Here’s some food for thought for any female runner. It’s something that’s not often thought about, but as the writer Emma Rilen knows too well, training hard every day can be counter productive.
Being told you’re “Training like a girl” can be taken as an insult for guys, and for some females too. But in reality, if you’re a chick, that’s exactly what you should be doing. There are far fewer female distance runners than males, which results in a lot of us having to run with male training partners. During session days this can be great, helping you to get the most from each workout and having a target to work towards. Sometimes you need to push your limits and having a rabbit to chase makes finding the fighting spirit a whole lot easier. But then there are the days in between. You know, your long or general runs. In these instances, it’s all too easy to find yourself running for an hour or more with those whose pb’s are beyond the women’s world record, let alone a long way ahead of your own best times. It’s these runs where running like a girl is all-important.
The longer mileage days or general weekly runs are just as important as the sessions. They allow your body to recover and absorb the hard work from the intense workouts you do on the other days. Turning these ‘recovery’ and relatively easy runs into a pace that is close to your threshold does not give your body a chance to rest. Not saying you need to be running slow, but just to relax and save the energy for session days where you will get the most benefit from pushing hard.
Also, as a female we do not have the same hormones as males. Many of those hormones that women lack or have in lower levels than men are vital for muscle repair and energy levels. Thus as a girl, rest and recovery is even more important for prevention of injury and overtraining, than it is for males. There’s a whole lot of science behind the many physiological differences between the sexes, but that’s for another article….or several. The simple lesson here is to know when to push hard and when to relax and accept that in some cases, there’s nothing wrong with letting the boys have a victory!