Much of the country is under snow and ice, bundled in thick clothing for every venture out the door, and praying for Spring to come early. In California, we are appreciating the summer we didn't get when we were supposed to have it. Running has been the purist of pleasures, in perfect temperatures and abundant sunshine. For these things I am very thankful.
Training has its ups and downs. Things can't always feel optimal, but I forget this little detail when things are down. I am always searching for the perfect plan which will help me find my peak performance yet will not break me down in the process. So this week, post-Super Bowl Race, I have been feeling kind of tired, and so I contemplate whether my runs are just "junk miles" this week, or whether I can consider them recovery runs.
Here is my dilemma. Each week I do a long run, a tempo run and an interval workout (and then other runs and swims too). I do these regardless of whether I will also have a race (unless it is a big one and I taper). But when I do have a race, that constitutes an additional hard day. So naturally I need to let my body rest, and my preference is to have an easy run day. But when I run on my own, no matter how hard I try, my easy run begins to pick up pace and ends up being another hard run. And then the next day I am still tired, so I plan another easy run (or run/swim). Again I pick up the pace and waste myself. So when my hard days come along, I'm still tired.
But today, I had a glorious run. Perfect temp, beautiful sunshine, and I chose a course with a view. I was, yes, still tired as I started out, but I maintained a nice and moderate pace this time. During the later portion of the 8 mile run, I ran up a trail into the Douglas Preserve. As I ran up the trail, I thought about what a great thing it was that this piece of land was purchased and preserved so that we could all enjoy it. And I did.
Once up into the preserve, I loped along the dirt paths, rounded the sharp bend which overlooked Hendry's Beach, and continued on under the Eucalyptus trees. I took in the smells, the feel of the air, and the breathtaking views of the ocean.
Running can't always be about focused training. Sometimes we need to not only let the body recover, but also the spirit and mind. Therefore I am inclined to suggest that today's run was definitely not "junk miles." In fact, that is terminology to which I neither subscribe nor ever use in my vocabulary. There is purpose in every run.
Ok, yes, my body still feels wiped and tomorrow is a hard 10 miler, ugh! But I feel renewed. I feel my training is directed properly, and is beneficial, and yet is not pushing me over the threshold into injury, illness, pain, and ruin.
That's how I feel about running this week.