Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Benchmark Run and Addressing Weaknesses



I mentioned in the Weekly Wrap post that I had two good runs last week. I did four miles on Tuesday and four miles on Thursday.


 I want to talk a little bit about my Thursday run. My plan was to run the first mile, then do run/ walk intervals for the last 3 miles.  As I got started the head winds were SO strong that I almost convinced myself to not run but I decided that running in the wind would be good practice for when I do the race at the beach next month (because it always seems to be windy as we are running along the boardwalk).  It was really warm out but the wind was so strong that it was stinging my eyes (and I even had sunglasses on too).  After I finished the first mile, I decided to go ahead and run the entire second mile and start my run/walk intervals at the turn around point.

As I hit the two mile mark and turned around, I wasn't running against the wind anymore and the running felt SO much easier. Since I felt a little better I just decided to run the entire third mile and not do walk intervals. And since I was running the entire third mile, I thought  I might as well bring it on in and run up to the fourth mile.  This may not be a big deal for some people, but I was SO proud of myself  for doing this.  It's been a while since I have run consistently with out walk intervals. And to top it all off, my time was actually good as well.  I feel like this run was the perfect example of how running really is 90% mental. My chest hurt, my foot hurt (from the dress shoes I wore earlier that week), it was windy, it was hot, etc, etc, but I kept thinking "just get to the next mile marker". And I did.   I am not surprised at the fact I ran 4 miles, I am surprised at the fact that I went 4 miles without taking a break.

As of right now, I am going to use this run as a benchmark to gauge all my other runs off of this summer to see if I can see improvement.

From this run, I can tell some of the things I need to improve upon to make things easier for me.

1. I think I need to do more upper body exercises. I think this will help with the tightness in the chest and the breathing. I follow a gal who does planks everyday and she seems to be increasing her speed. Maybe this is the key. I can only image when your chest feels lighter, running is easier!

2. I need to do more leg presses. I noticed that when my ankles are elevated off the ground more, running is easier and I pick up speed. I need to do more strengthening in this area not only to give me more force but to also prevent injury.

3. As far as the run/walk intervals, I don't know if that is something I want to improve upon or not. There is definitely nothing wrong with taking the walk breaks and to be honest, it kind of scares me to run even more than 3.1 miles without one. Even though I can handle it mentally (I've run 10 miles in the past without a walk break) but I have not done it since my major ITBS injury.  I  now worry about what damage it might be causing to my knee and IT band if I continue to run without taking breaks. I don't want to over work it and cause injury again.  But on the other hand, I do notice on my long runs that when I take walk breaks (around mile 11 or so) it seems SO hard for me to get running again and sometimes make my legs feel worse than if I just kept running at a slower pace.  I guess ya can't win them all and you just have to do what feels right at them time. 

 Have you done a benchmark run?  Do you note what improvements you need to make? If so, how do you adjust?   How can you tell if your breaks are just "mental" or if you really need them? -M
 

31 comments:

  1. I don't have the answers to your questions, but I think you should listen to your body. It's so hard coming back from an injury!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been lucky that i've been injury free since the marathon and hope it continues.

      Delete
  2. I know what you mean about not feeling running after a walk break on those longer runs. I have never done a run longer then a 10k of strait running. I don't think I would ever be able to. But when I was doing the Marathon run for Dopey this year, the last 6 miles all I did was run (with a short walk here and there). I was in a lot of pain and it hurt whether I ran or walked and I wanted the race over so much that I just kept running. Well it was more of a shuffle then a run, but at least it was faster then my walking. This run is one of my top mental runs for sure. And I look back and know if I can do that, I can do anything. :)
    @heatherlas

    ReplyDelete
  3. I find that almost all of my breaks are mental. I think as long as you are careful about not ramping up too quickly, your ITB will be happy. I love how closely you are listening to your body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I say breaks I do mean walk breaks. I'm assuming that is what you are talking about as well?

      Delete
  4. Mine was this past Saturday since it indicated when I break down and where I need to build strength.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's good, now you'll be able to judge what you need to do for your next run.

      Delete
  5. YAY!!!!! WTG. So glad you're feeling strong! 99% of the time my breaks are TOTALLY "mental," haha. It took me a long time to figure out, but I feel like I now know when my "I HATE RUNNING" blahs are caused by mental burnout, and when my body legitimately is just worn down and needs a break.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully i'm over needing my break from running. I'm excited to get back out there!

      Delete
  6. I love the idea of a benchmark run. Sometimes I will look back at previous runs over the same route and determine if I am feeling better, but that's hard. I know folks that race a 5k all out every couple weeks as a fitness test. Maybe I will try that. Yay for having a good run and finding a starting point on where to improve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like looking back over the runs of the same distance too. I am thankful I write them all down in my running journal.

      Delete
  7. That's awesome that you had a great run! I know what you mean about doing planks to improve core strength. I read an interesting article yesterday that as you get tired on the run and your form breaks down it actually makes it harder (or you expend more energy) to run. So having a good strong core so you can keep your running form stable is key. So I definitely need to work on that too!!
    As for walk breaks...I incorporate them for all of my long runs. I've lengthened the duration of my run intervals but I've never really thought about completely taking them out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely need to work on my core strength. I'm anxious to see if that helps any!

      Delete
  8. I'm in a similar part of my getting back to running.
    I do the whole benchmark thing too. I have this one 6 mile route and I used to be able to run it in 50 minutes, and lets just say right now not so much, LOL But I definitely use it as a benchmark to see where I am at and it's a fun way to look forward to how much better I can get!
    Sometimes I find I have more difficulties with walking, so for myself I am looking forward to decreasing that over the next month. But if it's what you like to do, then go for it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will be doing the same thing, running the same route and then timing myself each time!

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Way to go on having such an unexpectedly strong run! I take walk breaks in my long training runs, too. I find it makes such a huge mental difference when you're trying to push through mind-numbing distances. I was worried about eliminating the walk breaks during races or at other times, but surprisingly I have been able to do so without issue. I think it really goes along the lines of "keeping the easy miles easy" so you don't burn your body out unnecessarily in advance. But I very much agree on listening to your body every step of the way. If you decide not to take walk breaks and it's not feeling good, then definitely change it up as you feel appropriate.

    Amen to more strength work. I've been upping my weight-lifting and I do think it's made a difference!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't want to eliminate my walk breaks all together but I think I might start making the intervals longer.

      Delete
  11. I don't have a benchmark run. To tell you the truth, its hard for me to remember my past runs. I am glad you are feeling better, and congrats on your runs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should get a running journal to write your runs down in. I love looking back in my journal and remembering runs!

      Delete
  12. I've read alot about how good posture when running helps with breathing, so any strength exercises that work on that should help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I know I definitely need to work on my posture too!

      Delete
  13. It's great to have a strong run, but no, I have never used a run as a benchmark. I do think improving upper body strength is very important for runners and something I am working on right now. Also, our coaches have really been working on form and posture, so with practice, I am getting a littler better. Good luck with your summer runs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm looking forward to lots of summer running!

      Delete
  14. So happy to hear about your great, confidence-building run! Makes me smile. :)

    About the walk breaks - my husband says that he has a much harder time when he takes breaks (he tried doing that last season, taking a 1 minute break per mile on his long distance runs) - he says he feels creaky when he starts running again. So I don't know the answer to your question, but you're not alone in pondering it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. OMG, it was insanely windy yesterday here, too! And my run was kind of tough. Actually both my runs this week were tough. Just hard workouts.

    Run/walk has been really good for me, allowing me to get back some "speed", so for now, I'm sticking with it. Everyone and every body is different!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I also have a hard time starting back up if I take walk breaks. It helps if they are timed and under a minute so I don't get too comfortable. It's hard to know what to do/plan for as you increase your milage. I say trust your gut. You were feeling good on this run and you made it through without pain. If that keeps happening, awesome; if not, well you can always ease off a bit and take a break. Just glad to hear things are going well! :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's so great that you keep running and let your body guide you on this run. I think the trouble with walk breaks is that we get a little dependent on them overtime. It makes sense that you're concerned for your IT injury, but strengthening your hips and glutes should get you to a place where you can run consistently again without getting injured...like you said, it really is the mental side that's hard to overcome!

    ReplyDelete

Fairytales and Fitness is a personal blog authored and edited by us, Meranda and Lacey. The thoughts expressed here represent only our own and are not meant to be taken as professional advice. Please note that our thoughts and opinions change from time to time. We consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind in an ever changing society. Any thoughts and opinions expressed within our out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those we may express today.