This morning I had a fun workout – 12 x 400 (goal 1:40), with 1 minute recoveries and a 2 mile warm-up and cool down. I ran the 400s on a flat stretch, cranked my music, and let it rip. Man, it felt good, like really good – fist-pumping, high-fiving good. At the end of the 12 repeats my legs were sufficiently tired, and I started the slow crawl home. Some days it seems like some runs are meant to be, and I filed this in that category, not just because I consistently hit my target, but because I managed to stay out of the path of an ominous storm cloud, and was instead gifted with a rainbow on its fringes when I turned the corner to head home. I mean, c’mon. Sure, it’s cheesy, but I’ll take it as a universal sign to keep trucking.
It’s a bad idea to sit down to write about your recent training when you’ve hit your afternoon wall, right? Oh well, here we go anyway. I blame today’s heat and humidity for my lethargy, though have vowed never to complain about weather extremes again. Usually the complaint goes something like “I would much rather it were 5 degrees right now instead of 90!” (This is never true. I never want it to be either 5 degrees or 90 degrees during a run – we all know better.) Instead, I shall dream of those in-between stages (spring and fall) that are neither too hot nor too cold. Besides, both the 5 degrees and the 90 degrees only make me a more robust, resilient runner, and there are some serious perks to both. If it weren’t blistering hot I wouldn’t know what it feels like to drip my way to the kitchen, desperately grab an orange out of the fridge, sprinkling in with salt and the subsequent joy in finding it to be the most satisfying thing to ever hit my lips (seriously, ever). Conversely, those cold winter mornings make it a-okay to throw on my yoga pants, wool socks, and then to sit around watching movies under a blanket at 10AM in the name of recovery. Win, win.
Yesterday morning as I pondered the eight miles I was about to tackle, it hit me: eight is my new normal. As my training is increasing, obviously so is my mileage, and more and more eight milers are sneaking onto my training calendar as easy runs. I remember when I got to the point last fall that I was doing a mid-week long(er) run that started to hover around eight miles, namely because it was a Big Deal, and while it still feels on the longer side, it’s not stopping the presses with quite as much urgency. Slowly I have become used to running longer more often, which has also come with another new phenomenon: legitimate zoning out. I’ve always run with music, but I would frequently hit those days where it seemed like nothing good would come onto my music mix. But lately? I barely even notice my music. It’s been just a little whisper in the background as I’ve entered some state of running zen. I’m almost tempted to try running without it. Almost. Let’s not be rash.
I’m sitting here today with warm, tired legs from this morning’s speed workout, and that awesome sense of accomplishment when you’ve given a workout your all. Heck, I was even a good runner and went to bed early last night. It’s been a little under a month since I jumped on board with a coach, and I am loving having someone help me kick things up a notch. I love checking my schedule at the beginning of the week and seeing my workouts, I love that I’m doing more than one variation of speedwork per week, and I love that (so far) I’m feeling great doing it.
This past week I was visiting my family in the mountains, which meant very little runnable terrain. Super steep climbs, no road shoulders, and scary wildlife meant I was happy to park myself in the basement with the treadmill. Perhaps this was less adventurous than hoofing it up the mountainside, but I think this was my preferred method of off-roading. Fortunately I survived, dare I say thrived, five whole days of electric-powered workouts. I gave in to enjoying my music on the easy runs, and my coach had me do an awesome (and very distracting) tempo run that had me changing either pace or incline every half mile. It was probably one of the first treadmill workouts that I would venture to say came close to being fun, and having to think in half mile chunks really did make it seem short for 7 miles on the ‘mill.
Hello, and happy Wednesday! Man, I have no idea how I dragged myself out of bed to run this winter because I am really loving the light coming through my window before 6 AM. It no longer feels like an epic display of willpower to turn off my alarm and get up, and when I spied my headlamp hanging from my closet door this morning I did not feel anything remotely like nostalgia. I mean, I know we do what we have to do sometimes, but this is by far my favorite running season. The temps have been slowly climbing this week, but I didn’t mind an excuse to linger on my front porch for a few minutes to sweat. Though, I do feel like the sweat trail I leave through the house is a badge of honor. My husband, however, might disagree.
This month has felt a little anticlimactic. Maybe the colder than usual weather has left me unprepared for a true beginning of summer, or maybe it’s just that summer is my favorite season and I want to be ready to soak up as much of it as a I can. Fortunately this is the first week that I’m officially back at training in full force, so it does feel like a beginning, and what better way to kick off the summer than to be out romping in the early morning light? (Rhetorical question: there is none!) I love leaving my house at 6 AM with the sun already poking its head out too. It’s a wonderful, freeing feeling.
Finally…it’s Friday. What can I tell you about my week? Lately I have been enjoying the really, really simple moments of my day; a perfect cup of coffee, listening to music while walking the dogs, finally feeling the sun after a week of rainy grey skies. I have been feeling oddly excited this week. Things are coming together for me at work, but more importantly my running plans for the next few months are taking shape. I think it’s also partly seasonal. I love these early spring to summer months when you can start to enjoy the sun and stop worrying about weather or not you’ll be warm enough when you step outside, and stop thinking about socks as a part of your daily attire. Sometimes it’s even tempting to want to go barefoot, except that I usually have this thought about 3 seconds before looking down and spying a broken beer bottle in the grass. (Just one of the many perks of living in a college town.)
I’m jumping head first into this space in the middle of a story that has seen various iterations and attempts at being that just didn’t quite work. I can’t really say why, perhaps you just have to wait until you find the right space and the right time, and then you feel something unlock. Writing can be tricky and if you feel like you’ve created a space that doesn’t fit you, your tone, your style, it can be stifling. For all these reasons, I am here now to start this story again.