Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles
Running, Training

Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles

Over the last few months, my running has gone well.  I PRed in the Phoenix Half marathon and ran one of my best executed races at the Shamrock Half marathon.  Running felt great, until it didn’t.

First, my body was tired at the Adrenaline 5k.  Then I felt exhausted after the Phillies 5k the week after.  My body caught up with me, and by last Monday I was exhausted.

My college coach once said: rest weeks save seasons.

But, I didn’t listen to it last year when I had similar red flags.  In all, it turned into burnout, and I took most of spring and summer off.  Had I taken a week or two off, I might have been in a different spot last year.

Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles

Why Are Rest Weeks Beneficial?

If you don’t recover from hard races, workout, or runs, you won’t get faster.  Let’s be honest though, and that is much easier said than done.

Training for anything is exhausting. Each week, you head out the door on tired legs preparing for one race. If you don’t train enough, you could end up short of your goal or even injured.  However, if you train too hard, you could find yourself with an injury or fatigued during the race start.  The exact feeling I had at the Atlantic City half marathon last year.

So What are Some Signs You Should Take a Rest Week?

You Haven’t Taken a Rest Week Recently:

Well isn’t that easy?  If you haven’t had a rest week in a while, consider adding one to your training.  Even if you feel “good,” extra rest doesn’t hurt anyone.

You’re Exhausted:

Exhaustion is not just physical fatigue but mental too. It’s something I started to experience and what led to my few days off last week.  It’s the feeling of “blah” that makes you feel like you don’t want to be out there.

A Few Ways to Stop a Burn Out:

First, stop running.  It won’t help the situation.

  • Find another hobby: For me,  running is fun, but I enjoy many other things include hiking and painting.  Find another hobby that you enjoy and to fill your time.
  • Massages: For me, I find deep tissue massages, Graston, and ART to be the best.
  • Cross Train: It’s not my first recommendation, as I do believe people occasionally need full rest but if you find yourself much happier cross training, do that instead.

Burn out happens to most people.  I’ve learned the hard way, that running through it won’t help the matter.  In short, most solutions are simple: take some time off.  For some people it takes a few days, for some, it’s a few months.  Like an injury, if you catch it earlier before later, you’ll be much better off.

You don’t gain fitness in a few days, and you don’t lose either.

Questions for you: Have you ever burned out from something?  How did you get through it?

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How to Build Back Mental Confidence
Running, Running Reads

How to Beat Race Day Nerves

How to Beat Race Day Nerves:

Running is 1% physically and 99% mental.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there is a lot of mental component to the sport (or any sport really).  As most people know, most of 2016 and 2017 were not my years for running.  I set two of my favorite distance PRS (5k and 13.1) in January and February of 2016.  After that, I haven’t PRed.  

So here I am almost 2 years later still running races but with no PRs.  I’ve taken extended breaks from both injury (last year I fractured my heal) as well as just plain mental burnout.  So I haven’t run for 2 years straight, but I have trained and gone through training cycles.

I can’t quite say my mental game is exactly where it should be, but it’s getting a lot better.  There have been many races I’ve had race nerves leading up to a race, the night before a race, pre race anxiety at the starting line and pre race stress, Sometimes it can be hard to get your head in the right space, and stay calm with those pre race jitters and performance anxiety.  You just want to focus on the race plan, but your heart rate is so high, it feels impossible to beat the race day nerves.

As I get back into fitness during the last few months, I’ve pretty much run with no worry about pace or distance unless I’ve raced.  I wrote more about that here. Even though I’m trying not to worry during training, I can’t seem to shake “race day nerves” and beating race day nerves. Sometimes when I show up at a race, I’m not ready to race.

Half of my training miles have been above 9 minutes, and I haven’t worried about that.  Easy runs never give me race anxiety. Right now, I have a solid foundation and base.  I know my base miles have set my body up to begin doing more speed workouts and hone in on speed.  I will get there.  Who knows how long it will take, but running is lifelong!  I would rather not rush anything and burn out…again.

Most importantly, though, running without time and pace has given me a huge mental break.  Once again, I feel happy with running. I don’t feel like it’s forced or dread getting out there.

So How do you Build Back Mental Confidence and Beat Race Day Nerves?

For me, mental confidence takes a lot more time to develop than physical speed and endurance.  Here are a few techniques I’ve used.

  • Stop Negative Self Talk: If you think you’ll run like garbage, you probably will. Last year, I thought I would run like garbage at the Philadelphia marathon…and…I did!  Race day anxiety did exactly what I thought it would.
  • Stop Comparing: This means stop comparing yourself to others and to yourself. Now that Instagram running is “so big”, it’s easy to look at someone and be like…how do they run fast all of the time.  But just worry about yourself (or don’t worry about all)…and I’m too old school for Strava, so I’ll let you remove comparison traps there for yourself.
  • Set Smaller Goals to Achieve Your Bigger Ones: For me, I set a smaller goal to get back out there. Then another goal to do a few 5k, then a half and then begin honing in on speed. Your training plan should include smaller goals, not just one big one. You don’t need to set a huge goal of PRing when you aren’t running or dropping an hour from your marathon.  Set a bite-sized goal and move forward.
  • Visualize: I cannot emphasize this enough but visualizing running and doing well will help tremendously.  My college swim coach had us visualize swimming well at conferences, and I always felt more confident after that.  Visualization is something that has helped calm race day nerves and race day anxiety.  Visualize the race starts through the finish line and what it feels like to cross.

It’s always important to remember that running is lifelong.  There are races any weekend you want, and if you don’t feel mentally right, you should work on that first.  Race day anxiety and race day nerves take time to beat and build confidence.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

How do you stay mentally strong with any sport?  

Do you get race day anxiety or race day nerves? 

How to Beat Race Day Nerves
Running, Running Reads, Training

How to Beat Race Day Nerves

It’s not a secret that I like to race a lot.  In fact, I’ve written posts about how to “race well,” or even “racing my way to fitness.”  It works well for me as I typically train very easy throughout the week.

Since I race so frequently, racing doesn’t make me as nervous anymore.  I get more nervous before a workout than I do before a race.  I suppose that has come with both time and just racing a lot.

A few weeks ago, a reader asked me how I beat race nerves as well as race anxiety and if I would be open to writing a post about it. Big races and goal races can cause more pre-race anxiety and nerves than tune-up races. I’ve learned that training your mind and mental game is just as important as following your mileage training plan.

The short answer is race until you’re not as nervous anymore. 

I’m sure you wanted the long answer, though.

Here are a few strategies I use to Beat Race Day Nerves:

Before the Race:

Visualize:

This is more something to do before the actual race.  The day leading up to the race (if I plan too), I like to visualize goals and success.  It’s actually something I picked up in collegiate swimming. Running is 90% mental, and if you believe you’ll do well, you’ve already won most of the battle. You have to be ready to race.

Look Back at Your Training Logs:

The night before a race, look at those workouts you didn’t think you would crush, but you did.  This is motivational for bigger races when you are tapering, or bored.  There is always “that run” during a training cycle that you didn’t think you’d make it through, but you did.  Remember that one, versus the ones that you didn’t feel great during.

At the Race:

Stay Distracted:

To minimize prerace jitters, stay distracted. For some people that is listening to music, for others (like me), that is talking nonstop until the race starts.  If we meet at a race, know that I am 100% cool with chatting up until the gun goes off.  Stay distracted and relaxed on race morning. It helps to alleviate pre-race anxiety and pre-race jitters.

Get Away from the Start Line:

During shorter races such as a 5k, this is easy because I need to warm up.  I don’t warm up before half marathons (my top 5 half marathons have had zero warmup…maybe some walking).  Getting away from the start line allows you to stay relaxed and not think about running the race as much.

Remember This:

Races are typically the morning of your day.  It’s not more than a few hours of your morning, and when you cross the finish line, you move on.  You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, I just think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens and there is no need to stress about it.

You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you and don’t care about your finish time.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, I just think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens and there is no need to stress about it.

Racing is supposed to be exciting and fun.  You should look forward to it, not dread it.  If you dread it, there is no point in doing it right?

Related Posts:

Who Cares Where You Run?

Care Free Training

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

Questions for you:

Do you get race day anxiety? 

How do you beat race day (or any day) nerves?

Easy care free miles running
Running

Care Free Training

I haven’t really posted about my actual training in a while or where I want it to go.  I post my training log and progression since coming back from my break, but quite frankly I’m just running.  I am enjoying the journey to get back to fitness and taking it one step at a time.  I have no interest in training for a big marathon (or a small one), and I don’t have a goal race picked out for any distance.  Thinking out loud, I’m just slowly working my way back.

And you know what? 

I’m enjoying how my running is going right now.  I have absolutely no pressure to do anything (not that I ever had pressure beforehand) but now I have even less pressure.  In training and sometimes even life, I’ve always been one to fly by the seat of pants.  Now more than ever, that is relevant.  With my husband’s career, I can’t tell you I’ll be in New Jersey for the next year.  I can’t sign up for a race 6 months out because I don’t know.  We didn’t know we would go down to Alabama for 6 weeks last January, until a couple of weeks beforehand. I missed races I had signed up before in NJ during that time.

In my training, I normally have a rough outline of the runs and workouts I want to do for the week, but I never have an exact plan written down.

For instance, during a training week, my thoughts begin like this: This week I’ll attempt to run between 40-45 miles with five miles of speed somewhere…is it a race…maybe I’ll have to see what is around…if nothing works with my schedule, I’ll just do a workout. That is the extent of my scheduling and planning.

So Does Not Planning Really Help Me?

I have actually found that it does and it does a lot.  First of all, I’m not obsessed with pace.  I don’t care. I could run 10 miles at 10-minute pace or 10 miles at 8-minute pace.  It’s still 10 base miles.  I’ll run with anyone that wants to run, whether you run a 10 minute or 8-minute mile.  That’s why I rarely post paces online, Instagram, or anywhere.  Because I don’t know and honestly, for training runs…I don’t really care.

When talking with a friend, I realized that it hasn’t always been that way for me.

I used to be obsessed with pace and numbers.  There was a point in my running career that I would run in the same 10-second pace range for every run of the week.  That pace was between 7-7:10.  Do you know what I gave myself?  The glorious gift of a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.

Not to mention, during that period I never got faster, and I was miserable the entire time.   I was so antsy in training if my overall pace was 7:11+ and thought I had lost my all endurance.  It sounds silly now, but that is what the new runner in me thought.

Train fast to go fastRace myself and try and get faster every day.

For stat purposes: during that time of my running career, my 5k PR was 20:10.  I ran about 50 miles a week between 7-7:15 pace.

Now it’s 18:13 (and I had to look LOL).  During that time in training, I was running 60 miles a week with about 50 above 8:30 or even 9-minute pace.

My half marathon PR then was 1:36.56…now it’s 1:22.57.

But the most crucial piece is I enjoy going out to run without worrying about it.  For me, running is a hobby, and it’s something I want to do lifelong without stress.

So for me personally, not caring about pace has turned into continuing to improve on running.  Last fall, when my coach and I focused on paces, I found myself in a similar situation.  Burnout and not improving.

I can’t tell anyone how to train and what works for them and nor do I want too.  I’m telling you how liberating it is for me to be carefree about pace.

What it took for me to get to that point to relax my training wasn’t easy.  Honestly, without being injured or burnout, I don’t think I would have gotten here.  From injury, I quickly learned my body doesn’t respond well to fast runs every day.

I think I should have renamed my blog CasualLOLZ or something.

Relevant Posts:

Techniques to Recover Faster

Cross Training

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Questions for you:

What are your thoughts?

Do you schedule workouts every day or fly by the seat of your pants?

Running, Training

Run for Recovery (19:12)

A few weeks ago, I heard of the Run for Recovery which benefited a local drug treatment center.  As many readers know, my parked car was recently rear-ended by someone who was passed out at the wheel under the influence of opioids. Even before that incident, drug addiction has been an issue close to home.

After running the Dragon Run the day before, I had no time goals for the race.  I wanted to support something that meant so much to me.  To be honest, I would walk the race before not doing it.  If anything, it would serve as a good workout.  I’ve run many miles around the Cooper River Park, so I knew the area well.

I got to the race around 8 am.  It was scheduled to start around 9 but ended up starting closer to 9:15.

They made several announcements and a speech at the beginning which ultimately brought a few tears to my eyes.  Drug addiction can happen to anyone, no matter the family situation, age, or gender.  They asked everyone who had lost someone to addiction to stand at the front with the organization for a moment of silence, and that is when my tears began flowing. After that, we walked to the starting line.

Races at Cooper River involve about a half mile walk to the starting line.  I talked with a few people during the walk, and before we knew it, the race was off.  Immediately, I found myself in fourth place overall, which is where I stayed the entire time.

Since I raced the day before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  When I am in shape, I typically feel good the second day of racing, but I am not in peak shape right now.  The first mile goes over a small bridge and heads toward the opposite side of the river.

Since it’s a well-known park, there are plenty of people walking and running who aren’t racing.  There was a bit of weaving involved, but I shocked myself and hit the first mile in 6:02.  (Which was faster than every mile I ran the day before).

I have run one other race at Cooper River in which I call my ultimate regression run.  I ran something like 6:0X, 6:30 and then 7:00.  I thought surely that would happen here, but I attempted to hold on for dear life.

The next two miles went on without much excitement.  I ran a 6:03 followed by a 6:13. It was a beautiful day and ideal conditions, but I still shocked myself.  I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to run but it wasn’t faster miles than the day before.

For the entire race, I ran alone and chased the three guys in front of me (chase being relative as they were a couple of minutes ahead).  I weaved around people using the park for their Sunday morning runs.  I high-fived a little kid who was walking around the lake with his mom.  For me, it felt more like a workout that I was supporting a cause. I was at a race, but with everyone not racing around, as well as the race being more meaningful, it didn’t feel like it.

When I hit the third mile and saw it was longer than .1 to the finish, I wasn’t disappointed.  I knew I would have been under 19 on a perfectly accurate course, but I’ll save that for another day.  I have a love/hate with racing at Cooper River.

You can see me around 19 minutes finishing. 

I like it because it’s easy to park and normally cheap.  I don’t because the course is notoriously long and unlike this weekend, it can get extremely crowded on the trail.

I’m happy I was able to combine two things I’m passionate about: public health and running.  Very few races can do both, with the last being the Lake Effect Half Marathon.

me run for recovery cooper river

I feel happy with my progress so far in 5ks.  My next major goal is to consistently be under 19 minutes, which I hope is by the end of October or November.

Progression:

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1 Run for Recovery (19:12)

Questions for you:
What is a cause that means a lot to you?
Is there a local park that holds a lot of races near you?