so it's been a while since I updated. to be perfectly honest, I've been completely exhausted. training is going pretty well. at least I thought it was
going well until today... I've ran or cross-trained every single day for the
past 9 days. I was very excited to be getting back into a routine.
the problem occurred today when I decided to look at a legitimate
marathon training schedule. I have 6 weeks left. At this point, I'm supposed to be up to 30-40 miles per week. I haven't run more than 20 miles per week in the past month...
I AM SCARED that
I'll never get up to the mileage I need & still have time to taper before the marathon. I'm not sure what to do. Should I
jump up to 40 miles next week and pick up the training plan from that
point? or should I gradually increase my mileage and do whatever I can, but
peak at 30 miles per week? when should I start to taper? I want to
make sure my muscles are fully recovered before the marathon... I've only done 2 "long" runs up to this point... a 12-miler and a 15-miler. I still have to fit in at the very least ONE very long run of 18 or 20 miles (ideally, I should have done anywhere from 2-5 of these over the past 4 months), and I have to do this before 2 weeks prior to the marathon. yikes! I know my fitness level is gradually improving, but I'm fearful for my running ability and the pre-marathon timeline. this training business is turning out to be a much bigger commitment than I ever anticipated.
to mix things up a bit, today I did a "hill" workout on the treadmill. basically, I experimented with the gradient, raising & lowering the incline and speed to match my comfort level. I had no idea that treadmills could be so steep!!! the maximum gradient goes up to 15.0 (what is that measuring anyway, degrees??). At that incline, I could only jog along at a 12-min/mi pace... it was so steep!!! I did this for about a minute, then gradually lowered the incline until it was down to 10 (degrees??), then when I caught my breath I jumped right back up to 15, lasted there for about a minute, then had to gradually lower again, and repeated this process 3 times over 20 minutes. this is great practice though. it definitely gets your HR way up. I can't wait to do it again!
"hills are speedwork in disguise"... I will never forget these words of some famous runner (of course the famous runner is so famous I forget his/her name, but that's beside the point) the important part is the sage advice. you have to put in a lot of extra effort to go up a hill at any given speed. so when you get accustomed to exerting more effort and working harder, and put that same amount of effort on flat ground, you will go even farther. it's a basic physics principle. something about work and distance, but of course I forget the exact formula... after all, that was 7 years ago...
on another completely un-related note, I have a cramp in my right forefoot, which is incredibly annoying.
post-boxing class today I hopped on the treadmill at the gym with absolutely no plan in mind. I figured I would run at least 3 miles, or however far I could get in a half hour, maybe 4 miles... or heck maybe even go for 5. the most I would possibly do is 6... and even that was really a stretch, based on the fact that it was extremely late at night, and I was tired, lazy, sore, and my ipod battery died. (I even thought ahead and brought my ipod so I wouldn't have to be bored with the typical treadmill drudgery. But, of course, since I haven't touched my ipod since summer ended, and I haven't charged it in equally as long, no amount of wishful thinking, prayer, or will power was going to get that thing to turn on.) So I was left with 4 choices: deal with it & do a short run, push through and go all out no matter what, sing to myself & listen to the music over the gym's stereo system, or just don't run at all. Obviously choice #4 was not a legitimate option by any stretch of the imagination. So I went with a hybrid of options #2 & #3... and I ended up running an entire 10K!!!! It was incredibly hard, and I struggled & pushed myself the whole way there. By mile 4.9, I was wondering how I would ever make even one more step, when one of the guys from my boxing class walked by, waved & said "you're doing GREAT!" That was just awesome. It gave me the motivation I needed to persevere through and complete an entire 10K. woah.
So, impromptu 10K. completed in 49:48. not too shabby at all. My pace translated into sub-8-minute miles!!! and the last 1.5 miles were even slightly faster!
there really aren't many benefits to running on a treadmill. It's boring, the scenery never changes, it's boring, you don't get the excitement, changing terrain, or fresh air that can only be found in the great outdoors, and did I mention it's BORING!? although there is one thing I really like about it: you can track your progress by setting the pace for your run, and setting the pace on a treadmill helps your body learn to identify what running at a certain pace feels like and helps you maintain a certain pace when you are exhausted, and otherwise would have already given up or at least slowed down.
I can't wait until my next 10K race. I'm really excited to see what my time will be. I'm registered for the Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge in early November, about 3 weeks before the marathon. So far, that's the only race I have scheduled between now & Nov 23.
the weather called for light, misty rain all day, turning into torrential downpours by the night time... it was not looking promising for a run. I kept tabs on the weather throughout the day & noticed that it barely rained at all. (the weathermen were wrong! gasp! how shocking!) although the sky did look incredibly overcast & grey. soooo just before dusk I decided the time had come. It was time to venture outside and run. I was so excited & so proud of myself! I got about 1.5 miles away from my house before it started raining. really hard. raindrops collected in my eyes so I could barely see clearly, I was soaked, and I had to dash for cover under the nearest tree. I was also over-dressed, slightly over-heated & suffocating from the humidity. I was just over a mile away from my house, it was late, it was getting dark, and the rain wasn't showing any signs of letting up any time soon. soooo... I did what any sensible runner would do... I kept going!!!!
I forged ahead in the dark and the rain, armed with my reflective gear and LED flashlight. It was as much an exercise in mental toughness as physical stamina. perhaps even more so. Mr Heath, my old cross country coach used to talk to us about mental toughness before each race. We needed our minds to be like an acorn - unbreakable. After each race, whichever runner endured the most challenges, yet emerged triumphant, would receive the team "acorn." This honor was probably even more coveted than a first-place finish. The acorn award proved you were completely, totally, 100% mentally in the race, that you could persevere through pain, overcome obstacles, endure challenges, push through no matter what, and succeed against the odds. it's a valuable lesson to that applies to life in general.
mental toughness will get you anywhere. today, it got me through an 8 mile run. Mr Heath would be proud.
After all that, I'm really glad I kept going, because the rain cleared up within 5 minutes. If I had turned around & gone home, I would have been completely bummed. Instead, I was positively elated to be out running. The downpour broke the humidity, and the rain cooled me off, so after that I was good to go! I seriously considered doing 12 miles, but cut it short at 8. The only thing that stopped me from going the distance was the fact that it was rapidly getting darker outside, and I didn't want to be out running in the pitch black for too long. Running at night is very very scary, unless you have a personal bodyguard, ninja, or friend named Mike to guide & protect you on your nightly run. the pitch black really scares me when I'm out alone. I'm afraid I'll either A) trip over something I don't see on the ground, or B) get hit by a car who doesn't see me until it's too late. so I try to avoid the scenario as much as possible. Either way, now that it's officially fall, it gets a lot darker a lot earlier in the day, so I didn't want to stay out too long... plus, my legs were sore!!! My legs just did not want to move, which made it a very tough run, especially through the winding hilly roads of Greenwich.
despite the fact that it was cut short, today's run was pretty significant. the important thing is that I went out in the first place. I stuck it out through the rain. I ran up hills, in new unchartered territory, in the dark, when I my legs were completely sore. I seriously was going to go the distance (if it wasn't so late & dark).
After boxing class today, I randomly decided to run on the treadmill, since I was already at the gym... ended up doing a quick 3 miles in 25 minutes. That's a pretty disappointing time considering I used to run 5K's in less time than that. I guess you could call it speedwork. I basically did intervals adjusting the pace from 8:30 down to 6:20 min/miles at the end. It was so hard! I was pretty sore during the run & I'm extremely sore now.
Yay for running at night! I'm so proud of myself for making it out of the house after dark and having enough energy to put in a quick 3 miles. This run was reminiscent of the old "Night Moves" days... in college, I used to run late at night with my friend Mike. Thanks to Mike, I made it out the door countless times to run well after dark, when I was otherwise ready to crash for the night. I would be lounging around the apartment, my roommates would be in their pjs watching a movie, and Mike would show up at our apt door, clad in shorts, tee shirt & sneakers, all eager smiles and bursting with energy, LED flashlight in hand... he had WAY more energy than any college-aged guy I've ever met.. and a child-like enthusiasm about literally everything he did. With Mike's trusty flashlight guiding our way, we masterfully navigated the winding streets of Fairfield, CT and tactfully avoided being hit by passing cars. I struggled to keep up with Mike as he bounded along effortlessly, slowing down as needed to match my pace. We had a few good chats along the way, and occasionally our other friends would join us. We affectionately referred to our adventures as "Night Moves." We had a theme song. We even started a facebook group. I really miss those days.
training was derailed once again this week. The week started so well on Monday with an 8-miler on the treadmill at the gym after work... that's right folks, I ran 8 miles on the TREADMILL... what a drag. I'm going to have to get used to it though, given the crazy work schedule and the fact that I really don't like running when it's dark outside... and I can't drag myself out of bed early enough to run in the mornings, so it looks like my options are treadmill or bust. Either way, it was an amazing workout, I zoned out and ran a pretty easy pace, around 8:30 for the first 6 miles. I had only planned to run 6, but pushed myself to keep going. I really struggled through those last 2 miles, alternating between going all-out (around 6:30 miles) and short rest/recovery walks, I completed the entire 8 in under 1 hour 10 mins. Sweet! So proud of myself. I felt fantastic, was completely exhausted in a good way, grabbed a smoothie, then drove home & went right to bed.
Tuesday I was lucky enough to get out of work at lunch time and do a quick 3.5 miles around Stamford.
Then things got crazy at work. I had my runs all scheduled, just like last week, but I ended up having to sacrifice on Wed-Friday. The search I am working on is falling apart pretty quickly, so I had to spend pretty much all day scraping up new candidates, and despite all my efforts, ended up with absolutely nothing to show for it. The absolute last thing I could possibly do was leave the office to spend an hour of my day running. It was awful. By the time I got home each day, it was dark out and I didn't have the energy left to do anything.
To top things off, after Monday's run, I developed 2 gigantic blisters on my left foot, one right on the inside of my arch, and one directly on the ball of my foot, between by big toe and my second toe. Whenever I attempt to pop blisters, I always get carried away and end up cutting them off entirely. That's exactly what I did this time... exposing about 2 inches of raw skin... it hurt so bad I had to wear flip-flops. Chances are high that I probably couldn't have gone running even if I had the time.
This weekend was a complete disaster. Training was derailed in a huge way. It all started Saturday morning. I was going to go on my first "long" run... somewhere from 8-12 miles depending on how I felt... at an nice easy pace (to recover from yesterday's speed workout). My dad called first thing in the morning to tell me my cousin was playing field hockey in Greenwich. but he had no details, like time, location, etc. So I spent half the morning calling all my family members, trying to figure out where & when my cousin was playing. I would decide when to run once I figured that out... then I found out she was playing in Darien, which is a heck of a lot farther away than Greenwich (40 mins vs 10 mins), and I wasn't going to make it in time. I got hungry, so I had to eat something. Then I had to let my food settle. By then it was mid-day, the hottest part of the day, and I decided to wait until it got a little cooler... I read magazines... went online... got hungry again... ate again... food settled... (what a viscious cycle)... then I got caught up reading and by the time I looked at the clock I realized if I left it'd be dark outside by the time I got back. Plus I was hungry and minorly exhausted from sitting around doing nothing all day. So Saturday was shot.
Then Sunday arrives and I'm determined to fit in a run some way, somehow. After all, it was OK if I missed Saturday, since it was the day after my speed workout, and rest days are an essential part of training, but 2 rest days in a row? when I've only begun training? forget it!!! that's a recipie for disaster. if I don't start running regularly and get in the habit now, I'm never going to be ready by marathon day! On Sunday, I didn't wake up until noon. The only thing I wanted to do all day - besides run - was go to the Rye Farmer's Market. So I had this brilliant idea: I was going to run there! By the time I decided all this & got ready to go, I realized that if I ran to the market, I would have exactly 5 minutes to peruse before they closed at 2:00. I put on my running attire anyway, grabbed a water bottle & towel, hopped in my car, and drove to the farmers market, fully intending to bring my purchases home, quickly drop them off, and then drive to a nearby park. Back at the house, once I put my fresh produce away, I didn't feel like going out again, so I didn't. I sat around being lazy & lethargic, reading, eating ice cream and pretzels all day. And before I knew it, Sunday was shot too.
My first week was a success! After my run on Tuesday, I was so thrilled with the idea of getting out of the office mid-day and fitting in my runs by scheduling them ahead of time, that I went ahead and planned the entire week in my outlook calendar. I ran every single day!
I woke up today absolutely determined to go for a run. There was no question that I would go. I packed my bag and was mentally prepared to go out at exactly 12:00 noon. I was 100% resolved. Then, it rained. I'm not talking like a light misty rain either, this was the kind of torrential downpour where you look out the window and can't even see through the raindrops, it's just a sheet of water. You pity the poor fool who gets stuck outside and swept away in the inevetible massive flood that ensues. It was unbelievably dissapointing.
But I was determined to go.
There was no way I was running outside, so I snuck in the NYSC across the street and did a short interval treadmill workout. YAY!!! I was so psyched that I went, and now I'm all charged to keep going. As soon as I finished, I was on such a high and remembered exactly why I love running in the first place.
So today unofficially marks the beginning of my "training". I put that in quotation marks because to be perfectly honest with you I'm not following a set training plan. There are a few reasons for this. First, I don't think I can stick to a pre-set program that someone else lays out for me, and if I tried and missed a day or two, I'd be so upset and disappointed in myself, so I'd rather not set the expectations that high. Secondly, I'm determined to make this work in my own way, on my own time, There are very few things I get to do anymore where I call the shots and I am in control, so I want to design my own training program. Besides, I want this to be fun, and I need to be able to comfortably fit in all the miles without sacrificing too much. The plan is to fit in the running around my lifestyle, not to re-arrange my life around my running. Ideally, I want to find some sort of blend, where running just becomes part of my life. Experienced runners may read this and sadly shake their heads, thinking that I'm doomed for disaster, but I'm determined and hard-headed enough to make it work. Finally, I don't really know what I'm doing. Sure, I know a lot more about running than most people out there... after all, I did high school cross country, I've done countless 5K's and 10K's since then, and I've been a casual runner on & off for the past 10 years. I get a lot of good tips and ideas from reading Runner's World, Running Times, and Marathon & Beyond. I also have a network of family, friends, and coworkers who've recently completed marathons and have loads of first-hand advice. After all, they've been there before. I'm armed with all this knowledge, but when it all comes down to it, this is a completely new experience, unlike anything I've ever done before, and I have no idea how it's going to turn out. I like that uncertainty - it's kind of exciting.
So I'm just going to run with it and see how it goes.