Because I never obsess about my running (ha!), here are just a few of my thoughts about the race yesterday.
I’m not unhappy with my time from yesterday’s race. I think I did my best, under the circumstances. But I have a couple of issues. Let’s consider: there are circumstances both beyond and within my control.
It’s beyond my control that Itook bunch of rest weeks because my foot was injured. Combine that with not having an overall good training winter to start with, and I’m just not at the same fitness level that I was a year ago. Largely beyond my control, it helps to explain the additional 39 seconds it took me to run the course this year versus last year.
On the flip side, my effort was within my control. Did I race as hard as I could? After a race, it’s easy to think that I could have pushed a harder at different points along the course. But I honestly think I gave it my best effort. As I was running, I constantly weighed the effects of my effort on the remainder of the course. Yes, I could have gone a little faster up that hill, but that may have forced a walk break later. It’s a tricky thing to figure mid-race because you really never know what will happen until you try it. In the final analysis, I effectively managed this within-my-control factor.
A second item within my control is my weight. I’m carrying roughly 10 more pounds than I was a year ago. I tried to look up information about how weight affects time/pace, but of course there are a lot of factors involved, including VO2 max and distance being run. There is an estimate out there that you can potentially run 2-3 seconds per mile faster for each pound lost. (Okay pause to consider all the exceptions, like someone who’s already at their ideal body weight, someone who is already super-fast. There would be some diminishing returns – or some other economic or mathematical principles at work here.) Regardless, that additional 10 pounds is logically slowing me down. Not to mention the other 20-30 pounds I am overweight for my height on top of those 10 I put on over the stupid holidays.
Running improvement goal #1: Lose the rest of the weight. Stop eating garbage; Continue eating more plants; Keep up with workouts.
I’m talking about my internal issues. I’ve mentioned how I often get a severe belly ache after racing. I had a “medium” case of this after my 5K two weeks ago. Yesterday, immediately after the race, I felt a belly ache coming on, but I think I headed it off through some changes I made.
First, when I got up, I had a glass of water with about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (and a little Stevia to make it more tolerable – not bad, really). I’d read this is a good thing to do first thing in the morning to “alkalinize” the body. Much of what makes up our America diet is acidic – and an acidic body state is correlated with inflammation and disease (e.g., cancer is more likely to thrive in an acidic environment). I also ate more than I normally do before a race. I had a banana and natural peanut butter on a sandwich thin bun, whereas I typically only have a Luna bar (or similar).
My apple cider vinegar research indicated that it also helps with workout recovery, so I packed a water bottle with more of the h2o-vinegar-Stevia mix for after the race. I further learned that apple cider vinegar can soothe intestinal spasms and indigestion, making it sound like a doubly-good idea. In addition, I wanted to ensure I ate something appropriate right after the race, so I brought a second banana and a second peanut butter sandwich. After eating my snacks, I felt the belly ache coming on. Once I started sipping my vinegar water, it subsided. Furthermore, I did not get a belly ache later in the day and I didn’t suffer from cravings (e.g., salty snacks) that I often get on a race day.
Running improvement goal #2: Repeat routine of vinegar water and appropriate food before and after upcoming races.
Ohmigosh, not everything is about me! I signed my girls up for the (FREE! Best race ever.) kids race after the 5K. Predictably, Cora wanted nothing to do with it, so she and her dad went to the playground swings. Emily, also, didn’t want to do it. But she did want to hang out with her buddy Peyton who was going to run. Yet even that wasn’t enough. I had to promise Emily that I would run with her, in the grass, alongside the track. I was so proud of her because 1) she didn’t want to do it, but she did it, anyway; 2) she ran the whole way, without asking to stop or walk; 3) and she didn’t get upset that we were the last ones to finish. I’m trying to teach her that effort – and the willingness not to give up – is often what’s most important, so I was glad that she was happy at the end of the race. Here we are together beforehand.
My training so far has been partly beyond my control, but it’s not beyond my control going forward. I think I performed unexpectedly well last year (taking ~2 minutes off the PR I’d set just 2-3 weeks prior) because I had been following a training plan for a 10K the following month. And I set another 5K PR last fall because that early October race occurred just a couple of weeks after I finished my half marathon – for which I’d logged many, many more miles than I ever had before. Therefore, I’m going to stick to a training plan again – plus incorporate a few new elements (like working my the slant board described here, to strengthen my joints and legs).
Running improvement goal #3: Go with what’s proven to work in the past. Stick to training plans. Log more miles. Cross train accordingly.
My Final Note
Running improvement goal #4: Relax a little. Stop obsessing about race times and just enjoy the journey.