Back to Basics

I’m blaming this ankle/foot injury on why I’m feeling so slow and sluggish now.  And yes, the foot issues forced me on a two-week three-week (I just realized!) running hiatus, and that lack of running has had an impact.  However, if I really get down into it, the injury isn’t (completely) to blame.

When I think back over the last, say, six months, my running training/schedule has been lacking.  But let me back up to my success with sticking to training plans.

January 2011 was when I first started running, beginning with a Couch to 5K program.  I stuck to that thing religiously.  (Well, except for having to repeat the first week’s workouts for three weeks because I was that out of shape.)  I successfully completed my first 5K according to my goal – not walking.  I did a second one about a month later a few minutes faster.  I ran occasionally for the next couple of months, but then I didn’t run at all for another few months.

Then in January of 2012, I re-started running, sticking to a 10K training plan to attempt that distance for the first time.  That plan was more difficult to adhere to than the Couch to 5K, so I ended up not following it perfectly, but I pretty much did was was prescribed each week.  I completed two 10Ks last spring – the first in just under 1:05 and the second in just under an hour.  In addition, I broke 30 minutes in the 5K in early May and set my 5K PR at 26:29* a few weeks later on Memorial Day.  (*I later learned that the course was a little short – but it still showed a significant improvement over my performance just a few weeks earlier.)

My friend Letty and me after Memorial Day 5K - where we both set PRs and placed in our age groups

My friend Letty and me after Memorial Day 5K – where we both set PRs and placed in our age groups

I has similar success with my half marathon training plan through last summer.  Although the family beach vacation and last summer’s heat level interfered to a degree, I stuck with the half training plan at least 90%, and I was able to complete my first half last September just off the time I had hoped for.  I should also mention that from January or February through about August, I also went to a weight training group exercise class one or two times a week, and I think that helped my overall fitness level.  And left me with arms and shoulders that were at least starting to have a shape after years of mushiness.

The month of the half is around the time I peaked.  Early September is when I ran the half.  On the last day of September, I took  four minutes off my 10K time at Pittsburgh’s Great Race.  The first two weekends in October, I ran two 5Ks at just about 27 minutes, which is right around my PR.

But in October, November, and December, although I kept running weekly, I wasn’t quite as consistent with keeping up my mileage and including different types of workouts (e.g., easy, easy+strides, intervals, long runs).  Also, without the half marathon goal in sight, it was difficult for me to figure out how far to run on a long run – or to even bother including a weekly long run at all.  So after a lackluster fall, I decided to get serious again, as I had the two previous Januarys.

After the holidays – when I also realized I had gained more holiday weight than I did the year prior – I got serious about sticking to a specific training plan again.  Typical, gung-ho!, New Year’s Resolution time, right?  (Only, I was armed with knowing that *I* had actually stuck with my resolutions and had gotten results the last two years!)  First week of January, I’m up and at ’em with my 5:00 AM friends, and BOOM, I rolled my ankle.  Just a mild sprain, I took a week or so off and started running again.  But between the weather (bitter cold, dangerously icy days) and missing runs due to missing sleep (i.e., laziness), I often found myself running only 1-2 days a week instead of 3-4.  In March, as I tried to get myself back to consistency, my foot started to bother me, and – well, you know the rest of that story.

Perhaps my foot is partially to blame for how I feel like a way-less capable runner than I was six months ago.  On the other hand, maybe my foot flared up because I was trying to cram too much training into too short of a time in preparation for the half marathons in March and May.  Maybe it was unwise to keep stretching my long runs out each weekend when I hadn’t put up enough miles through the weeks leading up to the races.  Regardless, I’m having a set-back and I need a plan to deal with it effectively, without getting further off track because I’m disappointed – and disappointed in myself.

So here’s the plan:

  • I run consistently 3-4 days a week, with a long run each weekend from now through the half on May 5th.
  • I listen to my body and run only as far and as fast (or slow) as I honestly feel that I can between now and then.
  • I show up at the weight training class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (even if that means I have to run alone some days because I’m 5:00 AM running babes are running on Tuesday instead of Monday).
  • I take my time and finish – and enjoy – the Pittsburg (half) mMarathon.
  • I sit out the two 5K races I had intended to run in May.  Take a mini-break.  Refocus.  Don’t take on too much, too soon.
  • I prepare for the 10K I like on Father’s Day.
  • I focus on preparing to the new, local September half marathon I am registered for.  This means, sticking to the training plan, no excuses.  No skipping or substituting workouts out of convenience.  This means not taking it easy on myself BUT also not trying too hard to compensate for missed workouts (which there shouldn’t be any, but you get the idea).

Basically, even though I didn’t quit running, like I did for a spell last year, I need another re-start.  A reboot.  Maybe even call it a do-over.  I need to forgive myself for not being where I think I should be and face, head-on, where I am.   If it means that I have to go back to the “easier” workouts that I’d hoped I’d outgrown, I’ll do it, knowing that the gains will actually come more easily and more quickly than if I try to do too much too soon. If it means modifying some additional goals, I’ll do it , knowing that it will be smarter to set achievable ones than to set myself up for failure.  If it means I’ll simply keep running, instead of quitting again, it will be totally worth it.



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