I’ve been feeling the itch to write lately, and I remembered this little space of mine sitting here neglected, so I blew the digital dust off my login screen and am sitting here wanting to say everything and nothing (but mostly everything).
First thing’s first, I’m gearing up for a half marathon and training is going swimmingly. I am loving my workouts, I am hitting my goals, and I am getting more and more eager to see what happens on November 4th, with the appropriate amount of nervous energy also starting to accumulate. My grand 5K experiment last spring resulted in a PR, though not until August when I was starting my half marathon build-up. It took me awhile to get the hang of 5Ks, and I learned many times over that they are not easy and, oh my, they do not feel short. I had some fantasy of them feeling like the first 3.1 miles of a half marathon I started too fast, which is to say I wanted to feel like an winged goddess for an effortless 3 miles and then stop. As it turns out, you can also start a 5K too fast and that least lone mile can feel like a small eternity. The silver lining was figuring out what it really felt like to run hard, and discovering that it feels, well, really (really) hard. It’s been nice to return to longer forms of speed work, and also to be hungry for a longer race. It’s possible I’ve confirmed, for myself at least, that my propensity is for longer distances, but I’m glad I shook things up and tried something slightly uncomfortable and new.
Since I started building my mileage in July I have been loving the extra miles, the long runs, the speed work, the early mornings, the extra snacks. I’ve been focused on one mantra: do the work now. This is loosely inspired by something I read of Katie Ledecky. When asked how she continues to race so well, she said that she puts everything she has into her workouts so that when she shows up to race she’s simply doing what she already knows she can do. As someone who has probably relied too much on a vague idea of race day magic in the past, I think it will serve me much better to have a solid idea of what I might actually be capable of, or rather to bank on my actual training as a guide rather than crossed fingers in the starting corral. Perhaps what I really mean to say is that I’m finally learning to recognize where I actually am based on the work I’ve actually done, and I know that getting faster won’t happen accidentally. Though, I’m still open to being pleasantly surprised!
Something that I think has really helped me balance my training load is the fact that I’ve been biking to work consistently for the past 3 months. I swear having this little bit of cross training injected into my day has kept any of those little aches and pains that tend to pop up at bay, especially since biking is a very different motion than running. I had been walking and I think it was too much, or too similar a motion/stressor. I’m not doing a ton of biking, to be clear. I am very fortunate to live close to work, so it’s only a 10-15 minute ride one way, and I’m by no means trying to break any speed records. (My lack of speed is frequently confirmed by the number of other bike commuters zooming around me.) I don’t this it’s a coincidence that I’ve had no tightness in my hips this time around, and a previously cranky tendon has been oddly quiet. I’ve made a point to pay attention to any signs of overdoing it, but so far so good.
Also, I have to say that overall my longer runs have stopped feeling so long, which bodes well for a 13.1 mile race. I peaked at 52 miles per week this cycle, which included a longer midweek run (11-12 miles max), and then a longer long run on the weekends (14 miles max). These distances have started to feel like less of a big deal, though the first time I broke 10 miles before work was a HUGE deal. Okay, who am I kidding? I still celebrate it every time.
2.5 weeks to go!
Still kicking it,
*Photo credit: Iain Farrell