Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Is It a Hard Run or Junk Miles


How many of us have heard the term junk miles?  I used to think that junk miles weren't really a thing but as I've learned from years of running, there ARE junk miles, most people just don't understand quite what junk miles are. So I wanted to talk a little bit about the difference between junk miles and bad runs today.

To me, a bad run doesn't mean they were junk miles, a bad run just means that it was a hard run where you struggled.  A bad run still does you good. A bad run makes you stronger in the end and makes you fight and struggle mentally so that you will be stronger on race day.

Junk miles aren't all that common, in my opinion. To me, the only junk miles that exist are miles that are doing your body more harm than good. Miles that injure you or prevent you from healing. Those are the miles that make it a waste of time and energy to run because, in the end, you're going to have to take more time off recovering.

All those runs in high school that I would do when I was told by the coach/trainers to take a week or so off to heal, those were junk miles. And I could have saved myself a lot of injury by taking the time off instead of running those junk miles.

Sometimes we just have bad running days and it's hard and frustrating. So when you're out for a run and you're struggling and wondering if the run is even worth doing ask yourself these questions before quitting:

  1. Are you injured?
  2. Are you sick with anything from the chest down?
  3. Why is your run feeling hard? Is it bad pain, breathing problems...?
  4. Is your pace too fast?
  5. Are you dehydrated?

These five questions will help you decide if you should really quit your run or if you should push through your run.  Listen to your body, do what is best for you. 



Just because you're feeling like your run is extra hard or maybe you get back from your run and don't feel like you were challenged at all doesn't mean you just ran junk miles. Sometimes hard runs happen, and easy runs are a good thing! Like with a lot of things in running, it's important to listen to your body and adjust what you need to.

How do you know when it was junk miles or just a hard run?

What is something about running you're still learning about?

14 comments:

  1. I really loathe the term junk miles because any time someone is out there, moving and sweating--is that time wasted?

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  2. I hate junk miles because I feel like our time is precious and we should spend it doing something that will only benefit us. I used to do a lot of junk miles but over the years I have gotten better about it.

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  3. I have heard the term but don't really like it. The only time I think miles are a bad idea are if you are injured or it's dangerous to be outside for a weather issue

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    1. I agree I’ve always believed that any run is better than no run unless you’re injured!

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  4. I agree. I don’t do drills or have a plan. But I don’t consider any of my miles junk miles.

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  5. I never heard of junk miles but, now that I know what they are I have been having a lot of junk miles in the past month. I've been getting weird, nagging pains in my legs and they are pretty deep. Constantly having to rest and recover has been the norm lately. Thanks for posting this. Very helpful and I will definitely pay more attention to my running as I have been focusing a lot on my form and pre- and post-run routines.��

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    1. I’m so glad it was helpful. Some people call different thing junk miles but this is really the only thing that makes sense to me. Listen to your body and give it a few extra rest days. I hope you get back to it again soon!!

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  6. I have a co-worker who runs, and in my opinion, over-trains to the extreme. On occasion, I've seen her post about running on her "broken body" because she's a runner and that's what runners do. Hmmmm...I wonder if her body is always broken because she never lets it heal? Great post...the comparison to hard runs is great!

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    1. Haha I used to run like that all the time and it took me a while but I figured it out eventually;). Thanks for reading

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  7. As a coach, my very unpopular opinion (don't throw stones at me!) is that run streaking is often "junk miles". Rest days are SO IMPORTANT, and can be hindered by throwing in a few miles just to say you did or to continue a streak. But, if people are running just to run and be happy (and yes that includes streaking!) then more power to them. I think miles are only "junk" if you have a specific training goal you are aiming for.

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  8. Yes, I have heard the term junk miles... I feel like this happens to me cycling, but not running. Any time I am moving outside or even on the treadmill by running or walking, it helps my mood! However, I have spent time on my bike trainer that has served little purpose!!

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  9. Based on your definition, I get very few junk miles, so I'm going with yours. Personally, I think every run I do has some purpose, even if it's not actually "advancing" my "training" at the time.

    I am mostly careful when I am sick or injured. Sometimes, a good run is just what I need to sweat the sickness out, so I don't shy away from that.

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  10. It is helpful to define what junk miles are. Currently I think I am racking up some junk miles as I am not training for anything specifically but maybe they are maintenance miles?

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  11. I think it really depends - junk miles = run streaking when you really need to rest because "the cool kids are doing it". Junk miles= only running when your body actually needs some cross and strength training. at the end of the day is IS important to listen to your body, so basically I would need to define it for myself if I'm running junk miles or not. for my own mental and physical health, if I'm not injured, any miles are going to help me.

    what I'm still learning about running is how important the right fuel is. It's still a challenge!!

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