Run lots

I have an idea why many people find it hard to stick with running: if you don’t run frequently enough you never get through the point where the discomfort fades.

I’m not sure if the discomfort actually goes away, or if you just get so used to it that it feels normal. In either case, a light bulb moment for me was when I discovered that running more frequently was easier than running less and trying to recover more.

“More frequently” doesn’t have to mean “more mileage”. It just means running more days per week. Same miles, but few miles per run. I always thought running back-to-back days would be too hard, but paradoxically it’s been easier than taking more days off.

This isn’t my own invention of course. You can find this approach documented in many running books and web sites.

Why bring this up now? It’s bike racing season!

Well, tonight I folded up my running clothes and put them into a drawer until sometime in September.

Last year I learned that it was too hard to continue even a minimal amount of running once the racing season started. I hit that point last week. The number of runs per week has been going down, and finally I realized that each run is now uncomfortable.

It’s not the mileage that’s the problem, it’s that I can’t run 5 days per week now. If I didn’t like bike racing so much, I would keep running and just have tired legs all the time.

I guess the “secret” to running is the same as in bike racing. To paraphrase Eddy Merckx: “run lots”.


Filed under cycling, running, training

8 responses to “Run lots

  1. Gustia

    I’ve always had discomfort while running. Now I power walk up hills instead Running makes my head feel really uncomfortable like my brain is jiggling and the cerebral spinal fluid is going to shoot out of my nose. Is this something that can be conquered by “running lots” or is this a message from my body that should be heeded?

    • Brian

      I read somewhere … don’t know where exactly … that the impact from running is supposed to help with bone density — something that can be a problem for cyclists (cycling being a largely non-weight-bearing exercise).

      Let’s see if I can find a link. Here’s one:

      Maybe it makes your skull thicker too. In my case at least I wouldn’t be surprised.

      I do recall that when I first started to run (in about 2005 or so) I didn’t like the jiggling sensation either. But either it went away or I didn’t notice it anymore. I think that running with a higher cadence probably helps.

  2. This year, due in part to our ridiculously – and wonderful – mild winter, I ran 40 days in a row. My average run was 6 miles. Shortest runs were 5k, longest were 8 – 9 miles. But I ran every day and, importantly, purposely ran easier/slower at least once a week to allow for some sort of recovery.

    It works. It’s important to note that I have been running regularly for nearly 2 years now, so I had some tolerance to the “daily grind” already. Your body does toughen up as a result. Your ligaments, tendons and bones in particular. I feel more sturdy, if that makes sense.

    When I hung up my racing wheels in May of 2010, it took me several months to work up to running 35 – 40 miles each week. When I first started, my legs hurt from only 2 miles of running. A 40-mile week is relatively easy for me to do now.

    Like most types of aerobic training though, whenever you up the distance or intensity, you start to require days off in order to recover. Listen to your body. There’s the right kind of discomfort that means your training hard, and there’s the wrong kind that means you’re injuring yourself. Ignoring the latter is worse than never feeling the former.

    • Brian

      I had forgotten about the 40 days in a row. (wasn’t getting sick the only thing that stopped it?) I think that’s a great example of validity of the “run frequently” approach. A couple years ago I never would have imagined running that many days in a row. Now … I think I could do it too, if I cut way back on the riding.

  3. Anonymous

    Start running more, learn to swim decently and you being the elite TT’er that you are you would be a great triathlete. It’s all relative in triathlon, everyone runs lots of miles and rides lots of miles, thats why a taper is important before many events, then you can have the best of both worlds, or three worlds for that matter, because when you find your stroke in the water, thats another great feeling.

  4. Bill Marut

    Sorry, I didn’t put my name to the above reply!

    • Brian

      Tris is the one you should be working on for triathlon. If I’m not mistaken he’s got a swimming background. And just 3 or so months after stopping bike racing, he ran his first marathon in 3:03. (which I find to be completely amazing).

  5. Using Garming Connect report, Jan 14 – Feb 22
    Count: 40 Activities
    Distance: 235.66 mi
    Avg Distance: 5.89 mi
    Time: 28:01:39 h:m:s
    Avg Time: 42:02 h:m:s
    Avg Speed: 8.4 mph
    Avg HR: 145 bpm
    Calories: 21,578 C
    Max HR: 191 bpm
    Elevation Gain: 6,623 ft
    8.4mph is roughly 7:09 pace.
    That was a good 6 weeks 🙂
    Also, as of Apr 5, 95 days into the year, I have run 84 of those days totaling 500 miles. Also average of 8.4mph / 7:09 mile pace.

    Re: Triathlon, yes I’ve thought about that. But I really don’t know when I would find the time to train properly. I’m jam-packed now just cycling to work and running at lunch. I did swim in high school, but that was nearly 30 years ago (gah!) Also, I don’t have (and don’t want to spend the $$ to get) a TT bike.

    So … an occasional running race is all I’ll commit to at this point.

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