Posts tagged ‘Training’

May 1, 2014

Embracing the Hard Days

This morning’s tempo run was one of those workouts. It started promisingly enough. When I rolled out of bed at 5:30 and checked my calendar to see what was on the schedule, I thought “Great. 5 mile tempo at 8:19. No problem–I ran a 10K faster than that a few weeks ago.” Visions of flitting daintily over the treadmill while watching Sportscenter danced in my head.

Reality, however, is a cruel and sweaty mistress. Thanks to the incessant rain of the past several days and the warm front that just moved in, the gym had transformed overnight into a hot, humid pain cave. By the time I had finished my warm-up, I knew I was in for a rough time. I was already so sweaty that my Yurbuds kept falling out, which NEVER happens and is kind of the point of Yurbuds. (It also raises the unsettling question of whether the insides of my ears were actually sweating.) .05 miles into the actual tempo portion of the run, the cheeriest thought I could muster was, “Well, I’m 1% of the way there.” Generally when this kind of running math pops into my head, I eventually lose interest, or at least lack the blood sugar to maintain the calculations for long. Today, however, I managed to count up, 1% at a time ( and if you’re playing the home game, that’s every 80 meters), for five miles.

It was hot, sweaty, and physically and emotionally draining, which is really everything a tempo run should be. One of my goals for this training cycle has been to get better at embracing the hard days. I made a deal with myself that I don’t have to like it, but I do have to find the good in what is difficult. The heat, the driving rain, and the days when I’m redlining on the last three intervals all make the workout (and ultimately me) that much better. So there.

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August 14, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

I planned a two-pronged attack on the sixteen miler this morning.  The first was to get up with enough time to allow a full hour between eating breakfast and running.  I got up at 5:30 and had my coffee, and then made oatmeal with some cocoa powder, almond butter, and a little honey, and chased it with a banana and berry smoothie with some chia gel thrown in for good measure.  (A little Tarahumara mojo couldn’t hurt.)  Breakfast, check.

Prong two was a little more difficult, but basically boiled down to really trying to enjoy the run.  It occurred to me this morning that tackling four 4-milers didn’t really sound that bad, so I decided to approach it as such.  I really tried to relax into it, not worry about pace too much, and enjoy the scenery.  The miraculous thing is that it actually worked.  Somewhere around mile 12 I started feeling the fatigue in my legs, but the workout itself didn’t seem grueling at all.  I guess it should have been obvious all along, but I realized that stressing over every little thing for the duration of a long run was completely exhausting in itself.  I’m sure I’ll have to continue to work at relaxing on the run, but this was a good reminder to just sit back and let it flow.

On a more practical note, I tried Power Bar’s energy gels today.  I’ve been largely using Clif Gels for the past few years, but I decided to give the Power Gel’s a shot since they offer more options without caffeine.  The Power Gels are slightly larger than most of the other brands, so they require a bit more pouch or pocket space, but the upside is that they are far less viscous than the others.  The extra liquid helped them go down more easily, and I didn’t feel like I was left with raspberry paste coating my mouth for two miles.  I’ll definitely be stocking up on these this fall.

It was a good day, all around.  And now, in the spirit of Paula Radcliffe, I will be going to be at 9:30.

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August 13, 2011

Honey Badger Don’t Cross Train.

Ever since I started training for my first race 3 years ago, I’ve been running Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  By this point, my entire life has been arranged around this schedule.  Laundry, socializing, cooking, and which days I go to work early instead of staying late have all been determined on the whim of my first Hal Higdon training schedule.  I have been accused of being totally inflexible on this point, but I always stuck with it because it worked for me.  Now that I’ve started marathon training, though, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma.  Most of the schedules I’ve seen recommend a four-day-a-week running schedule with one or two days of cross training mixed in.  The thing is, I hate cross training.  It invariably makes me cranky and sore, and in the end I always fall off the wagon and start subbing an easy run instead.

When I made my training schedule for the marathon, I thought hard about cross-training and rest days, and ultimately decided to make my Saturday run optional as a compromise.  I figured that with my three weekday runs behind me and the long run yet to come, I would just decide whether to run easy, bike, or rest on Saturday on a case-by-case basis.  The added bonus to the plan is that if I get stuck at work late on a run night, it also gives me a flexible day to make up the mileage.  This would all be brilliant, except that I forgot that my Saturday morning runs have traditionally been really terrible when I’m in race training and cranking up the weeknight workouts.

Case in point, I went out for an easy 4-miler this morning, just to shake the legs out.  I left the apartment with visions of a relaxing, breezy trot in which I was breathing effortlessly and flitting over the sidewalk like the Kara Goucher Fairy.  My sheer optimism propelled me though the first mile, but then out of nowhere the thought, “My quads are really tired” floated in.  I pushed it aside, thinking that this was a perfect opportunity to exercise my new mental toughness assault.  About a quarter mile later, there it was again: “My quads really are tired.  My glutes are kind of sore, too.”  It was only a 4-miler, and I could have easily banged out another mile just to cross it off the calendar.  I ultimately decided though, that the smart thing to do was to turn around, log the 3, and rest up for the 16 tomorrow.

I came home, made a smoothie, and spent 20 minutes trying to foam-roller all the kinks out.  Now, a few hours later, I’m surprised to find how tired and sore my legs actually are after the rest day yesterday, when they felt fine.  I’m hoping it’s a good sign that my muscles are repairing and will be ready to go tomorrow.  And I’m actually a little relieved to remember that my Saturday runs always kind of sucked.

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