Leg Miles – They Count Too

What are you talking about – leg miles what is that and what does it have to do with running?

I did some thinking, along with a little research last night and this morning after encountering a little niggle in my right foot that caused me to take the day off yesterday and decide to be conservative and take today off as well.

Look at how closely we track our running mileage (many times down to the nearest hundredth) and use that information to determine our training routines and associated risk of increasing our mileage too quickly.

However, stop and think for a minute, most of us do other things besides run, but we hardly ever pay attention to how much of the other stuff we do as the weather warms up. We get outside more, mow the lawn, walk, hike, bike with the kiddos, walk the dog more, garden, clear brush, and are just generally more active, especially if you live in an area that actually has winter weather.

All great things if you ask me, but it also adds the number of miles you put on your legs over the course of a day, week or month. When I looked at my weekly running summary since 2012, I noticed a pattern that I seem to get injured a lot from the last couple of weeks in May to the first couple of weeks in June.

When I got to thinking about this pattern, I thought about what changes during the weeks leading up to those lost running days. I came up with three possible factors:

  • increased speedwork
  • fewer rest days and more streaking
  • increased activity beyond running.

The first two are directly running related and will be discussed in a different post, but they are definitely factors that I am looking at.

Which leaves us to increased activity beyond running. On a whim last year I started tracking cardio miles (walking, walking the dog, snow blowing and mowing the lawn, along with very little biking and ellipitical miles), just to see what kind of mileage those activities have been adding to my running total.

Looking at my monthly stats for April to May, I stayed in the recommended 10% increase for total running mileage, which surprised me, but is good to know. My walking total increase more than a 10% by a bit which caused my total running/walking total to be a little high. Not unreasonable, but a little more than recommended.

However, if you look at the actual total mileage of walking and running, what I am doing per month it is a lot. Nearly 280 miles for March and April and then jumping to 311 for May. That to be honest is a helluva lot of mileage on my legs and no wonder why they always feel tired.

I didn’t realize how many miles I was actually putting on my legs each week/month before I started tracking the cardio mileage. Especially, during May.

It was pretty eye opening

However, when I thought about the another measurement that I don’t really pay all that much attention to and will more from now on is the number of steps that I take in a day.

That is a pretty significant spike in the number of steps taken during May (745,623) compared to April (659,159). Which I believe is a pattern that if you could go back and review would repeat itself more often than not.

March and April I begin to increase my outside activities and my mileage remains pretty constant in comparison to that particular year. However, in May I start to really do a lot more stuff outside, while attempting to maintain or slightly increase my weekly mileage, add in speedwork and all too often get caught up in attempting a streak of some kind each spring.

All those things when added together have led me down the garden path to many injuries during the last couple weeks of May or first couple of weeks of June.

Looking at the patterns, the data and some of the stuff that I see starting to happen (the old body is breaking down and getting ready for a good injury – if I don’t pay attention to what I am doing), at least I have an idea about the why I get injured during this time frame many years.

Now that I have the information, I have to figure out what to do with it.

Which means that I have to re-think my training schedules and maybe have the May 15th to June 15th window be more of a recovery phase as my body adapts to the increased activity that I do outside.

Lots to think about with this one and I am glad that I started keeping track of the miles I am putting on my legs, it possibly gave me some data that I can use to improve my running and hopefully not get injured as often.

How about you, do you find that you get injured or feeling stale about this time frame too? What do you do about it?

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