Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Warm It Up

I decided to try something a little different this week. My goal this year is to run 500 miles in 2010. In order to make this goal I am running 12 miles a week. That will actually cause me to over shoot my goal. But I wanted to build in some room for missed runs.

I’ve been running two 5ks in the middle of the week and a 10k on the weekend. I’ve noticed my hamstrings and knees are hurting after my weekend run. Not liking the idea of cutting back on mileage or messing up my knees, I decided to try spreading the mileage more evenly over the week.

So I decided instead of 2 5ks (3.1 miles each) I’d do 3.5 miles two days during the week and a 4 miler on the weekend. That way I’m not jumping my mileage up so much on one day. Sounded like a good plan until I got back from my run tonight and realized that I miscalculated. If I do 3.5 twice a week and a 4 miler on the weekend, I’ll actually be shortening my weekly mileage by a whole mile each week! (I don’t add too well).

So from now on it’ll be 4 miles three times a week.

But tonight’s run was a nice 3.5. A down side to longer runs during the week is that I have to spend more time running after I’ve already spent the whole day at work. I figured it’d take me about an hour to cover a good 3.5. But many people hit the gym after work for an hour long cardio class. So I figured I could do an hour on the road.

Unfortunately I’m working 10 hour days right now which means I’m lucky if I can start running by 7pm and by the time I get back, change out of my running clothes and eat, it’s time for bed. No ‘down’ time.

However, the stress relieving benefits of running make it worth it to go out after a long day of work. So I did. I managed to hit the road at 7pm and told my hubby I’d be back in an hour or so.

I am a serious multi-tasker. So I decided to call my mom while I was on my warm up walk. Well our conversation was going so well two miles had passed before we hung up. Oops! I thought for sure if I had done my regular 5 minute warm up and ran my regular pace, I’d take an hour to cover 3.5. (I run very slow!) So walking two whole miles I thought would cause me to take well over an hour to finish. Oh well. The point is to cover the mileage. Not speed.

So I started running resigned to the fact that I’d be out there awhile.

Well, I felt great! My body wasn’t sluggish and my muscles weren’t stiff. I dare say I was running a little faster than usual. Also, I was running for much longer stretches at a time. How could this be?

All the experienced runners will tell you, ‘It’s the extra long warm up. Duh!” Of course! My muscles were so warmed up and ready to go that they perform better. At the end, I tried sprinting as much as I could. I ended up clearing the distance in under 50 minutes. My overall pace was not much slower than my average.

So what was the lesson learned tonight?

Your warm up is your most valuable investment in your workout. I’ll be sure to ‘spend’ more on it in the future.

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