Friday, March 30, 2012

Training Essentials: Flexibility

Note: As we get closer to Boston (only 17 days to go), I'm going to highlight some of the things that have been "essential" to me during training. Now, for all you literalists out there, by essential I simply mean things I wouldn't want to train without. 

This morning's run reminded me that flexibility is key to any training plan. I don't mean physical flexibility, though stretching certainly has its place; I'm talking about rolling with the punches. It's been my experience that many--though definitely not all--dedicated distance runners are a little type-a, maybe even borderline obsessive-compulsive. In fact, in the classic novel about running, Once a Runner, John L.Parker wrote that being OCD is "probably an absolute necessity for a true distance man."

This compulsive drive is part of what helps dedicated runners log miles every day, even when they feel less than 100%. It's what gets us early morning runners out of bed at the crack of dawn when all we want to do is hit the snooze button (or better still, smash the alarm clock with a hammer). In other words, being a little compulsive can be a good thing, but like nearly every aspect of life, moderation is key. In this case, that means being flexible from time to time.

I've already talked about being flexible when it comes to the weather, but there are other times when it pays to walk the line between being committed to your training and being a robot. Being too compulsive can lead to things like burnout or injury, while being too relaxed might lead to undertraining. For me this cycle, being flexible has meant moving the time of my run on certain days to respond to other commitments; it's meant taking a few days off to deal with a potential injury; and I need to know that on Patriot's Day it may mean adjusting my time goal. I'll tell you what, though, sometimes it takes an awful lot of dedication to be flexible!
Today's Run: 6.1 miles at 7:44 pace.

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