This last winter I learned a very important running lesson: Stick to what works best for ME.
Two of my favorite running buddies and I decided to train together through winter for our spring marathon. We had the same time goals for the race. We were all starting out at the same fitness level. Plus the three of us love spending time together and we could talk for hours non-stop. It seemed like a really great idea to follow the same plan and do all of our training runs together to prepare for the marathon. It worked for a while. Then after a few months of training together, I ended up getting injured, which forced me to take 5 weeks off from running.
I think a major reason that I got injured was because I was forgetting to do what works best for me. I was trying to follow what works for other people. My body performs best when I stick to 40-50 miles and a good amount of cross-training per week. Things started going downhill for me after a 66 mile week of running with the group. I know how many miles per week of speed work I can handle. My efforts to keep up with how my friends train ended up with me doing too much, too soon.
I learned through this experience that I can still train with my running buddies, but I have to listen to my body. This may include taking extra rest days, doing the speed workouts that I know work well for my training, and cutting a long run a little shorter if I know my body can’t take the mileage that week. Even though running with people is my favorite thing ever, I have to remember to do what I know works best for me!
All of us respond so differently to mileage, speed work, cross-training and nutrition. It is so easy to get caught up in doing what everyone else is doing. Even though the people we follow online may be doing one thing and your running buddies may be doing something else, make sure to stick to what you know works best for you and your training.