It’s easy for any of us to fall into an exercise rut. There have been plenty of times when I’ve run five days a week without varying distance or intensity. My mind tells me the lack of variety doesn’t matter; what matters is that I’m out there running. My body tells me the truth; if I continue with complacency out of comfort, I will not lose weight, increase endurance, or strengthen my muscles.
I sometimes feel that my legs aren’t meant to make strides faster than 5.2 MPH on long distance runs, but I know that is just me making excuses for wanting an easy, lolly gagging type of run. Then I have days like yesterday when I run at speeds that make my legs want to fall off. Everyone has their own pace limitations. I’ll likely never reach speeds fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon while others reach them with ease, but that doesn’t mean I (we) shouldn’t test my (our) own limits.
What has helped hurl me over the threshold of pansy to beast mode has been my interval training. Since I run on a treadmill most days, interval training is essentially a no brainer. I’ve found that the more I push myself, the faster speeds become my norm.
Here’s a sample of my latest interval/speed training run.
I don’t follow this exact routine daily. I listen to my body and figure out if I can push myself further whether in pace or distance. I may decide that I don’t want to stop at 60 minutes because it leaves me at an uneven mileage point so I continue running at various faster speeds until I hit six or seven miles. I may also realize that I feel less than stellar and require a run at an easy pace. Then there are days when the weather cooperates and I run outside. I focus on adapting to the changing terrain rather than my speed. As to not become dependent on any singular routine, you must always find ways to adjust your runs.
By connecting with my body, I also know when to take recovery days. Days like today, when my legs feel slightly too wobbly for their own good, I’ll cross train or walk for an hour while watching TV. It doesn’t matter how you recover, it just matters that you do. Your body needs repair. But don’t get lax; simply add a day of recovery into your workout schedule after every few days of hard core runs. When you take too much time off you run the risk of starting your training from scratch.
Good luck changing up your routine and picking up your speed! It’s time to find out how fast your legs are capable of running.