I greatly underestimated the demands of my new job and overestimated being able to keep up with my training. Now I’m at the end of one my lowest mileage weeks since marathon recovery with no good plan for where to go with my running next. But let me back up…
The new job is great! So far I really like it. But it’s also extremely demanding. For the past two weeks I’ve spent most of my time meeting people, learning about the company and the work, and training. It’s sort of like being at a conference where I’m “on” all the time with no down time. I’ve also been working longer hours. In my old job I’d make up for slightly shorter days with a longer day when I worked from home. I’ll eventually be able to work from home at my new job, but now I need to be in the office to attend meetings and trainings. I’m allowed to set my own hours but have been mostly working 9-hour days because I don’t take lunch and don’t want it to seem like I’m skipping out early. And I’ve also started commuting the 1.5 miles (at least) to my office by walking, which takes me between 25 and 30 minutes. Some buildings I have to go to are slightly farther (1.6 miles, with 2 miles the farthest), and most days I have to walk back and forth between different buildings for meetings during the day. With all the miles I’m used to running, I wouldn’t have thought 3 miles of walking a day would be taxing. Maybe it’s because I’m also carrying a very heavy bag with my laptop, shoes, lunch, etc., but it is! Consequently, I’ve been exhausted, with no energy in the evenings to do anything except veg on the couch, much less strength training or blogging.
My first week at the new job (two weeks ago) I ran 5 days, 3 before work, for 26 miles total. That really did me in–combined with everything I mentioned above about my new job, I was so extremely exhausted. I did 3 easy runs, 1 tempo run at half marathon effort, and my first run at a more moderate long run pace. While that run was only 8 miles, I felt really good to be able to run it at faster than an easy pace. I also got in two sessions of strength training.
This past week didn’t go as well. I did a speed workout with 5 400-meter repeats on Monday and then didn’t run again until Saturday! Part of the reason was that we got snow–not as much as most places in the East got–but enough to muck up the trail and sidewalks with frozen clumps of snow and ice that would have made for difficult running. Saturday I went to the rolling hills of North Park with Jamie and was feeling off my game since I’m using to running flat routes. Today I had a good therapy session with Joanna and Ciara on our run (very humid and warm!) as I lamented my bad training cycle. Joanna was to be my training partner, as we planned to both do Hansons and train at the same paces. Joanna is having a great training cycle. While I’m thrilled that she’s having a great first experience with the Hansons’ method, I’m sad that I’m not able to train with her. I ended this week with just 16.66 (ha!) miles and did two strength training sessions.
Last week, at the advice of a woman from our group run, I wore my heart rate monitor. She said that if my heart rate is spiking on easy runs, it would be that my cardiac system isn’t recovered, which could explain my difficulty hitting paces. But that’s not the case. My heart rate was pretty low, even during my intervals in my speed workout. I don’t know how it could be that I feel like I’m running at 95% effort but am nowhere close to that? In general, I’m still not getting any faster on either my speed workouts or half marathon effort runs. This would have been 11 weeks into training–shouldn’t I expect to see some improvement at this point? I’m planning to see my doctor to get bloodwork done and make sure everything’s right. But the worry about why I still can’t hit my paces is pretty much always on my mind.
I just really don’t know what to do from here. On one hand, I understand that my new job is putting new demands on me. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’m giving myself too much leeway on training and not pushing myself enough (as my low heart rate on the speed workout would indicate). I also don’t know what to do training-wise. I feel like my chance for a good half marathon in April is shot, especially when I’m seeing that there’s no way I can ramp up given the demands of my new job. And I really don’t want to just run it for fun. I feel like I always do that and really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone as my main goal for this year. Should I just run when I can to keep my fitness and build up to a good base and focus on my ultimate goal for this year, a fall marathon? Should I make the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler my goal race instead, where it might be more feasible for me to be able to race it and run strong? Or should I forget about distance for right now, focus instead on getting acclimated to my new job, and then start 5K training in a month or so? I’m thinking of joining the Hansons’ online group coaching forum to ask their opinion since I can’t afford personal coaching right now.
One good thing to report is that I’m doing pretty good with my weight loss efforts. I forgot to weigh myself this week, but last week I was down 2 pounds and already my clothes are fitting a little better. I’m just doing the things I previously did with losing weight–focusing on eating whole, quality foods and limiting sweets and treats. I’ve also been doing good with fitting in strength training. With my running mojo suffering right now, I’m happy I can at least do well on the weight loss and strength training fronts.
Until I get an answer from the Hansons’ coaches and decide what to do with running right now, I’m just going to keep playing it by ear and doing what I can while I’m settling into my job.