Why Sunday rundays rock and how to train smarter

Reposted pic from my Instagram feed: Here I'm doing some ski jumpers after a 4-mile Sunday run.

Reposted pic from my Instagram feed: Here I'm doing some ski jumpers after a 4-mile Sunday run.

For some runners, Sunday is a day of total rest after six days of hard training. For me, it’s always been a “fun run” day—that is, a day to try a new road route or trails.

Today, with the real-feel temp hovering around 35 degrees, I donned a panoply of running apparel (from my old Skins leggings to my black Under Armour long-sleeve to my favorite Asics jacket) before heading out for my mid-morning Sunday run. While I love wearing colorful run gear I also love all-black getups. They make me feel fashionably classic and polished…yet intense.

Mid-morning, if you don’t already know, is a choice time to run, especially in the winter: the sun’s been up long enough for the earth to heat up a bit, there’s less traffic and you’ll still have that morning energy to power through your run.

I lucked out today: total sunshine, and my layers kept me just warm enough. My Sunday runday was made even more enjoyable with a good music playlist—an eclectic mix of the Alabama Shakes, Lake Street Dive, Brandi Carlile, Beirut and a dash of Neil Young.

Some runners enjoy silence, just the sound of their own breath and their sneakers slapping the pavement. I like the quiet when on trails, but on roads, I can’t stand the sounds of suburbia: the whizzing of cars, the whining of leaf blowers (ugh, the worst!) and the whirring of planes overhead. Music helps me focus. 

My new route wound around a few relatively quiet neighborhoods, only necessitating I follow one busy road for about a quarter mile, all the while maintaining what I felt was a relatively easy pace.

In all I completed a little over four miles in 29 minutes flat—about 7:15 minute/miles. Not bad for going “easy.” When I got back home I followed up with some extra cardio (ski-jumpers) and five minutes of core work.

If I’ve learned anything in my 10 years as a runner, it’s to train smarter, not necessarily harder. These post-run exercises are just a taste of what I’ve been doing lately to become better runner.

In high school and into my college years, I used to run 7 days a week, three to four miles a day, ALWAYS at tempo (about 80%) pace. While I was incredibly fast (and developed an enviable lung capacity), I realized this wasn’t a sustainable way to train.

Running is all about posterity. When developing a training regime (which should be flexible—remember, always listen to your body), it’s important to think long-term. Ask yourself these two key questions:

·      Can I keep this up physically? Will this training regime lead me down a path to injury?

·      Can I keep this up mentally? Will this training regime burn me out psychologically?

After a summer of successful long-distance road racing, I shook up my training routine to prepare me for the winter and spring track seasons. What’s my repertoire looking like? It incorporates yoga, strength training, running and cycling. It’s energizing, fun and upends the usual “runners train by running” mantra. This diverse routine has made me stronger, more flexible and less prone to injury and mental burnout.

So, at the end of another great Sunday runday, I challenge you to rethink your running routine. How can you improve it to become a better, smarter, more sustainable runner?

Lingering thoughts:

·      What is your favorite cold-weather running gear?

·      What colors do you tend to wear when you run? Do you have a running gear style?

·      What’s your favorite running music? Artists, albums, genres, etc….