It is so important when deciding to pursue competitive running, that you learn the power of
stopping. I am definitely no saint, and struggle with this myself. There is always that temptation in your head, telling you to do an extra kilometre, keep going until it’s an even number, or just do another little loop of the block. It is this voice we find ourselves caving in to, and at the time we feel great for it, praising ourselves because we actually did more than we should. Of course, in some people’s cases, this is a good thing, but in the case of a competitive runner it can be the start of a lethal cycle.
This extra 30 seconds, soon turns into an extra kilometre, and before you know it you are running an extra 10 minutes every day, on every run, just because you believe it will make you faster. This is sadly not always the case, and every runner is different. Those added extras may not feel as though they are harming you, but in the long run they will all add up.
I admit to being guilty of exactly this. I would turn a 45-minute run into a 50-minute run, do a longer cool down after a session, run an extra short loop around our house, but none of these needed to be done. And most of all, it was ALL on road. All this extra, unnecessary mileage, along with the harsh impact of the road worked to only make the stress my legs were going through from S&C training, worse. I didn’t know when to stop, prior to injury. You would feel great on a run, and add in extra just because it felt so easy. It is important to know when to stop, and end it on a good note before anything negative could occur. Stop before you find yourself with a niggle. And if you do end up with a little niggle, STOP! A minor injury that could be solved with a few days off is much more preferencial to running through the pain, and consequentially having weeks off further down the line.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever add an extra bit on to a run as we are feeling great, I’m saying, do not get caught up in this dangerous cycle. Adding unnecessary mileage may only pave the way for even more unnecessary mileage, and before you know it you are doing 15 minutes more on a single run compared to a month ago. It is important as a runner to be controlled over your training and to maintain a sense of perspective. Keep looking forward at what you want to achieve, and be aware of how trashy miles could hinder this. Be sensible, stick to your plan and you will be much better off for it. Adding mileage is beneficial, but when done properly, slowly, and in a way that works for you as an individual.
One thing my injury has given me, is the ability to trust what I am doing here and now, and stick to what I am told. You never know when those little bit extras may be too much extra. Be sensible, and train wisely. A bit of extra training off the road and on the cross trainer never hurt anybody.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!