A lot of people come to Accelerate Store and the Accelerate Performance Centre complaining of injury or fatigue and they haven’t a clue where it came from or why. Where, to me it seems obvious.
They often describe the way in which they’ve completed a series of runs (long, hilly, frequent or back to back in some cases) and what these people have in common is the way in which they misinterpret the factors that led to their eventual breaking point.
But here’s a quick analogy to spell it out.
Russian Roulette is a game where people dumb enough to take part load a revolver with one bullet and proceed to take turns pulling the trigger, while holding the barrel to their own head. It goes without saying that eventually, regardless of how well it might be going, things are going to take a very serious turn for the worse. Click, click, click………BANG!
Over training and in particular, over racing is, in my view – a very similar process.
Monday – hard run for 10 miles over hills, further than usual, but covered without issue and pretty quickly. Success.
Tuesday – local 10K race after work. Previous day’s run still in legs, but this shorter distance seemed easier by comparison, bit sore though – happy with finishing in top half of the field. Success.
Wednesday – got out for a quick 5 miles to run off last night’s race. Felt better for it, as the aches seemed to ease off by the time I finished.
Thursday – didn’t get chance to run, probably best as I was up with a cough half the night, possibly caught from someone at work, or a runner in Tuesday’s race, but I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and make up for it next run…..
Friday – gentle one to see if it was a 24hr thing. Felt better then expected, so ended up doing 8 miles instead of my planned 4. Great.
Saturday – a friend I haven’t run with for a good while invited me out for a classic 15 mile trail run over open ground, which turned out to be a slog, but brilliant to have turned out another long run and explored some decent routes I’ve never attempted on my own. Success.
I’ve run loads this week and still feel great. It’s been a blast, I can’t wait to get out again and do more…… I can’t believe how good I still feel…….
Every step of the way, scoring minor successes or at least returning in one piece, it’s easy for people to assume they’re fit to crack on with yet another difficult run. Tired, ill, sleep deprived and still judging the runs by what’s achieved rather than what’s been thrown at an already fatiguing system.
It’s no different for those who deliberately alternate between road and trail, or running and cycling. Just because you haven’t stuck to one type of activity the entire time doesn’t mean you haven’t fatigued yourself while completing impressive challenges all the same.
Some people seem to make the assumption that finishing without injury is confirmation that it was safe to have taken on a particular challenge – full stop. No regard for what was invested. No thought given to how demanding it may still have been. Through complacency they head out immediately on another challenge and ignore the chances their body might still be due a rest.
So here’s just one more way of looking at the same situation:
Your running week is like a lift with a weight limit. Having piled on the extra miles or intensity, it’s fair to say the safest option would be to remove some ‘weight’ before risking a disaster. But the logic above and for so many runners would be to conclude, “It hasn’t fallen, so it must be safe to continue”. Then SNAP!
Completing a hard run in one piece isn’t necessarily the same thing as getting stronger or fitter. Often far from it. Believing so can be dangerous.
Don’t make this mistake. Don’t ignore the factors leading to injury. If in doubt – rest. Do the Hard/Easy and allow yourself to get around to the tough stuff when the time comes. Don’t fall into complacency. If you’re still unsure, or want more info on how to build your running effectively and reduce the risks – feel free to ask us at Accelerate.
For more on the 10% rule – read this.