The themes of my training for the past few weeks have been hill repeats and tempo/steady state miles. Overall, I’ve been feeling good and have been trying to take things one workout at a time. If I’m given a goal range for my workouts I’ve been trying to keep things on the low end. I figure I have plenty of recovery miles to relax, so as long as I’m feeling good I try to stay focused and push my pace a little, but I’ve also applied that same focus to making those easy miles easy. I’ve also found myself naturally pushing at the end of tempo blocks, making my last mile my fastest. I haven’t forgotten how bad those final 3 miles of November’s half marathon felt, so I’m trying to prepare myself for that final uncomfortable surge. Sometimes it’s more of a game; I start to imagine coming down that final stretch and being close enough to out kick someone. So far I’ve out run every stop sign.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m really okay with hearts, candy, and waxing poetic about things I love. Maybe it’s the weather, or a raw emotional feeling lately, but my desire to pay homage feels especially heightened today. I can feel those sorta crunchy cinnamon hearts stuck in my teeth, and the smooth, powdery goodness of an invitation to be
mine yours. Let’s all load ourselves up on sugar and cry awkwardly at videos of puppies riding ponies. I’m not sure what screams “love” quite like a puppy riding a pony. Right?
This winter has been more severe than the past couple of years. We’ve had very cold temps and regular wintry precipitation for the past month and a half, and while I can objectively look at the calendar and try to rationalize that it really hasn’t been that long, it feels like a small eternity. It didn’t start out feeling that way; a month ago I prided myself on bundling up and running in the single digits like it was no big deal, and a month ago it wasn’t. But, now? It’s starting to slowly chip away at my resolve. The non-running, book-loving part of me is happy to have had a real winter, and I’ve enjoyed plenty of lazy afternoons on the couch with my books gazing out at the winter wonderland. Also, if I’m being totally honest, I’m relieved to have a “real” winter in the midst of a growing alarm for the climate. The runner in me, however, is ready for some sunshine and t-shirts. I keep telling myself I’ll be stronger for all this time I’ve spent training in the cold, and I’ve sworn up and down that I will under no circumstances complain about hot weather. I’m not sure that the two extremes compare for me, though. I like warmth, I like summer, and while there are certainly dangers to be aware of in the heat, I feel comfortable in it. I’ll circle back in July to confirm this heat love.
I was just sitting here glancing at my training calendar for the upcoming week, and spied a speed workout for tomorrow that got me legitimately excited, like go home and layout my gear excited, and make a new, special playlist excited. Weather permitting, I should be in for a fun workout, but the excitement itself is more noteworthy than whatever happens when my feet hit the (cold) pavement. So much of training is mental, a constant bargain with yourself to get up and keep plugging, the required faith to believe what you’re doing now will payoff in a few months. But as I’ve become more and more committed to working towards my goals, the most important mental shift I’ve made is to take myself seriously as an athlete.