Saturday, October 13, 2012

Listen to your body. And to your log too!

Listening to your body is an art. Our body is so complex, it's probably a science too. So much that I must admit my ear isn't so acute in this area. Thankfully, I maintain a very detailed running log on the side and here are two stories illustrating how this helps me and can help you.

Since I resumed training after the 6-week break following my shoulder fracture mid-June, I pushed hard to make up for the loss of mileage. Last year, and without even having set this as a goal before mid-year, I passed the symbolic 62.2 miles per week threshold, or 100K per week. At some points, it felt like some unhealthy pressure yet I was glad I kept the pace throughout the year, with even enough room to take my yearly break in December before my first 12-hour event on New Year's Eve. I was 180 miles ahead of this 62.2-mile/week goal by mid June when I felt. Maybe that was a sign I was too tired and pushed too hard. However, something that I don't track in my log is the hours of sleep, but I recall that I had a 4-hour sleep 2 days before which is a better explanation. Add to that this was a long 39-mile remote and solo run and I was out of fluids for the last 5 miles, and tripped because I was looking at a house below in Tahoe City, so these are more rational reasons. After all, per my log, I had just increased my mileage by 10% which is reasonable as a progression (you don't want to build-up mileage too fast).

Anyway, I'm now back on track, ahead of this average goal again by 105 miles, that has been quite a few miles in August and September. 285 and 403 miles respectively. Yes, 400 miles in one month, I had never run that much in a single month! And, back to the title of this post, that's where the log is useful: I hadn't noticed that I was running that much, 95-mile weeks, but I felt unusually tired and thought it was just from work and the shoulder pain interfering with my sleep. At least the log explains part of it and I've already cut on the distance this month and will continue as I'm traveling to the Gulf again this week. Yet, building up such mileage should help for the 24-hour event I'm aiming at, mid-November, the week before JFK 50-mile's 50th anniversary which I'll run too.

Overall, I feel my log is helping me a lot in my training, especially as I don't have a coach (or rather that I am my own coach). If I was just listening to my body, there would be days I many not find the courage to go our and push the envelope. So the log both provides stimulation and reason. It also helps tracking the mileage for each pair of shoe, and when I need to retire them, something I can't figure out just by listening to... my body. 2012 isn't over yet, here is a snapshot of one of my log dashboards as of today (the sudden slow-down of the average pace is when I added a lot of ultra trail running in my running regimen):
I know there are many who don't need or want to keep a log. I was actually amazed that was the case for Graham Cooper, an elite ultra runner who won Western States in 2006 (see my interview of Graham after our 2007 Ohlone race). So, what about you? Are you keeping a log too? Obsessed about it as I may be sometimes...? Or, like Graham, not caring and not keeping track? And just listening to your body...? ;-) Please let us know with a comment on this post below!


GZ said...

I track miles, and by some measures / people - pretty religiously (2164 miles on this year as of today).

But, it is, like HR, another data point. It might tell me something, or it might not. I can be on a road where I am going 40 mph. Is that too fast? Or too slow? If I am on a mountain road in a snow storm, it could be too much ... but on a highway on the straights of the midwest ... it might be painfully slow.

Got to use the brain to consider what the measures mean ... and brain needs to listen to the body.

Jeremy said...

Good thoughts Jean! I enjoy trying to absorb some of your accumulated knowledge.

I have not felt the need for a log because I follow a very consistent running schedule because I have very consistent working hours- probably a lot tougher for you... I mostly listen to my body and throw away shoes when the upper starts tearing.