Although I’m rarely a running blogger lately, I nevertheless remain a running runner. I have been running on a steady basis, and doing one hard workout a week since late August. Low mileage, around 25 most weeks. No trackwork. It’s mostly been fartleks (treadmill) and throwing in a few miles at tempo effort over the course of a longer run on hills. We found a dirt cheap gym that’s three miles away, so I’ve gotten back to weekly strength work, now up to 1 hour, twice weekly. I’ve maintained a weight of 124 with some effort. I’d like to get back down to 120, because I feel better running at that weight. I’d also like to get my mileage up to around 40 mpw.
A year ago I was training like mad to run a fast 5K road race over Olympic Trials weekend in Houston. I did not run that race. I did a little racing in the late winter, but then I got injured in March with PF in my right foot (still there, but mild). It’s been a wild ride, the last nine months, with lots of highs and lows. None of them having to do with running, at least not directly. This has been good for me, not only because I’ve recognized the value of focusing on other areas of endeavor, but also because it’s given me a chance to think about my running, where it fits into my life. Perspective and distance are helpful things.
One realization is that I do miss some aspects of marathon training, but I don’t miss the time and energy commitment. Nor do I actually miss racing marathons. I’m still fairly certain that I won’t run another. I’ve also realized that I’ll probably always be a competitive runner. And by that I mean I’ll care about seeing improvement in myself (although as the years pass, that’s all relative) and doing well relative to my peers. I still want to have tangible goals.
I do have a goal right now, which is to break 20:00 in a road 5K. What’s different this time around is that I’m not attaching that goal to any particular deadline or race. I will train during the fall to run a fast 5K this winter. Will it be under 20:00? I have no clue. I have a training plan, but it’s loose. I got so sick of trying to follow a strict schedule, not hitting target paces, going into each “tuneup” or “time trial” race with pressure to see a certain time on the clock. The truth is, some days I don’t feel like running. So when that happens, I usually don’t run. On other days, I’ll go out with a plan to do a hard run, but my legs don’t feel great. So I’ll give them a few miles. Sometimes they come around. But usually they don’t, and when that happens I abandon the workout and try again a few days later.
I’m seeing steady improvements in fitness. But mostly I’m seeing an improvement in how I feel about running. I like it again. Sometimes I love it. I never dread it, and that’s new. I have my first track workout in about five months next week. It’s not even really a workout. It’s mostly going to be me running around a track wearing an HRM to see what speeds I can maintain at various efforts. I just want some sort of baseline at this point.
I have this crazy suspicion that my radical change in attitude and looser approach to training and racing might yield greater success eventually.