Friday, October 16, 2015

Doing What I Can

I had planned to post today about the horrible workout I was planning on having this morning. I’ve been building up a base, and that’s going well, but my speed is nonexistent. Last week I did a fartlek and tried not to care about my pace, but wore a Garmin anyway since I knew I’d be curious afterwards. I was able to run five minutes at last fall’s marathon pace. Five minutes. Right, I just need to run 157 minutes more like that and I’m back, baby. (To where I was. Which—of course, knowing me—isn’t where I want to be.)

So, no high hopes for today’s workout, which involved alternating half-mile segments at something near tempo pace with half-mile segments at a steady pace (faster than an every day jog, but slower than marathon pace). (This is a great workout for easing into real tempo efforts, since you don’t get a complete rest between the segments.) Given the circumstances, I didn’t really fathom I’d hit anything like tempo pace (marathon pace even seemed unlikely) and so I just figured I’d do what I could, get a nice gage of where I’m at, and keep focusing on progressing forward. Not looking back at where I was, or what paces I used to be able to hit. I would aim to be sort of fartlek-y in my approach, not focusing too much on the watch or pace goals. 

Then I figured I’d turn the workout into a post about how to keep looking ahead, and how whatever you do today will make it easier next time, even if it’s just a tiny step forward. How you can only do what you can.

Right. All good points. But, um, not today’s post.

Here’s how the workout went: Got a nice cramp on the warm up (um, hello, I haven’t even really started yet), did some strides that felt hard (anything fast is hard), fumbled with my headphones (haven’t listened to music while running in a while), and I was off. If I run real tempo pace, I only have to hold this pace for three minutes; three minutes isn’t so bad. Haha, yea right, that’s old Teal tempo pace, not today Teal. I try to relax and get in a rhythm, not forcing anything, and bam. I hit the first segment shockingly fast. Like it actually did only take me three minutes. Say what?? I’ll probably slow on the next. I always start too fast.

The trick to this workout is not just jogging the recoveries. I’m supposed to keep a pretty honest pace before the next tempo segment. Ha. Hahaha. No way. This is going to be a SLOW jog after that start. Except, it isn’t. I’ve been surprised before how easy fast-ish paces can feel when they come after a harder segment and I’m floored by this one. What the heck? I’m cruising along like I’m actually in shape or something.

Photo from last fall, not today. But apparently things aren't much different.

And so it goes. My tempo segments are shockingly close to actual tempo pace. My steady intervals are close to where I thought they might be, but figured I was being overly optimistic. Halfway through, I turn around and get a better understanding of what’s going on. Ah yes, the wind. Suddenly I’m running into it. This will put me in my place.

It doesn’t. (It actually wasn’t very windy, but I was wearing these headphones that—for safety reasons—pick up outside noise really well. Unfortunately, the wind gets amplified and can sometimes make me feel like it’s worse than it is.) I slow slightly, but not much. Expectedly, the final repeats are the slowest, but whatever, I’m elated. I ran faster today than I did in a similar workout last fall, and not far off what I ran last spring. (Actually last spring’s tempo segments were slower, but the steady segments were faster.)

Again, say what?

I think my approach to the workout helped a lot; I didn’t expect much (I honestly expected to bomb), so when it started going well, it was much easier to hold on. (No negativity to make it spiral downward.) I also didn’t force the pace, but tried to relax and let it come to me. (Which works amazingly well, but is incredibly difficult. With low expectations, it’s easier.)

I’m still shocked I had that speed in me (so, I guess cross training works??) but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there’s a long way to go. But I did what I could, and it was pleasantly surprising.

Dream big,

Friday, October 9, 2015


I needed a new training log to kick off the new season, so this week I bought the Believe training journal. It’s more of a workbook/journal than most running logs and has lots of places to write goals and work through various aspects of your running game. Of course, it also has the space to record your daily progress, and it gives some suggestions about things you might want to track. Tucked in between the things I already log (workouts, pace, how it felt) and the other things I probably should (sleep, iron levels) was something I instantly knew I had to start tracking this season—gratitude.

Coming back from an injury, it’s easy to be gracious. When you’re hurt, you long for the wonderful amazingness of running. What you would give to just jog for a few minutes! When you’re allowed to run again, it’s pure joy. Yes, this is what you missed!! You’ll never take it for granted again!

But then, you know, you do it every day. And it gets kinda monotonous. Wouldn’t it be nice to skip it? Sleep in? Not put yourself through grueling race-pace miles wondering why the hell you do this to yourself?

Right now, I’m loving it, driven by a femur-induced absence that made my heart grow fonder. But I know those (literally) dark days will come.

And—as always—I’m going to go after PRs this season, and—as always—it will be tough. I’ve got a long road ahead and lots of challenging workouts to struggle through before I can expect to have a challenging workout I nail. But this season, more than any other, I want to be grateful the ENTIRE time. Because this season I have the opportunity to (a) run, (b) chase PRs, and (c) train to do both those things at a ridiculously prestigious race.

So I’m writing it all down. Each day, something I’m grateful for, running-wise. This week, I’m grateful for making it back to routes I’ve missed all summer, for the chance to run with teammates again, to cheer others on at the Army Ten Miler.

And I’m grateful for both new and old running logs. I happened to flip back through an old log to see what shape I was in this many weeks before my last successful marathon. It turns out that, this week, I ran the EXACT same weekly mileage and the same length long run at a similar pace. (Of course, then I was coming off a season of racing 5Ks, and this time I’m coming off a season of racing boredom in a pool, but SHH! We’re being grateful remember?! I am doing better at core and strength these days, so there’s a win.) I’m not as far behind as I thought, and I’m grateful for that.
Trying to stay this thankful for every run.
My mission won’t be easy. I can be am a bit of a brat. My optimism makes me expect too much, I compare myself to others (which serves no purpose but to stoke jealousy), and—on top of that—marathon training is capital E Exhausting. There will be cold, dark, icy mornings. Treadmill days. Bad races. Frustration. All those tough workouts where my goal paces seem far away.

But I want to be grateful anyway, for the bad days, the days I don’t want to go, the days the run doesn’t make me feel amazing. Because I get to run, I get to train for the Trials, and that’s capital A Awesome.

Dream big,

P.S. This is semi/kind of/okay, grasping-at-straws related, but my amazing cousin wrote a book called Choosing Hope that came out this week. (I’m choosing to be grateful…  See? It’s related.) I’ve just started it, but you should check it out. Her story and her attitude are truly inspiring.