Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fixed or flexible run schedule?

Among runners in training, there seem to be two schools of thought on run schedules as they relate to the weather. One says that schedules are flexible, such that runs can slide a day or two to be matched up to better weather conditions. The other establishes that a run schedule is essentially fixed and weather is a non-factor.

I'm squarely in the "fixed schedule" camp. I learned that from my first trainer who gave me my start in running almost four years ago. When he handed off a schedule it was with the understanding that there were very few legitimate reasons to move, or worse, skip a run. I'm grateful for that influence and abide by it still.

One caveat -- I will adjust a schedule (or resort to a treadmill) to avoid dangerous icy conditions.

This morning I woke up to a downpour and temps in the mid-30's. I drove down the interstate to the New River Trail, as planned, to give these legs some time off the asphalt and on a flat grade for a 14-miler. Flat is hard to come by around here. It was wet, boggy going especially on the way out. At the turnaround, the rain subsided and I was able to shed my jacket and pick up the pace.

Yes it's in the 30's but I have on arm sleeves and gloves.
I prefer the fixed approach for the following reasons:
  1. Race day, I have no say in the weather so I want to know how to adjust my run and have confidence in a wide variety of conditions
  2. The experience helps me to figure out how to dress, hydrate, and fuel for various weather so I can be comfortable.
  3. It's empowering to run in weather that others would opt out of. Weather 0; Cortney 1.
  4. Taking the decision-making out of it keeps it simple and unfettered. There's no thinking, I just GO!
  5. I haven't had to use a treadmill in two years.
  6. It prevents the possibility that sliding runs a day or two becomes skipping runs.
  7. It's fun to get a little wet and dirty and to jump around and through puddles!

The fixed approach requires having a pair of shoes that I don't mind getting dirty!! By the end of today's run, the shoes were filthy, my white socks had turned black, and I had to scrub my feet with a brush! Ahhhhh.......all in good fun!!

I am kind of curious about the dirty scuff marks up the insides of my calves. At least they are equal on both sides, but I wasn't aware of dragging my shoes along my legs. Hmmm. That can't be good! (Any thoughts on that, feel free to share!)