Thursday, July 25, 2013

week 10 - what I've learned so far

I am now in the middle of week 10 (holy crap how is that possible?!) of my training plan since starting with my running coaches Stephanie and Ben Bruce.  To say every workout has been amazing would be a lie.  More importantly though, I have learned a lot about running and even more so about myself from the past 10 weeks.

Running is freaking hard.  Running has always been, and will always be a challenge for me.  But I think that's why I love it.  The feeling I get after a difficult run is like no other.  I'm not sure when or where I got the idea in my head that some days running should feel effortless.  Maybe this is true for some people.  Not for me.  Oh well, it's a good thing I like a challenge.

It's ok to run slow on easy days.  Three out of my five runs each week have the word easy in them.  Ex: 40-45min easy with 4x100 meter strides...16-18 miles easy.  When I first saw this I kind of laughed.  I mean 40-45 min and easy, ok.  16-18 easy?!  I'm not sure 16-18 miles and the word easy have ever gone together in my mind.  I felt like if I ran at what I considered an easy pace, it would be too slow, and I'd just be wasting my time.  But after talking to Steph I realized the "easy" paced runs are just as important, and necessary, as the speed work.  Ok, Steph, I can embrace the easy pace.  I have no shame running a slow, easy pace.

Faster times will come.  I was never really sure how much I should be pushing myself on each run.  I didn't know if in order to get faster, I needed to feel like I was going to die at the end of every run.  Thankfully, my trusty running coach told me otherwise.  Turns out, as I work more on my speed during the speed workouts, my paces will sort of just start to get faster.  One day I could go out to run an easy pace, feel like I'm running an easy pace, and the Garmin will tell me it's a little faster.  Then, eventually all of my paces will start to be a little faster.  Cool!  I like that.

Ditching the Garmin can be a good thing.  I bought my Garmin over the winter some time.  I had been wanting one for a while and finally bought one for myself.  Before my Garmin I would use an app on my phone to track my miles and my pace.  While it has been a great tool for me, it started to dictate whether my run was good or bad based on the pace I saw, not how I felt.  So, after talking to Ben about it, I decided it would probably be a good idea to go Garmin free for last weekend's long run.  It was the best long run I've have in a while.  It was so nice to able to run based on how I felt.  I didn't spend the majority of the time obsessing over how far I had gone and how far I had left to run.  I just ran.  It was perfect.  

Rest days are good days.  More is not always better in the case of running.  For a while I kind of thought running 6 days would be better than 5, and sometimes maybe I didn't need a day off because it was just a couple of miles.  Turns out, that's not really true.  I have two rest days a week, and they are glorious.  My legs are so ready for a rest day when one comes around and I don't feel bad at all for taking one.  If I put in the work during my workouts, rest days are totally deserved, and necessary for recovery.       

I love racing.  Since I started racing in 2007, I have never ran more than 3 races in one year.  I did not run any races in 2009 or 2012.  The races I did run, I didn't really race.  I didn't push myself to run any faster than when I was training.  Running was purely recreational.  I did it for fun, and to try to stay in shape.  This year, I already ran 4 races, and I am signed up for 4 more so far.  Every race I have run I have pushed myself to run faster.  I have felt the nerves and the adrenaline waiting for the gun to go off.  Even though every race has not gone as planned, I have loved every one of them.  Turns out, I love racing!!    

stolen photo from my last race.  sorry.

A bad race is not the end of the world.  A few weeks ago I ran my 7th half marathon.  It was not exactly a good race.  In fact, it kind of sucked.  I dwelled on it for a few days, and then thankfully snapped out of it.  Again, with the help of Ben and Steph, I realized that it's much more beneficial to try to learn from the race, rather than only thinking negatively about it.  It helped to write my thoughts down in an email in order get them out of my head and then move on.  There's so much you can learn from a bad race, and that's where the focus should be.  Once I let the negativity from the race go, I started to realize that during training I was seeing improvements and feeling much better.  This past week I have had some of the best runs since starting my training program.

I have to focus on myself.  It's so easy to get caught up in reading blogs, and twitter and thinking, damn they're fast....crap, I suck.  I went through a little phase of thinking maybe I'm not cut out for this because I'm not fast like this person or this person or this person.  Confidence is something I have to work at every day.  I started to go backwards in my mental state rather than moving forward, which obviously wasn't good.  I'm not those people.  I am me, and I run at a different pace right now.  That's ok.  I talked to Steph about this on Tuesday and she reiterated the importance of focusing on yourself and not being influenced by social media.  She said something else that really stuck with me.  Not only is it important to try not to compete with other people.  It's equally as important to try not to compete with yourself.  I had been experiencing this as well because I felt like I haven't been running as strongly as I was a few months ago when I ran the half marathon I PR'd in May.  But I have to remember I am in a different place now than I was then.  I am running more miles, and doing harder workouts.  An adjustment time is normal and should be expected.  So, not only do I need to focus on myself, I need to focus on myself in the present time.              

I feel like I could go on forever about what I've learned during these first 10 weeks.  But I think I'll stop there.  It's been a very exciting journey so far with more ups than downs.  I feel like I've grown a lot as a person and a runner.  I definitely owe a great big THANK YOU to Stephanie and Ben for everything they've helped me with so far!  Let's keep this good thing going :)             

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