I ran for the third day in a row today. I don’t think I’ve ran three days in a row since I ran indoor track my freshman year of college. In high school and college I never thought anything of running five or six days in a row; it’s just what I did as part of a team. Being older (and slower) now though I feel like recovery time is more valuable and needed. After these past few days I’m now thinking maybe it’s not as much as I’ve thought?
On Saturday I went to the northern extension of the York Rail Trail to run 7 miles. It was a great day to run weather wise. I considered leaving my water belt in the car, but given I had only one glass of water with breakfast up to that point I figured it best to wear it. As annoying as the extra weight is I’m starting to think that I should continue to wear it for any run over 6 miles. The ability to sip water or a sports drink whenever I want provides a mental boost as much as a physical one. I was on the trail fairly early (last summer most of my long runs didn’t start before 9am) so there were only a few people using it. The first highlight of the run was seeing a bald eagle perched on top of a telephone pole. I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but there was a man taking pictures of it which caused me to look up as well. I have seen bald eagles in the past, but this one just appeared more picturesque perched so serenely above us. The second highlight was seeing a man and a boy, who I would guess was his son, fishing along the creek. Their bikes were laid on their sides on the bank. Although I don’t have kids nor do I want any, it always makes me happy to see others who do have them sharing nature with them. The final highlight was completing the 7 miles in 1:11.48. Although I have only been consistently running again for about a month I feel like I am further along in adding onto my long runs than I was at this point last summer.
Sunday I was toying with the idea of a short run. I have always used the day after a long run as a recovery day, but given how great the weather was again, I wanted to enjoy it. I also wanted to test myself and see how my legs would feel after the 7 miles. Jason was lifting weights in the living room and I was cleaning the bathroom when he asked me if I planned on running. At that point I had actually convinced myself to take a rest day, but I asked him why, did he want to run? He said a short one so I suggested two miles, almost to the borough building and back home. The alley behind our house is a slow incline, and not looking to set the world on fire I started out at the same comfortable pace I kept while running the 7 miles. Jason stayed with me and we agreed to pick it up at the turn around point since it would be primarily a downhill run back to the house. Our first mile was 9:55 which he felt was slow but which I was fine running. He picked up the pace heading back and I opened my stride to keep up with him. He’s 6’1″ and I’m 5’4″ so he has an advantage over me when it comes to stride length. I let him know when we had a quarter mile to the finish and I picked up the pace on him. He hung with me though and we clocked a 7:55 second mile. I hadn’t ran a mile that fast since last summer. It was certainly a confidence booster to be able to run that fast, albeit mostly downhill, after completing a long run the previous day.
This morning my legs felt a little tired, but not as much as I expected. The temperature on my phone showed higher for tomorrow, so I figured why not log another run today? I laced up my shoes after work and set out once more. I ran to the high school which is one of the flatter routes I can run in town though there’s a gradual climb through the parking lot to the stadium. Somehow sweat dripped into my right eye even while wearing sunglasses and was burning and blurring it. Fortunately the bathrooms at the stadium were unlocked so I was able to get a drink as well as wipe my face with a wet paper towel. I ran a lap around the track then headed back home. I hit 3.75 miles which was fine with me. Sometimes I get anal and want an even number, but given it was my third day in a row of running anything was impressive to me.
Both half marathons I trained for in the past I did with only running 3 days a week. The success I had in running 3 days in a row though has me now thinking. Did I train the smartest only running 3 days a week? I certainly benefited at times from the extra recovery days. It also suited me better as far as having time to pursue other hobbies. Could I have ran even faster though if I had trained more than 3 days a week? I’m not committing to running more than 3 days a week at this point. I think if the weather beckons and my body is feeling it I will, and if I truly need the recovery days then I will take them. We’ll see how it goes!
Do you run with water and if so, is it only when running over a certain number of miles? Do you follow a strict training plan when training for races? Do you plan recovery days or take them as you need them?