Blogging Challenge, Running, Running Reads

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?

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Running, Running Reads, Training, Training

Lessons Learned from Running

I’ve been running for about five years now. I’m not a professional; I’m not an expert, and I’m certainly not a coach. Throughout my five years, I’ve learned several lessons both the easy way and the hard way.  Lately I’ve had time to reflect on a few lessons I’ve learned.

lessons learned from running

Here are a few more pieces of advice and information I’ve picked up the last few years of running.

The most important rule:

Get the right shoes.

Compared to many other sports, running is not an expensive sport.

However, your shoes will be the most expensive. The majority of people do not need inserts nor is it necessary for a 200 dollar shoe. When being fitted, you should expect to pay between 120-150 for a pair. For your first pair of shoes, it’s important to have a quick and painless gait analysis. Most any local running store can do it. From there they will determine the most appropriate shoes for you. If you look for the cheapest option online, and they don’t work for you, you are not going to be running.

There's a shoe for that...
There’s a shoe for that…

On the same line, there is a shoe for everyone. For example, some people can get away running in Nike Frees. 99.9% of us can’t.

Start Easy

Before I ran, I was a swimmer. Swimming puts a lot less pressure on your bones, joints and body in general. Collegiate swimming had us in the pool every day from 2-4 hours. If you ran 4 hours daily, you would end up with multiple stress fractures and injuries.

Technical Fabric

If you can run in cotton and not chafe, this does not apply to you. Certain fabrics can prevent blisters, chafing and being uncomfortable. These days there are windproof jackets, jackets that light up and glow in the dark and jackets that allow you to run in -30. None of these things you need but if they make you happy…go for it.

So much winter technology...
So much winter technology…

Set small goals and keep a training log:

Reaching smaller goals keeps your motivation strong. If you feel as though you’ve been chasing the same larger goals for months or years…maybe it’s time to set a smaller goal. Similarly, you don’t know what is working if you aren’t recording it.  You cannot make it to the top of the mountain in one step, you have to take a series of steps.

My goal ladder during my first stress fracture.
My goal ladder during my first stress fracture.

Finally: The most Important.”

Everyone is a runner. Whether you are running 4-minute miles or running your first mile ever. You are a runner whether you like it or not.

Runners everywhere!
Runners everywhere!

Question for you:

What are some lessons you have learned about running or life?

If you have any questions, for someone who works at a running store…let me know! 🙂 

 

Running, Training

Training: Recovery & 5ks

I spent most of the previous week recovering from the RnR Half Marathon. To be honest, I’m still recovering from the race as well as whatever sickness I’ve had.  Since the Bone Run, I haven’t had any remarkable runs that I’m particularly happy with.  RnR was a solid effort for how I was feeling at the time.  I came off such a high from racing in October, I hope I don’t spiral into a low for November!

Monday: Easy
Tuesday: Easy run
Wednesday: 4X1 mile with 90 seconds rest (6:44, 6:15, 6:36, 6:13) Core
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy run
Saturday Easy run
Sunday:  5k (19:30)
 Total:  66 miles

As you can see, it was relatively low key and boring week. My calves are sore from last week. My easy runs were uneventful, as they should be.

Workout Wednesday: 4X1 mile with 90 seconds rest (6:44, 6:15, 6:36, 6:13)

I plan to continue to do mile repeats until after the Philadelphia Marathon. Then I will be switching it up. My first and third miles are uphill and the second, and fourth miles are down hill. I felt as if I was working a lot harder than I should for these. I was glad that I felt better towards the end, though.

On Sunday, I ran a local 5k.  Long story short, I felt awful, I looked awful, and the race went exactly like that.  However, instead of running a 20+ minute 5k I ran a 19:30…so to be honest I have no complaints.  It’s motivating to see that even when I don’t feel good, my pace is still faster than it was previously.  It served as a great workout and I even negative split and ran (6:11, 6:20, 6:06).

me 5k
At least I won the worlds largest trophy…or something.

I let the other stuff like core and plyo go this week. My legs are sore, and I wanted to promote recovery. I’ll get back into that next week.

Thoughts:

Hopefully by the end of next week I’ll feel a lot better. This week and next are training right through races. I still plan to race. However, I’ll be surprised if they are close to my PR times. I’m currently focusing on Philadelphia half so each race until then will serve as a “speed workout”. If I can consistently run between 19:30-19:45 on tired legs, I’ll be happy.

Questions for you:

What is your next goal race?

Is sickness going around where you are?

Running, Running Reads, Training

Some Runs are Just Awful

I decided to link up with Brittany. She is cohosting a link up party. The theme is to take an old blog post and give it new life. I chose this one from about 2 years ago.  It’s funny to look back at old posts because my grammar was so terrible.   It’s still not great now but it’s a slow progression.

I think the post will always be important and relevant to runners. 

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There is something about blogging and the unsaid need to “live perfectly”.  Most people share bits and pieces of their lives but never the full story.  

When we have a bad run or race, do we choose to share the bad?

When we fail a test or quiz do we choose to broadcast it? 

When do something incredibly stupid that ends up costing a lot, do we choose to share?

Here are a few preventable but costly mistakes I’ve made:  Locked my keys in my car several times,  slid on ice into a police car, lost my wallet with a few hundreds dollars as well as credit cards, dropped an expensive piece of equipment and had to pay for it (the list is endless believe me).  

While this post is mostly about bad runs and races, I believe it can be applied to multiple parts of life.

As runners we are going to have awful races.  There has to be a best race and there has to be a worst race.  Typing a post saying “a race was the worst race of my life” does not add the drama of finishing a race in hysterics and crying. While I’ve never finished a race in hysterics, reading text on a blog post removes emotion. 

As a runner I’ve had some seriously awful races. I could spend 500 words for each race whining and begging for attention.  Yet I don’t because I’ve learned from each race.  Each race has molded me into the runner I am today.

Here are a few that I categorize as awful races:

  • The Turning Stone half marathon in August of 2013
    • Cliff notes: stomach issues and heavy legs.
  • The Binghampton 5k in December 2013.
    • Cliff notes: heavy legs that felt like bricks.  This was my first goal race after injury and I failed miserably.
  • The Long Branch Half marathon in April of 2014.
    • Cliff notes: My stomach thought it might explode. Luckily my friends Heather and Laura made up for that and we had a great time.  I went into the race wanting to win and I definitely did not…but I finished and moved on. 

Recently:

  • Haddon Hearts 5k in December 2014.
    • Cliff notes: I had a solid positive split and my lungs, legs and everything felt heavy.
  • The Phoenix Marathon.
    • Cliff notes: I finished the marathon and realized a few hours later you are in a lot of pain. It wasn’t worth it.

With all of these negative races I have had positive races too! I’m just using these as examples that every race doesn’t go as planned!

After going back and reading the race recaps and reading them, it’s hard to believe how awful they really were. At the time I was miserable.

Bloggers: 

As bloggers and athletes we may feel the need to report that every race and run was perfect.

Isn’t the goal of a training cycle to end with perfect race?

The reality is that a perfect race doesn’t always happen and not every run or race is great, good, mediocre or even fun.

Some just runs just flat out suck.

Your body will be in pain for no apparent reason.

You will be unable to hold a pace because it just isn’t your day. Not because you didn’t try but because it isn’t your day.

You might have stomach issues despite eating the exact same thing you eat before every race.

For every good race we have, there is always a bad race. If everything was easy we would all be Olympians.  If you let the bad races bother you your training will stay at a standstill.

Every week I have at least one run that I feel awful. With the summer heat and humidity that is more like 2…or 3…or 6…

I question if I’m going to even make it back to my house.

I question all of my running ability and if I will ever run fast again.

Every week I can guarantee you I have one of those runs.  Some weeks I have 2…3..or all the runs are like that…then I ask my legs wtf are you doing.

I hate running.
I hate running.

Each week I normally also have a run that I’m like wow this feels awesome.

I love running
I love running

Where is this energy coming from? I normally never expect it and I hope it lines up with a race.  Those are the good runs that make me forget about the bad runs.

If you get caught up in the bad runs, then you don’t have time or mental space for good runs.

What I’m trying to say is this…

There is no secret…you will have bad runs.

Being imperfect in life makes you a human.

Don’t dwell on a bad run.  In reality, none of these bad runs will effect you for long.  The bad runs make the good runs feel better. As I said, if every run was perfect we would all be Olympic World Champions in everything and even they have plenty of less than stellar runs.

Questions for you: 

What has been your worst race to date?  Your best? 

How do you deal with set backs? 

Reads

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

comparison, thief of joy

In the above photos, I’m running my fastest 5k of 2014, a not so great 5k and finally a 10k PR.  

They say that “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

Comparison to others…

Comparison to yourself in the past…

Comparison to yourself in the present…

Comparison to yourself in the potential future…

The comparison game is tough.  The comparison game is something I am struggling with in running right now.

During the last few weeks I’ve found myself thinking and comparing to previous fitness levels. When I was previously training for 5ks in 2012, I was consistently running 19:00-19:10 5ks. Almost every 5k I did was logged in that second frame.

I didn’t run each 5k within seconds of each other on on purpose but that was where my fitness was. In fact I began to get frustrated with those races too! I remember thinking I would never break the 19 minute barrier (spoiler: I did).  Running is a funny sport that you never seem to feel satisfied!

I would run 19:30+ on cross country and hilly courses. When I ran a time in that frame, I believed the race wasn’t as successful.

The truth is I’m not at the fitness level right now and that would be a be a great time for me. In fact, the 19:40 I ran on Sunday was my most successful 5k of the summer!

As life changes, it’s important to realize that fitness changes too.  For instance in college, I was probably in the best shape of my life. Not only was I recording PRs with cardio (cross country and swimming), I was also strong. I had a lot more time to workout. I was overall strong and my fitness reflected that.

Now over three years after college, my time is more limited. While I don’t have children, I don’t have unlimited time to work out. First, I’m not on any “teams”. I don’t have a plethora of time to spend dedicated to working out. I run in the morning and generally go to work.

This has led me to some serious thinking about goals for myself. I think it’s important to make goals for where you are currently. While facing the reality of not being as “fit” stinks, making goals that are unattainable only sets you up for more disaster.

Being honest with yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. I’ve stopped comparing myself with old fitness levels and past races.

In life you must grow and adapt to the place you are, not the place you were. The past helps most the future but we can’t let the past take up too much time in the present.