So I have this situation with my running. I’ve cut back on my mileage……big time. Gasp. I know. I was running 50+ miles a week for a good portion of last year. Why the decrease?
Glad you asked.
It’s simple. I don’t have time.
I’m busy ya’ll. I happen to hate busyness. HATE IT. But right now, for a season, we’re in crazy town. My husband has a full-time career that involves crazy hours and often travel, he helps coach the boys baseball teams each in different capacities, we have 3 kids, two of which are in elementary school, sports, I teach boot camp in the morning and 3 evenings a week, I’m co-teaching a Bible Study(For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, go buy this book), I have these people called friends I barely see but would love to see more, I have this blog that I’m wildly passionate about but have a little less time for now, a house that needs tending to and this doesn’t even include my top priorities in all of life, Jesus, my husband and my kids. So, you could say we’re in a busy season of life. I just simply don’t. have. time. Something’s gotta give. So for now, it’s long run’s and 2 hour workouts and racing.
I mentioned my husband. He’s training for a full ironman. While his training time is mostly done early in the mornings, the fact that he has such a huge race on his schedule means I’m stepping back from racing. I’ll do little things here or there but the thought of also juggling a big training schedule gives me heart burn. Seriously, it’s just ok to take a break.
I’m missing days in a row some weeks. This might make me sound like a crazy person, as if missing a workout or two throws me into a tail spin. But it’s all in how it makes me feel. A lot of my workouts right now are 30 minutes or an hour if I’m lucky when I can squeeze it in. And I’m having to accept that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. I just simply don’t have the margin for excessive training right now. And maybe that’s you.
As a distance runner, your brain begins to tell you over time that the best run or most effective run is a long run. It can easily become all about mileage and quantity. I ran 7 miles like 3 weeks ago and haven’t gone over 4 since then. It messes with your head, but at the same time I have learned that I have to take the pressure off of myself and live in the season I am in and do what works for the now. I’ve gotten back to shorter workouts with a bit less cardio and a bit more strength training. And it’s a nice change.
During both my marathon training periods last year, I did one thing. I dropped my strength training. I’m not someone who works out in an attempt to get a six-pack or burn a certain amount of calories every time I step into the gym. I just do what I love. And I LOVE to run. It’s not that I NEVER think about my body or how I look. Of course I do, I’m human. But, with more focus on strength training and HIIT workouts these days in the fitness industry, distance running can get a bad rap. I used to be friends with a girl on FB who put up a post bashing running. She said it was stupid, easy and a waste of time. I think her intent was to point out the importance of strength training WITH running? I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. Either way, it came off rude and cocky and as if everyone who steps in a gym should do it with the intent of getting a perfectly sculpted physique. She made running look like the lesser workout and that runner’s weren’t real athletes’. Needless to say, I dropped her like a bad habit. Juvenile? Perhaps. But it annoyed me and I decided as someone who loves to run, I didn’t need to follow someone who clearly hates it. Anyway, my point is I tend to forget how important building muscle is to my running self, and often have to change things up so I don’t just fall into a cardio only rut. Because really, you can love both.
My current schedule is dictating my style of workout, which is shorter and higher in intensity, because that gets me the most bang for my buck. Some days I only bike, swim or run, but I’m trying to blend it all well.
When I first started running, that’s all I did. I had a significant amount of baby/hamburger and french fry weight to lose. So, I thought it was all in my cardio. I became the cardio queen. I could pound out just about any distance on my trusty treadmill and was burning an insane amount of calories. I was in good aerobic shape. I lost the weight, but I had very little muscle and really couldn’t withstand any other type of workout. Don’t get my wrong, my heart was working well and I was in great endurance shape. But, I wasn’t challenging any other system other than my long distance cardio loving endurance enhancing oxidative system. Your oxidative system is one of the 3 energy systems in your body. This whole topic can get confusing, to me too, so we’re going to keep this very basic. Think of the oxidative system as long duration/low power. You have two other systems that produce energy for shorter duration/high power workouts(ATP-PC and Glycolytic). So, the oxidative system is what will power your longer duration workouts such as a long run. However, if this is the only kind of workout you ever do, you aren’t working the other energy systems in your body. Sorry, I’m a giant nerd.
The first time I went to a boot camp, I had just completed a half marathon. I was running a lot and thought I was in really good shape. I really didn’t lift or do any form of strength training. I went to the gym, got on the treadmill and ran. I was a little prideful I think. I assumed that because I was a runner, I was also really fit. I walked into the gym a little nervous but confident. I almost puked during the workout, and walked out a totally different person. That was the day that changed everything for me as a runner. That was the day I realized running wasn’t the only thing I enjoyed and that incorporating some different types of workouts into my routine would actually make me a better runner. But oh my gosh, it was so hard. That day is forever burned into my memory.
My point is that maybe you are like me. A distance runner, marathon runner, cardio queen. Maybe you are in a season of life that doesn’t allow for that kind of training or maybe you are currently in a season of burn out. I invite you to join me in changing things up ya’ll. It’s ok. Give yourself a giant pat on the back and a major dose of grace. Your distance days will more than likely re-appear in your life again, but for now, change up the pace. Do a boot camp, a class at the gym. Start swimming or taking Barre or pilates. Challenge your body to adapt to different types of workouts and use the less mileage season of your life right now to learn something new, and focus a little more on other things. You are not alone.
If you’re in a season of less mileage, tell me about it. I’d love to know how your handling it and what you are doing in place of all those miles.