Seen this before?
Well, it’s my favourite analogy for successful running, a golden rule if you will. Here then is an explanation. Might help….
Your body is just an organism. It responds to demand. Do too little, too infrequently and in the meantime it falls under the impression that there’s no need to maintain the level of fitness necessary. Too much or too often and you’ll force fatigue if not serious injury.
Doing just enough to come outside of your comfort zone is what it’s all about. Gradually gaining fitness and stamina in a way your body thinks is necessary, without forcing it to cope with anything that demands a lot of aches, pains or down time. I’ve spent 2013 getting fitter by this process, training to Heart Rate and haven’t suffered any fatigue. I have in fact gained enormous stamina and enjoyed a complete absence of injury (with one or two slight exceptions).
It’s like playing Snakes and Ladders, where you really want to be climbing the ladders, without hitting any snakes whatsoever.
Snakes come in many forms including: Cramp, Tears, Pulls, Sprains, Tiredness, Dizziness, Compensation issues, Tendonitis, Lactic Acid and big bad DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
A good rule of thumb is to add 10% this week, on top of what was appropriate last week. That’s over the entire week collectively, not on to each run.
By way of example:
Every week I’m going to add 10% to my total mileage. I’m best spreading it over the three runs so as to avoid having one terrible taxing run that does damage. If I start by doing one mile three times and my total is 3miles, I’m expecting to do three runs of 1.1miles the following week. Hardly daunting.
I might not even feel the difference, but my body does. It knows.
Look at the chart below and see for yourself just how quickly you can begin to see improvement, without it EVER becoming intimidating.
Week one, timid to be sure, but easy to do at a leisurely pace. 10 weeks later, you’re running more than twice your initial distance three times a week and still without issue? That’s crazy! It’s about looking back at what you’ve achieved and feeling impressed with yourself, while at the same time knowing that you’ve still got improvement ahead. Having the confidence that by following this pattern you will continue to gain. It’s never about ‘no pain – no gain’. Unless you’re being chased by a Bear, there really is no sense in pushing yourself to breaking point.
It’s all about Ladders. No Snakes in sight. Right? Be careful to consider the effects of resting, it’ll set you back. 10% doesn’t seem much, but will bite you if you’ve been off your feet for too long, so factor in any time off, extra stress or fatigue from what life throws at you while you’re not running, as it’ll all weigh you down. It’s supposed to feel like work, but if it hurts or just feels harder than usual, pause for thought. There’s always next time.
Maybe you can try adding just 5% every fourth week as a rolling recovery? See what works for you.