Relentless Forward Progress

At times, I realize the way that I conceptualize running, in both written and spoken form, is very, very serious and goal-driven. I started running in April of 2014, ran my first 5k in May, and got really excited about how I didn’t give up on running at all by July. It just felt so natural, even though it was by no means without difficulty. I quietly asked God to give me the endurance to just run one half-marathon that fall, and if He did, I’d be content, and probably wouldn’t race anything over a 10k again.

Something tells me that I wasn’t the first person to make such an attempt to negotiate with a higher power, only to completely renege later….

Since then, what I affectionately refer to as “crazy runner brain” has taken over, and I’ve continued to set new running goals every few months. I’d like to think I would’ve been perfectly happy running 9:30 min/miles for years, until the day I discovered that I could run paces in the 8s for shorter distances. Then, I wanted to see if that would translate to a half-marathon completion time of under 2 hours, and it did. Unfortunately, there’s a very fine line between working towards incremental improvement and swan-diving into Personal Record Purgatory, where every run has to be proof that a runner is working towards an even better time in the next race. I think this is precisely how some runners (see: self) find themselves absolutely miserable when their bodies show them signs (delicate warnings at first; blaring horns later) that they need to take a break or slow down.

My sign has been shins that are tired before I’ve even gotten into a good stride, which is atypical for me, but not completely unusual for runners collectively.

Sometimes, relentless forward progress means taking a step back and temporarily taking the time goals out of running. This week, that step back was making a physical therapy appointment, purchasing sensible flats for work instead of wearing the leather heels I know my feet (and probably my shins) hate, doing more biking and Pilates (for overall health and body alignment, not just to run faster times), and getting more sleep. I’d also like to start running at least one or two runs a week without my Garmin watch.

All steps forward.

All progress.

And all are being done to take my mind off of the idea that I might just want to run a full marathon at some point just to see what happens (famous last words), after saying just two short years ago that my longest run would be 13 miles. The human brain is a very curious animal…

 

 

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Sometimes, You Just Have a Bad Run

It was almost as if I’d been running for two weeks instead of almost two years. Midway through what was supposed to be an easy 5-miler near the lake on a beautiful, sunny afternoon after work, I felt some discomfort in my shins. I’d been pushing the pace because I saw someone’s shadow behind me for a mile. I moved over so she could pass me, but when she didn’t, I decided to just ran faster. Bad idea. After mile 2, that discomfort turned into a burning tightness that I still felt even after stopping to stretch. SO weird. I don’t think I really warmed up until mile 3, but by then, there was residual soreness that made me a bit concerned. It was gone by mile 4, but I decided to just end the run there.

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I love coming to this lake after work. It is the highlight of my day. Of course, it’s easy to get a little overzealous….

I iced when I got home, did a bit of foam-rolling, and had some toast and chocolate milk before Brett and I headed out to get groceries. I did some strength-training the next day, and a good warm-up today before my 6-miler: lunges, crossed-leg toe-touches, squats, and some running form drills. I also walked for a couple of minutes before I started to run. I really needed a redemption run after that 4-mile fail, and went through all of the drills I could think of to ensure it happened. Luckily, I got the good run I really wanted this weekend, but I’m trying to learn how to disconnect my emotional state from the quality of a run. I moped around the next day after that run, just because it happened to be one run where I didn’t feel great. Running is about building mental toughness and resiliency, but a tough run does not mean that you’re weak or inadequate. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to run without any problems at all throughout the entire winter (hey girl hey!) and my body is moving very well. Lest I forget, I was in a BOOT this time last year (I always hearken back to #datboot when I start to take strong running for granted).

In other news, I scored a Pilates DVD set that includes 2 resistance bands for the price of one Pilates or Yoga class at my favorite (and very expensive) yoga studio.

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I’ll be sure to post a review after a few at-home sessions. I’m hoping some Pilates and tea at home will become my new post-work ritual, especially on those days that I can’t fit in a run after work to clear my head.

How do you get over bad runs?

Capital Striders Annual Dinner + This Week in Running

What a week it has been! A lot of fun, and a little bit of unpredictability.

I’ve only gotten core work done this week as far as strength-training goes, but I’ve done lunges and squats before every run this week, so I think that counts? This hasn’t been the best week for IronStrength, so I’m going to prioritize that workout next week.

On Friday, I attended the Des Moines Capital Striders annual dinner, and had so much fun!

Most dinners I attend are philanthropic in nature and require a nice dress and heels, but for this dinner, Capital Striders running club members had to don their favorite running gear/race shirt, and a medal from their favorite race 🙂 It was a really cute idea. I wore my Chicago Rock n’ Roll race shirt because that’s the first race I’ve ever done in 90 degrees and still managed to PR. I also wore my medal from my second half-marathon, which was last October, because it’s the first half in which I finished in less than 2 hours. I also tried to channel one of my favorite athletes, Sanya Richards-Ross. How did I do?

Sanya

Talking about my newbie spoils from the past year with other runners in my region during the social hour and dinner was a ton of fun! I also met the hosts of the Run Iowa podcast, and did a segment of their podcast show with them, which was really cool.  We talked trail running, our favorite races, and some of our hard-earned personal records. Very nerdy usie, but I digress…

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I also won a Nathan hydration pack as a door prize, which is a lightweight backpack that you can use to carry water, keys, your phone, etc. It’s an absolute must for longer runs without water stops. I remember when I attempted my first 8-miler in the summer heat without water…my husband (then fiancé) had to drive to me and bring me a water bottle. Needless to say, I’ve gotten smarter. I can’t wait to test it out and post a review.

Nathan

I just finished today’s 6-miler to close out this week of running, and it was a fairly solid week.

This week’s running:

Tuesday: 4-mile treadmill run + core exercises (Russian twists, bicycle crunches, planks, mountain climbers)

Thursday: 3.1-mile speed workout. Hit some paces I haven’t seen since I did track workouts last summer. During this run, I ran the downtown loop near my office and used traffic lights to signal the end of an interval.

Sunday: 6.2 miles total. Ran a 5-mile out and back loop with Nala, dropped her off at home, and finished the last 1.2 miles solo.

This week, I really need to tighten up my nutrition. I did fine during the week, but the Chinese we had last night for dinner has been sticking to my stomach. I felt so heavy during those 6 miles this morning! Looking forward to a new week and another chance to get it right.