May 15, 2012


Lately my running has been all over the place. I've been working on increasing my mileage, and was happy to hit 37.5(-ish) miles last week, and just over 40 the two weeks before that. I'd really like to get that number closer to 50, but lately I've been feeling intimidated by the idea of longer runs. For the past month or so, I've managed a decent 7-8 miler mid-week, but I've completely wimped out on plans for a long run each weekend. Other runs during the week, meanwhile, have also felt a little wimpy -- I've gotten through a couple over 5 miles that felt ok, but too often I find myself mentally struggling with the motivation for anything but 3-4. Combining that kind of mental state with an overall goal of increasing my weekly mileage has been tough to say the least, and I've resorted to multiple short runs a day. That's certainly not the worst thing in the world, but with the craziness of the past few weeks, it's becoming increasingly hard to fit in not just one but two runs every day.
The other challenge I'm facing is pace: I find it extremely hard to hold myself to a specific pace during many of my daily runs. When I'm on the treadmill, I can obviously maintain a certain pace easily, and I usually feel pretty satisfied at the paces I'm hitting. Most of my runs on the treadmill end up as progression runs: I start out just over 8:00 miles and gradually bring it down to 7:30 or even a bit quicker. Outside, however, is a totally different story. I struggle like crazy to get myself moving in the beginning, and am usually dismayed to find my pace hovering around 8:20. For a slower/recovery run, that's great, but I know that I shouldn't be doing all my runs at the same (rather slow) pace. I really want to speed up for some of my shorter days, but most of the time I still find myself clocking in above where I'd ideally like to be. When I was just starting to run, and I wasn't concerned about pace but mileage, I got used to going out with a specific distance in mind and just focusing on getting to the end, no matter how long that took. Every once in a while I would surprise myself with an especially fast day, but not because I'd planned it that way -- just because I happened to be feeling good. I do still have faster days (probably more often now), but they are still unplanned and typically depend on my location -- certain places I run are much faster, while others are consistently, painfully s.l.o.w. I can rarely start out with a pace in mind and manage to stick to that pace for the whole run.
All of this to say: it's time for a little tough love. Now that I've been running for over a year, I think it's time for me to step up my game. I have several shorter races coming up in the next few months, and I'd like to continue getting faster and hitting PR's for them all. Even though many of my training runs have felt sluggish, I've been happy with the races I've run lately... but I know with the right training I could be faster. Before too long, I'd also like to start ramping up the mileage again for some longer races. Ideally, the next several months would look a bit like this: PR like crazy in a few 5-10k's, continue placing well in my division (or beyond?), conquer some quality long runs along the way, run a few more half marathons this fall (and hopefully cut a significant chunk off my original time), continue increasing my weekly/long run mileage over the winter, and be super-prepared for a full marathon next spring. (Important to note: if you ask me to my face about that last goal, I will vehemently deny that I am even considering it right up until the moment that I actually register for one. You've been warned.)
So it's time to set a few goals:
1. reinstate the weekend long run: It's time to suck it up and stop being such a wimp about these. Sure, not every one is going to be fun, but they are essential... and they're really never as bad as I build up in my head beforehand.
2. continue the mid-week medium-distance run: Last summer (and since I started again this year), this was by far my favorite run of the week. I loved heading over to my favorite running spot after work, smiling through 7 or 8 or even 9 miles, and feeling incredibly accomplished on a Wednesday or Thursday night.
3. work some structured runs into my weekly schedule: I have got to start pushing myself towards faster paces during some of my weekly runs. It's time to stop running according to how I feel on a given day, and run according to plan -- goal paces, tempo runs, progression runs, and pre-planned mileage goals. I've got to stop relying on the treadmill to teach me speed and consistency, and really get out there and struggle through it on my own.
4. become friends with the track: I've never done speedwork on a track, but I think it may be time. I'd like to try some 800's and 400's and really see how fast I can go, so that I can get a better idea of goal paces and how fast I should be running my other workouts.
5. cross train and take care of my poor legs: I was really good at foam rolling for a while, but since my leg pain has gotten so much better (knock on wood) I've slacked off a lot. I was feeling tight last night and pulled out my old friend, and immediately regretted all the time we've spent apart... boy was it painful. It's time for us to get reacquainted, and I'd also really like to squeeze in some yoga here and there. I'm looking into some options for classes at various gyms, but cheap me will probably end up opting for an online alternative. Either way, I think it would be good for my legs, and it's also just about time to start thinking about core strengthening/toning because of another little goal: looking damn good in a bikini by our honeymoon.
Now for the hard part -- being my own motivator, coach, and critic. It's tough to stick with it when I know there's no one exactly checking up behind me, but hopefully now that it's out in the blog-universe I'll feel a bit more accountable. Feel free to bug me about how it's going!



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