Tag Archives: rest

A Year Without Injuries

This is potentially the most jinx-filled post I’ll ever write. But since I’m not a huge believer in that type of thing, I’ll just go ahead and write it.

(Knock on wood, knock on wood…)

As of this past weekend (Saturday to be specific) it has been one year since I’ve been injured. One year, you guys!

On Saturday, September 8, 2012, I was forced to cut short a 20 mile Chicago Marathon training run because my ankle blew up to the point of not being able to walk. It was heart-breaking, and although I ultimately was able to run the race and had a great time doing so, the injury was still a wake-up call of sorts.

And since then, I haven’t had to take a day off of running for anything other than basic aches, pains, and soreness. Kind of hard to believe! And if any of you are thinking, “It’s just a year Robyn, what’s the big deal?” let me recap some things for you:

In 2012 I was hurt three separate times, all of which were the result of improper (too much) training and general bodily negligence.

– In April, I got horrible knee bursitis which completely threw off my Tacoma Marathon training. It took a cortisone shot and a lot of Aleve to weasel my way out of that one in time for the race.

-In May/June, the evil IT Band Syndrome got me good, and I was limping with knee pain for nearly two months. No running whatsoever.

-In September (as previously mentioned) my ankle tendonitis nearly eliminated my chance to run the Chicago Marathon. It was a little miraculous that I actually made it to and finished the race, and it wasn’t without a lot of luck and prescription anti-inflammatories.

I was actually very fortunate in my year of injuries. While they definitely were the result of over-training, none of them were very permanent and could mostly be quick-fixed with rest and drugs. I definitely consider myself lucky in that regard, but I still knew that my luck wouldn’t hold up if I didn’t make some changes.

It’s one of those “Fool me once, fool me twice…” scenarios. But in this case, I was certainly the one to be shamed, and I knew that these running injuries were going to keep happening if my habits stayed the same.

Nothing changes if nothing changes, and it was time for me to change.

And here I am…a year later, and (okay fine, lots of knocking on wood) I’m healthy and running happily. I will be the first to admit that a lot of this is luck; running and injuries sometimes just go hand-in-hand, no matter how careful you are. For some reason, I’ve been able to avoid the inevitable injuries that can knock us out.

However, I have definitely made changes that I’m certain have played a role in eliminating overuse injuries. Here’s a few things that I think have made the biggest difference:

1 rest day per week. No matter what. I used to take a rest day once every 2 (sometimes 3) weeks, and now I don’t know how that was even possible. I start to crave my rest days, which I also think means that I’m working harder during the other days.

Foot strike. I know this is a debated topic, but between last year and this year, I have fully transitioned to a more minimal shoe and have completely changed from a heavy heel-striker to a mid-foot striker. It could be a coincidence, but I’m guessing that this has a lot to do with the lessened impact.

Added walking. I walk every day between the water taxi and my office building (~.7 miles each way) and often times this is right after I’ve run and showered. I could be wrong, but I think the prolonged striding and extra “shake out” that walking provides has helped my legs recover more from my running.

Strength. This is potentially number one. Up until last August or so, I never did any kind of leg strength training. I always wanted my legs to be fresh for running, so I never bothered with squats or lunges or anything like that. I kind of cringe to think about this now, given that I’ve done a 180 in that regard. Currently, about twice a week, I do all kinds of strengthening, flexibility, and balance (<–super helpful!) work thanks to the lifting class I found. Not only do we work the big running muscles (hammies, quads, and glutes) but also the smaller, less obvious muscles that ultimately make a big impact on both performance and injury-proneness (not really a word, but I think you understand). In a nutshell, I think I had it wrong before; cross-training for running should actually be more about strength and less about other types of cardio. This might not be the same for everyone, but I’m convinced that adding strength training and dropping spinning has been perhaps the number one injury prevention technique.

Here’s the kicker to all this: I’m actually running more days per week and more miles than I was last year when I kept getting hurt. I have built up to this in a totally safe way, no doubt, but I think it’s interesting to look at how I’ve actually been able to do more since I’ve made the above changes.

And let it be known: more running wasn’t even the intention when I decided I needed to reevaluate my habits; in fact, it was actually more the opposite of that. But along the way, I think I found that with the added balance and the added rest, running was granted to me more freely. Some weeks are better than others, and some weeks require more rest and less miles. Ultimately, though, I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on the balancing act of the sport. Much like any relationship, it’s very give and take; the more you nurture your running with things like rest days, stretching, rolling, and nutrition, the more it will give back—in the form of more pain-free and happy miles.

I’m constantly reminded of how much like life running is, and how much it can teach us about other aspects of our lives. This past year has really solidified my belief that nothing changes if nothing changes, but also that we are in control. I think for all of last year, I felt as if running owned me; like it was an abusive relationship, and running had all the power. Of course this was wrong, but it was hard to see things otherwise when the sport I loved so very much kept disappointing me.

Now, I realize I had the power all along, and in fact I was the one who was abusing it. Today, I feel infinitely more control over my training and my running, which is an incredibly empowering and comforting feeling. As a result, I feel like I’ve become both stronger and faster—and perhaps most importantly, more conscious of both my limitations and potential within the sport. So long as I continue to give and take, I have a feeling that that potential will continue to turn into results.

As evidenced also by this past year of three different PRs, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit safer.

Take care of your bodies everyone. We all love to run as much as we can, but sometimes our running, just like us, needs extra TLC.

And if you are hurt right now…here’s one of the most wonderful things I discovered last year after sitting on multiple sidelines: running isn’t going anywhere. It will be right there to take off with you whenever you’re ready again.

Post-Marathon Thoughts

My brain always goes back and forth between two different things once I finish a big goal race:

“OH MY GOSH, MUST DO SOMETHING ELSE NOW! Half-marathon PR? Ultra? Another 26.2 in two weeks? Gimme something BIG!”

and

“I don’t want to anything! I’ve earned it! Let’s take 6 rest days a week and on the other day run slow for 2 miles! Summer vacation! Hooray!”

I’m sure you can guess which of these is more prevalent than the other…but for the most part, these are the two extremes I’m vacillating between.

It always happens, and I’ve finally figured out why.

I am currently both: a) directionless, and b) burnt out.

I’ve been focusing on one singular goal for 4-5 months. It’s been getting me up in the morning when I wanted to sleep, it’s given me intention and purpose in my gut-busting workouts, and it’s kept me excited to put all my hard work to the test. Frankly, I love having a big race/goal on the horizon, which is why more often than not I have a BIG goal on the drawing board.

At the same time, however, our bodies and brains can only handle so much focus. The thought of jumping into any kind of training anytime soon sounds incredibly unappealing. It makes me shudder a little bit to think of abiding by the governing powers of a training schedule at the very least for another month.

So as you can see, there is a bit of a conflict of interest between my two mindsets right now. I want to respect the fact that I’ve given a lot to training during these past few months and give myself a break. The marathon distance, as well, beats you to a pulp, and I know that while I may feel completely recovered—I’m far from it.

So there’s that. But there’s also the case of “post marathon blues” that some of you may have heard of or experienced yourself. I am certainly susceptible to these feelings, and I already can feel them taking form. Essentially, post-marathon blues are what’s leftover once the glitz and glamour of the race are over. I wouldn’t say that I’m completely done reveling in my BQ state—but I definitely feel a little loss now that my training’s over.

I really enjoy the journey of a big goal. I love the prospect of trying to make my far-fetched dreams into a reality, and it makes the process of running day after day so much more enjoyable to know that there’s this sparkly potential for greatness out there.

So while training can get overwhelming and mundane at some points, I am almost always a little sad to have my training come to an end, even when the final race result is satisfactory.

If I’m being honest, I think part of this feeling is that the Eugene end wasn’t 100% satisfactory. I know I have more in me, I know there’s more potential out there. And while I definitely don’t have the energy nor the desire the jump into anything for a while, the fire is definitely there.

So where does that leave me? Well, somewhere in the middle of the previously mentioned extremes, I suppose.

I do love knowing that running offers so many options. Running fast, slow, long, short, trail, road, inside, etc…there’s plenty to choose from. And while I don’t feel ready mentally or physically to make my next choice just yet, I’m excited at the prospect of something new being out there.

In a lot of ways, I still feel very new to this sport, and I love that. I know I’ll figure out someday what my limitations are, but for now…I’m choosing to believe/hope that there are a lot more glass ceilings to break through.

Do you experience the same type of post-marathon blues, or do you kick up your feet and lounge for a while?

Eugene Marathon Training Week #11 and #11.5

Stuff is winding down around here. I haven’t really done a “workout” so-to-speak in nearly two weeks, and my legs are more than ready for a little freedom.

I thought I’d report on both this past week and this current week, seeing as after Eugene, the likelihood of “recapping” my final taper week is close to zero. I’ll more than likely have too many chocolate chips to focus on at that point. Actually, I’m already distracted by chocolate chips. I don’t even buy bags with the intention of baking cookies anymore.

But I digress.

I am rather methodical about my final week taper schedule though, so I figured I’d do a little detailing.

But first, last week…

Week #11

M: 7 miles w/ 6 x 100 meter sprints

T: Rest

W: 5 miles easy + Maximum Sculpt

T: ~2 mile swim

F: 8 mile run, easy + easy lifting

S: 12 mile run, no watch- tried to finish strong

S: Rest

= 32 miles

Nothing exceptionally noteworthy last week. Saturday’s last long run felt good, and it was probably a good thing my Garmin died before I even started the run. I tend to be a bit time-obsessed with that thing on…even if the prescribed run is supposed to be “easy.”

I had the best intentions to go to yoga on Sunday. Like I actually got myself to the gym early and everything. Alas…class was cancelled. Oh well, can’t say I didn’t try. My foam roller and I got cozy instead.

And now for this week…both what’s happened and what’s planned:

Week #12

M: 6 miles easy

T: 1 hour swim

W: 7 miles “dress rehearsal” with 2 miles @ mgp

T (planned): 1 hour swim

F (planned): Rest

S (planned): 3-4 mile shake out

S: Well…you know 🙂

The swimming seemed to be a game-changer for me during my tapering for Chicago, so I’m plugging it in twice this week. Generally, it seems to really flush my legs and wiggle out all that lingering tightness…all good things for marathon prep.

This morning’s “dress rehearsal” went about as well as dress rehearsal runs are supposed to go…not awesome. If we’re being honest, marathon pace felt kinda fast, but I’m choosing to trust the training instead of let one less-than-perfect run freak me out. It’s par for the course during race week, right?

I’m also having race-day attire qualms, and today’s run didn’t help much. Tank top? Short sleeves? Arm warmers? I’m all over the place. In the end, I’m certain I’ll go with whatever feels most comfortable…and it will undoubtedly be less clothing than what most people are wearing. Cold weather runner FOREVER!

And speaking of, not that I’m hawking or anything, but race day temps are *for now* looking pretty stellar. High of 61 for the day, meaning a chilly start, just the way I like it. Low chance of rain and partial cloud cover…I couldn’t really ask for much better than that. Honestly, when it comes to weather for races, I try to ignore the predictions…because no matter what the skies decide, I’m going to be running either way. However, it does add a little comfort that (hopefully) wet clothing won’t be an issue.

I’m having a hard time believing there’s only three days between now and race day. Tomorrow night I’ll be packing everything up, and just 48 hours from now BF and I will begin our drive south.

Ah, it’s all happening soon. And since all this typing about the race is starting to send my tummy butterflies a-flutter, I’m signing off for now.

Happy Wednesday folks!

What’s Worked: Reflections on Marathon Training

As I approach these last few weeks of marathon prep— namely, the taper stage— I’ve been reflecting a bit on how this bout of training has fared compared to others.

There were a lot of different strategies I incorporated this time around which made for a lot of new experiences. And while it’s still 17 days ‘til race day (*shudder*), I think it’s pretty safe to say that these strategies have worked.

As of right now, I feel healthy, strong, and mentally prepared to make Eugene an “A” race. Since I’ve had more than a few marathon-training mishaps in the past, I thought I’d write a bit about the things I’ve implemented this time that seemed to have made the biggest difference.

Following an actual training schedule.

I know, right? NUTS.

But honestly, other than roughly sketching my first marathon training around a Hal Higdon program, I’ve never really followed a “schedule.” Before, I would just try to gradually increase my mileage and my long-run distances. And somehow I kept winding up with injuries that forced me to take weeks off at a time. I didn’t go into my last two marathons 100% healthy. In fact, I was more concerned with my injuries flaring in those races than the actual running. Luckily, I was able to complete both races—but they didn’t have that climactic, “I gave it everything I have” feel that 26.2 is supposed to have.

So I changed my method. I bought the Advanced Marathoning book by Pete Pfitzinger and decided to let him take the reins. I made a few tweaks to the prescribed programs (long runs on Saturday instead of Sunday), but otherwise—it was all up to Pete. The schedule wasn’t too much more demanding in terms of mileage, but if definitely offered components that I’d never used before.

Suddenly, all of my runs had intention behind them.  There were paces I never, ever trained at—both fast and slow—and workouts I’d never done before. I liked it though. This new approach was refreshing and interesting—and it added some color to the “10 miles at an average pace” runs that had become too frequent in my schedule.

I now have a pretty good idea of how my 5k pace, half-marathon pace, and goal marathon pace all feel according to effort as opposed to solely by my watch. I feel more in tune with my exertion levels and when to push and when to hold back. I also have a much better gauge of my strengths and my weaknesses—which feels good both going into race day and future training. For instance, to work on: hills, tempos, and workouts in the middle of long runs. To capitalize on: race day brain/competitive nature, speed work, and finishing strong.

I love that this new schedule has given me new favorite workouts, too. Somehow I’ve developed an infatuation for 800 repeats as well as half-marathon pace shorter runs—both of which require hard, fast rap…which I also kind of love right now.

Rest Days

I think there has been one week this entire training cycle that I didn’t take a rest day. Otherwise, they have been as integral to each week as the long run. I’ve gone from avoiding and hating any rest days at all to welcoming them with open arms whenever they come.

I am certain that this change has made a critical difference in my body’s health, but perhaps more so—I’m convinced that they’ve done wonders for my brain. While I definitely still get a little restless on rest days—it’s the temporary holding back that gets me excited to get back out there the next day. My workouts or runs the day after rest days always feel so fresh and strong, and I’m having a hard time remembering back to the time when I disliked rest days.

Through this, I bluntly have to state that, IMO, any runner who doesn’t take at least one day OFF a week is fooling themselves. There is everything to be lost, and nothing to be gained, by not letting our bodies recover. I’ve learned this the hard way too many times, and it took me too long to realize that this habit was actually the thing holding me back.

In our sport, sometimes the greatest strength of all can come from when we go against our instincts to keep pushing. It’s a strange concept in a country riddled with laziness and lack of motivation— but something I’ve come to realize is that there can always be too much of a good thing.

Running-specific strength training

On a similar self-preservation topic, I think a key component of this training cycle has been the strengthening I’ve incorporated.

I’ve always been a regular “lifter”—but mostly in an arms-and-core-only kind of way. Part of it was that I didn’t like straying from routine, and the other part was that I never wanted my legs to be too sore to run.

Overuse injuries that were all stemming from muscular weaknesses kind of forced me to change my habits. I started going to the total-body strength class that I always talk about, and all of a sudden—the aches that always plagued me weren’t there anymore.

The class toasts every single muscle group—including my glutes, hammies, and quads, and it also incorporates a lot of plyometric work that improves balance and ankle strength. All of it is so very good for runners, and while I don’t love the weekly DOMs screaming in the back of my legs, I have also seen my recovery time and speed increase.

And fine, maybe—MAYBE—PSJJ has helped too. I still hate it. Day 101 today, woof.

What’s interesting to me about this whole strength-training concept is that I’ve actually decreased the amount of other cardio-cross training during this cycle. I spin or swim maybe once a week, and otherwise it’s just running and strength classes. I used to be a big believer in a more-is-better approach to cross-training, but I’m starting to think that for me—my body can handle running better than I previously thought, so long as I’m diligent about strength. Which is encouraging, because if there’s a choice of activities…I think you can guess that run > everything else.

Food

I love food. I’m very non-discriminatory when it comes to the food I love. As in, I love a big bowl of vegetables and quinoa as much as I love a piece of chocolate pie.

Really though, I’m all about diversification and all-encompassing love when it comes to my food choices. It’s part of what helps me feel balanced, and I like to think that it helps me become not too obsessed with what I put in my body.

However, the fact of the matter is, I have a digestive system that really does not appreciate being deprived of the things it really needs, therefore ample portions of fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein are essential to ensuring I’m not keeled over in abdominal pain every night.

And not to mention running. I’ve done a bit of experimenting this training cycle to see exactly what types of fuel (food) are best on my stomach for both comfort and performance. Instead of focusing on, “Okay, I know I need a lot of water and a lot of pasta before my long run…then I can have whatever the f I want afterwards,” I’ve started focusing more on the before-and-after fueling of every run. Through this, I’ve discovered that food is really magical. Good, whole, nutrient-dense food can make such a monumental difference in how we perform and how we recover, and it’s this special attention I’ve given to figuring out what works for me that’s yielded a greater understanding of what’s best.

A list of my current staples: sweet potatoes, kale, peanut butter, avocados, eggs, oatmeal, almond milk, apples, bananas, spinach, berries, quinoa, almonds, rice cakes, pasta, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, chicken sausage, squash, Picky Bars, and black beans.

Of course, I stray from these staples often—there’s lots of chocolate and cookies to be found too—but around my long runs and around key workouts, these are what I’ll go for. A lot of it has to do with my bad digestion, admittedly, but I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise because it’s forced me to think about fueling as opposed to rewarding.

….

Along with all these things, I think that being keenly focused on a tangible, quantitative goal has really helped me through this training. Whenever I get the urge to fall back into an over-training or haphazard habit, I remind myself of the truth that nothing changes if nothing changes.

Do I want to get in an extra couple of miles, or do I want to qualify for Boston?

Whenever I put things in this perspective…the answer’s always the same.

I’m ready to see if the changes I’vee made, and the habits I’ve broken, will yield something great—something I’ve wanted for a long time.

More than anything, I’m happy to have had a solid training cycle that has helped me improve as a runner and has helped me rediscover so many new and wonderful things about the sport I love so much.

 

What works for you in marathon training? What doesn’t work? What changes have you made that make the biggest difference in your training?

Don’t Worry, Be Maui

In case you haven’t yet heard, last week BF and I jetted off to beautiful Maui. It was all kinds of perfection—relaxing, fun, rejuvenating, essentially all the things you want out of a vacation. While there were a few select activities we did, most of our days consisted of lounging in the sand, swimming in the ocean, drinking lots of fancy drinks, repeat. So, there isn’t a whole ton to report…which is why I figured pictures would paint a better picture (and be more enjoyable):

We were both up at 7 am no problem the first day, and I think we were unrolling our beach towels by 9. Don’t waste that sunshine!

BF proving his inflexibility. Also, he's owned that swimsuit since EIGHTH GRADE. Isn't that impressive?

BF proving his inflexibility. Also, he’s owned that swimsuit since EIGHTH GRADE. Isn’t that impressive?

This is where I tell you there's no filter on this photo. But for real there isn't. Also, I've owned this swimsuit for one whole week. We balance each other out?

This is where I tell you there’s no filter on this photo. But for real there isn’t. Also, I’ve owned this swimsuit for one whole week. We balance each other out?

Our first day, we rented snorkel gear and managed to hit two different beaches, one of which was full of sea turtles!!! It was so exciting.

Fun fact: You can in fact get horribly sunburned before 10 am even if you’re skin is under the water. It took until that first night to discover that the bottom of my back was not only red, but verging on purple-ish. Such a rookie move. But if my biggest complaint is, “Ohhh noo I got sunburned in Hawaii,” then I really have no complaints. And yes, mom, I wore sunscreen the whole trip.

Mango and passion fruit and strawberry sugary syrup, oh my!

Mango and passion fruit and strawberry sugary syrup, oh my!

Obviously, food was a big theme of our trip. We were on a quest to try as many fish tacos as possible, and we somehow managed to have ice cream/gelato/shave ice every. single. night. It was the best. I’ve also decided that gelato > ice cream > froyo. Yea, I SAID IT blog world. Give me my full fat, real cream goodness.

The second day, we hiked down to the “blowhole” which is a naturally occuring geiser in which the waves push through a small opening in the rocks and shoot up super high—just like a whale blowhole. It was super cool, as was the hike down/around the area. Unfortunately, those pictures are on Mr. “I’ll totally upload these photos right away” ‘s camera…so they remain a mystery.

The rest of our days were littered with various activities, including a trip to the farmer’s market, running, walking on the beach, trips to Lahaina, and finding as much fresh pineapple as possible. Otherwise, this was pretty much our lives…

I spy mai tai.

I spy mai tai.

Wearing shorts over my sunburned bum. At least they're Rogas.

Wearing shorts over my sunburned bum. At least they’re Rogas.

 

We (I) probably ate the total of 3 whole pineapples while in Maui. MORE PLEASE.

We (I) probably ate the total of 3 whole pineapples while in Maui. MORE PLEASE.

Our hotel was in great proximity to good beaches and the main part of Lahaina, which is the real hub of Maui. We went there almost every day and it was so easy to find new things to see, eat, and explore.

Banyan Tree! Have you seen this tree? It's the coolest. I also swear I wasn't trying to flash everybody.

Banyan Tree! Have you seen this tree? It’s the coolest. I also swear I wasn’t trying to flash everybody.

image6

Okay I think we've had enough Banyan tree pictures.

Okay I think we’ve had enough Banyan tree pictures.

Second night I believe. Pre-Cheeseburger in Paradise meal. I think my skin was emanating a lot of heat at this point,

Second night, pre-Cheeseburger in Paradise meal. I think my skin was emanating a lot of heat at this point,

I managed also to work my way through two books while we were there, helping in the my book-a-month resolution. I finished the Night Circus and Gone Girl, both of which I loved and recommend. Gone Girl, especially, is an excellent beach read.

On our last night, we went to a luau—just to solidify our Hawaiian tourist status. Unfortunately, the luau wasn’t exceptionally fun. It was rainy and windy (the only rain we had the whole time—of course) and it wasn’t very well organized. (Tip: Go for the Old Lahaina Luau, not the Drums of the Pacific—if you’re ever there.) Oh well, we still ate our body weight in food in order to get our money’s worth. And there was an open bar…wait, why was I complaining again?

pho7to

Such good food. I'll give you one guess as to if there was another plate.

Such good food. I’ll give you one guess as to if there was another plate.

 

Cheesin' hard. Can't help it...it's the Maui effect.

Cheesin’ hard. Can’t help it…it’s the Maui effect.

And some more randoms, just so I can reminisce a bit longer…imag7eima5geimage (1)To recap: We layed on the beach a lot. We ate a lot of frozen desserts. We got a lot of sun. We drank a lot of tropical beverages at any and all hours of the day. We swam with huge turtles.

This was a near-perfect trip. BF and I had such a great time…and I think it’s safe to say that Maui hasn’t seen the last of us. There’s something so relaxing about the Hawaiian atmosphere and culture…no rushing, no stressing, just let it be. The mai tais help too. I can definitely say that I haven’t been this relaxed during a vacation in a very long time.

But now…it’s back to business. I’m in week one of two peak training weeks, and I’ve got some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done coming up shortly. Never a dull moment.

Happy Wednesday!

Have you ever been to Hawaii? Maui? Do you prefer to spend vacations doing lots of things, or doing lots of nothing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eugene Marathon Training Week #5

I’m baaaaack!

I almost didn’t come back—somewhere between the noon mai tais and the 80 degree weather, I tried to contrive some way of prolonging my stay indefinitely. Fake a horrible swimmer’s ear condition to the point that I could never again get on a pressurized plane? Become an overnight hula-dancing sensation so they practically beg me to stay and perform in nightly luaus?

I gave it my best effort, but all good things must come to an end. I’ll do a whole Hawaii post shortly (pictures included), but for now I’ll just say that Maui is seriously the best. Mr. BF and I had a magical time.

Last week was a cutback week which was perfect timing with our trip. I did still run a bit, and here’s a look at how training shook out:

M: spin + 30-ish min stair-stepper

T: 12 miles pre-plane flight

W: REST

T: 9 miles w/ 4 @ hmgp (5 outside with BF, 4 @ 7:30 pace on treadmill)

F: 6 miles easy

S: 14 miles, (10 outside, 4 on treadmill, overall ~8:10 pace)

S: REST

Total= 41 miles

Two rest days up there people, I’m patting myself on the back.

Saturday’s long run was no joke. It was HARD. Running in Hawaii is beautiful, however it is also incredibly sweaty and difficult. I was only able to force out 10 miles before I had to call it quits on the humidity and head indoors to finish it off. Not the most ideal way to long run, but I’m glad I got it done. Here’s a look at how running in Hawaii always ended up:

image photo

So pretty.

But who doesn’t love a good soaker sweat, right?

Time to get back to real life for now. Sad faces all over. Have a nice Tuesday!

What’s Next

I had a very similar thought after I finished both the Seattle half-marathon and the Yukon Do It half. Sure, there was the usual relief to be done and satisfaction in a fun, hard race…but the most prominent thing in my mind was this:

What will this do for my marathon time?

Don’t get me wrong. I was really proud of my times for both races, and I developed a new fondness for the 13.1 distance. But deep down, I was looking further out. I hadn’t realized it before…but while increasing speed across as distances and enjoying races in all forms is important to me, there’s one distance that beckons louder for me than all others.

26.2

So although I do love running no matter the conditions—hot, cold, short, long, fast, slow, I’m realizing the my competitive focus has narrowed on the marathon.

In some ways I wish this weren’t true, given the nature of the beast. The training, the miles, the race itself…it’s all rather torturous, really. I’m pretty sure I’m not into masochism (although some would argue all runners are to a certain degree), but there’s just something about the distance that calls to me. It’s the difficulty, it’s the magnitude, it’s the glory—all in one. No matter how many times I get beat down by the brutality of it all—and there have been many—I just keep crawling back into the lion cage, begging for more.

Which leads me to the point of this post:

Spring Marathon Training. It’s here…well, almost.

Over the past few months, since recovering from Chicago, I’ve tried to centralize my running focus on two things: speed and recovery. Speed, in the sense of building up my lactate threshold in shorter distances in hopes of lowering my marathon goal pace. And recovery in the sense of establishing a ying and yang between hard workouts and rest. I’ve sucked at resting before, and it’s lead to one-too-many overuse injuries. I’ve begun to make rest a habit, and it’s working.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Along with these two focuses, I’ve tried to establish a solid running “base.” I’ve logged approximately 40 mile weeks for the past two months of so, including over 200 miles over the month of December (Thanks Nicole for enabling us to keep track of that!).

All these things for the sake of being in top notch condition for a very focused, very disciplined Spring Marathon plan. A plan that is all geared toward a very specific goal time:

3:34:xx.

BQ, baby. It is on.

I’ve had this goal before, but I never really admitted it, and I never really internalized it for myself. It always seemed a step away from me and only possible if a miracle happened. For the first time though, not only am I announcing it publicly— but I truly believe it’s possible.

There are many specifics as to the plan I’ll be following—which I’ll include in another post—but the primary change is that for the first time, I’m not making up my own schedule. 12 weeks, prescribed workouts, all hitting specific targets.

And I’m psyched. Actual training will begin Monday, February 4th, ending on Sunday April 28.

The goal marathon, you ask?

screen-shot-2012-10-13-at-8-51-21-pm

Some of you may remember that I was registered for Eugene last year. I was all set to run, but due to some knee bursitis and schedule rearranging, I switched my plan and ran the Tacoma Marathon instead. I still believe it was the best decision at the time…but consequentially I believe there’s some unfinished business to be done in Track Town.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go until then, but I really cannot wait to get started. Something feels right about this go-around…my brain, my legs, and my enthusiasm all feel very in sync, and I’m excited to see how this kind of exposed-goal, regimented training session goes.

Until then, I’m running when I want to, sleeping in when I want to, and mentally preparing for what feels like the biggest 26.2 undertaking yet.

And since I know for certain I’m not the only blogger/runner making the April trip down south…tell me, are you in for Huge Eug??