Friday, February 17, 2012
Approximately three months ago, I finished a marathon. Right now, I could possibly run five miles if the living dead were after me, unless of course they were Kenyan zombies. I've run three 3-milers, and I'm trying a four-mile "long run" on Saturday, so we'll see how that goes.
It's frustrating, especially as the marathon that I was training for approaches. I'll probably sign up for the 8K so that I feel welcome at the post-race party, but it's hard to get excited for that when I ran the same marathon last year and ran 10 miles three or 4 times a week last summer. Basically, it's like I've gone back in time three years in my running career.
In another sense, though, I'm seeing it as a positive: a chance to correct some of the many mistakes I've made. I can do the leg exercises I should have been doing all along; I can do some speedwork; and most importantly, maybe I can get the fun back. I enjoy running, don't get me wrong, but as I trained for Philly it felt more and more like something I had to do, rather than something I wanted to. I enjoyed some of those long runs, but others were just torturous. I am -- barring injury, I always have to say -- going to run in the 2013 Shamrock Marathon, but on the way back up marathon shape I want to try to pay attention to what distances I actually enjoy the most. 26.2 isn't something I wanted to just "check off a bucket list", but right now I don't see myself as a guy who's going to want to run multiple marathons every year or even one every year. That said...I think I can make marathon training a little less daunting if I can make myself stronger.
I've been running at the indoor track at the Y, since I can hit the stationary bike afterward and burn some more calories, and it's given me a chance to watch other people running. I observed a runner on Saturday who was just running with a completely effortless stride (and lapping everyone). On the other hand, I've found that I really don't feel very light on my feet most of the time when I run. Sure, some runs are better than others, but I need to put more spring in my step. The Supernova Sequences have been pretty good to me, but maybe it's time to try another shoe. More importantly, I want to do a better job lower-body weightlifting and core strength, and maybe I need to play around with changing my stride (I feel more powerful at 1-mile pace than normal pace...but I guess that's the point?). Since I'm just starting to run after a layoff, it's hard to tell if the body-weight exercises I've been doing are helping, but I know I need to do more. If I can make my legs stronger, and every stride more powerful, these long runs won't be so bad.
On the positive side, though, I've been eating a lot better and my weight's moving in the right direction -- it's only been two weeks, I know! -- and I've done a great job lifting since the end of November. Other than my reduced mileage, I actually feel better overall than I have in a long time. But my mileage is greatly reduced, and I think a re-setting of goals is in order.
Previous 2012 running/fitness goals:
1. 5:59 or better mile.
2. 22:59 or better 5K
3. 4:50 marathon
4. 10 races total
5. Lift weights 3x/week
New 2012 running fitness goals:
1. Half marathon in the fall. There are several we're considering in October.
2. 5:59 mile -- with no marathon likely to be on my schedule this year, this is the holy grail. I'll be training myself up to a half so I can't totally forsake distance, but I need to shave 21 seconds off of my one-mile PR to do this. Hello, speedwork.
3. Rediscover the fun -- I know this is vaguely defined, but this is important and I think my other goals line up with this. With a half on the horizon instead of a full, I don't need to worry about torturous summer mileage as much as I did in 2011. I hope to run 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks and a half this year. I can may more attention to whether I enjoy shorter, faster training runs for the 5Ks or longer, more peaceful runs as I build distance back up.
4. Make legs stronger -- more lower-body strength training. Since I do so little of this now, I think it will make a huge difference.
5. Bench press my own body weight -- I've been doing well with lifting, but I've never been able to do this. (I probably could have a few years ago if I'd had a spotter). I can help myself with this not only by sticking with lifting, but by making myself lighter, too! I'd like my weight to be in the low-to-mid 130s, I should be able to bench that.
6. New 5K PR -- I'm not sure about this one and I'm not going to sweat it too much if it doesn't happen. I think it will take me awhile to get my speed back. Having a goal will make the 5K schedule more fun, but I'm usually fastest in the cold and I don't want to kill myself racing for PR in November or December because...
7. Get back to the Shamrock Marathon in 2013 -- I want to do everything I can to make sure I'm healthy and ready for marathon training. As long as I'm up to 14 or 15 miles by the end of the year, I know I'll feel ready. But I'd not going to unduly risk injury by going for broke at Celtic Solstice or Jingle Bell. I have no aspiration of Boston (although I was really fired-up after my first run last Saturday and I was thinking "I'm going to come back!"; "I'm going to run marathons again"; "I'm going to Boston...wait..ok, dial that one back), so this is my Boston. 26.2 miles in Virginia Beach on Sunday, March 17. Everything other running goal needs to lead up to that. My fall race strategy, strength training, speedwork. I'm entered in this race and can't defer again.
So, this is like a new beginning for me (hence the redecorating). I want to re-capture the joy of running, but I also want to correct the mistakes of the past. I'm very motivated to make a good running year out of this mess. I'm also angry at myself, which will help me keep that motivation. If I can parallel 2009, in which I ran my first 10K in the spring and half in the fall, I'll be very happy.
Oh yeah, and I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you to enter the First Annual Earn Your Donuts Bad Race Photo Contest (Brought to you by Road ID) for a chance to win a $35 Road ID gift card.