Incremental Gains Are Boring, Slow, and They Work

I’m training for some half marathons next year (2017). I’m not sure which ones yet but I’ve already started the training. It’s going slowly, but I’m getting better, i.e. running longer and farther.

I’ve done a few halfs in the past, the first one in 2008. Then I got interested in going faster a few years after that. Trying to go faster and set personal bests took it’s toll on my body.

Eventually, I pulled a calf muscle – technically it was a muscle tear – by over training and running too fast, too often. That muscle tear landed me in physical therapy for about 6 weeks.

(Aside: The tear got much worse because I went to the Great American Beer Festival the day after the injury. I walked miles and miles and drank way too much beer! It was a recipe for disaster! I actually flew from Denver to Atlanta with a very swollen calf. Apparently, that’s very bad because that kind of swelling can be a sign of a blood clot. Flying in that condition may cause a stroke.)

Training for long distance running is a constant battle against injury.

  • Run hard, but not too hard.
  • Run farther, but maybe not as far as you can go. Just a little farther than you ran last time.
  • Take time off if you need to recover and adjust your plans.

So I’ve pulled my calf muscles a few times over the years. I had to redefine my goals from running fast and earning a fast finishing time to run long distances without getting hurt. That changes the focus a lot!

Here is my rough schedule:

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I’m off track by a couple miles per week. But I’m slowly increasing my milage and I’ll be repeating a week to make sure I’m not adding too many miles over last week. I have that luxury since my first race will probably be in March. There is plenty of wiggle room and I have the time.

Whatever it might be, slow progress is normal. If you’re trying to learn the guitar, there are going to be hours of frustration when your fingers don’t do what you’re telling them to do. When they do, the fingers will hurt until you have calluses built up.

Overall, you have to like the process and trust the system. I like running and I know the training plan works.

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