Too much junk?

It can’t be a coincidence that less than 24 hours after eating my weight in turkey and dressing, a conversation I had with my coach this week is still lingering in my head.  A conversation essentially about “junk miles”.  Boy, I could sure use some junk miles right about now….

On Wednesday, during a discussion with my new coach, the topic of junk miles came up.  He said that his only worry at this point is that I have a tendency to go too hard in my workouts- especially my run workouts.  Along those same lines when we were discussing my 2013 Annual Training Plan, the subject of long bike miles came up.  Weaved in between these conversations was this notion of “junk miles”.  His point? When I run too hard in my weekly run workouts, I really end up making those miles junk miles.  And if I can’t follow the plan, how can I expect my own athletes to?  Ouch! “Do as I say, and not as I do” obviously didn’t cut it here.  And I admit, I do like for my runs on the brisk side.  It just feels better to me.

The funny thing is that I ran across this article by Dan Empfield on Slowtwitch that very same morning, before I had my conversation with my coach that afternoon.  So what’s the learning here?  The only true “junk mile” for a triathlete or runner are those when you don’t follow the plan- the ones when you go zone 3-4 when the workout calls for zone 2, and those workouts when you go zone 1-2 where you really should be hitting zone 4 intervals.  We all know this as athletes, so why then is it so hard for us to do? 

And for long course athletes, “junk” is in- if you manage it right.  You have to actually understand what “junk” is. What we might have considered “junk” (long slow miles) is actually very beneficial, especially for long course athletes.  And I will add that these additional hours in the saddle, or on the run, shouldn’t cause additional stress on your muscles that would interfere with subsequent workouts, so I recommend building into this- especially for first and second year athletes, or if you are training for your first Half or Full Ironman.

Remember, the real “junk” is anything you do that sabotages future “quality”, so be smart!