Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finish Your Training Runs

Jannine Myers

Finishing your training runs could be the difference between a good race and a bad race!

I love to run, you all know that about me. But there are days when I really don't feel like running, and on those days I often try to shortcut my workouts. If, for example, I have a tempo run with warm-up and cool-down miles, I'll try to talk myself out of doing the cool-down mile. Or if I have speed intervals, I might try and tell myself that it'll be okay to do one less interval. And sometimes, I might be so weary on a long run, that I'll try to convince myself that walking the last half mile is perfectly acceptable. But as much as I want to quit my workouts early, I hardly ever do, and recently I realized that my perseverance may benefit me more than I realized.

The last race I ran was just a little over three weeks ago, our very own WOOT half marathon. Prior to that I ran the Kadena Monster Mash and Shouhashi half marathons, as well as the Risner 13k Perimeter race. All of these races were difficult for different reasons, and like every other race I have ever run, the challenge really didn't begin until near the end.

Likewise, my training runs often feel the same; the challenge lies towards the end of the run when the fatigue has set in and I have little strength to keep going. Especially during the summer months, when the heat and humidity saps every ounce of energy from my body. I'm referring specifically to the harder speed workouts and longer long runs; the easy recovery runs are, well, easy.

But getting back to racing, I clearly remember how difficult the last mile of the WOOT half marathon felt.  Such a short distance from the Okuma gate to the finish line - around the northern side of the camp to the south side - yet it seemed, in that moment, so far away. That's how it always is for me, in every race I run. The finish line is near, but because I've exhausted my glycogen stores, the end seems so far away.

After the WOOT half marathon, as I soaked my legs in the ocean, I thought about how difficult the race was. The hills were challenging, but the greatest challenge for me was fighting the discomfort I felt during the last couple of  miles. And that's when it dawned on me, that my stubborn  refusal to quit my workouts early, had actually served to make me a stronger runner.

It's obvious to me now, that my ability to persevere in the final leg of races, is a direct result of my unwillingness to negotiate on my training runs. I may not always enjoy the discomfort of finishing that last mile, or that last speed interval, but the day I start giving in and cutting myself some slack, may be the day that marks the beginning of a decline in race performance.

If I train on hills in preparation for a hilly race, or if I do long runs in preparation for a marathon, then surely it makes sense to also finish my training runs and follow them through to the very end - that's the key it seems, in preparing me to last the distance in races and finish strong.

Almost there - finish line is in sight! Risner 13k Perimeter Run Dec 2012

Side Note: I don't recommend following through with your workouts on days that you are feeling under the weather, or if you are feeling exhausted due to lack of recovery from previous workouts.

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