Sunday, September 04, 2011

It's not just about running; it's also about not running

I didn't run today, the second day in this running week that I had more time in bed and less on the road.

On days like this, I feel a bit guilty. Most runners do. We don't want to be missing more than the number of days rest that we have set for ourselves in a week. For me, it's one day off for six days of running.

I did much less when I went started running again in 2006 after a few years off.  What used to be 6 kilometers twice weekly have become 10-16 kilometer runs in five successive days and a weekly long run of 20-28 kilometers.

Running more often and doing longer distances have given me better race times. I post much faster finishes now than I did 2 years ago. And this is perhaps the main reason why I would rather have more and not less running days in a week.

But our bodies do have a way of telling us that we need to take a break. It tells us to go ahead and get more sleep. Our minds tell us to get up, but we can't help but put the alarm clock on snooze several times to catch a few more winks, until we finally just turn that alarm off and stay in bed until our eyes say enough. That's how it is with me.

So as I feel that pinch of guilt and regret when I have more than the usual rest days, I try to look at the benefits I get from those additional rest days. Like what I am doing now.

In the two weeks going into my last race, the Kadayawan Phoenix Run which was a 32K on a very hilly course, I did only 7 days of running. I didn't feel comfortable with going only four days, doing three 10K's and one 16K, with two weeks to go into the race.

I was more concerned when I had to grab more than just a few winks during race week. I did a 10K on Monday, slept it out Tuesday, did another 10K on Wednesday, and missed out again for two days. I squeezed in an easy 8K the day before the race, thinking I need to remind those leg muscles how it is to run as if they really lose their memory that much in two days.

My 2:37:04 official gun time and 14th place finish in the men's race are more than enough to say I had a good race that day. It definitely was a result of my 6-and-1 training regimen. But those "forced" rest days on those last two weeks may just have given me much fresher legs for a much better run.

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