Yesterday I needed to get a long run in but was faced with a quandary: I wanted to go to running club but that’s only five miles, if I was to run after or before it that would mean running in the dark. I’m not a massive fan of running alone in the dark, it isn’t because I fear that muggers, monsters and/or ghosts might pop out from behind a tree (ok maybe a little) but I just find the experience thoroughly unenjoyable. Being able to see the landscape around you is a wonderful distraction especially during long runs. What was I to do?
During the brilliant National Running Show, held last weekend in the UK, I heard one of the speakers discuss the idea of doing two runs in a day as a way of getting your body used to running on tired legs. It is usually employed for those training for ultra-marathons but some in the half marathon and marathon community use it too as it can cause less stress on your body. Allowing your body to recover, if only slightly, over a period of hours before heading out again can limit the deterioration you might feel later on in a long run whilst still getting the mileage in. So I thought I would use this tool for the first time and headed out for my first run at 3pm. I felt great during the run and clocked up my 9 miles with a great, even pace. I got home got in to my pjs and relaxed for two hours before heading back out again once the sun had retreated for running club at 7pm. The 5 miles during this run was at a faster pace than the first run by about 30 seconds a mile and I did feel a lot more worn out. The last mile I debated throwing in the towel and walking back to my car before the rest of the club rallied around me. As we finished the run my legs felt really tight and I was feeling the exhaustion, however, I recovered a lot faster than I expected.
After a long run I usually feel wiped out, a few rolls on the foam roller and after that I become a couch potato for a few hours till my body recovers. This time was different. By not pushing into my threshold distance, which at this part of my training is at about 14+ miles, my body was able to recover faster and crucially this morning I have very little stiffness in my legs.
This isn’t a way around those long runs though, if you want to go the distance you need to show your legs what those miles are going to feel like by running those long runs in one stint but I certainly think that this could be introduced to break up the monotony every once in a while. I also think it is beneficial for runners who, like me, are on the slower end of the spectrum as it reduces the time on your feet as 3-4+ hours for a longer run, in one go, can really stress your body.
This little experiment has proven a success and while I wont be using it every week it is certainly a good way to get the mileage whilst still having a social life! I always say that a good training plan is one that fits around your lifestyle not interrupts it, so maybe think about introducing it to your routine.
Next Race: 33.3km Hill Run in INDIA!