This week's topic: "One word that describes your running lately."
Hello, can of worms. You look ever-so-tempting to open.
Before we let the worms go sprawling all over the crawl space, here's a quick summary of my training last week:
TUESDAY - Yoga class
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - 4 mile tempo run on treadmill: 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile at 8K target pace, 1 mile progressing to 5K target pace, 1 mile cooldown. This run was an attempt to prepare myself mentally for the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday. Prior to this, I hadn't done a tempo run in months.
FRIDAY - Yoga class
SATURDAY - 10 minutes on stationary bike, lift 45 minutes
SUNDAY - Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Read my recap here.
Now that we've got that out of the way, are you ready for some worms?
This might across as being melodramatic, but the one word I'd use to describe my running right now is unfulfilling.
Why push myself to do something that can elicit such a bipolar reaction? Ultimately, the reason is this: I like seeing improvement. It makes me feel like I accomplished something. The runs, whether they feel exhilarating or ghastly, both help me progress over time. That progress motivates me to keep going.
Lately, I feel the amount of effort I've put in has not been commensurate with the amount of progress I'm experiencing.
Flatlining at the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon
Over the last two months, I've put forth a solid effort to train for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon's hills. I've probably even overdone it once or twice. Yet, I still struggled with Rock N Roll DC's hills down the stretch, despite the course not being considered especially hilly. My incline work has been a tougher uphill battle than anticipated (pun intended).
Feeling unlucky at the Shamrock Shuffle
I was disappointed to finish the 2016 Shamrock Shuffle 12 seconds slower than my current PR. No, I haven't been doing speedwork. But considering all the training improvements I've made over the last few years - most notably a LOT more strength work over the last year - I thought I'd be in a much better position to achieve my goal. At the very least, I thought the effort would feel easier. In reality, it still required plenty of effort.
Progress has felt unusually tough to come by lately. I know my training isn't perfect, and I'm sure there are plenty of things I could be doing that I'm not. At the same time, I truly believed the challenging hillwork and strength work would produce more visible benefits than they have.
It is unfulfilling to work so hard and seemingly reap only marginal improvement.
This cartoon doesn't communicate my points exactly, but I'm sharing because I thought it was funny:
I hope to somehow break out of the rut soon. Very soon.
*tries desperately to get the worms back into the can*
I totally understand your frustration, Emily! You've been working so hard and trust me it IS paying off, even if it's not as much as you'd expect at this point. Honestly, I think you're having a breakout year. Just keep doing what you're doing. The season is young, grasshopper. ; )ReplyDelete
Thank you, Marcia - I know you do understand completely. I really appreciate your words on me having a breakout year because it feels like anything but. But patience is a virtue, yes? And you are right - the season is young, and historically my best training results appear in the fall.Delete
See you at the Perfect 10 this weekend!!! Can't wait to catch up!!!
You've done a great job staying consistent with doing a variety of training each week, and yes, working on your strength (yay! So many people skip that) and working on those hills! You've built a great base! But I think you've been running long enough, that if you really want to see gains, you may need more focused training, and to step up your running game - with speedwork, like you said, and maybe with another day of running, if you find that is something that would help you. I wonder if working with a coach would get you the results you'd like to see! :) I know you can do it!!!! And I know you can get back to fulfilling.ReplyDelete
Thanks Kim. Yes, I have thought a lot about how 3 standard days of running a week allows a lot of room for expansion. I have also started contemplating whether or not it's worth it to hire a coach and/or a personal trainer. But I'm not sure it's a high enough priority for me to drop that kind of money to make it happen. Thanks for your confidence! I think once the weather starts cooperating, that will help a lot, too. It's tougher to adapt when the weather is as bipolar as it has been!Delete
Hitting that plateau can be soooo frustrating! But don't forget to look at your accomplishments across the board, not just on the stopwatch - check your cross training for accomplishments too!ReplyDelete
Amanda, you are so right on looking for improvements outside of running. I have made improvements in strength and flexibility, so that is definitely worthwhile. Thank you so much for your perspective!Delete
It sounds like it might be your strategy for Pittsburgh. You're training for hills, and that does require gears to shift. I'm sure you'll do great in that half since you're training for the course. Once that's done, you can look at making progress in the speed department.ReplyDelete
Appreciate your confidence, Lesley! While I know my hill-training work is not going completely down the toilet, I feel like I have a long way to go to be comfortable tackling Pittsburgh's monster hills. But at least I'm more prepared now than I was two months ago, yes? Celebrate the little things! And yes - focus on one thing at a time, otherwise we'll go nuts!Delete
My one piece of advice would be to keep going. I believe that the main reason I am where I am at this moment is because I built over a two year long base of mileage. Which means I have run consistently every week for over 2 years. In past years I would run for six months, get injured take 2 months off and have to start from scratch again. If you are consistent over many many months you will see small gains and then eventually when you sprinkle in an extra run or a speed session you will get faster. When we have setbacks they only make the day when we have a stellar race even sweeter!ReplyDelete
Solid advice, Pete. It all makes perfect sense. The caveat is that I'm injury prone, so an off-season has become very important for me both mentally and physically. To be able to run year-round would require trying to find that perfect balance of training effectively vs risking injury. That is not easy to do! You are very fortunate and blessed that you've been able to maintain so much consistency over such a sustained period of time. Clearly you know how to find that balance!Delete
I guess after 20 years of running, I'm finally finding consistency. One thing that's kept me healthy the last two years is that I do focused strengthening three times a week and yoga twice a week. I know you workout too, and that helps a lot to stay injury-free. Also, I am careful to never do two hard runs in a row. Slow and steady wins the race (eventually)!! :)Delete
20 years of running! That by itself is an enormous accomplishment! Think about how many miles you've logged during those 20 years. You've probably run the equivalent of a trip to the moon and back! Yes, strength training and yoga have made a huge difference for me, too (although I still have to be careful). I don't think I've ever had to worry about the impact of doing two hard runs in a row, LOL. Yes, better to be the tortoise than the hare. =)Delete
This topic has been a very interesting collection of words! I'm surprised on how many of us are feeling less than happy with our current running! But I think the better times are coming!ReplyDelete
Indeed, the word selection has been quite eye-opening! I am glad we can all relate to each other in that way, yes? Solidarity to all of us who are hoping for better times to come soon - including you!Delete
That's tough to deal with, for sure. One of the biggest rewards of running for me at least is seeing my hard work towards a goal pay off, and I can totally see why it'd be frustrating to not have tangible evidence of that happening. I really hope Pittsburgh goes well for you and gives you renewed fulfillment!ReplyDelete
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions
You totally understand the motivation, Bethany. And you've been very, very blessed to post some outstanding improvement in recent times - kudos to you for all your hard work paying off! Thank you for the well wishes on Pittsburgh, I really appreciate it!Delete
I'm definitely with Pete on this one. Consistency over a long period of time = results. You've accomplished a lot in the past 2 months of running, but you took a lot of time off from running during the winter. And to get better at running requires quality running- sure the cross training helps, but it's not the same. Just give it time. Add in more running, and speedwork and you'll see results. Or just take the pressure off and run for fun and do exercise that makes you happy.ReplyDelete
You are right on me taking all the time off from running this past winter. Since I didn't lose much conditioning when I started up again, I thought I had picked right back up where I had left off. But maybe the layoff had more of a "foundational" impact on future improvement than I realized? Who knows. I feel like I'm at the same crossroads with running that I seem to hit every year now. Usually I think about how glamorous it seems to be a professional athlete... but at times like this it is nice that we can change things up however we want!Delete
Awww I know things get hard sometimes. Keep it up! *Hugs*ReplyDelete
Thanks Lauren! *HUGS!*Delete
Aww, I totally can relate to how you're feeling! Kudos to you for all the training and races you've been doing. I need to have that dangling carrot of a race to look forward too or I get in the phase of "why am I doing this?"...lol. -MReplyDelete
Thanks Meranda - I know you understand and I appreciate your kind words! YES on the dangling carrot, that is the perfect analogy! I've had that "why am I doing this" feeling all too often. =DDelete
I saw your comment to Kim about hiring a personal trainer. I know I'm not certified yet, but I'd be happy to give you some free personal training so I can put what I'm learning into practice :) I think the hard part would be the "where" since our apartment gyms are lacking and we don't belong to the same outside gym.ReplyDelete
I mean, I was going to ask you anyway about what kinds of lifts you're doing, how heavy, etc. I honestly didn't start seeing my lifting give me returns on my running until I start lifting HEAVY. Like, at least my own body weight on deadlifts. Also, doing a lot of 4x12 or 15 sets at the heaviest weight I could manage with good form for all the reps.
Still, it is VERY early in the season and you haven't been doing much speedwork, right? Those HIIT sessions really help, too!
Thanks so much, Erin! That would be fantastic! Actually, one of my colleagues was also considering hiring a personal trainer for the first time. If you'd be interested in two guinea pigs during your learning phase, you'd have two at your disposal. =) Let me know!Delete
I think I mentioned to you that I pretty much always lift to failure while trying to maintain good form. I try to aim for weight that is heavy enough where I can do between 8-12 reps before hitting failure. I will do anywhere between 1-3 sets, depending on how much time I have. I don't lift as heavy as you do, but I think I lift heavy enough for my own capabilities. We can talk about it in more detail the next time we get together - too much to go into over blogger. =)
And yes, it is is very early in the season, I've done pretty much zero speedwork, and I didn't run at all for several weeks over the winter. Traditionally my best running performances come in the fall, for sure!
When's your next race? Maybe you can take a week or two off running just to renew your love? That always seemed to work for me when I was needing a break. Either way, I know you'll get to where you need to be!!ReplyDelete
My next race is this Saturday! I'm running the Chicago Perfect 10. Then, I'm running the Pittsburgh Half on May 1, followed by Cinco de Miler on May 7, then the GCS Super Sunny 5K on June 4. Not a lot of time to take a break if I'm going for goals... but if not, that first week of May looks perfect for a break. =) Thank you for your encouragement and your confidence in me!Delete
I understand how you are feeling - I felt like I was in a rut last year. I think in the long run all your cross training will pay off (wish I had a crystal ball).ReplyDelete
Thanks for understanding Jenny! I am glad to hear you were able to break out of your rut. I see what you did there with the "in the long run all your cross training will pay off." Very clever wording. ;)Delete
Keep the faith. I find that I'll see no gains and then suddenly I'll have a break through race. What kind of hill training are you doing? If you don't want to add speed work, I'd add some shorter steeper hills and push hard up them and walk back down. Helps with both hill running ability and speed.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Erika! Yes, our training doesn't always produce linear results, so we have to push through those plateaus, as hard as they may be. Since Chicago is so flat, I've been doing 1) incline repeats on the treadmill, and 2) finding bridges and other "hills" in Chicago and running back and forth on them. I like the idea of walking back down on the recoveries! That makes the repeats a lot more palatable. =)Delete