Yes, I used the word TRAINING! I officially started training for Boston 2014 on Monday, December 16th.
It’s taken more time to get to this point than I thought it would, but now that I’m here, I’m surprised how easily the miles have come to me the past 4-5 weeks. When I realized that Grand Rapids wasn’t going to happen and that this silly leg was going to throw my plans askew, I (very) slowly worked up the courage to start thinking about giving training another go. And I’m happy to report that I’m back at it and feeling like my normal runnin’ self again. It only seemed appropriate to begin the next training cycle on a gorgeous (warmish) wintery day in Chicago on my birthday. The snow started to fall just as I started my run and it was frigid cold—something I’ll have to get used to again as I put in some hard work over the next 16 weeks.
This fall/winter has been more about courage than I thought it would be. 2013 was a rollercoaster year. Ups and downs and loopty-loops made me happy, sad, elated, and frustrated, but I know that there were more ups than downs. For a year that asked more questions than provided answers, I think I’m stronger now. I wore my Boston 2013 jacket for the first time on my first training run of this training cycle and thought to myself, ‘it’s time to move on’. And so, that’s what I’m doing. Clean slate, open mind, fresh training, and lots of miles ahead of me in 2014.
All bundled up for Boston 2014 training run #1. My face is freezing and I can’t feel my nose. Standard.
In November, I started to think about what I wanted to change and what I want to accomplish in 2014. And as I usually do, I wrote down some big hairy, scary goals and tucked it away in a place that I’ll be sure to look at it everyday. I’m excited to start working toward a goal again.
So, this is what I’ve been up to. At the beginning of November, the focus was on a bit more rest and then a gradual increase in my weekly miles with all slow, easy miles. I started at 20 miles per week and worked up to 35 miles each week for 5 weeks. Literally all of my these miles were easy recovery pace from 7:45-8:40/mi. No fartlek action, no speed, just MILES. It was slow going in the beginning and it was incredibly difficult to be happy with 20 miles total for the week. But I had to start somewhere after lots of recovery so I focused on keeping up with cross-training. It made me feel good just to be running 4-5 x a week again. I wanted to be able to do that without feeling like my legs were going to fall off. Success!
After 5 weeks of easy base-building, I decided to test the legs a bit. I increased my mileage gradually to 40 miles and added two light “workouts” to the schedule. The first was supposed to be a progressive run of 8 miles (4 easy miles, then 4 miles up tempo — not tempo pace, but a bit of a challenge). That plan flew out the window when I started running and the legs didn’t want to stop. I actually ended up running an 8 miles steady-state at 7:20/mi pace. It was a bit unexpected and, at the time, I kept telling myself that one good run doesn’t mean that my legs are ready for full training mode yet. Then, the second “workout” planned for the week was 8 miles with the last 10 miles fast/moderate. I ran the first 6 comfortably at 7:50-8 min/mi and then the legs were ON. I ran the last 1.5 miles of that workout at 6:40 pace. 6! A 6 hasn’t flashed on my watch in ….3 months? I was giddy and surprised and happy to be able to run a quick pace again.
The week of 12/16 was an awesome step in the right direction. 40 miles, 5 runs, two “workouts”, and a note in my training log that said “MY LEGS ARE BAAAAACK!”. At the end of that week, I knew that I’d be able to start putting speedwork on the schedule on 12/30 (and that’s still the plan this week). I’m also really happy with my cross-training this week. I was really bad about adding cross-training into my schedule in August-September and I know that it has to be more of a priority this cycle.
To recap: Week of 12/16
Monday: 8 miles, 7:26 average (“workout” #1:progression run turned steady state)
Tuesday: 5 miles, 8:15 average + hip strength routine
Wednesday: 1 hour yoga + ART (Rest Day)
Thursday: 8.8 miles, 7:39 average (+1 hr belated bday massage)
Friday: 1 hour spin
Saturday: 12 miles, 7:47 average
Sunday: 6 miles, 8:30 average
TOTAL: 40 miles
Annnnd that brings us to this week! All of that good stuff that happened the previous week? Yep, it just kept rollin’. I ran a total of 44 miles this week. FORTY-FOUR! I like that number. And I especially liked how the legs are feeling considering I haven’t been to PT for ART since Wed, 12/18. I’ve been going about every 5 days so this stretch of 12 days is a good test especially with strong mileage and a slow build to more difficult workouts.
Week of 12/23: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Monday: 8 miles, ~8 min pace. 4 miles easy , 3 at 7:20, and 1 mi cooldown.
Tuesday: 5.5 miles, 7:39 average.
Wednesday: REST + Christmas!
Thursday: 10 miles, 7:37 average. (including 8 x 1 min surges at 6:20-40 pace with 1 min recovery)
Friday: REST – family time
Saturday: 14 miles, 7:29 average pace! Really not sure where that pep in my step came from but this felt GREAT!
Sunday: 6 recovery miles, 8:30 pace.
TOTAL: 44 miles + 2 rest days
I wasn’t confident that my legs would come back so soon after a lot of recovery in September and October. I ran zero miles the week of November 3rd. Since then, I’ve run 21, 23, 30, 35, 29, 40, and 44 miles each consecutive week. 7 weeks of patience is paying off, I think.
Now, the hard work really begins!
New (Gifted) Obsessions:
My family was spot on with the Christmas presents this year. Two gifts that I will use literally almost everyday. The Roll Recovery is a torture/recovery tool that I’ve had my eye on since Hood to Coast when Robyn showed me her torturous ways and encouraged me to inflict pain on myself (all in the name of recovery of course!). It was especially handy in a relay scenario because having the time and space to foam roll is virtually impossible. I do my fair share of foam rolling and I really love the Stick but this thing is the real deal. I’ve been able to trigger point muscles that are pretty difficult to reach with a foam roller. Obsessed!
Annnnnd the Forerunner 220. I’ve had the huge BRICK AKA Forerunner 305 on my wrist for 2.5 + years. Mind you, I have tiny wrists and this thing is massive compared to my frame. When I took the 220 out of the box, I couldn’t believe how light it was. I wore it almost the entire day and didn’t really notice it. I fits tighter and because it’s so light, it feels like wearing a normal watch (which would be impossible with the ancient 305). I took the watch out to time the satellite lock on Christmas afternoon and it locked onto a satellite in less than 35 seconds. Before my 14-miler yesterday afternoon, I turned the watch on and, I swear, it locked onto the satellite signal in less than 10 seconds. That’s impressive considering the signal lock seems to be much slower in the city than it is in the suburbs. Just knowing that I won’t have to wait 5-8 minutes for the satellite signal each and every time I run, makes me giddy. I’m sure I’ll have more positive things to say about the 220 the more I use it.
So with a new outlook on training, a newfound sense of courage after a crazy 2013, and some new training tools, I think 2014 is going to be a great year.
Did you get a lot of running specific gifts from friends and family members this year? What are your new obsessions?
Do you find it difficult to start a new training cycle? What are ya training for next?!