Got my run on this morning with a really lovely (and slightly speedy) 5.0 miler. I wrapped up the distance in 47:45 (an average pace of 9:33). Wahoo! Iâ€™m really appreciating the cooler North Carolina weather. Bet itâ€™s hot as all hell right now in Florida.
Post run lunch of leftovers:
Things to Consider When Runs Are Sluggish
Recently, Iâ€™ve gotten three e-mails from runners who were concerned that their runs suddenly seem REALLY hard. They all noted they feel super sluggish through the long runs (and â€œlong runâ€ is, of course, a relative term â€“ could be 2 miles; could be 20 miles) and asked about my experience with sluggish runs.
Sluggish runs are the WORST, but itâ€™s important to listen to your body and figure out what itâ€™s trying to say. Sometimes itâ€™s just a fluke, but more often than not, a sluggish run tells me that Iâ€™m doing something wrong with my training.
Here are the common culprits for sluggish runs, in my opinion and experiences:
- Inadequate fueling, whether on a daily basis or during the actual run: Make sure youâ€™re taking in enough quality calories and try to eat a balance of carbs, protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats. Also, if youâ€™re running or exercising for an hour and a half or so, you probably want to take in calories during your runs (note: the distance that requires refueling will vary from person to person). I like Gatorade, Shot Bloks, or good old fashioned jelly beans.
- Hydration issues: DRINK WATER. ALL THE TIME. Especially DURING your runs. Get used to carrying a water bottler or use a hydration belt or CamelBak. You might also want to replace electrolytes (Gatorade or whatnot) if youâ€™re running long distances.
- Weather: The heat plays a major factor in sluggish runs. You canâ€™t control the temperatures, but you can control how you deal with it. Hereâ€™s my tips for running in the heat.
- Too Much, Too Soon: The general rule of thumb is donâ€™t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% a week. So if you run 10 miles on week run, donâ€™t run more than 11 the next.
- Donâ€™t tackle two goals at once: Burnout is inevitable if you try to increase distance and speed at the same time. Both are really hard! Just pick one goal to work at a time, although I do think itâ€™s helpful to do a comfortable speedwork day when youâ€™re training for long distances, too.
- Too much â€œother stuff:â€ Dude, life is stressful. If youâ€™re moving, starting a new job, or breaking up with your significant other, it might not be the ideal time to push yourself physically. If youâ€™re feeling sluggish, your body might just asking for a emotional AND physical break. Hold off on big goals until youâ€™re at a better place.
- Listen to your body, not the training plan: Whether you use a standard training plan or create your own, itâ€™s impossible to predict in advance how you will react to training. Be flexible with your plan and pull back on mileage if youâ€™re feeling sluggish. Constantly re-evaluate it and adjust your mileage goals. Take a few extra rest days (trust me, it wonâ€™t â€œruinâ€ your race) or make it a taper week.
- Unrealistic race goals: Sometimes, for one reason or another, our original race goal (whether time or distance) becomes unrealistic. Itâ€™s important to constantly reassess if you need to drop down to a shorter distance or be more forgiving about pace. Once I dropped down from a 10K to a 5K because I wasnâ€™t feeling my best and it was the best move ever (I won the 5K!). Hereâ€™s how to set race goals without driving yourself crazy.
- And the big oneâ€¦ SLEEP: For me, the biggest culprit of sluggishness is always sleep. As I ramp up mileage for my marathon, I notice I need more and more sleep in order to recover â€“ sometimes as much as 9.5 hours a night. So, get in bed early!
Why are your runs sometime sluggish? Whatâ€™s your remedy? And do you require as much sleep as me when you ramp up exercise?