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From a 20:20 5k to an 18:13

It’s hard to believe this time last year I was getting ready for my second full marathon.  It’s the last marathon I’ve run.

Last year after completing the Phoenix full marathon, I felt like I failed.  Despite PRing, I finished the race injured.  Thinking out loud, I didn’t enjoy marathon training, and I didn’t enjoy the race.  The race was put together well, but it was not right for me.

What was there left to enjoy? For me, the marathon negatives outweighed the positives, and I decided I was done with the distance for a while.

Running the distance I wanted was the best decision I made for myself.

Last May I began my journey of running mostly 5ks.  The first 5k I ran was at a local high school, and I ran a 20:20.  It was disappointing, but it gave me a truthful baseline.  Sometimes, the truth hurts.  Getting the baseline was not only physically painful but mentally painful too.  It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I was running that pace.  Before marathon training, I never ran above a 20 minute 5k. The first step in achieving a goal is being honest with yourself, and that was where I was.

Goals are not attainable if they aren’t realistic.

My friend Austin and I at that race

My friend Austin and I at that race

Between May and now I’ve consistently trained.  I don’t have a secret and to be honest, no athlete should!  If you have a secret of “how you got fast overnight”, generally it’s not legal.

Last May I mentioned I was going to race a lot and I did.  Did I think I would PR at every race?  No, absolutely not.

So I took a break from marathons and got healthy and then ran a bunch of races. I wanted to focus on shorter races, and I wanted to gain leg speed back.  I thrive on racing, so I decided to do what made me happy, which was more racing.  Racing as frequently as I did, allowed me to improve as rapidly as I did.  It’s easy to see I was doing more speed work than ever before.

I attribute better fitness to a few things:

  • Consistency in my training and easy runs
  • The amount of racing and speed workouts

Each race I learned something about my running.

Each race was a stepping stone to the fitness I’m at now.

Each race was considered a workout for a larger goal of PRing.  It’s not realistic to think I could go from running a 20+ minute 5k to a PR.

Click to tweet: Consistency leads to progression which leads to PRs.

Last weekend I ran another PR of 18:13.  That is just over 2 minutes faster than where I started last May.  It is 9 seconds faster than my PR in a dress on January 1st.  It’s also 40 seconds quicker than a PR that stood for over two years.

flower show cannon

Now that I’ve Pred in everything from the 5k to half, where does this lead me?

Right now I will finish the Spring racing season with a few more shorter distances.  If I can stay healthy throughout Spring and Summer, I might give the full marathon another shot.  A lot can change both mentally and physically in the next few months, but I haven’t ruled racing another full marathon out.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race distance?

What are you consistently working at right now?

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Why I love Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest Hallmark Holidays of the year.  I don’t know the stats, but my guess is most of the employees in the card, flower, fancy restaurant and chocolate industry are overbooked and overwhelmed.

I know in the running industry that’s how I feel during marathon and track season

To be honest, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite Holidays.  Not because I expect a plethora of things, or want to participate in the “let’s show off our love via social media contest”. 

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Valentines Day is a time to celebrate love. 

Whether it’s love for….

…a significant other

…your family and friends

…a pet

and most importantly:

Love for yourself

As a 20 something-year-old, I can tell you I didn’t always love myself.  In college,  I put a lot more pressure on myself. I wanted to the be absolute best I could be and wouldn’t give myself credit for achieving the small things.  I didn’t appreciate things about myself that looking back I wish I would have!  Not just in sports but in life as well.

Valentines Day is a beautiful celebration of love.  It starts with love and appreciation for yourself.  

Here are a few ways to embrace and love yourself:

  1. Show gratitude for who you are now. As humans, we are always growing and learning more about ourselves.  We are striving to do better and to be better.  Take time to reflect on where you are now and how far you have come.  Never discount the small achievements.
  2. Do something daily that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming but do something each day that you know will make you happy.  Is that reading a few blogs?  Is that painting your fails?  Is it running?  Make sure to make a little bit of time for just you each day.
  3. Give yourself a fair chance. If you believe you will fail, you will.  Believe in yourself.  It’s that simple.
  4. Distance yourself from things that make you unhappy. That could be things, people or activities but if you are constantly around things that are making you miserable, you cannot love and appreciate yourself.
  5. Believe in yourself. If there is one thing you can do to love yourself, it’s believe in yourself.  If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?  Confidence is key.

Valentines Day doesn’t have to be a celebration of giving or receiving gifts.  It’s a celebration of love whether it is loving yourself, your family and friends or significant other.

We all have someone to love, and it starts with ourselves.

Question for you: How do you love yourself? 

Five Years Worth of Injuries

After writing a post about staying injury free last month, I received the question of what types of injuries I’ve dealt with.  Honestly, I’ve dealt with a lot of different issues.  Before recently, my blog could have alternative names such as fueledbyInjuries or InjuriesNlolz. To be fair, two out of five of my issues were due to blunt force or falling. 

Luckily, for myself and training I’ve realized what has worked with training and what hasn’t.  Since I’m a relatively new runner, I don’t have the experience many other people do.  I don’t have eight years of high school and college running.  I have a few years of haphazard LOLZ running and a couple of years of effective training.  As with anything, I learn best when I do something and make mistakes along the way.

You can read my full running story here (or in one of the headings above).

In summary, I began running July 2010.  I ran off and on and was still a member of on my collegiate swim team.  Swim season lasted from September until late February, so there was no running during that time.  During the off season, we were allowed to work out as we pleased, so I picked up running.

An early road race

An early road race

Tibial Stress Fracture (July 2011-September 2011)

How it happened:

I ran every day for an hour on the treadmill.  I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to train fast every single day.  I thought to race faster you must train faster.  So every day I made the goal to beat the previous days mileage for 1 hour.  I was running between 7-7:15 pace for an hour.  Ultimately I was far more exhausted running 50 miles then I am now.  My body broke at a road race on my 21st birthday.

I learned more about myself than any other injury.  To be honest, I needed that injury to realize that training was idiotic.  My tibial stress fracture shaped my training to include a lot more easy miles.

Later that night still enjoying my 21st birthday...

Later that night still enjoying my 21st birthday…

 

Between 2011-2012, I improved and Pred in everything.

Cyst: August 2012-October 2012: 

How it happened: During September 2012, I developed a cyst in the arch of my foot.  The doctors still don’t know exactly how it formed it could have developed anywhere in my body.  They don’t believe it was running related, but it prevented me from running.  I am lucky it didn’t develop in my brain or somewhere very serious.   I was able to run with minimal pain until the cyst became large enough to rip the muscle from my bone.

After recovering for 2 months,  I came back and ran my fastest XC race.

After recovering for two months, I came back and ran my fastest XC race.

Ultimately I gave my bone two months to heal, and steroid shots took away the cyst.

Fractured Elbow (August 2013)

How it happened: While cooling down at a road race in August 2013, I was hit by a cyclist.  I was knocked to the ground, fracturing my elbow.  I was devastated but after a week, I was able to run slowly.  I decreased mileage for a while, but it ended up being the most nonserious elbow fracture I could have.  At the time, the decline in mileage was not great because I was training for my first marathon, NYCM.

It was so nonserious they just put a soft cast on

It was so nonserious break so they just put a soft cast on

In between August 2013-August 2014, I trained for my first marathon and then took some time off afterward.  I didn’t run consistently because the marathon burnt me out.  I also moved across the country and had a lot of life changes.

Metarsal Fracture (August 2014)

How it happened: 

Fast forward to August of 2014 and I received my other stress fracture in my second metatarsal.  In hindsight, I believe I upped my mileage too quickly.  Even though I was running easy, I think my mileage went up too fast.  At the time, I was training for my second marathon, Wineglass.  I healed by the time the marathon started, but it would have been dumb to run a marathon on a newly recovered stress fracture.  To be honest, I don’t think my heart was ready to race another marathon and to have an out was good for me.

Bum Butt (February 2015-March 2015)

How it happened:

I tweaked something running my second marathon and kept running.  Around mile 18, my butt started to throb.  Eventually by the end of the marathon, my whole left side was in pain.  Should I have finished the race?  Probably not…Did I PR? Yes…

Oh Phoenix...

I didn’t heal as fast as I should have because I continued to run after the marathon.  I took two weeks off (which helped) but then I ran too hard too fast.  Looking back, I made good progress and then threw it all away running again.  This is something I’m 100% kicking myself for…even though I had an excellent time at Shamrock 2015.  If I had taken a month off, I wouldn’t have had two months to deal with the issues.  I wrote more about what helped my butt, hamstring, IT band and everything else here.

When looking at my running injuries, I’ve realized I’ve had bad luck with some:

  • Foot cyst
  • Getting hit by a cyclist

And I’ve not trained smartly for others:

  • Tibial stress fracture
  • Metatarsal fracture
  • Bum Butt

I’ve received bone scans and gotten my calcium levels checked and despite a few breaks, I’m surprisingly in the normal range.   It was important to me to get those bone tests done.  My passion for running might come and go, but overall health does not.  There are other things in life that cannot be done without being physically healthy. I take a calcium and bone supplement daily as well as drinking milk and taking calcium rich sources.

There are many times I look back at my training and think: If I had taken a few more days off, or if I had realized that ache was a minor bone pain….but each is a lesson to move on.  I have learned that running in pain isn’t worth it to me.  

You cannot outrun health, and it will catch up to you. 

Question for you: Have you had a running injury before?

One Mistake I’m Glad I Made

Lately, I’ve been in a blogging funk, so I decided to participate in a blogging topic challenge. Many of the blog topics are ones I haven’t discussed in a lot of detail. Most of the posts will relate to my personal experience with running, but there might be exceptions too.

Blog Challenge 1: One mistake I’m glad I made

No one likes to make mistakes.  The feeling of failure can be one of the hardest emotions to come to terms with. However, if you can learn from a mistake, it’s hard to consider the mistake a failure.  We all live, and we all make mistakes.

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I’ve made plenty if mistakes in life, in relationships and of course in running too.  

One of my earliest errors in running was overtraining and receiving my first stress fracture.  

At the time, I wasn’t glad.  In fact, I was miserable and upset but in hindsight, I’m glad I made that mistake. Early into my running career, I was running too hard and too fast for every single run.  I was running every mile between 7-7:15.  My 5k PR was around 20 minutes, and I had never even attempted a half or full marathon.

(To compare now my easy runs are above 8:30 pace or untimed and my 5k PR is 18:22.  Running is also not stressful this way.) 

While I wasn’t running extremely high mileage (in the 40-50s), the constant pounding and hard running lasted about a month.  On July 12, 2011 (also known as my 21st birthday), I ran hard and ultimately ended with a severe tibial stress fracture.  Looking back, it’s fairly obvious the cause was overtraining.  

Since I was new and had no idea, I thought, of course, I was training well.  While injured, I took the time to look back at my training and I learned more about myself and running than I had previously.  I began learning that my body is not invincible.  Little pains can manifest themselves into larger issues. It was a lesson I needed to learn early!

If I had continued down that path of running, it would have been a disaster and honestly, I would be injured with something more serious.

During my two months of rest and recovery, I learned that running isn’t and never will be everything in my life. I also learned that it’s appropriate to listen to cues of injury. Taking a rest day here and there is far easier than taking 8+ weeks off.

My tibial stress fracture shaped my training now that I’m not afraid to run easier miles, cut back mileage or take rest days altogether. Just thinking about back to back 7-minute miles is enough to exhaust me.

Each injury teaches us something about ourselves. Instead of dwelling in the injury, I think it’s important to look back and realize what can be improved.

Questions for you:
What is one mistake you are glad you made?
Has an injury taught you something recently?

2016 Race Bucket List

As 2016 begins, I have started thinking about a race bucket list.  In a world where I stayed injury free and my schedule allowed I would be able to do all of the races I’ve had my eyes on. Who knows, I doubt I’ll get to all of them this year, but there are a few races I’ve had my eyes on!

2016 running race bucket list

January: 
The Carlsbad Half Marathon
I’ve heard this race is scenic and beautiful.  I was born in San Diego, and I’ve been dying to go back.  The half looks much flatter than the full marathon, plus San Diego weather beats the East Coast.

March: 
The Shamrock half marathon
2016 will (hopefully) be my fifth year running Shamrock.  I love the race series, and J&A does an excellent job putting the race together.  I recommend it to anyone!

It’s a flat, fast and crowd supported course and I would like to better my best Shamrock time of 1:25.14, if not just flat out PR.

At least I look jazzy right?

From last year

Shamrock Legacy: 
Year 1: 1:33.30
Year 2: 1:25.14
Year 3: 1:25.29
Year 4: 1:33:06 (two weeks post marathon and having hamstring/hip issues)

April: 
The April Fools half
The April Fools half marathon is where I set my PR 1.5 years ago.  The Atlantic City Race directors do an incredible job.  For being in such a large city, I love how low key the race is.  Plus it’s in a decent time of the year, and the only thing to worry about is how windy it is.

September: 
Air force half OR full
It scares me to put potentially another full marathon on the calendar. The fall is a very long time away.  My training has been going well, and if I can remain injury free, I would like to run either the Air Force half or full this year.  I’ve run two marathons and not enjoyed either but maybe the third time is a charm…or maybe not.

But hopefully I'll be more prepared than this if I choose that route.

But hopefully I’ll be more prepared than this if I choose that route.

I won’t run another full marathon until I have not only Pred in my shorter distances but am satisfied with my progress. Marathons are always there, and there is no reason to sign up until I’m ready to run another one.

Those are just a few races that come to mind.  I do plan to fill my schedule with plenty of 5ks, 10ks and halves, but these are a few I’ve had my eyes on!

There will be many races I’ll train and race untapered as a workout, and there are many races I’ll run after tapering and resting.

Questions for you:
Do you have a race bucket list? 
What is your all time favorite race?

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