The conditions were ideal: my wife and two children were visiting our family in Germany for six weeks, leaving me little to do except run about 40 miles a week and lift weights twice – really throughout – the day. I ended up actually gaining several pounds. Anyway, it’s amazing what you can do when there’s no kids around.
When they returned home it seemed like the perfect time to cut back, shift my focus to consistency by running easily but daily, maybe enter a few weekend races,. The thing is, just as I began backing off I began to notice the telltale signs of overtraining. It’s tempting to back off, of course, but then I remember what my friend and 2:09 marathoner Jerry Lawler once told me back in Boulder, Colorado: a little overtraining is a better than a little under training because you can always back off before a race but you can’t make up for under-training.
So I’m having fun with it, while using common sense. I’m doing absolutely no fast running but instead just focusing on my stride rate and posture and exchanging fast running for more of a strength-based, longer-than-is-prudent slow running.
These runs are characterized by beautiful scenery up here in Alaska, for example, where I ran today. When I felt my stride rate was slowing I concentrated on keeping it high, even if I was only running at little more than a shuffle. Satisfied that I was back on form, I’d resume into taking in the scenery.
Sometimes I’d find myself loosening up and pushing the pace slightly but even during these times I largely kept it under control, not pushing my body further than it seemed to want to go. It was a kind of “enjoy the ride” runs that are one of the many joys of this simple sport.
After returning home to my family after a week pushing myself up here in the beautiful Alaska surround, I’ll expect to cut back my running quite a bit and let my body recover and play with the kids, etc. But in the meantime it’s still my Thanksgiving season and I’m going to enjoy overindulging for a while longer.