Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unscheduled Rest Day or When to Buy Shoes

I had to take an unscheduled rest day yesterday. I often see questions from runners about knowing when to replace shoes. The answer I always give is “You’ll know when it’s time.” For me “time” is when I start feeling pain in places I normally don’t feel pain – quads, knees, hips and lower back. Well, I started feeling the pain a couple weeks ago. But Sunday’s tempo run was the straw that broke the camel’s back. By midday yesterday, my lower back was so sore I had trouble getting in and out of my car. It is nothing serious – just pesky muscular pain just bad enough to reward me for being lazy. I probably *could* have rowed, but I’m of the mindset that with no goal race looming, I’d rather be safe than sorry. So, Monday’s rowing session is being moved to Friday. Things are much better this morning, and I’ll be on the track this evening with Cal Coast. By the way – I *did* get new shoes yesterday.

I’m also busy crafting my next training cycle. I’ve decided that even though I don’t have a goal race yet, I am going to progress on a marathon cycle. My thought is that this will help set me up for my eventual goal of running a 50K in the (distant) future. I’m not going to treat this plan as gospel, so there will be a lot of flexing and adapting to things that are important to me – things like intervals with Cal Coast and trails with the Trailheadz. I want to get the miles in the books.

I’m also trying a new plan this time. About a month ago, Jill (Run With Jill), turned me on to a book that I found pretty interesting. The book is called “Brain Training for Runners”. The upshot of the book is that our brains start shutting things down when it senses that our physical body might be harmed. For example, the author (Matt Fitzgerald) contends that fatigue isn’t caused solely by glycogen depletion (studies have shown that there is still plenty of stored energy left  when we start fatiguing), but by our brain’s anticipation (teloanticipation) of falling energy reserves. The brain starts reducing muscle activation as a defense mechanism. Do I buy it? I’m not sure, but my history always has me shutting down pretty early in race situations. The other thing I like about the plan in the book is that they integrate a lot of strength conditioning and technique drills, something I desperately need.

So hang on kids. We’re about to begin an adventure…


  1. I love "Brain Training for Runners"! I'm glad you're getting the new shoes.

  2. I need to read that book. I appreciate your review on it!

  3. Yippe! New shoes!! Fun times! Wow that book sounds great! I cant wait to check it out, and good thing you choose the rest day, when we don't listen to our aches and move along, the next day is always worse! Hope you do get your Laguna Hills run oN!

  4. I'm sorry to hear your lower back is so sore but I'm glad you took a rest day. ::hugs::

    That book sounds really interesting, I'll have to check it out.

    Happy shoe shopping!

  5. I have never seen a ladybug nest in the wild...I'm intrigued!
    I read "Brain Training" last year and now I really search out more info. by Matt Fitzgerald . He has done even more specific research on fatigue. I think I posted his last article from Competitor.com. Anyway, I used two mantras during Boston that really helped me...I posted the one and the other was my little secret; "Fatigue is perception." I kept saying it over and over when I felt tired...my brain listened...so did my body!! IT was very interesting. I never let the negative squeeze in there until AFTER the race. I wanted to experiment with this whole idea of fatigue and you know, I believe it's all true.

  6. You have to be smart enough to outwit yourself. In the battle of my brain against itself I don't know who would win.

    No, hot and humid for us northerners would be a nice day for running for you guys who live in the sun year round.

  7. I am one of those people who can never tell when I need to get new shoes. I keep a log and most of my shoes have 600+ miles on them but I am a light stepper so my shoes don't show wear even when they are very used up. Luckily right around that time, I want new shoes because the old ones just look dirty and old.

    I am always intrigued by all your scientific approaches to running. Who knew? I am also one of those people who never read the manuel to anything, let alone scientific stuff on running. So I will just visit your site regular and hopefully I will pick up something new. :)

  8. Hi Glenn,
    I am very interested in the book you are talking about:) Woo hoo, Glenn is shopping for new shoes! I get the same way...you just know when things start to hurt that it is time for a new pair. For me it is mostly my feet that hurt like hell:) Take care Glenn!

  9. It sounds like an interesting concept. I might take a look at that book.

    I hope your back pain disappears quickly. Thank goodness for new shoes!

  10. That books sounds really intriguing. And great advice on when to say when with shoes. I imagine you go through quite a few pairs now.

  11. whoaaa a 50k! i am actually looking into stepping it up later this year too... we'll see :)

    i've used worse excuses to be lazy...

  12. Gosh, I think that at least 60% of races are mental. And the other 80% is physical.

    Good call staying in marathon shape. You never know when a fun race will pop up.