Julie Berg's fine post got me to thinking about the term "junk miles."
I have at least 2 "junk miles" runs per week. They are one of life's simple pleasures for me. On mine, I sometimes run with my IPod, but most of the time I'm listening to nature. Since I run with a the Trail Nerds group on almost every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, running by myself is a necessary part to my ultra race training. After all, on a 50 or 100-miler, you will be alone with your own thoughts for at least half of the distance, so you sure as heck better train for it.
Junk miles??? I think time on your feet at any pace is very much worthwhile, in regard to training for ultras. In a race distance of 50 miles or more, most of the time I'll be running at a 75% heartrate pace, or so. It's all terrain dependent, of course. So I need to find time to train in that speed range more often.
Most of my runs alone are at a leisurely pace (unless I put on the IPod). When do I do them? I sometimes run 4-6 miles on Monday nights, but usually it's on a Wednesday or Friday night. In the nicer months, I will sometimes ride my bike after the run for 30-40 minutes. Tuesday nights before the group run, a few of us run alone at our own pace for some "extra miles in the bank."
Tonight, I'm doing a little 4-mile trail loop with my son, prior to running with the Trail Nerds group. It will be at a 11 minute/mile pace or so. My 24-y.o. son is slowly getting back into shape (and trying to kick smoking), and has found that he can now run up to 4 miles without stopping, (as long as it's not on evil pavement). And what a good way to spend time with my son!
Junk on, runners!
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