anything like that. If you are looking for a general training framework, that's what I've got, but please do not take my ramblings for anything more than the thoughts and actions of a person who used to be a runner and is trying to be once again. If you have any questions about creating a safe training plan and the health benefits, you should probably talk to someone with some sort of credentials.

There. That's out of the way now. Please don't sue me.

I've tried many times since I started college (and stopped being a runner) to get back into the habit of working out on a regular basis. It's taken many forms, but mostly it involves putting numbers and times on a calendar in the hopes that seeing it every day will force me to hold myself accountable. Since I've recently begun this process again, obviously, this method has failed thus far. I've never made it more than 2-3 weeks without letting it slide and drifting away from my schedule.

There are all sorts of things that I can blame for this occurrence. My work schedule changes and I need more sleep. My knee is starting to act up again, so I'll rest it a bit and then get back to it. It's freaking -20 degrees in Chicago in January. Any of these are legitimate excuses for missing a run.

My problem is, missing one run allows me to miss another. I need to force myself to earn my rest.

It used to be that any time I was given a training schedule, I skipped the rest days, preferring to add a strength workout or some sprints. I was warned, time and again, that this would cause me to burn myself out, but I didn't really mind. I loved the act of working out so much that I would rather push through the pain than take a day off. Time has mellowed me out somewhat.

That beauty of my new plan is that when I get to my rest days, I truly feel like I've earned them. Sundays are very long runs, Mondays are very fast runs, and Tuesdays are mid-distance runs that force me to push through the exhaustion. When I get to Wednesday, I don't mind getting the extra hour of sleep because I know that my body needs it and that on Thursday, I'm going to get to work it again. Thursday and Friday are mid-to-long distance runs, leading to my Saturday rest, which allows my body to recover before its long run (this week it will be 14 miles).

In addition to this, I'm doing some other small workout things, mostly abs and arms. But on those two days, I do nothing, and it feels great to just recover.

It feels even better, though, when I get up the next day and do what I need to do. I have found a way to make resting itself part of training. Everything pushes me to the next day, and each day pushes me to the marathon. For the first time in over 8 years, I spend my days of rest looking forward to tomorrow's run.

Want to force yourself to run? Pay for a race. Just do it. Find one a reasonable amount of time away and just sign up for it. If you don't want to waste that money and/or be in a lot of pain on that day, then you have to train.

And you'll get up tomorrow and run. I know I will.

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