Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Running Happy! :-)



My focus with training this time around has been centered on my favorite part of running, the part that gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside and makes me truly happy: RUNNING! My core training has been minimal; I have just been doing sets of crunches after my workouts. I have yet to pop in my Pilates DVD, and my 8 pound weights are in a corner in my bedroom collecting an exorbitant amount of dust. I know I’m leaving out important components that will make me a more efficient, toned runner, but I just haven’t been able to get myself motivated enough to add those things into my training. I am taking more time to do what has not been much of my weekly routine in training past; relaxing! I actually have a set of TV shows that I watch, including Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and Shark Tank. And, I must admit, I have also found entertainment in pathetic displays of human interaction in shows like The Bachelor.  I am going to try to keep this routine of added relaxation going and focus on simply running happy. If any aspect of my routine does otherwise, it is going to get cut out. I love running and want to keep it that way! 

The extreme cold temperatures have been anything but cumbersome when it comes to my training, as I have been knocking out my workouts, one by one, on the treadmill! Call me an optimist or perhaps I am just a true lover of all that is running, but I am having so much fun on the treadmill! Here is a  recap of Week 3:

Monday and Wednesday are my speed days. Monday, I completed Fartlek ladders. I LOVE this workout! It is a very dynamic challenge that keeps me on my toes, and is great for teaching my body how to withstand different race paces for different durations.  I began with a 15:00 easy warm-up jog, then climbed up the “ladder” with 1:00@6:17min/mi, 2:00@6:28min/mi, 3:00@6:31min/mi, 4:00@6:51min/mi with 2:00 recovery jogs between each, and then repeated it all as I went back down. I finished with a 20:00 cool down jog, covering a total of about 7 miles. 

Wednesday, I ran my first tempo run of the season. Tempos are my hardest workouts, and are especially challenging on the treadmill when my body has no choice but to keep up with the quick moving mat moving underneath my feet. As one would expect, this intense workout is essential physical and mental training to ensure I am ready to put out race pace for 26.2 miles without giving up! I began with a 1.5 mile warm up, ran 3 miles at a 6:50min/mi and progressively sped up to a 6:30min/mi, and then cooled down for 1.5 miles.  I get so nervous for my tempo workouts and was THRILLED that it went smoother than I expected. As a result, when I hit 4.5 miles on the treadmill and was ready to start the cool down on my workout, I LITERALLY started dancing on the treadmill! I am sure I looked like an idiot, and that is totally okay with me! :-)

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday are my easy days. My focus is to go EASY BREEZY on the easy days, and HARD HARD HARD HARD HARD HARD**insert music: Ke$ha, We Are Who We Are** on the hard days. Tuesday, I cross-trained with 30 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the bike. Thursday, I was EXHAUSTED and ran a VERY easy 5 miles. Fridays are my completely off days. Again, I was EXHAUSTED on this day as well. I hit the couch as soon as I got home from work, carbo-loaded, and stayed up long enough to catch Shark Tank.  I probably could have fallen asleep by 8pm! I had battled with a bit of insomnia all week and it had definitely caught up with me. I have learned that sleep loss is cumulative.  I usually do not feel the effects of it right away, but it always ends up catching up with me.

By Saturday, I was recharged and ready to take on a good long run! Unfortunately, when I woke up, the roads had a different plan for me. They were blustery, cold, and unplowed. I wasn’t able to head to the gym until after 1pm (I am a big baby when it comes to driving on messy roads). But, there was no stopping me from crushing out my 15 mile long run! I ran for 15 miles under 2 hours. My average pace was about 7:50-7:55ishmin/mi. I ran the last mile pretty hard, trying out my needed 7:15min/mi pace for a 3:10 marathon finish. It felt pretty uncomfortable and I started laughing to myself thinking about the possibility of running a marathon that fast. As I started dismissing my goals, Don’t Stop Believing came on my Ipod…NO JOKE!!! I REALLY started to laugh and kept pushing until I hit the 15 mile mark on the good ol’ treadmill. 7:15min/mi feels unrealistic right now, but I’m going to keep trying. The pace feels foreign and is definitely fast for me, but it’s the exact challenge I need. If it were easy, it probably wouldn’t be the right goal for me. I have to keep reminding myself that I am going to get there, EVENTUALLY!

I finished off the week with 4 easy miles on Sunday, bringing my week 3 mileage total to 37. I am just under 110 miles for the past 3 weeks. I will likely be racing sooner than I expected, and am planning on running the Chili Bowl 5k in Tremont on Saturday, February 15. I have a wedding shower on Saturday, February 22, so it is looking the SnowBall 5k is out. :-( Although it doesn’t work for me, I highly recommend it to all looking for a flat-fast course. I am so bummed I can’t run it this year, but am really exciting to try out a new race! I don’t know much about racing in Tremont, but am hoping for a good course!

Week 3 was a great reminder for me of the importance of keeping running HAPPY. It is a hobby, not a job. Hobbies are important and it is REALLY important that they are kept JUST that. They are an escape from the things you have to do and should be a release, not a burden.  From my encounters with runners over the years, we are all really dedicated to what we do and many us are perfectionists. But, sometimes I think we need to remind ourselves of why we are dedicated to it and relax a bit on the perfectionism. If we are not running happy, we might as well not be running at all! I love sharing my experiences through my blog, and will try to keep it going throughout this spring. I am by no means a connoisseur and am not sure I am the perfect role model for all runners out there. I don’t have perfect grammar and I’m not sure most of what I say makes sense. But these are my experiences, in my words, so take them as you will!

So my message for all, runners and non-runners alike, is this: think about what makes you happy and embrace it with all of your heart! If you are not sure, take some time to figure out what that is. Try a few things. Make some mistakes. Hate a few things along the way. Learn from it and let it go if need be. It will ultimately lead you to finding your interest. There are plenty of things in my life that drag me down when I think about them too much, but having running as a hobby helps ease some of the ruffles in the road of my life. There is so much to be learned from the pursuit of passions. You may not see the effects right away, but I promise it is worth it if you give it a shot. I am not happy all of the time, but I can say with certainty that my life is much better lived when I am doing what I love!

Week 4 is underway! I have a 60 minute progression run waiting for me this afternoon on the treadmill and I can’t wait to dance through this one! Some days are smoother than others, but all and all the most important thing about my training so far is that I am running happy! :-)

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