My husband suggested I write another poetic blog about running in the humidity, but the creative juices aren't really flowing that way. So in this three-part series (to be written over the course of the next several weeks) I'll share my thoughts on what I perceive to be the most highly debated running topics among runners.
The debate: Some runners insist on always racing with headphones, while other runners get annoyed with the headphone wearers because they can't hear what's going on around them.
|10K from 2007 after removing my headphones.|
My stance: I don't agree that safety is a valid reason for banning headphones in most races. The exception is if it's a smaller race and the road is not blocked off from cars. Then safety does become an issue. Otherwise, it might be annoying for others trying to pass you, but you aren't at a high risk for being trampled on. . . I don't think! I think there are things that people do in races that are much more "unsafe" than using headphones, such as jogging strollers in the front or middle of the pack, suddenly stopping to walk without pulling over to the side, throwing your cup on the ground where someone else can easily slip on it, etc. As for the rules, people are going to break the rules and wear headphones, which is why I don't agree with banning them. The fact of the matter is, A LOT of people like running with headphones, so banning them isn't really practical.
Minimalist Shoes/Barefoot Running
The debate: Minimalist shoes, designed to mimic barefoot running, are becoming increasingly popular because it's seen to be more natural. Many runners believe that barefoot running will make them faster and less injury prone.
|Vibram Minimalist Running Shoe|
My Stance: My husband brought up a good point: although humans were meant to run barefoot, we were not meant to run marathons on asphalt or concrete. Maybe if all races and runs were in the grass or a dirt surface, I might be more open to the idea of it. I also think that the amount of research that has been put into making today's running shoes what they are far outweighs the theory that barefoot is best.
The debate: One school of thought is that the best approach to getting faster is to run more miles. 50 miles a week is better than 40. 60 is better than 50. The other school of thought is that the quality of the workouts is more important than the quantity of the miles. Unless a workout has a specific purpose, then it's just "junk miles".
My Personal Preference: Before my recent injury, I took the "more is better" approach. I didn't consider any miles to be junk miles because if I wasn't doing speed work or a long run, I was simply building my aerobic capacity and training my legs to spend more time running. Usually I only did one speed session per week (alternating intervals and tempo runs) because I thought more than that would be too much, given my relatively high mileage. However, when I trained for my best marathon ever back in the spring of 2008, I was running fewer miles but with two speed sessions per week. Now I am not sure what's best. I still think you need high weekly mileage to succeed at the marathon, but I might be better off reducing my overall mileage in exchange for an extra speed workout each week. In thinking about how I will train for my next marathon, I know I'll be doing a lot more cross training than ever before, so it will be lower mileage, and some of the weeks will likely include two speed workouts.
My Stance: I don't really believe in "junk miles" unless you are running so many miles that you are over training and wearing yourself out. I think that running an 8-miler at an easy pace for the sake of "general aerobic" fitness is just fine. However, if this run comes the day after a 20-miler just to get some more miles in, then maybe it's moving toward "junk".
I'll cover more exciting and controversial topics in the next blog in this series. Meanwhile, I ran 33 miles this week, plus 80 minutes of pool running and 1500 yards of swimming. Half marathon in two weeks!