From the Ground Up

Three and a half years ago I had a meeting with my cross country coach.  It was my first season as a runner and my first time running more the 20 or 30 miles weekly.  It was early September of 2010 and I was enjoying running more then ever.  (At least I thought…my love for running continuously grows).

Little did I know how much that meeting would change and sculpt my running mentality.  It’s a running mentality that I still hold near and dear to my training.  My coach at the time told me to run everyday, don’t worry about pace or distance just run.  Discover something new about yourself and your training each day…Maybe you don’t like a certain running path, certain shoe, are you an arm swinger, can you solve your life issues during a simple run.  Just run.  Run 30 hours in 30 days.  That averaged to one hour a day of easy running or 2 hours one day and off another day…I didn’t know that this was typical of a base building period.  This is what people do before speed workouts.  This is why people fall in love with running.

Either way I did just that and ran 30 hours in 30 days.  Since I wasn’t worrying about distance or pace (and it was long before I owned a GPS watch) I didn’t get injured but I grew as a person and a runner.  It really began my lifelong passion of enjoying running.

Throughout my three years of running that is what I have done.  My daily runs have no exact rhyme or reason.  I don’t plan to do an exact mileage.  If I do 10.567 versus 10.5 who cares…and it even goes the same way about mileage.  I have a goal range every week I would like to hit but nothing that makes or breaks me.  I just enjoy running and racing serves as the only time I truly care about pace and time.

So how does this relate to my normal Sunday training post?

In the last week I have truly wanted to get back into running but I have lost sight of this mentality.  I’m already finding myself gunho on improving my shorter distance times and gunho about becoming a better athlete.   It led me to pull a muscle in my knee a week ago.

When I decided to run last Sunday in the state park near my house it was 23 degrees.  Long story short my muscles never warmed up and the next morning I woke up with a throbbing knee.  I thought I had either pulled, strained or torn the muscle.  Since I assume all worst possible scenarios I assumed it was a tear.  Then with ice, rest and salt baths…it just went away two days later.  It has felt fine since but it has made me realize that I need to ease back into running and not stress about pace or time.

For the next month I am going to do something I haven’t done since of just enjoying my runs and letting my mind wonder.  I’m going to consistently start logging miles and start to rebuild that base.  Running is such a freeing and liberating journey and I would like to get back to that worry free journey.

Questions for you:

Do you like base building?

Are you currently being coached? 

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  1. I am so sorry about your knee, Hollie, BUT your coach is SO right, and I am happy you are reminding yourself of that. I have to do that regularly, and I have been running a long time. The higher up you go, the more you must remind yourself.

    I learned a few years ago that to get better you do not necessarily have to push yourself to absolute exhaustion, there should always be something left at the end of a workout “I could do one more”, and on recovery days you shouldnt look at a watch and should just enjoy running for what it is. Even as I work my way higher up the chain I still have to remind myself that.

    You are way ahead of the game if you realize this, and your passion and drive will make you a better athlete. Stay positive friend! All those struggles make you better in the long run 🙂 pun intended 😛

    1. Thank you Tina!

      I think my problem with my knee right now is that I could run through it and feel the ache but I don’t want to go through an entire training cycle of having an ache.

      The wait is the worst! I just want to consistently run (perhaps soon with you! At least I hope so 🙂

  2. There’s definitely something to the “run everyday” mentality. A lot of my more experienced teammates told me to bike and run as much as possible during the offseason–and not worry about speed, distance covered, etc. like you wrote. (With the bike especially, they said even hopping on the trainer and spinning for 10 minutes at a time will make a difference.) Mentally, it’s been really nice to go out and run and not worry about hitting paces. That being said, though, I am ready to return to more structured, intense training.

  3. Sorry to hear about your knee. Hope it heals quickly.
    I have been keeping my base mileage because I do not enjoy building a base, ha ha. I’m not being coached but would love to one day.

  4. “Just running” is the best. It’s something I never learned to do until after I took my running hiatus. But seriously, I come up with some great stuff when I’m able to just run and think about whatever instead of worry about pace, time, or miles! Good to hear that your knee feels better, I’m glad it’s not a tear!!

  5. I love the mentality of your coach! I don’t think I have ever logged 30 hours in 30 days, but I do think it is so important to run just for the sake of running. Run to free yourself, run to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, run for whatever reason, but don’t stress out about it. You go Hollie!

  6. I ran like that way back in high school when I first started running and I need to do that again! Thanks for the reminder, and I’m glad your knees better!

  7. Love this. Every time I try to complicate things Jason says “just run”. 30 minutes, 40 minutes, if I feel good run more, feel bad run less.

    Right foot, left foot, repeat. It sounds “too easy” to me, but it’s what’s working for me right now

  8. I have tried to explain this to Jon! He keeps pushing me to do a training plan but I don’t work like that. It takes the enjoyment out of things if I have to try and stick to a plan! I also know that with my schedule, I would have a hard time sticking to the goals. So I want to be realistic and set a weekly mileage goal starting in December but I don’t want a ton of structure. It feels like a chore with too much structure and I don’t want to start disliking running again this early on. I never want to be a huge competitive runner. I’m doing this for me, so I want to be able to enjoy it how I see fit!

  9. I’m so sorry about your knee problem 🙁 I still absolutely don’t think you deserved it, because you were so careful in the days leading up to the marathon and with your recovery in general. Good to know that it improved relatively quickly though!

    I absolutely agree with your coach – in my first two years of running I didn’t own a Garmin, and even though I don’t know for certain what my ‘training’ pace was, the first run I did with a Garmin registered a 9:06/mile average for 10 miles, and that felt like around the pace I had been running. How on Earth I managed to run in the 6:xxs for my races when I simply kept on gradually increasing mileage with little to no attention to or regard for pace in those years I don’t know. I do know that I never got a single injury during that time! As soon as I became wary of pace, and pushed myself more, I ended up with a string of consecutive injuries.

    I’ve never had a coach, and I don’t think anyone could tolerate working with me! I’m too stubborn and set in my ways – I’m sure coaches are beneficial and very wise indeed, but I do run primarily for sanity reasons and compromising that for better times is something I couldn’t do, because it would take the enjoyment out of running and even though I do get annoyed with myself for being slow, I would only want to try to improve ‘my way.’

    1. I agree! I honestly think it came from last weekend when I was cold the entire time and my muscles never warmed up. It’s so hard for me to care about pace these days.

  10. The cold is such a pain- literally. Muscles get tight, knees get sore and brains freeze (I was so mentally foggy on my cold run Saturday).

    I really do enjoy base building. Not really stressing about workouts and paces and things like that. I am really looking forward to down time and then base building again. Which by the way has to include an 18-20 miler in snow with you like last year.

  11. I hope your knee heals soon. I bet Laura (above me) is right about the cold affecting muscles. I’ve never really considered that because it’s not super cold here, but the humidity in SC definitely affects runs so I’m sure the climate there could too.

    Sometimes the most fun runs are the ones where you go out and lose yourself in the run and don’t think about pace, time, or distance. You just go. Training plans and training for a race in general is fun but you can’t do that constantly, not just because it’s a lot of wear and tear on the body but also because you start just “following the plan” rather than running and it can feel like a job (my marathon training was starting to feel like that, you know, feeling “obligated” To a certain distance or pace). I think your coach had great advice and that’s the way to love running!

  12. Sorry to hear about your knee and hope it gets better soon. I have had a bunch of knee troubles (blown out both my ACLS) so I’d recommend taking it easy and not rushing back into it. Knee are the worst and not something you want to mess with

    -Elise @

  13. Amen, Amen, Amen! Beautifully said Hollie!

    I sincerely hope any hint of injury is long gone, and banished by your base building.

  14. So glad u r ok!!! It is hard to be so carefree sometimes with running. But we all need that time, that break. I am a proud of you. Enjoy it!

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