On Sunday, I found myself in a predicament. To run or not to run? That was the question. Did I need to run or did I just want to run? And would running those miles help me or hurt me?
It got me thinking about junk miles. You know what I’m talking about… those miles you run just because.
Because you feel fat.
Because you want to burn off something you ate.
Because you’re afraid to take a rest day.
Because you want to indulge in extra dessert.
Because you want the runner’s high.
Because more miles are always better.
I was the Queen of Junk Miles. There was a time in my life where I was running 50-60 miles per week… every week… I had trained for an ultra but then I just wanted to keep up my mileage. I was addicted to running for so many reasons. Looking back, I realize it was stupid. I was over training. At least half of those miles were junk miles. I had no GOOD reason to be running that much.
Obviously, over the past two years, I have gotten much better at cutting out junk miles. It really improved my running! I attribute my marathon PR to several things- one of those things being less junk miles.
Sometimes it is hard to tell what exactly are junk miles and what are important training miles. That was my problem on Sunday. Obviously I have not been running a lot since my surgery (I do 3 days a week right now) so how could I be in junk mile territory when I simply wanted to add a fourth day? The weather was gorgeous, my legs felt strong, and I just wanted to get out there on the road! It wasn’t a run I needed to do, but it was going to be a “good for the soul” run.
I ended up doing five miles and felt great during and after. I’m glad I did it. Technically, I think they were junk miles. But it seems like it didn’t hurt anything this one time.
It’s all about moderation. For the average person, is it okay to throw in a couple extra junk miles once in a while? Probably. Is it okay to do it once a week? Probably not.
It’s the same for training runs. Is it okay to skip a training run for whatever reason once or twice? Probably. Is it okay to skip a training run once a week? Probably not.
You see! Moderation!
I think a lot of runners have a hard time with moderation. If you are adding an extra run into your schedule, ask yourself THESE questions:
1. Why do I want to add this run?
2. Will this run have a negative effect on my goals?
3. Is today supposed to be my rest day?
4. Am I over training?
Just stop and think before you start adding in those miles and decide if it is safe/worth it. If the answers are yes and yes, then who cares? But if you're prone to injury or over training, think twice before you start adding junk miles into your schedule. It may not be worth it!
What is your opinion on junk miles? Do you ever add them into your schedule and what is your reason?