I realised after my run on Tuesday that I’ve slipped back into an old, costly habit. I’ve become a 2 speed runner again. My 2 speeds are go and stop.
I once did a “quick 10 miler” not race pace but not far from it. I finished in 74 minutes 5 seconds. A week later I fancied a “slow plod” did 10 miles again and finished in 74 minutes 34 seconds. Well done me, making an effort to run slowly and managing to slower by less than 30 seconds over 10 miles.
There is a downside to this. My 2 speed nature played a part in my ITB issues. I ran my long slow runs at the same pace as nearly every other run and it took its toll. I found it incredibly hard to slow down. My changing point was the marathon training. Running 4-5 times a week and doing interval training forced me to both speed up (to less than 6 minute miles for speed work) and slow down (to over 8 minute miles for distance work). But a break from this training during my post marathon recovery has seen me drift back to old habits and I’ve found the ITB tightness has drifted back too.
Tuesday, running in beautiful sunshine, I stuck to my ‘usual’ speed, a fairly rigid 7:20 per mile. By mile 6 the knee was tight, I tried to slow but couldn’t, by mile 7 I decided to stop and walk the remaining 1.5 miles in the sun.
The problem with a consistent speed is that the stresses on the body remain fairly uniform, especially on a flat, hard surface like concrete. The same areas get stressed over and over again and, not surprisingly, my ITB took the brunt of it.
Today the weather wasn’t so nice but I ran anyway.
I made a conscious effort to vary my speed. I started at between 8 and 8:20 per mile. It felt great. I was cruising, my favourite part of running. When you feel like you can keep going for hours. You can admire the scenery, even phone your mum as you run! I kept that going for 2 miles then picked up to around 7:50. At 3 miles the weather sped me up! I was running against the wind and it started to rain. I turned to head back, realised I was getting soaked and sped up.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike running in the rain. In fact I quite like it. It makes you feel alive, but if my phone gets wet it makes it feel very dead! So with the wind behind me and rain lashing at my side I sped along at between 6:30 and 6:50, which was not easy considering I now had my phone in my pocket and was holding it to stop it bouncing up and down. 3 miles at this pace and I reached mile 6 pain free, although totally soaked. I opted to stop rather than push until things got sore and then treated myself with a baguette, packet of crisps and hot chocolate, stood in the cafe like a numpty wearing wet shorts and a bright yellow wind stopper!
Nothing has changed in 2 days but my running speed, interesting how different my knee feels….have a think are you a 2 speed runner? Could changing this help reduce your running injuries?