Days Off
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Days Off:

    An Important Ingredient      in a Smart Training Plan

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     There are runners whose training schedule calls for about 30 to 35 miles per week with a speed workout. Then there is a long run of the week that is about eight miles. As a starting point, that is not a bad training regime. The issue of this article is about the feeling some runners have that we need to push very hard during many of our training runs. When we do that, we may feel disappointed because we expect to be running much faster on race days, too. It just does not always work out that way.

Perhaps the significant question ought to be, do we always need to train hard? There is a hazy line between needing to train harder and training too hard. As runners we push ourselves very hard. Compared to the general population, we seem to be almost fanatical, just because we get out to run, but even with our running peers, we know those who seem to be pushing hard all the time.

When we fall short of a goal, it may be a natural human response to push even harder. Many times this form of response works. However, there are times when it fails. In some cases, the answer might be to back off a little instead of training harder.

Why back off instead of trying harder? Picture the athlete who works out every day and races nearly every weekend. In between races he/she is training pretty hard, including some biking and weightlifting. The body can only take so much. The fact is that the body needs some rest and a chance to build up while resting.

A day or two off wouldn't hurt. Former Olympic marathoner Pete Pfitzinger once said that the day off is just as important as the training days. Following a long race, taking time for recovery is even more significant.

Summer (or depending upon where you live, any time that it is hot and humid) is especially important to take it easy. The summer heat can be very draining. There is a reason why the months of June, July and August have fewer races than the spring and fall. It is very difficult to run a personal record during the summer. Training smart during the hot months can make a substantial difference in your racing results -- even your summer races.

So the advice here is to be smart with the body and take off a day or two each week. Sometimes the answer to a problem is not to do more of the same thing that you have just been doing.


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