Stress. Recover. Improve.

“Take a primitive organism, say a freshman. Make it lift, or jump, or run. Let it rest. What happens? A little miracle. It gets a little better. It gets a little stronger or faster or more enduring. That’s all training is. Stress. Recover. Improve. You’d think any damn fool could do it. But you don’t. You work too hard and rest too little and get hurt.” Bill Bowerman

Runners are a tricky bunch. We don’t tend to like rest because we feel like we’re getting behind and when we do “rest,” we often run too fast to allow our bodies to recover. With the girls this fall, we encouraged “bro” pace, a pace where you meander along slow enough to sing and shake out all the lactic acid from the week’s tough workouts. Even so, a group of our runners (coincidentally often freshman) would run too fast and waste the benefit of the recovery run. I’m guilty of this too. To do my recovery runs at an appropriate pace, I have to chant “even Ryan Hall runs 9 minute miles” and wear a heart rate monitor to keep myself honest.

It goes without saying that avoiding injury is a major goal of mine through this training cycle. I’ve never attempted a full off of a successful cycle. For Boston last year, I had a great year through March and the wheels fell off the bus, leaving me peaked long before I toed the line in Hopkinton. I didn’t have an awful run, but my legs had no pop. This year, I need to figure out how to stay focused AND uninjured through May.

A big part of that focus will come with some experimentation. I’m adapting a Daniels plan (and by I, I mean wrangling friends who are brilliant at physiology) for Vermont City and using nordic skiing as my second workout of the day. Skiing will keep my lungs strong without the pounding of a second run and gives me an alternative workout for slippery running days. It also requires hip, core and upper body strength that I’m hopeful will translate into better form (and less TRex) when I move to running only in March.

I’m having one of those weeks, though, where recovery seems impossible given my current training schedule. I actually cried on a run Friday because I was so sore. I survived and got in a good hill bounding workout in the mud/snow, but woke up this morning almost as sore. Then I gutted out a 16 miler in the wind on Saturday with hamstrings that felt like piano strings.

I’m so looking forward to the possibility of touching my toes sometime this week…


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