Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewell Dear Toenails

Tis the season to make New Year’s resolutions, and I have some fairly straight forward running-related goals for 2012. First, the fun one: do a couple running-related vacations with fellow running friends, new and old. Usually vacation requires sneaking away from family to run or blatantly rejecting invitations to happy hour in order to squeeze in a few miles.  Wonderfully, during running vacations the most complicated decisions are choosing a post-race restaurant or what Oiselle outfit to wear around town.

Now for the ‘serious’ ones. I recently read Brad Hudson’s Run Faster, and it encouraged me to look back through my 2011 training log. It was horrifying.  Crazy mileage jumps and subsequent plunges, poor recovery, overambitious workouts, and injuries all peppered my journal. Not pretty.  But I got away with it (sort of).

Resolution #1:  Stick to a weekly workout schedule that has BUILT IN recovery time.   I know this seems pretty fundamental, but I when I start to see improvements I get too excited and try to train myself into the ground.

Resolution #2: Quit mileage leaping (this goes with Res. #1).  All too often in my 2011 training, I tried upping miles AND workout intensity at the same time. Without fail I turned into zombie version of myself and limped around pathetically.  This was usually accompanied by a craving for brains. So what’s the take home message? Hover at a solid mileage so that when I train for marathons I’m not increasing continually throughout the training cycle.

Resolution #3: As a culminating goal: don’t hurt myself during Boston training! Sounds easy enough, right?

So why am I bidding my toenails adieu? Running solid mileage (continually) through a year means my ‘normal-looking’ toenail rate can drop as low as 20%. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just for fun: racing

Yes, it is amazing to complete a hard training cycle and nail a PR. Yes, it is fun to look forward to race for months. Yes, it is fun to be prepared. Yes, it is fun to go the  'pain place' as some of my friends call it.

But I am not doing any of those things in the next month (except the 'pain-place' part), because sometimes you gotta race just for the sake of racing. There are no blistering times in store. There are no expectations (or so I'm telling myself). There have been no elaborate training plans. There will only be spontaneous racing.

I think it's easy to let pride get in the way of the joys of racing. Many don't want to race unless they are going to be in tip-top shape or can threaten a PR.  But half of the fun of racing is the opportunity to compete, the rush of adrenaline that surges when the gun goes off, and the pleasant fatigue after it's all over.  All of those feelings can be enjoyed without optimal fitness.

Let the spur of the moment racing begin! First up: Green Lake Gobble 5k!

Monday, October 17, 2011

(The Joys of) Crosstraining and (the Woes of) Recovery

Yes, you read that correctly. The joys of crosstraining. The woes of Recovery. Weird right? Let me explain.

In the time I’ve been running little or no miles, I’ve been really been leaning on the crosstraining to keep myself sane: weight lifting, indoor cycling, abs, yoga and circuit training. The result? Getting stronger in ways I haven’t been strong before.  Feeling fit in ways that running alone doesn’t give me.  Reducing muscle imbalances and rediscovering muscles that I’d forgotten about.  I have to admit, sometimes it’s kind of fun to mix it up and challenge my body in new ways! Most of this has been possible because of my lovely neighborhood studio: Community Fitness.

Recovery has felt very slow (not surprising) and discouraging (also not surprising). I have thought: “When will I get to run ‘normally’ again”? “How long will it take to get my endurance back?” “Look at that girl running so fast!” “Remember when I could race a half marathon whenever I felt like it?” The hardest part is adjusting expectations, a process that every runner must go through practically daily.  My ‘long’ run is a 4 mile jaunt around Green Lake, and it’s tough to wrap my mind around that limitation. With that said, I’m SO SO SO happy to be running again! I finally get to wear some of my amazing Oiselle fall gear.

It’s amazing how injury can feel like falling off a cliff, while recovery always seems to resemble switchbacks slowly hiking you back up the mountain.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So it begins

It is finally time to start a running blog!  Ironically, it begins during a running hiatus, thank you to an overuse injury to my back a few weeks ago. BUT, as always, injury is a time to re-evaluate, re-charge, -re-focus, and reassess. Big questions have been swirling through my mind:

Why do I run? Who am I when I’m not running? How did I let my life get so out of balance that without running I feel like some lost soul wandering through my days?

Since I’ve had several weeks to mull over these questions, I did some serious thinking and got answers, some of which were somewhat startling.

Q: Why do I run?
A:  I like to push myself and test my limits, and running is an ‘easy’ way to do that.  It is difficult to train hard (eating, sleeping, and training right all take lots of time and effort as we all know). Also, it’s mind-clearing, energy-boosting (usually), blood-pumping, and FUN!

Q: Who am I when I’m not running?
A: Well, less tired.  I also have a desire to create art when I’m not running as much. It’s almost as though I have a drive to run, or I have a drive to make art, but I can’t have both at the same time. Besides the perplexing creative/running conundrum, I am science-lover.

Q: How I let my life get so out of balance that without running I feel like some lost soul wandering through my days?
A: This is by FAR the hardest question. I have a tendency to put my training over everything, in an unhealthy, hermetic kind of way.  I put so much emphasis on running that it was weighing down one side of the imaginary teeter-totter of mind-energy. But, the answer looming behind what I thought was just overly solitary behavior was this:  One reason I love running is because I feel like I’m practicing self-discipline…but I was secretly taking the easy road. 

That might sound odd, because running does take self-discipline, but I was avoiding a much more difficult self-discipline: being patient, helping others, being generous, and on and on. Running was making me really selfish! I let myself get lazy with ‘true’ self-discipline and used running as a surrogate.

There. I said it. Now it's time to change those habits!