|This is what I feel like on "Crappy Run Wednesdays."|
In my head, they became “Crappy Run Wednesdays.” In fact, my training log mostly had “another crappy Wednesday” scrawled in the notes section. During my buildup to NYC this year, Wednesday’s always read “Recovery Run.” My goal was to run anywhere from 40-70 minutes depending on the week in my training program at around 7:30-8:15 pace. The run was simply about being on my feet and logging miles to let those battered muscles loosen up and adapt to whatever torture I’d done the day before.
Whether it was the accumulated mileage, the fact that I also made Wednesday mornings my gym days, or some combination therein, Wednesday afternoon runs felt like crap. My legs either grew fatigued, a fog rolled in around my head, or I simply had no lungs. My stride felt awkward and it became near impossible to find a rhythm. Some days I just wanted to stop where I was on the trail, curl up, and go to sleep.
I like to think that my body was going through a one-day taper, finally taking the opportunity to exhale and heal. But that could just be wishful thinking.
I tried everything. I switched up my eating plan from pretzels to a bowl of oatmeal. When that didn’t work, I went the opposite direction and ditched the snack all together. It wasn’t pretty. People nearly died or lost limbs from the hanger.
I even tried wearing one of my “key workout” outfits, you know, my fast clothes. Didn’t matter. Every run became a slog. It happened enough that I would start to doubt my ability to put my body through a much harder key workout the next day.
Then one day, after a particularly bad run in the rain that reduced me to a walk about half way through, I threw in some strides after my workout.
Strides are just 30-50m pickups that you can do in the street, on a hill, or in the grass. I alternate for the variety. Each stride starts with a slow progression until you build up to nearly full speed in the middle, back it down to a stop, and then walk back to the start.
I typically do 9x30m strides once a week, after my easy run on Mondays. Why not 10? I like to break them down into three sets of three because I’m OCD like that.
I started doing them because I read that they help make your running form more economical and increase your turnover. All true things.
But what I really liked about doing strides was how I felt afterward. My logy legs had the zip I hoped for on my faster runs. Each rep chased away the fog around my head and I was suddenly alert, explosive, and even fired up.
My workouts did a complete 180. Don’t get me wrong, I still fought through a lot of those Wednesday runs, but the strides I incorporated at the end gave my sleepy legs and mind the pop I needed to conquer that Thursday workout. I returned to the house buzzing with confidence instead of flat and lamenting yet another “Crappy Run Wednesday.”