Is it Week 3 of spring training? According to my 2022 running calendar it is, although this was the first week I felt back in the swing of things. So my brain is calling it Week 1 or 3.
This time around training feels different. For starters, after years of loving and preferring to run in cold weather, I’ve discovered this time around I have absolutely no desire to do such a thing. Part of it has to do with my gears not entirely moving at 5 a.m. – and I’ve learned the hard way my body will not tolerate me having coffee before a run. Hats off to all you runners who can chug a cup or two of coffee and have it work in your favor. I get halfway through mine while sitting on the couch with Marina and need to run … straight to my bathroom to spend the next 15 minutes there.
Marina follows me in these scenarios, I guess to make sure I don’t fall in. Not really sure what she’d do if I did though. I’m pretty sure she’s never had CPR training in a previous life. I’m really digressing right now.
But also, I’ve started thinking about the what if scenarios. Maybe turning 30 is forcing me to grow up, but now the thought of running in the morning during winter before the sun comes up sounds more stupid than impressive. What happens if I don’t see black ice, hit it, fall and smack my head?
A few years ago when I walking to the gym at 5 a.m., I fell down twice and landed on my side. I didn’t get hurt or bruised, and then it was funny. Now all I can think of is falling on ice, hitting my head or injuring myself so that I have to take a break from running. Any runner can tell you unexpected injuries during a training cycle is one of the worst blows to be dealt. So, instead I drive over to the gym at my apartment complex when there’s only one other lady there (she’s a regular) and run on the treadmill.
This week I decided to challenge myself. My scheduled run days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday being long run day. I missed two long run days and told myself if I’m going to keep this up – which I’m not and frankly can’t afford to with the first race on April 2nd – then I need to start increasing the number of runs through the week. So this past week, my run days were Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Monday was easy-ish. I set the treadmill to 5.5 miles per hour and ran at that pace for three miles. One of the big focuses during my treadmill runs is making myself run at a consistent pace. I have a bad habit of starting off runs like a bat of out of Hell and then ending them like a turtle stuck in molasses. This isn’t productive for racing, and it’s definitely not good for the body either. Monday’s run wasn’t bad, but it definitely took me some sessions to get re-used to running at a modest pace the entire time. My brain wants to jack up the speed on the treadmill towards the end, or do a HIIT workout. The latter is fine, and at some point I’ll incorporate those back into my training. But for now – consistency is going to have to be key.
Tuesday was surprisingly easier. I’ve often heard in reference to running that to be a better runner or to get better at anything, you have to do it more often. I agree with that in theory. In the years past, I always had a strict rule with myself of never running two days in a row, no matter how great I felt. Part of it is to avoid burnout, as even too much of doing something you love can become a bad thing, and because running can be taxing on the body if that’s the one and only thing you’re doing. My rule with myself was always alternate between run days and lifting days so I could make sure I was taking adequate breaks and cross-training appropriately.
However, the second-day-in-a-row run wasn’t bad at all. My energy levels were still high and running didn’t feel cumbersome, even when I had the speed up to 5.6 MPH and was slowly increasing the incline to .5.
Then it was Wednesday morning. I definitely felt the two days in a row in my quads and calves, but that was alright. Wednesday was my upper body lifting and some stretching to eliminate my lower back pain (note to self, you need to stretch again and stop sitting so much.)
Thursday was my four mile day. I ran at the same pace of 5.6 and felt great. Then Thursday afternoon I got hit with the sleepies. I figured that was partly due to an early rise time, and also because this past week at work was the wrap up of a major project and we’ve all been stressed out. I even put my head down and slept at my desk during my ten-minute break.
It’s rare for me to fall asleep during the day, if that gives you any indication of how tired I was.
Friday was a day of rest, which Marina loved because that means she gets to see her mom longer in the mornings. Granted, she still goes to hide in her secret cat bed I have to pretend I don’t know about (in spite of me buying it and sticking it under the end table) between 5:30 and 6 a.m., but that’s okay.
Then came Saturday. I woke up prepared to run in the morning. I know myself well enough to know if I don’t make myself get dressed and leave the house first thing after making my bed and feeding Marina, I won’t be running or working out at all. I woke up ready to go.
And then I saw the kitchen was mess.
And I remembered the bank is only open from 9 to noon.
And Mom asked me if I would run to Hobby Lobby for a Grandma-related errand.
And there’s a chance PetSmart might have the canned cat food Marina eats.
I left after 10 a.m. and didn’t get home until after 4 p.m. from all my errands. I gotta say, once this global supply chain crisis and the aluminum shortage stops, I will be doing a victory lap around my apartment complex. Likely naked while eating a slice of cake with my bare hands, singing a horribly off-key rendition of “We Are the Champions.” I don’t care what becomes of me while the world spins off its axis, but that aluminum shortage means canned pet food is getting harder to find. Miss Marina is an older kitty with a low tolerance for anything other than Fancy Feast chicken medleys – meaning if it’s not that she’s going to get sick and not be able to keep it down – so finding either singles or the boxed cans is a real pain in the ass.
Thankfully, I grabbed the last box at PetSmart and the last box at Target, so we’re stocked up for the next two weeks. Hash browns was the other challenging item this week. Two stores were completely out of the various frozen potatoes, although I did find the second-to-last bag at Kroger.
So it was evening when I finally got time to get to the gym. A part of me was wondering during the drive over it going was even worth it. My gym at my complex is small with three treadmills, so when you’re out of luck, well, you’re out of luck. This is why I go in the mornings and rarely to never go in the evenings. But I decided to chance it because I knew if I didn’t go and do something, I’d be disappointed in myself.
Thankfully for me, a treadmill was open.
The plan was to run eight miles, broken down into two four-mile sessions with a bathroom break in between. I felt good during the first three miles and started to have some cramping as I was finishing up the last mile in my first session. Chugging water helped, and I was back at it. However, it was getting close to 8 p.m. which is my body’s natural sleepy time and I decided after two miles to call it a night. So instead of eight happy miles, I ran six rewarding miles.
My final mileage for Week 3: 16. It’s modest but it’s progress, and overall I’m proud of myself. I may have had to change my time on Saturday, but I still ran four times a week and hit the goals I wanted to.
Next week’s goals: continue increasing speed and mileage on Saturday. Since my races this spring are only halves, I have wiggle room if long runs aren’t as long and don’t need to go all out with increasing my mileage. Remember running buddies, slow and steady wins the race.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s post and stay with me through the rest of my spring training. I just realized I never shared which races I’m doing. I’ll be doing that in a future blog.
Yours in writing and running,