A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Junk Miles

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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?

27 comments:

  1. I love the questions at the end to help guide the decision of whether or not you're facing running junk miles. Sometimes we just want to run, despite the plan or what training we're doing, because we LOVE to run! And that's okay. I think of those kinds of runs as miles for the soul, which automatically means they're not junky :o)

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    1. I agree, a healthy amount of good for the soul runs are important! I think that is how I would classify all of my trail runs!

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  2. Oh junk runs...I can relate to doing those in the past (or junk exercise rather). So glad I'm past that point!

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  3. I never thought of miles like this before, but yes it does happen. I've had a few "junk" races too....haha

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    1. lol Junk races! I never, ever race so I wouldn't dare call any of them junk yet but I'm sure it's bound to happen.

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  4. I used to do lots of runs that were junk miles. I'd run every day because like you said, it felt good and I was afraid that of I took a rest day, I would stop running. Well, I got injured. Enough said!

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    1. Same here! Injured, tired, hungry, and fat. That was me running 50-60 miles a week!

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  5. When I first started running, I did it just because I loved it and had no training goals so some weeks I ran 7 days and sme weeks I ran 2 days because I just ran when I felt like running. I guess they would all be considered junk miles but I don't think of them that way. I would only consider it junk miles now if I started adding random runs to my training schedule and increasing mileage without properly planning things out to not injure myself.

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    1. Nah I wouldn't consider those junk miles. Listening to your body and doing what feels right when you're not training for something specific is probably the perfect way to do it! My problem was I always felt like I *had* to run to burn calories, and if I didn't run a certain distance I would get fat... I was so not in a healthy place. I guess I could also call them "I'm afraid I'll get fat miles" hehehe.

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  6. Oh man junk miles... I used to run soo many of them! I think I used to run 6 days a week even if it was only for 2 miles because that's what I thought I was supposed to do to be a "runner". I mostly try to keep all of my runs with a purpose now, but every once in a while I throw a few junk miles in there. Sometimes you just gotta run!

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    1. That is really interesting that you said you felt like you had to run every day to be a run. That is awesome you don't feel that way anymore. Oh and I agree, if you gotta run, you gotta run! I wouldn't consider any run without a training purpose to be junk. I hope I didn't come off that way in my post. Running for enjoyment is important as well.

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  7. I am sure I have done junk miles, but since I tend to make my training up as I go now and just enjoy each run...I don't think there are many junk miles. Who knows, as long as I'm happy and uninjured I don't care what they are called HA!

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    1. I make my training up as I go along too! I didn't think there were many people like us out there! I hope you didn't think I was insinuating that any run done for just the enjoyment would be "junk" because I definitely don't. I barely ever race, so that would mean most of my runs would be junk hehe.

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  8. All good points, Megan! I like the questions you give us to ask ourselves. And this isn't the same thing I was going to write about junk miles, so if I ever get that post out of my head and onto the Internet, I won't feel like I copied you. :)

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  9. I don't consider any Good for the Soul easy runs to be junk miles because I think they help with stress, but you know those runs you have every couple of months where you just DON'T want to run and you would basically phone it if you did it anyway? Those are junk miles for me and these days if I start a run and am just not into it AT ALL I'll skip it and do something else : )

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    1. Great point, Kristina! Good for the soul runs are so important because I know deep down we all just love RUNNING. (Picture me saying "running" like Forest Gump because that is how I would have said it out loud hehe.)

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  10. I've been really working on not stressing about weekly milage because I'm not really training for anything. There's a half in May that I'd like to run, but I haven't even signed up for it yet. So now I run to keep my crazy at bay and when I'm done, I'm done.

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    1. "Crazy at bay"... you mean the crazy that can't stop when the Garmin says 10.66, you gotta keep going to 11??? That's me!

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  11. Hello, junk mile Queen right here! LOL. I always follow and stick to a plan when marathon training, but that area in between big races I run freely...whatever whenever. I did that over Christmas and found myself feeling stale, quickly. I am working on keeping consistent with quality runs now. Most of the time, I run to just be running...not really for fat/calorie burn.

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    1. See I would never think you were a junk mile queen! I am always impressed with how you stick to a smart training schedule. I think it's definitely okay to run freely when not training for something, just as long as you don't over do it. From reading your blog, I can tell you're REALLY good at listening to your body and adjusting accordingly.

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  12. This one made me think...I think your "extra" was a god one :) Sometimes it's nice to just out and enjoy the day. Since I am still just a year and a few months into running I don't feel experienced enough to run "junk miles'. I will say though there have been times when I have tried to run and my legs just felt so heavy or a bit sore and I would keep trying to push through. I considered those junk miles, but I have been much better about that lately. Pretty much I stick to 3 or 4 days a week and only go over if I have time off work or vacation or something.

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    1. I agree! I don't think any run that is not for training is junk. To me junk miles are miles that lead to injury and don't help anything.

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  13. I seriously needed this this morning!! I felt like I *should* run, kind of wanted to run, but did 12 yesterday and know I'm doing 8 Monday so I just decided to take a break, go to yoga this evening, get some work done that doesn't involve running... THANK YOU!

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    1. Awesome!!! Your body will be able to repair and recover from your 12 miler. Then tomorrow, you can run your 8 miles STRONG and recovered. :)

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