Steamtown Marathon Diary: Cutback Week

After a few weeks of steadily increasing my mileage until I hit 70 a week, I noticed I was starting to feel a bit sluggish. Good timing, because I was planning on doing a cutback week anyway. Cutback weeks are exactly what they sound like, weeks when you bring your mileage down fifteen or twenty percent before going back up again. If you’re feeling sluggish or tired, they might be just the thing you need to get that spring back in your step.

I ended up doing about 55 miles for my cutback week, and let me say, I certainly felt a whole lot better. I never thought that going for eight mile runs could seem so short, but after a week full of ten milers, they seemed so easy. Plus, my legs just felt fresher and I wasn’t plodding up the stairs when I got home.

However, I would caution against going too easy on cutback weeks. If you’re doing 50 MPW, don’t chop it all the way down to 25 or so. But if you think you’re on the verge of an injury or something serious, then I absolutely recommend bringing the mileage down, possibly significantly. Or if you really are that worn out, cut it in half, but if all you’re feeling is a little sluggish, generally I wouldn’t cut any more than thirty percent at best.

Another thing about cutback weeks to keep in mind is that it might be a good idea to keep up the intensity, to balance out your reduced mileage a little. I more or less kept my usual pace all last week, but I did do a pretty intense tempo workout (I did a mostly flat 3.5 mile loop in 19:33, if you’re curious). But as I’ve said before, I think the most important thing is just listening to your body and doing what’s best for you at a given time. So if you need to go down 50% or drop the intensity as well, don’t let me stop you; I’m just documenting what tends to work for me and people with whom I’ve run before.

I’m planning on doing my first 20 miler this Sunday, and I’ll be sure to document how that goes sometime early next week. Until we meet again, friends.

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