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Training: Real Talk, Anxiety, and Taking a Step Back

Training: Real Talk, Anxiety, and Taking a Step Back

It’s important to be honest, so here we are.

Recently, I have found myself once again burning the candle at far too many ends. So I’m taking a few days off from running.  I started my self-imposed break on Saturday and will continue until I feel like running again.  My guess is around next weekend, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself.

Since my Half Marathon PR in February, I haven’t had a lot of quality training weeks. I’ve run and have had several good weeks, but I haven’t had the consistency that led to my PR.  You can’t always be in PR shape and can’t train hard all of the time.  I should have taken a more extended break a few weeks ago, but I took a few days off and still think I jumped too quickly back.

But running isn’t even the most important thing I’m suffering through.

Over the last few weeks, my anxiety has been at an all-time high since college. In my own personal life, I have a lot going on.  Unfortunately, it’s not something I can talk about in the blogging world, and I am talking with my therapist about events going on.  No, it’s nothing life-threatening, and I’m not injured in any way (knock on wood).

Yes, running is great, but for me, it’s not therapy and not interchangeable and of course blogging on the internet does not take the place of talking to a professional.
Monday: Easy 5
Tuesday: Easy 45 minutes
Wednesday: 5k Speed Workout (20:01)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 60 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest

Why do I talk Openly about Anxiety and Depression?

I’m not ashamed of it.  With the recent news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it’s important to know you aren’t alone.

It’s easy for anyone to say “I’m here for you, if you ever need to chat” but believe me if you aren’t in your normal frame of mind, you won’t ask for help.  In my darkest moments through college, I didn’t ask a single soul for help.  Many people, including best friends and family, said they were there, but I had no interest to ask for help.  Most people who have dealt with any mental health disease don’t.

For me, I need to talk to a professional.  Having anxiety or depression isn’t embarrassing.  Like any crippling disease, it’s essential to take actions to deal with it, so it doesn’t continue to hinder or affect your quality of life.  Right now, my anxiety is far higher on the scale than depression.  I’m not in that mindset but I also know I have several issues to work through.

I’m not fine, but I’m taking steps so I will be.  I have family, friends, and professionals that are helping me dig into the hole I fell down.

I do plan to be active the next week.  Right now is a good time for me to take a break from running.  It makes sense from a mental health standpoint as well as a fitness standpoint.  I’ve been running healthy for almost a year now with no real hiccups.  Like last June, I’ll be busy with various things that June is a good month for me to take off.  I can squeeze running here and there, but I would prefer to have downtime and focusing on more important things.

Posts from the Week:

Newport 10 Miler Recap (1:03.57)

Hair and Nail Benefits of Collagen

Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour

Questions for you:

Do you ever take running breaks?

Are you getting ready for any races soon?

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Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles

Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles

Over the last few months, my running has gone well.  I PRed in the Phoenix Half marathon and ran one of my best executed races at the Shamrock Half marathon.  Running felt great, until it didn’t.

First, my body was tired at the Adrenaline 5k.  Then I felt exhausted after the Phillies 5k the week after.  My body caught up with me, and by last Monday I was exhausted.

My college coach once said: rest weeks save seasons.

But, I didn’t listen to it last year when I had similar red flags.  In all, it turned into burnout, and I took most of spring and summer off.  Had I taken a week or two off, I might have been in a different spot last year.

Rest Weeks Save Training Cycles

Why Are Rest Weeks Beneficial?

If you don’t recover from hard races, workout, or runs, you won’t get faster.  Let’s be honest though, and that is much easier said than done.

Training for anything is exhausting. Each week, you head out the door on tired legs preparing for one race. If you don’t train enough, you could end up short of your goal or even injured.  However, if you train too hard, you could find yourself with an injury or fatigued during the race start.  The exact feeling I had at the Atlantic City half marathon last year.

So What are Some Signs You Should Take a Rest Week?

You Haven’t Taken a Rest Week Recently:

Well isn’t that easy?  If you haven’t had a rest week in a while, consider adding one to your training.  Even if you feel “good,” extra rest doesn’t hurt anyone.

You’re Exhausted:

Exhaustion is not just physical fatigue but mental too. It’s something I started to experience and what led to my few days off last week.  It’s the feeling of “blah” that makes you feel like you don’t want to be out there.

A Few Ways to Stop a Burn Out:

First, stop running.  It won’t help the situation.

  • Find another hobby: For me,  running is fun, but I enjoy many other things include hiking and painting.  Find another hobby that you enjoy and to fill your time.
  • Massages: For me, I find deep tissue massages, Graston, and ART to be the best.
  • Cross Train: It’s not my first recommendation, as I do believe people occasionally need full rest but if you find yourself much happier cross training, do that instead.

Burn out happens to most people.  I’ve learned the hard way, that running through it won’t help the matter.  In short, most solutions are simple: take some time off.  For some people it takes a few days, for some, it’s a few months.  Like an injury, if you catch it earlier before later, you’ll be much better off.

You don’t gain fitness in a few days, and you don’t lose either.

Questions for you: Have you ever burned out from something?  How did you get through it?

How to Build Back Mental Confidence

How to Build Back Mental Confidence

Running is 1% physically and 99% mental.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there is a lot of mental component to the sport (or any sport really).  As most people know, most of 2016 and 2017 were not my years for running.  I set two of my favorite distance PRS (5k and 13.1) in January and February of 2016.  After that, I haven’t PRed.  

So here I am almost 2 years later, with no PRs.  I’ve been trotting along with running.  I’ve taken extended breaks from both injury (last year I fractured my heal) as well as just plain mental burnout.  So I haven’t run for 2 years straight, but I have trained and gone through training cycles.

I can’t quite say my mental game is exactly where it should be, but it’s getting a lot better.  As I get back into fitness during the last few months, I’ve pretty much run with no worry about pace or distance unless I’ve raced.  I wrote more about that here.

Half of my training miles have been above 9 minutes, and I haven’t worried about it.  I’ve run and gone about my day.  Right now, I have a solid foundation and base.  I know my base miles have set my body up to begin doing more speed workouts and hone in on speed.  I will get there.  Who knows how long it will take but running is lifelong!  I would rather not rush anything and burn out…again.

Most importantly though, running without time and pace has given me a huge mental break.  Once again, I feel happy with running.  Thinking out loud, I don’t feel like it’s forced or dread getting out there.

So How do you Build Back Mental Confidence?

For me, mental confidence takes a lot more time to develop than physical speed and endurance.  Here are a few techniques I’ve used.

  • Stop Negative Self Talk: If you think you’ll run like garbage, you probably will. Last year, I thought I would run like garbage at the Philadelphia marathon…and…I did!
  • Stop Comparing: This means stop comparing yourself to others and to yourself. Now that Instagram running is “so big”, it’s easy to look at someone and be like…how do they run fast all of the time.  But just worry about yourself (or don’t worry about all)…and I’m too old school for Strava, so I’ll let you remove comparison traps there for yourself.
  • Set Smaller Goals to Achieve Your Bigger Ones: For me, I set a smaller goal to get back out there. Then another goal to do a few 5k, then a half and then begin honing in on speed.  You don’t need to set a huge goal of PRing when you aren’t running or dropping an hour from your marathon.  Set a bite-sized goal and move forward.
  • Visualize: I cannot emphasize this enough but visualizing running and doing well will help tremendously.  My college swim coach had us visualize swimming well at conferences, and I always felt more confident after that.

It’s always important to remember that running is lifelong.  There are races any weekend you want, and if you don’t feel mentally right, you should work on that first.

Questions for you:

How do you stay mentally strong with any sport?  

What are some mental techniques you use?

How to Beat Race Day Nerves

How to Beat Race Day Nerves

It’s not a secret that I like to race a lot.  In fact, I’ve written posts about how to “race well,” or even “racing my way to fitness”.  It works well for me as I typically train very easy throughout the week.

Since I race so frequently, racing doesn’t make me as nervous anymore.  I get more nervous before a workout than I do before a race.  Thinking out loud, I suppose that has come with both time and just racing a lot.

A few weeks ago, a reader asked me how I beat race nerves and if I would be open to writing a post about it.

The short answer is: race until you’re not as nervous anymore. 

I’m sure you wanted the long answer though.

Here are a few strategies I use to Beat Race Day Nerves:

Before the Race:

Visualize:

This is more something to do before the actual race.  The day before I plan to race (if I plan too), I like to visualize goals and success.  It’s actually something I picked up in collegiate swimming. Running is 90% mental, and if you believe you’ll do well, you’ve already won most of the battle.

Look Back at Your Training Logs:

Look at those workouts you didn’t think you would crush but you did.  This is motivational for bigger races, when you are tapering, or bored.  There is always “that run” during a training cycle that you didn’t think you’d make it through but you did.  Remember that one, versus the ones that you didn’t feel great during.

At the Race:

Stay Distracted:

For some people that are listening to music, for others (like me), that is talking nonstop until the race starts.  If we meet at a race, know that I am 100% cool with chatting up until the gun goes off.  Stay distracted and relaxed.

Get Away from the Start Line:

During shorter races such as a 5k, this is easy because I need to warm up.  I don’t warm up before half marathons (my top 5 half marathons have had zero warmup…maybe some walking).  Getting away from the start line allows you to stay relaxed and not think about it as much.

 

Remember This:

Races are typically the morning of your day.  It’s not more than a few hours of your morning, and when it’s done, you move on.  You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, I just think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens and there is no need to stress about it.

You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, I just think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens and there is no need to stress about it.

Racing is supposed to be exciting and fun.  You should look forward to it not dread it.  If you dread it, there is no point in doing it right?

Related Posts:

Who Cares Where You Run?

Care Free Training

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

Questions for you:

Do you race a lot?

How do you beat race day (or any day) nerves?

Care Free Training

Care Free Training

I haven’t really posted about my actual training in a while or where I want it to go.  I post my training log and progression since coming back from my break, but quite frankly I’m just running.  I am enjoying the journey to get back to fitness and taking it one step at a time.  I have no interest in training for a big marathon (or a small one), and I don’t have a goal race picked out for any distance.  Thinking out loud, I’m just slowly working my way back.

And you know what? 

I’m enjoying how my running is going right now.  I have absolutely no pressure to do anything (not that I ever had pressure beforehand) but now I have even less pressure.  In training and sometimes even life, I’ve always been one to fly by the seat of pants.  Now more than ever, that is relevant.  With my husband’s career, I can’t tell you I’ll be in New Jersey for the next year.  I can’t sign up for a race 6 months out because I don’t know.  We didn’t know we would go down to Alabama for 6 weeks last January, until a couple of weeks beforehand. I missed races I had signed up before in NJ during that time.

In my training, I normally have a rough outline of the runs and workouts I want to do for the week, but I never have an exact plan written down.

For instance, during a training week, my thoughts begin like this: This week I’ll attempt to run between 40-45 miles with five miles of speed somewhere…is it a race…maybe I’ll have to see what is around…if nothing works with my schedule, I’ll just do a workout. That is the extent of my scheduling and planning.

So Does Not Planning Really Help Me?

I have actually found that it does and it does a lot.  First of all, I’m not obsessed with pace.  I don’t care. I could run 10 miles at 10-minute pace or 10 miles at 8-minute pace.  It’s still 10 base miles.  I’ll run with anyone that wants to run, whether you run a 10 minute or 8-minute mile.  That’s why I rarely post paces online, Instagram, or anywhere.  Because I don’t know and honestly, for training runs…I don’t really care.

When talking with a friend, I realized that it hasn’t always been that way for me.

I used to be obsessed with pace and numbers.  There was a point in my running career that I would run in the same 10-second pace range for every run of the week.  That pace was between 7-7:10.  Do you know what I gave myself?  The glorious gift of a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.

Not to mention, during that period I never got faster, and I was miserable the entire time.   I was so antsy in training if my overall pace was 7:11+ and thought I had lost my all endurance.  It sounds silly now, but that is what the new runner in me thought.

Train fast to go fastRace myself and try and get faster every day.

For stat purposes: during that time of my running career, my 5k PR was 20:10.  I ran about 50 miles a week between 7-7:15 pace.

Now it’s 18:13 (and I had to look LOL).  During that time in training, I was running 60 miles a week with about 50 above 8:30 or even 9-minute pace.

My half marathon PR then was 1:36.56…now it’s 1:22.57.

But the most crucial piece is I enjoy going out to run without worrying about it.  For me, running is a hobby, and it’s something I want to do lifelong without stress.

So for me personally, not caring about pace has turned into continuing to improve on running.  Last fall, when my coach and I focused on paces, I found myself in a similar situation.  Burnout and not improving.

I can’t tell anyone how to train and what works for them and nor do I want too.  I’m telling you how liberating it is for me to be carefree about pace.

What it took for me to get to that point to relax my training wasn’t easy.  Honestly, without being injured or burnout, I don’t think I would have gotten here.  From injury, I quickly learned my body doesn’t respond well to fast runs every day.

I think I should have renamed my blog CasualLOLZ or something.

Relevant Posts:

Techniques to Recover Faster

Cross Training

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Questions for you:

What are your thoughts?

Do you schedule workouts every day or fly by the seat of your pants?

Run for Recovery (19:12)

A few weeks ago, I heard of the Run for Recovery which benefited a local drug treatment center.  As many readers know, my parked car was recently rear-ended by someone who was passed out at the wheel under the influence of opioids. Even before that incident, drug addiction has been an issue close to home.

After running the Dragon Run the day before, I had no time goals for the race.  I wanted to support something that meant so much to me.  To be honest, I would walk the race before not doing it.  If anything, it would serve as a good workout.  I’ve run many miles around the Cooper River Park, so I knew the area well.

I got to the race around 8 am.  It was scheduled to start around 9 but ended up starting closer to 9:15.

They made several announcements and a speech at the beginning which ultimately brought a few tears to my eyes.  Drug addiction can happen to anyone, no matter the family situation, age, or gender.  They asked everyone who had lost someone to addiction to stand at the front with the organization for a moment of silence, and that is when my tears began flowing. After that, we walked to the starting line.

Races at Cooper River involve about a half mile walk to the starting line.  I talked with a few people during the walk, and before we knew it, the race was off.  Immediately, I found myself in fourth place overall, which is where I stayed the entire time.

Since I raced the day before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  When I am in shape, I typically feel good the second day of racing, but I am not in peak shape right now.  The first mile goes over a small bridge and heads toward the opposite side of the river.

Since it’s a well-known park, there are plenty of people walking and running who aren’t racing.  There was a bit of weaving involved, but I shocked myself and hit the first mile in 6:02.  (Which was faster than every mile I ran the day before).

I have run one other race at Cooper River in which I call my ultimate regression run.  I ran something like 6:0X, 6:30 and then 7:00.  I thought surely that would happen here, but I attempted to hold on for dear life.

The next two miles went on without much excitement.  I ran a 6:03 followed by a 6:13. It was a beautiful day and ideal conditions, but I still shocked myself.  I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to run but it wasn’t faster miles than the day before.

For the entire race, I ran alone and chased the three guys in front of me (chase being relative as they were a couple of minutes ahead).  I weaved around people using the park for their Sunday morning runs.  I high-fived a little kid who was walking around the lake with his mom.  For me, it felt more like a workout that I was supporting a cause. I was at a race, but with everyone not racing around, as well as the race being more meaningful, it didn’t feel like it.

When I hit the third mile and saw it was longer than .1 to the finish, I wasn’t disappointed.  I knew I would have been under 19 on a perfectly accurate course, but I’ll save that for another day.  I have a love/hate with racing at Cooper River.

You can see me around 19 minutes finishing. 

I like it because it’s easy to park and normally cheap.  I don’t because the course is notoriously long and unlike this weekend, it can get extremely crowded on the trail.

I’m happy I was able to combine two things I’m passionate about: public health and running.  Very few races can do both, with the last being the Lake Effect Half Marathon.

me run for recovery cooper river

I feel happy with my progress so far in 5ks.  My next major goal is to consistently be under 19 minutes, which I hope is by the end of October or November.

Progression:

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1 Run for Recovery (19:12)

Questions for you:
What is a cause that means a lot to you?
Is there a local park that holds a lot of races near you? 

 

Workouts: Double Races

Workouts: Double Races

Another week of training is now in the books and I have no complaints.  As it has been for the last nearly, 10 weeks, my weekday runs were boring and easy.  Then I ran not only 1, but 2 races this weekend.  For different reasons, both races were equally important to me nso after debating whether I want to run 1 or both, I decided to run both.

Monday: 60 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: 90 minutes easy
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 60 minutes easy
Saturday: Dragon Run 5k (19:06) Total miles: 10
Sunday: Run for Recovery 5k: 19:12 Total miles: 10

Total: 40-43

As I mentioned, my weekday easy runs were just that…easy.  There wasn’t a lot to note and most of them were alone and in the early morning.  Running in the dark isn’t my favorite but that is how fall goes and I’m glad to be running again.

Dragon Run 5k (19:06)

The Dragon Run is one of my favorite fall races.  Last year it was the first race I broke 19 minutes again.  While I didn’t do that this year, I did have a strong race.  I’ve begun increasing my mileage, and my legs are more fatigued.  My splits were 6:11, 6:10 and 6:03 so I can’t complain about a negative split race.  Plus, the overall winners get cupcakes and my time was good enough for second place this year.

Run for Recovery: (19:12)

If you count feet per each race, I suspect the Run for Recovery was a little longer of a race than the Dragon Run and I actually ran a bit faster the second day.  Albeit, the course was flat around Cooper River Park.  Does it matter?  No.  I did the race for the cause meant a lot to me and I wasn’t running for time.  The race itself benefited a local drug treatment center. Even before my car was hit by someone under the influence, drug treatment and addiction is a cause that is both meaningful and personal to me.

I felt surprisingly decent for the race and ran a 6:02. 6:04, 6:11.  The race itself was uneventful and I ran most of it alone.

In all I’m happy with my progression in running.  While my streak of continuing to improve in 5ks this training cycle has stopped, that had to happen at some point.  I suspected it would be this weekend either Saturday or Sunday.

Progression:
I wonder how long I should keep including this.  It’s getting lengthy.
Week 1: 31-33 miles
Week 2: 33-35 miles
Week 3: 33-35 miles (1 workout)
Week 4: 35-37 miles (1 workout)
Week 5: 29-31 miles
Week 6: 45 miles (1 workout)
Week 7: 40 miles (13.1 miles workout)
Week 8: 43-45 miles (2 workouts: 1 race/1 tempo)
Week 9: 41-43 miles (2 races)

Posts of the week:
Altra Escalante Shoe Review
Why a Running Streak Does Not Work for Me

Questions for you:
Is there a health topic close to your heart?
I haven’t talked much about health topics recently but I did graduate and work in the community health field (with drug studies, sexual assault, and eating disorders) for a while. I also do some volunteering in the field. On a personal level, drug addiction is a big one and not because my car was recently hit by someone who overdosed on opioids.

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