By Sunday, I will have run 42 miles this week, the majority of them between Monday and Thursday. Given that I also ran Saturday and Sunday last week, I ran 6 days in a row for a total of 52 miles. I had planned to run today, but realized that it was just too many miles too many days in a row. I need to pay better attention to my run scheduling.
Nearly every training plan schedules a step back week as part of the plan. Depending on the plan, step back weeks occur every 3-5 weeks and include a drop in mileage of anywhere from 15-50%. I’ve been doing two weeks of build then one week step back where I try to drop the mileage by about 20%. (My last step back was a whopping 60% drop. Oops.)
Here’s how a step back week benefits a non-elite mother runner:
1. Recovery – This is the reason that most plans have a step back. It allows your body to recover from the stresses of building mileage, so that your body can heal and actually come back stronger. This is a physiological occurrence that happens whether you are a slow mother runner or an elite and is the main reason to give your body a break.
2. Mental health – With the odd plan that I have, due to my goal of five half marathons in five days, I spend from a little over an hour to 2+ hours running every day. There is no short run day anymore. I can’t just throw on any old thing and head out the door for a quick 3 miler. Knowing that I have to give a chunk of my day to running starts to weigh on me towards the end of the build weeks and I’m soooo ready for and easy week.
3. Catch up on life – Hello, laundry. My house looks like a bomb went off, there are piles of clean clothes that need sorting, our taxes need doing, I need to really work on our Ireland trip, and I’m falling behind at work. The amount of time I’ve spent preparing to run, running, eating, cleaning up from my run, eating again… ridiculous. It’ll be nice to catch up a bit on things next week and maybe even get to bed at a reasonable hour because I’m not scrambling to finish the things that HAVE to be done each day.
4. Try out new shoes/apparel – My shortest run this past week was 6 miles. For me, that’s a pretty long run for a new pair of shoes or a new top. Having an outfit be a problem at mile 3 of a 4 mile run is no big thing. Chafing for an additional 3 miles? Or rubbing a spot wrong on your foot? Or (what happened last year), pulling my calf 2 miles into a 6 mile run in the wrong shoes? Yeah, not gonna happen.
5. Cross training – All of my fitness time is being sucked up by running. I’m managing to squeeze in a short weight session here and there (some of it masquerading as snow shoveling LOL) and I did manage a Pure Barre class last week (review next week), but no biking, no yoga, no spin class. I just don’t have time.
Next week I’m looking forward to showering before picking my children up, meals that take more than 15 minutes to prepare, and being able to read a book without being on the treadmill. (OK, the shower thing? Yeah, I’ll probably still pick them up sweaty…)