I’ve had an unexpected development with my extreme enthusiasm for tough strength training- I keep sitting out my Wednesday morning runs. I’ve woken up each Wednesday to find that a pretty key area of my body is sore. Last week, it was my quads from the stationary lunges and an intense spin class the following day. This week, I have a sore hip flexor, I think from squats because this happened the last time I integrated squats into my routine. That time, I didn’t pull back on my schedule though and tried to blow through it. It wasn’t disastrous, but I think it remained sore longer than if I had just let it rest.
So for the last two weeks, I’ve skipped my runs on Wednesday. In fact, I’ve ended up taking an out-right rest day, save for possibly a dog walk.
In the past, I haven’t liked taking a rest day smack in the middle of the week, when I need the energy surge that my morning exercise provides the most. And while I was training for my half, I would totally feel guilty if this happened- as if that one run would make or break my training (I knew it wouldn’t, I was just in that mindset).
I was initially annoyed both Wednesdays, but I’m realizing how much I actually appreciate it. For one thing, the sore areas certainly benefited- they were generally gone or minimized by Thursday so I could dive back into the swing of things without prolonging the discomfort.
More importantly, I’m really enjoying running again, both mentally and physically. Granted, I haven’t been logging tons of mileage- my planned four miler this morning would have been the longest in a while, but I cut it to 2.5 miles after being up much of the night with a sick pup.
But the quality of my runs are greatly improved. For about a month before my half marathon and the couple of runs immediately following it, I just was not on my game. Luckily the race itself was a great run, but for all others I was constantly having some sort of leg ailment, mostly in my glutes, and I was just feeling tired and not thrilled to be on the road.
Ever since I’ve returned from vacation and started returning to my familiar morning paths, I’ve noticed a vast improvement. My legs were a tad sore initially from using those muscles again, but they quickly fell back into habit. I haven’t experienced the tightness and soreness, or the accompanying lethargy. Each run just feels good. Even this morning, I felt a little sleep deprived and knew I was going almost embarrassingly slow as a result. But my body felt good- so I felt good, and just went with it. It’s good to be back in that place.
Sure, I think part of it is that the sun is now up around 6 a.m. and my runs are primarily sunlit- always a helpful motivator. But I really think my improved running experience stems more from allowing my muscles rest when needed, coupled with working them in other ways through spinning, strengthening and yoga.
Yes, I want to add on more mileage. But without a major race on the horizon until September at the earliest, I’m going to do it oh-so-slowly in an attempt to maintain the running quality of my excursions now. I may want to improve my pace, but at this point I’m actually really content with where I am if it means that I continue to use the big grin emoticon on Daily Mile the vast majority of time.
Right now, quality is far more important to me than any other running indicator. And if more rest and lower mileage are the means of achieving that, then I’ll take it.