Faster Is Not Necessarily Better

So you’re maybe feeling confident about going the distance, in pretty good shape for the person you are, but as an MPR, there are an awful lot of folks finishing ahead of you – some of them your friends, some of them older, some pretty casual about training, and some of them rank-beginners apparently possessed of a natural ability to cruise blissfully by as you’re huffing and aching…  Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick up the pace some more, cut those times?

Speediness envy is lurking out there, searching for chance to corrupt your mind and body.

Well OK, it’s not exactly The Last Temptation, but as I sit out another weekend of severely-limited exercise, I’m forced to consider – is trying to get faster worth risking an injury?

(Quick replay: to build speed in the weeks before a much-anticipated event, I added a mid-week interval workout, and amped up the calisthenics (lunges, steps, planks, etc.)  on non-running days.  A big long-run ten days ago went well, with just a slight soreness in one hamstring.  Couple days later, calisthenics OK, but definitely working the muscle-groups hard; a healthy soreness afterward. Next day, an interval workout on the treadmill (which happened to include breaking-in a new and supposedly-faster shoe), also went well, though that hamstring started complaining toward the end. Next morning? Could barely walk for the bowstring-tight screaming cable in the back of my left leg.  Rest for two days and head out on a gorgeous sunny morning? Couldn’t jog a hundred yards!)

Two lessons I’m going to try to learn from this:

Number one – Blame the new shoes!  Juuust kiddingggg; actually, since I tried them right after starting the new calisthenics and at the same time I was peaking mileage and pushing the pace in intervals, there’s no way to tell which of four different factors led to the injury.

Note to self: change one thing at a time to isolate the effect – and give it enough time to play out for good or bad before trying something else.  Otherwise you’ll never know what made the difference.  And knowing that will make all the difference, as recovery tapers into resumption.

Number Two – Ten days of reduced activity and I’m pining for the endorphins, the unique warmth-from-within generated by muscles converting glucose into movement, the satisfaction of having completed a good workout.  Right now I’d gladly tack some seconds onto my pace, just to have a pace!

So, a new addition to the list of MPR credos: it’s better to run less fast, than not to run at all!

1 thought on “Faster Is Not Necessarily Better

  1. golddh

    It’s so hard. On some days I ask whether improving my time by 3 minutes is worth all of this obsessive work. On other days I ask what the point is if I’m not trying to get faster.


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