Friday, October 14, 2011

I believe

I'm on track this week for my 3rd 40+ mile week in a row. Know when the last time I ran 3 40+ mile weeks back to back was? February. As in 9 months ago February. Wow. The fact that I finally seem to be headed back in the right direction has gotten me thinking about what's transpired over the past year and what it's going to take to get past it.

I realized that this is truly the first time in my entire running career that I've ever encountered a serious roadblock to improving my fitness and being successful.  Ever since I started running, from high school track and onwards, it's been a constant stream of harder workouts, longer runs, longer races, constant improvement, constant PRs, constant upward motion. There's never been a point in time where I've felt like I went backwards.  Until now.  And it happened so subtly, without my ever realizing it until months into the process. I had deluded myself into thinking all summer that the 30-odd miles I was doing every week were adequate, that it didn't really matter anyway how many days off I took, and without races to give me feedback of what I had actually lost, I slipped.  Not without reason, clearly - a hip injury, ankle sprain, hypothyroidism, and major surgery over the course of 6 months will throw anyone's plans off track. But there was more I could have done in between these setbacks had I taken the long view and realized "damn, this is going to really suck when I actually want to be a competitive runner again".

And now here I am, back standing on the brink of trying to make a comeback, to once again be striving for upward motion. I have no delusions that the path is going to be easy.  There are days, lately, when I'll be out running 7 or 8 miles at what (in theory) I want to become my marathon pace, or even something slower, and I think to myself "how in the hell will I ever run a marathon this fast again? How DID I ever run a marathon this fast, for that matter? And what the heck happened to the me that did?"  It's a challenge to see my friends on DailyMile and teammates from home out there running PRs, killing it in races - I am of course thrilled for them, but I can't deny being a little jealous, and beat up on myself as a result. I can never completely silence the doubt in my mind. But I also know that the only way that I'm going to make it back is to find a way to put those doubts aside and believe.

Belief.  It's been such an overarching theme in my running life, from the charm tied into my XC spikes to the words sharpied on my hand during every marathon.  It's not that believing will make something happen, but if you don't believe, it never will.  Belief in your legs, your training, your mind, and your heart. Belief that conquers doubt and fear. It's going to take a LOT of work for me to get back into PR shape for Boston, but if I don't believe that that's even a possibility? Well then really, what's the point. So I try to silence the doubt and find a way to believe, and I get out there and see myself improve day by day, mile by mile.

And now, since I see that it's raining, I think I'll go get my run in :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

The last 2 weeks, September roundup, and some thoughts on training

Quick recap of the past 2 weeks of training, since I was too lazy to blog last weekend. The name of the game right now is building mileage, then adding in some speedwork, and above all, NOT GETTING INJURED.  I've actually run 100% of the time in my Kinvaras since the end of August, and am beyond in love with them. I am a midfoot striker so I never really needed the giant heels that tend to come with motion control shoes, however, I also have a foot that predisposes me to a variety of injuries, most commonly medial shin splints, without a touch of stability. So I'm buying a new pair of Kinvaras, along with a pair of Saucony Mirages, which are built on the same base but give a little bit of stability as well (without the mega-heel). Sounds PERFECT for my easier/longer days, and I'll bring out the Kinvaras when I really want to fly. :)

Mon 9/19 6.5 easy, Watertown Square
Tues 9/20 7.1 including 6 x ~300 m moderate on Heartbreak Hill, I was super proud of myself for doing something that vaguely resembled a workout!
Wed 9/21 4.7 AM short Dean Road, sucked.
Thurs 9/22 8.3 Public Garden. Really humid.
Fri 9/23 6.4 Chestnut Hill Res, 97% humidity (shoot me now), almost got run down by the Harvard XC team, wah wahhh.
Sat 9/24 off! But took an awesome ballet class.
Sun 9/25 4.5 tempo, short Res loop, humid.
Weekly Total: 37.5 miles, 1 ballet class

Mon 9/26 off
Tues 9/27 6.6 moderate Dean Road, still ridiculously humid. And hot. 4 x Brad Hudson hills.
Wed 9/28 8.6 fabulous easy run on the Charles between class and Wednesday Night Beer Club...pretty much the perfect combination to get over the hump of the week! Oh, still humid.
Thurs 9/29 5.5 easy Harvard Ave. Still humid.
Fri 9/30 6 moderate Jamaicaway. This run was absolutely awful for some reason, but I met a really cute kid, so that was fun.
Sat 10/1 6.6 easy Dean Road. Wait for it...still incredibly humid. 4 x BH hills.
Sun 10/2 6.5 moderate Res alt. Felt pretty good despite procrastinating all day and being vaguely hungover.
Weekly total: 40.3 miles. No cross training.

September totals: 130.2 miles, 10 days off (excessive.) Looking at my distance totals for the past 5 months is just depressing...but then again, I guess there have been somewhat decent reasons for the shittiness. The last couple of weeks have been pleasing though, and a good indicator that things are finally back on the up and up. At this exact moment I don't consider myself to be "training". I am building a base, ideally I would like my average weekly mileage to be in the high 40s-low 50s for at least a few weeks before I start officially marathon training again in January. I'm hoping to start filling my race calendar a little more this fall as well, mostly to remember what it feels like to push myself in a racing situation, which is something I can't really recreate on my own. Also on deck for October is attempting to stay on the wagon when it comes to strength training and doing Brad Hudson's short, fast hills at least twice a week for a little extra speed stimulus.

On a somewhat related note, apparently according to our guest lecturer in Sci Basis of Movement today I am pretty much doomed to a life of hip replacements and shin splints.  Because apparently "people who run 40 miles or more a week are more likely to get injured".  Mind blowing news folks (I kid.  Obviously the more you run, the more likely your personal biomechanical weirdness will come back to bite you in the ass, or you'll try to run through an emerging injury, or you'll just plain overload your body - it makes sense).  But the funny thing is, I know for a fact that there are people in my class who subscribe to a 'healthy living' mentality of sorts who were probably like "oh my god! Well I definitely shouldn't run more than 40 miles a week, ever, because I will get injured." Granted I am all for injury prevention, and there is obviously such a thing as overdoing it (or upping your mileage too fast, killing yourself in a speed workout you have no business doing, etc) but this mentality of "if you run more than a few days a week, you'll get injured?" I call bullshit.  I have the most biomechanically jacked up feet ever (no joke, my valgus forefoot is apparently described as "the destructive foot" because of its injury causing potential) and yet I manage to run 60-70 mile weeks during marathon training...and while I have dealt with my share of injuries (hip issues, ITBS, shin splints) I've taken the necessary steps to fix them, backed off until they healed, and then went back at it in an intelligent manner...6 days a week.

I'm not saying that people don't exist in this world who really, truly can't run more than 3 or 4 days a week without injury. I'm just saying that for most people that isn't really the case.  And I'm saying that in order to be a better runner, you have to do one thing: run. Run fast, run slow, run short, run long, run hills, run flats, run everything in between.  Anything else might help you prevent injury, it might make you feel good, it might be fun...but it's not going to make you a better runner. I don't take ballet every week because it's going to make me a better runner, I take it because I LOVE it. But at the end of the day when I look at myself and see that I'm not where I want to be as a runner, it sure as hell isn't because I didn't take enough yoga classes last month. It's because I didn't run enough, or hard enough.  And if you aren't the sort of person who wants to race faster and running for you is purely something you enjoy or something you do to stay in shape - I have no problem with that. More power to you. My problem is with the people who decide "oh, hee hee, it's so trendy to run a marathon right now!" and then max out at like 30 miles a week.

I really have no idea what the underlying point of this little rant is (just another reason why approximately 10 people read this blog haha). I guess I just don't understand the point of doing something if you're not going to go for it full throttle.

Annnd now that I think I have exhausted my supply of bitchiness for the day...I'm going for a run :)