Friday, January 13, 2017

And so it begins...

I've meant to update a couple of times since I wrote that race report but haven't gotten around to it - life is full right now, but in excellent ways! It's probably OK because I think maybe 3 people read this? That might be generous haha. Anyway, enjoy some random musings. And as it seems to do every year for me, Boston training has once again begun. This will be my 6th time running Boston (4th consecutive) and at this point it's hard for me to even imagine spending a winter doing anything other than hauling my body through the streets for 45-70 miles per week in preparation for the big day in mid-April. That's actually one of the things I adore about training for Boston: the sameness. I do variations on the same lead-up race schedule every year, I know them, I love them. I know my routes and the basic patterns in which I run them. I know that training begins in conjunction with the new year and will carry me through the entire winter. It's lovely, really, to have something that gives a purpose to the dark, cold months of the year.

This year's training cycle has begun in pretty similar fashion to the rest of them, with the return to track workouts and the addition of a run longer than 10 miles on the weekend signaling that we are Back In Training. I've actually been pleasantly surprised at how well my body (and mind) have handled the uptick in mileage so far - I went from 25-30 mpw on a good week and pretty much jumped right up to the 40s. I thought this would be more difficult since I pretty much took the summer and fall season off from hard training, so it's been really nice to feel like my body is handling the workload well (could this actually be a benefit of taking a rest season from marathons and focusing more on improving my strength? Maybe!).  There are a couple of things that I say I'm going to do with my training EVERY YEAR, and pretty much every year I fail...I think 2017 is off to a good start on both of these fronts so I'm going to share them here for accountability.

One of my goals has always been to be a more well rounded runner and to actually do things other than run that will benefit my running - strength training in particular. I've jumped on and off the strength wagon about 100 times but I think I MAY have found a couple of things that's going to help it stick this time. One is my newfound love for yoga - I've been going pretty consistently 1x/week since July or August, and I have to say I've noticed a pretty significant difference in my core strength, hip stability, and being more even side to side (to say nothing of the fact that I can actually hold a high plank and do push ups for the first time in my entire LIFE). I also really enjoy yoga! I'm trying to get better at the breath/mind body aspects of the practice, which I definitely think can carry over into running too. There are a lot of positions where you sort of just have to breathe through your discomfort and trust your body to support you, which sounds a whole lot like what you have to do in a tough race. So getting that in at least once a week has been helpful. The other thing is that I decided this year to do the No Days Off thing from Tracksmith (a MA based company that sells amazing, though absurdly expensive running gear). Originally I thought that you were supposed to run every day and I was like thanks but no thanks, but then they posted something on instagram that reframed it as "doing SOMETHING to improve yourself as a runner every day". That resonated with me, and so, that's my goal. I have never and will never be a 7 day/week runner - I can do 6, but for my physical wellness, sanity, and time I NEED at least one day a week where I don't run. So far, this calendar has been highly motivating to get me to do something else on that day - usually a half an hour or so of strength work. Checking off the day on the calendar is so stupidly satisfying and I'm now invested enough that I don't want to break the streak. Which is great!

The other thing, which is definitely still a work in progress, is to RUN EASY ON EASY DAYS! Maybe if I write it in caps I'll actually do it? I think I am getting slightly better at this, as I've done a few runs with paces in the 8:20s-30s and felt fine about it, but I definitely fall victim to the creep back to "default" pace (around 8:05-7:45, depending on the day/fitness level) on a regular basis. Logically my brain knows all the facts about running easy, and I sure know I'm running hard enough on my hard days to justify going truly easy on the easy days, but my body sometimes revolts and decides it's more fun to blast a random tempo on a Wednesday night. I'm trying to get away from that, and I think by differentiating between "true easy/recovery" runs (1-2x/week) and "moderate" runs (more run by feel/I can do what I want) I can convince myself that running the easy run easy is as much of an assignment as the rest of it. IDK. We shall see!

My final goal, which I mentioned when talking about the mile, is to work on my mental game and to learn how to run, for lack of a better phrase, a little more balls to the wall. My apartment building has a tiny workout room that no one ever seems to use, and after a couple of treadmill runs staring at a blank beige wall I decided something needed to change. I found a random running photo I had cut out of a magazine at some point and taped it up on the wall - it's still there, so apparently others are enjoying it as well! As it turns out it's a photo of Pre with the quote "I don't run a race to see who's the fastest, I run a race to see who has the most guts" (or something to that effect) on it. I was thinking about it while doing intervals on the treadmill the other night, and that's such a fitting quote for my vision for the year. I'm trying to have the guts - to train hard, to race outside my comfort zone - to hopefully get the glory (aka...I want some actual PRs this year!) Hopefully I'm off to a good start!

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