Improving Fitness

Last week I posted about my journey with half marathons.  In the past 3 years, I’ve run 17 total and gone from a 1:41 half marathon to 1:24.49.  I was asked how I did it…and to be honest I don’t have a great answer.

I don’t have an answer of how one day I woke up and dropped 10, nearly 20 minutes off my half marathon time.  I don’t have a clear cut answer about how it came to me easy.

I do have an answer though that I consistently worked at it.  I consistently logged runs when I didn’t want too.  I rested when I needed to and most importantly I tried to stay injury free.

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you can probably guess I don’t follow a training plan.  I never used a couch to 5k and I haven’t had a coach since college.

I haven’t always had linear improvement and I’ve had my fair share of bad races, plateaus and terrible weeks (and months) of running.  I’ve had races that I’ve wanted to hang up the shoes forever.  I’ve had runs that I’ve had to stop early and REGRETTED doing.

I also haven’t stayed injury free (my personal injuries) in the last three years.  I got a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.  I had an overgrown cyst a year and a half ago.  When I am injured I still work hard and cross train.  That is not to say I don’t rest when I need to but I never sat on the couch for 2 months, eating oreos and crying.  I kept living life.  I existed outside of running. I substituted cross training when I was healed enough and got the okay from a doctor.  I continued to work hard.

Part of improving in running is not giving up on yourself.  It’s working hard when you don’t want too.  It’s working hard when you do want too.  Honestly, it’s just working hard for your own personal journey and goals.

The other part of improving in running is knowing your limits. Knowing when you are injuring yourself versus fighting through the pain.  Knowing the difference of endurance pain and injury pain.  I know I didn’t get that lesson until I got my stress fracture and my whole training mentality changed.

There have been multiple days in the last three years that I have decided something felt off and I rested instead.  It plumeted my miles for the week…I didn’t hit my target mileage or goal.  This has been on workout days, on easy run days, and even ON RACE DAYS.  I would rather take a day off or two then take 2 or more months off for injury.  Staying injury free is the most important thing you can do to (in my opinion) to get better.  If you are improving and injured, you don’t have much to showcase for it.

I guess what I’m getting at is running is your own personal journey.  Like anything in life, in order to improve you have to work hard.  You’ll have “bad” moments and you’ll have amazing moments.  Realizing the amazing moments are worth the bad moments is part of the battle.  Realizing that taking a day or week off is not going to hinder your long term fitness is another piece of the puzzle.

These are all just my opinions and how I feel I’ve gotten better and improved.

Question for you:  How do you think you have improved your fitness?