Getting a balance

Do you run every day? It’s a question I get asked a lot and the answer is – no.

I know that in order for me to be healthy, I need to factor in rest and recovery days, and I like to mix my training up with strength sessions.

I know some people who do… streaking as it is called… and if it works for them, then great. But me, I tend to run every other day… and I tend to take time out every now and again to recover from running and training.

It all started way back over 10 years ago when I started learning about training, and training for a triathlon specifically. I bought Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training BIble and I learned a lot from it.

Splitting up your training between the three disciplines, plus a bit of strength work… and using periodisation to split your annual training into blocks of transition, base, build, peak, taper, race and recovery. I still think that way to this day.

In his book he talks about micro cycles and macro cycles. The overall training plan is the training that will build you up from nothing to whatever you’re aiming for, over a period of 3-6 months… your overall goal. 6 months can include those blocks above, from transition, base and build, to peak, taper, race and recovery.

Then we can break it down into week by week sessions. What will you do when this week? What will your training look like? What exercise and what session will l you do? What recovery will you get?

And all of this is all very well if you’re a full time athlete… but usually we have to balance our training with the other parts of our lives. And this question comes into play – What other things do you have to do? Work, family, socialising / play…. you name it. I know sometimes for me… work just simply takes over… before I know it I’m doing a 45-50 hour week at work, and my focus is quite rightly on that.

Long busy days using my brain and running around making things happen. And it’s on those weeks, just like last week… that I listen to what’s happening and I sometimes pull back.

Last week, after a week of 3 runs and 3 strength sessions, I was tired and my legs were sore. I took Monday as a good rest day. I ran 5 easy k on Tuesday… then the rest of the week I didn’t run or go into the gym.

I listened to my body and I decided this would be a good time to take a rest and recovery week. I could have forced myself out the door to run, or into the gym (I actually did get up and into it on Wednesday morning, but my heart wasn’t in it so I went back to bed!).

Still keeping my eye on the training plan for the Scottish Half Marathon at the end of September, I’ll hopefully run long on Sunday (in the pouring rain)…and hopefully the 4+ days rest I’ve had will do me good.

So yes, it’s good to be active, and do something every day, but it’s also good to learn what works in terms of recovery and rest days (1-3 a week). And if sometimes life gets in the way, or you listen to your body and you find you need a break from training, it’s good to take that break, not feel guilty and know that it’s doing you good.

Getting a balance is important, and it’s why I make and effort to take time out and spend time with people – travelling to visit friends and family, taking my 86 year old neighbour out for lunch… 5 hours out of my weekend, but it made her weekend and it certainly was nice for us too. Flying my kite, going out for breakfasts and coffees, going a nice walk in a park.

Life is too short to be grinding yourself to the bone, when it’s better to get a balance between it all, and not burn out or break.

That said, it is now 6 weeks until the half marathon, so I’m about half way through my training cycle. Taking a week off last week was just right, and now I’ll get back into it.

Wc6 Aug.- Recovery week – 11-13M long
Wc13 Aug – 5, 6 Tempo, 13-15M
Wc20 Aug – 5, 10k time trial, 8M
Wc27 Aug – 5, 45 min speedwork, 10M
Wc3 Sep – off / 4 & 6 ?
Wc10 Sep – off / 9 on Sun 16th
Wc17 Sep – 5,4, Scottish Run Half Marathon
Wc23 Sep – Recovery week

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