A Small “Aha” Moment

I’ve done a bit of thinking this week. I’ve realized a few things:

I’m not really that jazzed about running, training, or racing lately.

Running doesn’t really feel that great (but the fresh air does).

I have 7 weeks until a fall marathon cycle absolutely needs to start.

I really really enjoy a good spin class and reacquainting myself with some strength work is refreshing.

I’ve never been the kind of running that exclaims “oh my goodness, I LOVE LOVE LOVE running!”. I do love it, but I’m not bubbly about it. I truly enjoy the miles and the work that goes into training for a race. The process of training is rewarding because, as long as you work hard and stay disciplined, you almost come out of the cycle with the feeling like you could conquer the world, or at least run as fast as you possibly can to that darn finish line.

Last Saturday, I ran the Soldier Field 10-Miler. It was my first time running this race and, having no races on the horizon, I figured “why not?”. I’m definitely not in race shape and I didn’t really have an expectations going into it. I thought ‘yeah, maybe I’ll tempo a few miles and just see how I feel’. It turns out that’s exactly what I did. I felt fantastic in my runs the week beforehand, but still not strong. It was a beautiful morning, the Man was running it at a solid effort, and I figured I would earn the beer that we would drink at the beer fest afterward.

I was pretty excited to race. After dabbling in some marathon redemption ideas post-Boston (and realizing that my body was definitely not ready for that challenge just yet), I felt like racing anything would make me happy. I was excited to get to a start line. I haven’t run a true ‘workout’ since two weeks before Boston (ha, that feels like a long time). I started conservatively– the course is a bit crowded in the first 2 miles and, because you enter the dark stretch inside McCormick Place fairly soon in the race, there is a lot of jostling (probably because we were scared to face plant in a dark tunnel). My first mile was was 7:45. Once there, I felt like I could pick up the pace.

I settled into 6:50-7:00 pace (basically long tempo pace right now). I felt like I started to tick off the miles. Mile 2 at 6:59. Mile 3 at 6:49, Mile 4 at 6:48, Mile 5 at 6:47, and Mile 6 at 6:49. I felt like I was a running metronome for the first time in many weeks and it felt darn good. Near mile 4.5 (maybe closer to 5?), Manny and I passed each other. He was on Lakeshore Dr. and I was on the lakefront path headed back north to Soldier Field — out and back course. At this point, even though the pace felt decent, I didn’t feel the need to ‘race’ the remaining 4 miles. I was laboring a bit too much on my right calf and my form didn’t feel all that great. Clearly not in racing shape, people! Those little twinges can be serious if I don’t listen to them. The beauty of going into a fun race with absolutely no expectations is that you can do whatever you want – see where it goes. Once I reached mile 6, I decided to stop and wait for Manny. Yep, never done that before! He was excited to race and he’s really getting fit in advance of his Chicago Marathon cycle starting soon. He didn’t need my help but I figured he might want some company. He saw me on the side of the path and said “what the f&*% are you doing?” as he ran closer. I laughed and just told him to keep running, that I’d help pace him. He hated me for approximately 3 miles. (I always feel like if I don’t feel some sense of hatred for my own coach during a workout or race then I probably didn’t race hard enough. So, I’m considering this a success!)

We paced evenly to the finish and he ran toward the 50-yard line in flying airplane fashion. You know, for a badass race photo. Exhibit A:

AirplaneManny

Impressive, no?

Annnnd, after immediately collecting our things from gear check, we were one of the first to enjoy a Goose Island beer…at 8:45 AM on a Saturday.

2014-05-24 09.04.01Beerz. Sunshine. Running.

Last week, I thought I’d be ready to get back to some decent base mileage. I wanted to start putting in the work. But my legs haven’t really felt that fresh and I’m not mentally ready for a training cycle to begin. And, for once, I’m listening to that voice in the back of my head that says, “hey, Jenny, it’s not all about running!” I’ve been happier going to spin and yoga in the past few weeks than I have been running. If my body doesn’t want to run 50 miles a week, I’m not going to make it … at least not right now.

I read this quote today and it practically jumped off the page at me:

2014-05-29 15.30.51

I am choosing to be smart and happy for the next 6 weeks. I have the opportunity to be smart and I’m taking it. I’m not obligated to run high mileage weeks and it won’t get me anywhere right now. I keep reminding myself that it’s not all about the numbers and that taking a few weeks of relatively low mileage won’t hurt me. I’m excited to focus on getting (and most importantly, feeling stronger) so that I’m ready to run (and race) my heart out this fall.

Do you find it difficult to take time off? What prompts you to take a step back?

– J

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7 thoughts on “A Small “Aha” Moment

  1. adanelz6 says:

    Great race recap! I ran the 10-miler for the first time this year too and loved it!! Such a unique distance for a race and I have my fall marathon cycle to fall into too 🙂

  2. Xaarlin says:

    Dude. You are so wise beyond your years. Do what makes you happy and makes you heart flutter with joy. No need to force X amount of miles or pace now. You’ve got time to transition back to beast mode. Enjoy yourself in the meantime 🙂

    That photo of Manny is priceless.

  3. ErinAMG says:

    Manny might need to start modeling for FF races!! kudos to him and to you, coach! Buuuuuut anyway….yea, you’re being smart. Listening to our bodies is so critical with this stuff. If doing stuff now will preclude you from adequately recovering from Boston–both mentally and physically–then it’s a no brainer. Excited to see you start fresh and blaze again in 7 weeks!

  4. Jesica @rUnladylike says:

    I have totally been in this same boat the past few months. I’m not where I was at during the beginning of the year but I haven’t really wanted to set my training back into high gear until just last week. We need breaks … if not for anything else, mentally. I’m running Chicago too and hope we’ll get to meet up! Good luck with the next few weeks of running for fun and seeing where it takes you. xoxo

  5. Dan says:

    I often find it difficult to take time off for the dumbest reasons. They rarely have to do with injury prevention or proper recovery, but for the stupid sake of hitting numbers. If I haven’t reached 130 miles for the month, I’ll probably run through a tiny pain just to hit that number. If I NEED mileage, I’ll avoid staying off my feet to do so. It’s ridiculous because nobody cares (except me) about how much I run. But still … it’s a compulsion.

  6. thelindzhaz says:

    Love. This. I find I always need a decent amount of time after a tough training cycle just to relax mentally and not be on some sort of strict running regimen. I just feel like there is no point in pushing yourself when you don’t need to — save that mental push for when you actually need it during your training cycle. Also — it could be your body just asking for a little more rest which will help prevent injury when you start your next cycle! Love your blog by the way 🙂

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