How did your run go today?
No, really. How did you feel in your first mile? In your last? Did you feel as fresh as you’d hoped after taking Sunday off and running that flat, easy five on Monday? How about that nagging hamstring tightness that started in mile seven of your long run on Saturday morning? Did your pre-run banana stave off mid-run hunger today? Still feeling up to Yasso 8’s tomorrow?
It probably seems like overkill to review each and every run. Your attention is pulled in every direction the moment you untie your shoes, and it’s easy to move on mentally as soon as you do physically. Right now you can recall your run and any notable details, but what about next week? Two weeks from now?
Unless it was an exceptionally killer workout, an epic PR, or an egregious bonk, chances are today’s run will disappear into the depths of your brain, along with the quality of sleep you got and the food you ate. How your body absorbs the run will fade away, too. But all of these things are important!
I’ve been thrown a lot of information and advice in the last several months, but there’s a reason I started running: things thrown at me are rarely caught. If I don’t run the other way (which I defiantly consider basic human instinct), my appalling hand-eye coordination usually fouls it up. But once in a while I make a Scotty Smalls-style catch.
In February the NJ*NY Track Club Head Coach, Frank Gagliano, spoke to RVRR. I had planned to write about Coach Gags’ talk shortly after, but left feeling overwhelmed with the immense amount of information he gave us in that awesome hour and a half. He recommended dynamic stretching, pool work, massage, plenty of time on the track, and vitamins. He talked about eating well, fueling properly, having fun, how to properly run a downhill, and not tying your shoes too tight. Gags was a wealth of advice and information on any and every topic related to running and racing.
It was a great talk, Gags was very candid and motivational, but I stared at my notes from this legendary coach and couldn’t quite pull a Scotty Smalls with any one specific piece of it… until yesterday.
One of the first things Gags had said was, “Don’t hide anything when it comes to running.” He elaborated, explaining that seemingly unrelated or minimal aches, pains, and fatigue are usually connected. Gags said he encourages his runners to tell him everything about their runs so he has the big picture of how they’re feeling, how they’re recovering, how their nutrition is going, etc. Open communication and constant review allows him to plan future workouts, include new race distances, add appropriate cross-training, and even a temporary training overhaul to accommodate fatigue or an irritated tendon before it gets serious.
Highest pop fly ever. “Don’t hide anything when it comes to running.” Took me five months, but I got under it, stuck out my glove, and finally caught it.
Not all of us have a coach to watch each 400m repeat and see if we’re picking our knees up, or meticulously track our splits in a race. We don’t typically have someone we’re obligated to keep informed of how we felt during and after a regular Thursday run, or what felt especially tight when absentmindedly stretching by the copier. Doesn’t mean each up and down should go unnoticed or tossed away as insignificant!
Thankfully I had an assist on this catch, my
slave driver exercise therapist, Jerry. Before and after every run and workout I talk to or e-mail Jerry, or my trainer Dave, about any aches, pains, soreness, and update on my general state. A lot of the time he knows what I’m going to say after watching my circuit training or treadmill workout.
It started to feel like overkill, saying the same stuff over and over about lingering hip pain and absolutely demolished quads, but it’s what he was looking for- consistency. After weeks of consistency, he added a new exercise to my circuit workout last Wednesday, my hip got extra annoyed, and the pain hung around longer in the week. I had something new to e-mail!
Based on the atypical update, Jerry told me to “stop in” Monday to make sure everything was okay. I waltzed in planning on tracking down some Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin and heading home to make dinner. Jerry determined I was fine and put me on the treadmill to run straight uphill for 2.5 miles. Then we talked about how it went.
I won’t always have Jerry and Dave to provoke me to review each run and each workout, ask what I ate before coming in, or challenge me to suck it up and work hard when I feel phantom pains, but I have the lesson via
Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez Coach Gags that I finally caught and internalized. Don’t hide anything from someone you’re working out with or from yourself. Good, bad, or seemingly nondescript- it’s all part of a healthy big picture. Keeping track of all details in a log will give you a fantastic overview of progress, concerns, triumphs, and what does and doesn’t work for you.
So… how was your run today?