Training and trying vs. giving up and getting fat

And. I’m back. Maybe I’ll post more than once per season in 2013.

When I wrote that last post I was depressed and stressed out. Could you tell? I was also injured. I pretty much stopped running in any consistent way for the next couple of months. I averaged 8-10 miles during the weeks in which I ran. Many weeks featured no running whatsoever. I stopped going to the gym altogether. I’ve gained 6 lbs, and it would be a lot more had I not been a total calorie intake Nazi.

I’m now free of all Achilles issues and I have extremely mild plantar fasciitis in my right foot (yeah, I know; it’s been there for a year now). But it goes away after two miles on the treadmill usually; some days it’s not there at all. I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to run with no pain, it’s been so long. I started running fairly consistently about two weeks ago, usually 4-5x a week. I’m mostly on the treadmill due to ice/snow on the running path. I’m around 20-30 mpw average now with no major issues. About once every 10 days I do a slightly faster run. I am in remarkably good basic aerobic shape, considering all the neglect. I started doing weights again, once a week, two weeks ago too. Next week I’ll start going twice per week.

It’s probably nuts to talk about goals at this point. But I have them. I always do, in the back of my mind. The goal over the next month is to be able to run 30-40 mpw free of injury. I will probably do most of the runs on the treadmill since I think the reduced impact has helped me to heal. I will continue to do at least one faster workout per week. I will also do some trail running in Van Cortlandt.

Come April I’ll start doing 5K training again. Then I want to race a 5K in late May or early June. No time goal. I just want to get back to racing. Then if that goes well, and I remain injury-free, I’ll focus on the Fifth Avenue Mile again in late september. It’s the only NYRR race I still give a flying fuck about doing well in. I’ve also been invited to do the Green Mountain Relay again in late June. If I can get short legs (no giggling) — and my teammates are cool with my not racing them all out — then I will probably do that again, because it’s fun!

I still want to crack 20:00 in the 5K. I’ll be 48 in a few weeks. I’m probably an idiot for wanting this, because that way lies more injury, failure and frustration. But I’m realizing that if I don’t have some sort of racing goal it’s nearly impossible for me to care about running anymore. So it’s either train and try or give up and get fat.

Oh, well

I’m injured again. This seems to be a perpetual cycle. My right Achilles got tweaked on a run a little over a month ago, a new problem on top of plantar fasciitis on the same side. Since then I’ve nearly stopped running altogether. I’ve gone running once in the last three weeks. It was four miles on a treadmill at the gym. It hurt, so I stopped.

So now in addition to not being able to run without pain I’m also rapidly falling out of shape. That’s a vicious circle — the more out of shape I get, the more unpleasant it is to run, and the less I want to run, so the more out of shape I get. The days are shorter now. It’s dark. We also had a hurricane and Nor-easter that totally fucked up our lives for two weeks. I guess I shouldn’t minimize the impact of that event. I was trying to deal with life with no heat, power or connectivity. Running and tending to my Achilles was the last thing on my mind.

I need to start running again, if only because I’m gaining weight. I do belong to a gym and sometimes I think that if I can’t run that I should at least go and do the elliptical just to get back to some semblance of basic aerobic fitness. But I can’t bring myself to do that. I hate the elliptical.

I would like to run the Cherry Tree Relay (a 3-person relay in Brooklyn in March) again in 2013. I am sort of assuming that I’ll be able to train again and at least not be embarrassingly slow. But I don’t know why I’d assume that.

A year ago I was on an upswing after the Fifth Avenue Mile, a payoff for patience and faith after a couple of years of disastrous running. Now I’m injured, out of shape and the owner of a rapidly expanding ass. I’ve also got competing pressures and priorities that are pulling me in other directions, like writing/performing and the need to make a living, among other things.

I feel my age, my body’s lack of resiliency. I wonder if I’ll ever run well again. Where’s the faith?

God, this sucks.

I’m closing comments. Just venting. We’ve all been here before.

Running with sanity

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.

In which running moves up a few slots

I sat down this morning with plans to compose a detailed, entertaining and photo-strewn record of my time in London and Edinburgh touring with ENDURE: A Run Woman Show. But I won’t. Or, rather, I can’t. Sorry. Think of one of the most intense experiences you’ve had in your life. Then imagine it going on for roughly three weeks. How can you then do any justice to it with a blog post? Especially when you’re still trying to process everything you saw, felt, learned, gained, lost, did, appreciated, regretted, succeeded at, failed at, and otherwise experienced.

So I’ll write about what else is going on.

I am on a creative tear lately. I have ideas for half a dozen stories. I just published one this week. I have a novella-length story that I’m trying to finish but can’t publish for various reasons of privacy, so that’s a big problem to solve this year. I am looking at getting back into live storytelling regularly again. I am taking two performance-oriented classes starting next month: one is a vocal training class and the other is in standup comedy. I have been writing standup material for about six months and wondering what to do with it, missing the obvious answer to that question (just get up and perform it, dummy) until quite recently. I am trying to figure out how to get myself back to Edinburgh for an extended stay because I loved that place so much. I would like to at the very least be there for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe Fest in August, in some capacity but of what sort I don’t know yet. If it’s possible to spend the entire summer there, then, yes, that’s an affirmative and a no brainer.

Finally, there’s running. I wasn’t running much in the UK but I was hardly idle. I estimate that I did around 5-9 miles of walking a day (and a little running as part of the show I was crewing for). I did a few harder runs while there and was surprised that I hadn’t lost that much basic fitness. The best discovery upon returning home was that my hamstring and Achilles issues cleared up during my time away. My plantar fasciitis, while not gone, is extremely mild and responds to babying enough that I can train on it.

I’ve got no racing plans to speak of. Missed Percy Sutton, I’m skipping the Tuckahoe and Fifth Avenue Miles. What’s the point? I’m out of racing shape and not trained for any distance. I probably won’t run any races through the rest of 2012. But 2013? That’s another story. Here we go again.

The plan: a return to Fair Lawn, NJ for the First Day 5K on New Year’s Day with a goal to get as close to 19:59 as possible. This means 8 weeks base building + 10 weeks 5K-specific training. I’ve joined a gym again — one that isn’t a half hour away — so I can get back into regular strength training. I’m getting sports massages for as long as I can afford to. Barring horrendous weather, injury or other personal disasters, I think I have a shot. Hey, Weather? Guess what? If it’s cold, icy or windy, I have indoor options. Injury? Bring it on. I’m used to you and I am totally willing to work on your schedule, use the stupid elliptical and drop race plans. And, Fate? Fuck you. My dad can’t die twice.

Training is Priority #17

This is a running blog. So you’ve probably come to expect posts about running. Here, instead, is a post about perspective and priorities.

My running has been touch and go lately, so I haven’t had much to post. I seem to be chronically injured with one problem or another. I’ve had plantar and achilles issues on my right side since March. Then I screwed my back up last month and couldn’t run at all for over a week. Now I’ve pulled something in my right hamstring.

So, basically, I’m unable to train consistently because I’m always injured. I’m doing about one serious workout every 10-14 days. That’s not going to help me do much at all from a competitive standpoint. Still, I try. But I’m also realistic. Between these ongoing setbacks and a three week trip to the UK during which training is going to be about 17th on the priority list, I’m no longer taking the Fifth Avenue Mile all that seriously. It may not be the year to do so.

And that is okay.

Really. It’s okay.

That race isn’t going anywhere, and neither am I.

My body is simply not cooperating, or when it is it’s doing so only grudgingly. I have to respect that. For whatever reason, serious training isn’t happening right now. So I’ll let it not happen for awhile.

I leave for London/Edinburgh in under three weeks. I will try to run most days, and I will endeavor to not advance from the mildly injured state I’m in right now to a seriously injured one. I hope to do some scenic runs while in Edinburgh. If I can do some harder runs, that’ll be great. But if I can’t, I can’t. I just want to have fun. I want to enjoy my time there. I want to watch the Women’s Olympic Marathon in London. I want to work hard, see a lot of shows, hang out with my cohorts and drink good beer.

Fun: Priority 1. Working Hard: Priority 2. Training: Priority 17. And that’s fine. Seriously.

In which I engage in something resembling training

In the three or so weeks since my last post I’ve started to “train” somewhat more consistently. I’m not ready to get rid of those qualifying quotations just yet, but I’m ready to start saying I’m “training” because some things happened in the last week especially that make me feel more comfortable with the term.

For one thing, I’ve finally moved from doing one workout every week to two workouts every week. Well, heck, that’s something right there. I’ve also done two track sessions: sets of 800s and 600s at something around current 5K race pace. I also ran a 5K race last weekend, which would probably have you thinking that I would know what my 5K race pace is. But you’d be wrong! Because I’ve apparently forgotten how to race 5Ks. I ambled through that race and retardedly thought I’d missed my 5K PR by three seconds only to realize that I’d missed it by a minute and three seconds. Big difference, Jule. No wonder I felt so great and it didn’t seem painful. I wasn’t running hard enough.

Summer’s here and I’ve been struggling to acclimate. I did a very humid run in Van Cortlandt Park on Thursday morning (where I spotted a fast Kenyan — they’re all fast — running on Vault Hill). Today I headed to Bronxville HS track for my 600 repeats. I was scheduled to do 10 but bailed after 7 when I could feel that I was verging on the kind of Metabolic Fry Pan Workout that’s screwed me for weeks in the past. I need to (finally) get smart about these things this year.

My “training” “plan” — such as it is — is not complicated. For now I’m just doing two hard runs a week: one hilly run (for strength) either in Central or Van Cortlandt Park and one track workout (for speed), always at 5K effort (if I can eventually remember what that is). I’m running between 30-40 mpw. I will throw in some races for fun, as alternatives to the workouts and to see how things are going. Possibilities include Tuesday Icahn races on June 12 and 26, and July 10 and 24; the Van Cortlandt Park 2×2 Relay on July 5 (which I hope to run with Amy Cooper so that I am guaranteed baked goods, or at least to have someone to make fun of other people with), and the Women’s Distance Festival 5K at Rockland Lake (where I ran my “I forgot how to run a 5K race” race last weekend).

I will probably skip the Mini 10K because it doesn’t work with my schedule. I won’t have time to go interview the elites this year either, which is too bad.

Sometime around July 29 I’ll go from quasi-5K basebuilding into mile-specific training. This is, coincidentally, the day I leave for three weeks to do my Ian Faith impression in London and Edinburgh. Flexibility will be the order of the day over these weeks. I’m not expecting to get any real training done in London, such will be the jet lag and chaos. Edinburgh might be a little more stable, and I have three days “off” (more qualifier quotes). Nevertheless, I’ve located tracks within running distance in both locations, plus I was watching an Edinburgh episode of “House Hunters” recently and that somebitch looks hilly. So I can always put together a hill workout in a pinch.

I will pack my spikes. Because you never know where a little race might pop up.

Running? Oh, right.

Here it is — May already — and I’ve yet to have posted a single training log. That hasn’t been a deliberate omission. I just haven’t really been training lately. My next goal race, the Fifth Avenue Mile, isn’t until late September, and I’m not going to train for five months for the mile. So…

I’ve been running consistently, usually six days a week, although my mileage has been at an historically low average of 30-35 mpw. I’ve been racing occasionally and recently bested my previous 10K PR. But I have also been injured for the past two months, although for most of that time the injuries have been mild enough that I can at least run easy most days. I’ve had three issues: a left hamstring tweak (which finally went away about a week ago) and Achilles issues and plantar fasciitis on my right side. It’s only in the last couple of weeks that the latter two have let me do any hard workouts without paying for it for at least a week afterwards. The Achilles problem is nearly gone and the PF is so mild that it’s more an irritation than pain at this point.

I baby the hell out of both of them: icing, massaging, rolling and NSAIDs. That discipline has paid off, as has only doing a workout once a week and only then when I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make either of those two areas of my right foot blow up again. Racing the Scotland 10K probably delayed healing, but it was worth the PR. Now I can say that I am doing something resembling training again. I’m still just doing one workout a week, but I’ll be increasing the frequency of those efforts pretty soon, with three workouts every two weeks. Eventually, assuming my body holds up, I’ll move back to two workouts a week.

I’m doing rough 5K training now, with the idea that I’ll go into mile training later in July for Fifth Ave (on Sept 22), using the Percy Sutton 5K in August and the Tuckahoe Mile (which I won last year…but, hey, it’s in Tuckahoe!)  in early September as tune-ups. I may throw in a few track races at Icahn if my schedule permits (and perhaps the Van Cortlandt 2×2 relay), but I will not over-race, especially if I’m injured. Making that mistake in March is what got me into the injury hole I’m just now crawling out of.

I’m doing some fast running in Central Park every couple of weeks, interspersed with track work. I did my first track workout on Sunday after nearly nine weeks away from it. I’m only slightly slower than I was at the peak of my pre-Houston 5K buildup, which both surprised and delighted me. Plus my right foot feels better after track work — also a nice surprise. Walking to the track with no small degree of trepidation, I was prepared to both run badly and get re-injured in the process.

It’s good to be running fast again. I missed it a lot.

Speaking of missing things: I will miss the NYRR Club Championships in early August for reasons that I will detail in another blog post very soon. Let’s just say that I’m looking forward to a very interesting and adventurous summer, and that I’m glad my passport doesn’t expire until October.

Scotland Run 10K

It’s more than a little ironic that my inexplicable improvement in running speed coincides with my plummeting interest in writing about it.

I got injured about a month ago after racing Coogan’s and the McCarren Park Track Classic back to back (and was already slightly injured going into both). Three days after that track race I did a track workout (15 x 300m at 67-71 per) and then the two days after that say “Injured.” For a few weeks I puttered along at around 9:15-9:45 pace on a hurting Achilles and hamstring (opposite legs). Then, last weekend, I got up on Sunday morning and felt pretty good, so I headed into Central Park thinking I’d run a 6 mile loop at around 8:30. Instead, I ran 10 miles at 7:46. No real pain to speak of. Well, alrighty then.

This morning I raced Scotland for the third year in a row. My 10K PRs are all on the roads and since I haven’t focused on that distance those are soft PRs. Still, I was happy to break 45:00 by one second last year. This year I ran 44:44, a 15 second PR. I didn’t look at my watch, save for the fourth mile, which is the one that hits the two huge hills at the top of the park. That was an abysmal 7:40. Between that and the very crowded and slow first mile, I figured I’d come in somewhere around 45:30. Needless to say, I was surprised and happy when I looked at my watch at the finish.

I have no idea what’s going on. I ran easy for three weeks at 31 mpw average. Then I did a hard 10 miler in the park, followed by a couple of moderate progression runs this week: a 6 miler ending with 2 miles at 8:10 on Tuesday followed by a 4 miler with one mile at 8:00 yesterday. I took Friday off. So some faster miles coupled with a mini taper of sorts. That seemed to work.

I will get back into “training” (whatever that means) after a week of recovery. I learned my lesson a month ago. The next race is the Mini 10K, which I’m not even sure I’m running since doing so means I will have to go to a three hour class immediately afterwards and inflict my rank self on a roomful of other humans. Baby Wipes will only get you so far.

Change of plan

I’m not following Jack Daniels’ training anymore. I need a breakthrough and 20:50 was not a breakthrough.

So now I’m doing something totally different.

Over the next three months I will be doing a combination of weekly speed workouts consisting of track repeats at various distances, all at a goal 5K pace of 6:25; and one hard, lung-busting hill running session in either Central or Van Cortlandt Park each week, of gradually increasing distance and speed.

Let’s see if this works.

 

And here we are again

I haven’t posted anything about my training (a term I’ve used loosely lately) for nearly two months. Running has not been at the forefront during this time, to say the least. But I have been doing something resembling training, if only to try to retain the 5K fitness I spent months carefully crafting in preparation for Houston.

In the weeks since my dad died I’ve run an average of around 28 mpw. That’s not terrible. Starting about a month ago I was back to two workouts a week most weeks. I ran the Cherry Tree Relay and didn’t do half bad (somewhere between 23:00-24:00 for 3.33 miles; I wasn’t timing myself). Three tempo runs, two speed workouts. Not exactly stellar, but I’ve made an effort. I took four days off last week. I was exhausted.

Today I raced Coogan’s and came in 12 seconds faster than last year. I’d liked that to have been 1:12 faster, but you can’t have everything.

During this time I’ve considered what I want to do with my spring and summer in terms of running. I liked 5K training in the fall and winter. It seemed logical to target another 5K in the early summer and then do another 12-14 week buildup for the Fifth Avenue Mile. But then I started registering for NYRR club points races. This despite my bitching about not wanting to run all those Central Park races. But something’s wrong with me. I can’t stop myself.

I’m not going to race nearly every club points race like I did last year (or, at least, that’s what I’m saying now). But it seemed crazy not to register for the Scotland 10K. Then the Mini 10K registration opened and well, it’s got so much history. How could I not race that one too? In fact, I may as well make that my goal race since I’ve got 14 weeks to prepare for it. There’s a newish race up here in the northern hinterlands, the 2nd Annual Bill Fortune Memorial Run (put on by Rockland Road Runners) on May 20th. That one’s around Rockland Lake, which is flat, if a little narrow. It appeals to me because it consists of a 5K and a 10K. So I can always wait and see which distance I feel like racing when the day comes.

I am returning to Jack Daniels’ Running Formula for training guidance and I am reminded that his plan for the 5K and 10K is the same. It’s the “5K-15K training” chapter. You see where this is going, right? I may as well train for a 10K since I’m now registered for two of them. Which is easy because I’ll also be training for the 5K.

The other decision I’ve made is to skip the Vermont Green Mountain Relay, much as I enjoyed the experience two years ago. I have long suspected that the combination of racing the Mini 10K all out, followed by the brutal requirements of that relay (three races over 24 hours, lots of hills and — during that year — a horrible heat wave), followed by hard training is what may have pushed me over the edge into a bad injury. I won’t be trained for that race on the current program, nor do I want to head into mile training exhausted, so that one’s a no go this year.

I’ll stick with two hard workouts (or one workout, one race) per week since it’s kept me uninjured since July. I’m designing my mileage to be relatively low: 45 max to start out with, but I’ll push it into the 50s if it doesn’t exhaust me. Aside from the 10K races, I’ve got a few much shorter competitive efforts planned as well. I’m sick of being a purist. So I’ll race stuff I’m not trained specifically for. Next weekend I’m running the 2 Mile, along with the 800m leg of the Distance Medley Relay, at the McCarren Track Classic (I like how it’s called “classic” even though this is the first year). Then the Scotland 10K a month later. Then the Rockland Lake race, although I may try to find something else in there since it’s six weeks between those two races. Then the Mini 10K three weeks after that. For June and July I’ll probably do two of the Icahn Tuesday night series races and, finally, the Van Cortlandt 2×2 Relay, although I don’t yet know with whom I’ll race.

Training starts in earnest this week. The other order of business is to find a gym closer to home so I can get back to pumping iron. That’s next weekend’s project.

It feels very good to be racing and training again.

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