Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boston On The Horizon

Hi friends!

I've been exceptionally bad at updating my blog this training cycle, mostly because I've been having so much fun and pushing my comfort levels so hard – it's difficult to take a step back and really look at the life and the body and the fitness I've been building.

I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned and my general plan to put a little more structure into this magical abyss I often just call "training". To start, I've included a loose recap of the weekly running schedule:

5 miles easy run
I try to keep these honest, but often times Mondays become hammer days and I sit pretty at 7:20 pace rather than the 8:25s I had envisioned

Intervals! Hills or Track
These have varied a lot more this training cycle than in my Mountains 2 Beach training where I alternated weeks of either hill repeats or Yasso 800 repeats on the track. This time around I was lucky enough to get to hop into interval training with some speedy ladies who run for the Impala's racing team. We've done 2000m repeats, full track ladders, 800m repeats, and 1000m + 200m intervals, among others. I have to say, it is magnitudes more fun to have super motivated running buddies and a workout that has variety. Lesson learned!

5 or 8 mile run easy (builds and varies between weeks and depending on speed workout)
These are just some honest miles. Think maintenance, think semi-recovery.

5 or 8 mile run easy
Think "last run of the week days! Let's catch a little speed on some tired legs!"

This means I go to the gym and do an arms, back, and abs workout with stretching and a light stationary bike warm up. If I have some time, a yoga class is great to add in too. No running today unless I'm making up miles from the week.

Long Run (ranging from 8 to 24 miles)
These should ideally be controlled longer miles. I'm pretty terrible at keeping my speed in check on these long runs, but they are meant to help build a sustainable pace and push the fatigue threshold. Late stages of training will have back to back weekend days of long miles to help with running form on tired legs.

6 to 12 miles, usually
This is usually a recovery and fun run. For the first few weeks of training (weeks 1-6 of a 13 week training program) it's sort of a "build your own adventure" run. Any miles are good miles – find a new route, map out something uncharted, hit the trails. Sunday is a Run Happy day!

Now to answer some of the obvious questions that folks have asked me over the past few weeks:

1. Of course I get sick during training cycles, I travel for work, I feel injured, I have tired days or busy days or 'off' days – rest is a hard thing to justify given the goals I'd like to reach, but it is often times unavoidable and sometimes a welcome reprieve. Working more than full-time, having friends and family (who, admittedly, I tend to neglect a little bit during later-stage training), and maintaining buffer zones for decompressing all have a certain amount of demand, too. Competitive marathon training is not something that affords for a balanced lifestyle and it's about time someone tells the world that that's okay. I can be unbalanced for a little while and still learn and grow and have a boat-load of fun along the way.

2. Running is an individual, introspective sport that is uniquely and deeply social if you put in just a little effort. I have been extremely fortunate to find running mates who want to push further and faster each day with big, runner-high grins on their faces. I am spoiled with great weather, stellar training partners, and a support system that acts as a sound board when sore knees and bruised egos start to get the best of me. Let the fear of running with other people be overshadowed by the joy of camaraderie and shared passion.

3. Let them talk. Let the random dad at the family party tell his story about a 1978 track meet. Let the retired coach give you advice. Let your doctor underestimate both your pain-threshold and your recovery strength. Let the layman tell you about the Runner's World article they read about stretching. Let them talk and listen closely to the care they're giving and the support they're showing in their own way. It helps, I promise.

4. Life is short; eat the cake. I like spinach as much as the next health-aware athlete, but if we're being honest here, I believe in the power of cookies. I was a vegan for over a month during my training cycle and for the most part have kept away from dairy and eggs since then, but every so often there is nothing that will fix my problems like a donut and some compression tights. Give your body what it wants sometimes, not just what it needs.

5. It's cheesy, but it's real: Be grateful every day. I don't always believe in the statement "any pizza is good pizza," but I do believe that "any run is a good run". Yes, even the ones I've thrown up on. Even the ones that I've lost toenails on. Even the ones that ended in tears. I have been much more mindful this training cycle to be thankful for the abilities I have and the amount of time and effort I'm able to give to improve. Sometimes running and I are not on the best terms, but if I could grant anything to a beginner runner, it would be the poise and self-awareness to be unboundedly grateful. Dare to give thanks to that body of yours.

Stepping down from the soap-box of lessons learned, I'm feeling all the feels that tapering for a big race brings – anxiety, excitement, thankfulness, nerves – it's a mixed bag and I'm grateful to have a tremendously supportive team of friends, family, coworkers, and running comrades to share the highs and lows with.

Here are some pictures of my more recent adventures:
Work trips mean new running discoveries

Spiffy new Zensah ankle socks – so comfortable!

Post-it notes of the year's adventures

Post 24-mile training run – ready for TAPER!

Happy trails :)

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