On Fitness and Failure

I’m somewhat surprised at the response I received to my post about dropping down to the Carmel Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t surprised at the positive comments I received, though the amount of people reaching out on here, Instagram, and Twitter did blow my mind a bit. I was, however, surprised at the amount of people who felt it was “brave” to share my feelings. 

I didn’t feel or find it “brave” to be honest, particularly in a forum that I made specifically for talking about running. But it made me realize just what social media has done to fitness culture.  If you’re not running 70+ miles a week, how dedicated are you? If you’re not posting your runs every day, you must be slacking. Don’t forget, you have to be aiming to PR at every race, otherwise what’s the point? I openly mention a struggle and that’s considered brave because of everything we see on instagram and twitter: sunshine and rainbows, or a crappy run but a motivational quote for the next time. 

I appreciate the time everyone took to respond to me, or even just read what I had to say. The comments and stories made me feel more at ease about my decision and also glad that I’m not alone in having a strong preference to racing… even if I am sort of alone on the whole “I’d rather run a 5k or half marathon than a long run or marathon” thought. 

I took a complete week off after making my decision. It was partially to rehab the twinge in my knee (which may or may not have been mostly mental; I didn’t test it to find out) but moreso to rehab my mind and refocus on future goals. This past week was my first one back and I ran 10 miles over 5 days with Dunkin. I just wanted to have fun this week. I did set out on Sunday for a solid 11 mile workout, but I was running at 4pm after having a large brunch at 2pm. I thought I could digest in time but the dry heaving for 2.5 miles told me otherwise. I ended up partially walking home and then calling J to pick me up as a result of a sketchy person slowing their car down by me not once, not twice, but THREE times in my own residential neighborhood. PSA – stay alert, always. 

I’m going to focus on fun between now and Carmel, with little to no taper. I might go to a 9-10 day training schedule now that it’s light out until 7:30-8pm, so running 2+ hours on a weeknight isn’t the end of the world. While I don’t know that I can get into sub 1:45 shape before Buffalo at the end of May, let alone sub 1:40, I intend to give it a solid run. I haven’t seeing 7:xx steadily on my watch in over a year and the pain I associate with that is making me hesitate to train, but I did something to get over it fast. I signed up for a series of races every Wednesday in April (3 miles at Chestnut Ridge weekly). I think I just need to rip the bandaid off and race something other than a long run again. 

Ultimately, I want to feel the fun in training again without having to take six months off and then rebuild. I’m just happy I recognized I wasn’t completely happy before getting to that point, unlike last time.   

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When Fitness Returns

Oh, hi. I’m still here. I’m still training. But it’s been a month and there’s been changes. 

After my last post some not so good things happened. I got sort of injured. Running those 12 miles with 6 in the snow kicked my ass, in the wrong way. My stabilizing muscles were unhappy, ohhh so unhappy. I ended up taking a few days off, shortening my long runs, skipping Murph, and taking away all my speed workouts. Wahhh. 
Then I sulked. What if this nagging pain didn’t go away? Guess I’ll have to run the half marathon instead. Well, I’d probably enjoy the half marathon a heck of a lot more… but I snapped out of that because within ten days of being smart, I felt better. The endorphins came back and yanked me right out of that sulkfest.  All the groin pain was gone and somehow, things felt even better than they did before. 

So since that, I’ve nailed an easy long run and a hell of a tempo and despite the increasing mileage, my legs have recovered well. Believe it or not, this week I’ll should hit my highest mileage ever. During last marathon cycle, this is when the wheels started to come off but feeling pretty good this time around.  My fitness feels like it’s finally clicking and I can’t think of a better time than the final two months of training. 

This weekend is the yearly tradition with Laura and Heather for Lake Effect Half Marathon. I can’t believe that three years ago, I took a chance on this race and meeting up a few internet friends (Hollie was here too!) to finally say “hi” and it’s turned into a tradition and great friendship. This is the first time I’m using a race as a workout. I have 16 total miles on the table with my final 6 (basically the last loop of the course) getting down to 8:30s… so we’ll see how that goes. I think given the atmosphere of a race and friends, my adrenaline will be ready to go. 

I recall my first 16 miler, ever. It was a hot af day and I had just come back from vacation in Maine. I kept counting down how much further I had to go. I ran out of water. I literally ran/walked the entire 16 and it was awful. I know Sunday will go much better than that disaster and set me up for a great final 8 weeks. 

Hopefully it won’t take me another month to write another post, either…

Marathon Training is Hard

I am so tired. For the past couple weeks I haven’t been sleeping as well as normal, which I’m pretty sure is the cardinal sin of marathon training. Sleep is equally as important — no, more important — than all the miles and all the food. 

My favorite running buddy!
When I trained for Chicago, I had a decent base because I had just run the Buffalo Half Marathon. My legs were used to 10+ miles and long, hard efforts. This time around? The legs are so not used to it. When I run 8+ miles, my legs feel like toast all night and while my body is exhausted, my mind is awake and then I finally go to bed and end up with restless legs all. damn. night. Top that off with dreams about the POTUS (maybe I shouldn’t look at twitter after 6pm?) and I’m downright exhausted! 

I modified last week’s workouts from the plan because of said exhaustion, plus with that week off from being sick, I was trying to bridge the gap a little. 

I was happy to put some miles in on my new sneakers – New Balance Vazee Pace. I’ve been running in the New Balance Zante, which I love, but as I got up to 7+ miles, I got some gnarly blisters and could feel soreness all up my arches. So I bumped up from 4mm drop (which is the max I’ve had for years!) to 6mm and the feel of a little more cushion. It’s working well. 

Last week, I had two easy run days – one with Dunkin outdoors and one on Saturday, when I started to do my long run on the treadmill and realized mentally I couldn’t handle it. I was supposed to have a recovery run Wednesday night after my CrossFit in the morning but… exhausted. So I opted to nap and walk Dunkin instead. 

Tuesday I had the most solid workout I’ve had in a while. After a mile warmup, I had 24 minutes of 2:00 hard (8 or 9 effort) and 1:00 easy, but not recovery. I was cruising at 6:45-7:20 pace on the hard efforts and 9:00 on the easy. I felt in control throughout the entire run, though on the verge of vomiting all over on the last set. My cool down was brief solely because Olive Garden was waiting for me upstairs, oops. 

CrossFit for the week was something I really enjoyed. It was a recovery workout for everyone which is why it suited me so well. I didn’t have to modify too much and felt like the strength really helped my running. Our warmup was single leg Romanian deadlifts, which I already include often in my program. I always like when we do single leg things because I succeed at it when the people who focus on CrossFit struggle, mostly because they don’t spend as much time on one leg. We also worked on our cleans. The workout was a 10 minute workout of deadlifts, power cleans, and push-ups; it also didn’t leave me too sore to exist. 

Sunday Running Buddies (can you spot them?)
Since I moved my long run to Sunday, I ended up going outside and spending quality time in a few inches of soft snow. I had 14 easy miles on the calendar which I knew was a stretch from the 11 the previous week, plus with the snow, effort felt like more. I ran 12, however, 6 of which felt like sand and made my legs shake by the end. It was hard! I felt good with my 10:00 average overall, considering the snowy miles were closer to 10:30.  I tried to focus on fueling this run but I’m still not running long enough for it to make a huge difference.  I plan to use Honey Stinger chews again but I may experiment with their gels in a bit, we’ll see. I hate how they leave me sticky because I’m a klutz when I open and eat them!

I had to laugh a bit during my run because I listened to I’ll Have Another podcast and the conversation was surrounding a bit of running and CrossFit, which you basically can’t be good at both. It made me think more about my training and how I try to fit it in. I’ve found what works mostly for me, but it definitely is hard. I know I’m not super fresh for long runs sometimes, or I have to plan carefully with my modifications to ensure I am, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. If I’m 5 minutes slower because I wanted to keep up with CrossFit, I’m okay with it because it keeps me sane, healthier (no injuries if I keep it up, injuries when I don’t), and happier. 

One more hard week (and with my planned CrossFit on Sunday — Murph, FINALLY!), I am so looking forward to a recovery week next week.