I think that part of being a great runner is being flexible with your training. We all have this image of what we want our training program to look like, how we want our race to go, which route we will take for a particular run, etc. It all sounds peachy in our heads until we get injured, the weather gets crazy, there are more hills than expected, we run way too fast and feel dead the next day. I guarantee that I'm more anal than any of you about sticking to my program. I also realize that, sometimes, it's not worth it. I think that's what makes a smart runner.
This week, the first week of 10k training post running break, my willingness to be flexible has been tested:
- Running in groups: If you run with other people, you automatically have to be flexible. You can state a goal pace but you never know until you get out there if that can actually happen. If you or your friend(s) is feeling like poo, the other has to be willing to slow down, encourage you through it...or you have to be willing to suck it up and make it happen. Flexibility.
- Crappy weather: I'll run in mostly anything from sub zero wind chills to moderate rain to 90+% humidity to snowstorms. Sometimes, though, that just gets old! As an outdoor runner, you have to be flexible regarding the weather. You may have to adjust your pace, distance, the time of day you run, and even the route you run. Become friends with the treadmill! This week, I've had to rearrange which days I do which workouts, and also the time of day I do them, due to the weather.
LIES! I've run in some pretty crappy stuff and will still complain about the weather depending on my mood. Also, I don't feel like getting hit by lightning or being sucked up by a tornado.
- Soreness/Fatigue: I'm a follower of the "Listen-to-Your-Body" method of training. If you're new to running and don't completely get this method, IT'S OK! It really takes running experience to figure it out. It probably helps a little that I'm a PT and have the anatomical background but there's something to be said about that "gut feeling" we get when something isn't right. For example, I did a speed workout on Tuesday evening then an easy 5 miles the following morning. I was SO SORE later that evening! Even though I had a tempo run planned for the following morning, I decided not to do it because it wouldn't be a productive run. I would have felt like total crap and not accomplish the purpose of the run. I'm not saying you should rest every time you are sore and tired. There is something to be said about running on tired legs (my training method for Flying Pig). The goal of that run, for me, was to get a feel of what my legs should feel when I do my 10k. When I run my 10k, my legs would not have been as sore and tired as they were...so I just took a rest day instead!
- Running with the directionally challenged (or routes that just don't go as planned): I think the Fab Five (my running BFFs), wouldn't mind me saying that they are directionally challenged (Kim probably gets a pass on this one...the rest of you, not so much). I still remember the time I trusted Amanda to take me on a 14 mile run. It ended up being 15 miles. Granted, it was 15 miles of pure fun, but when I have a number in my head for long runs, I tend to check out when it goes longer than expected. This is an area where I need to improve my flexibility.
What are some areas of flexibility you need to improve on? Can you think of any that I didn't list?