As I eased back into running after a one-week break that was preceded by half marathon training that went from bad to worse to nonexistent, I thought about where to go from here. I thought about where I’m at now and where I want to go. I thought about what matters the most to me and how to fit those things into my life. I’m thrilled to say I have a new plan and a path forward!
I went to my doctor this past week and got lab work done. Everything’s normal. This backs up what I suspected, that my lackluster running performance was likely caused by not enough recovery after marathon training and then enhanced by the physical and mental stresses of a new job and routine and post-marathon weight gain. In other words, I’m just in a slump.
As I reflected about what’s most important to me, I asked myself if training for and running a second marathon this year is important and worth the sacrifices I’ll need to make. The answer: Absolutely yes. My yearning for redemption hasn’t died. But more than just wanting to run a good race, I really liked marathon training. I like the slower paces and the longer runs. My marathon training cycle last year was the best training I’ve ever done, and it made me feel strong and awesome in a way that no other training has. I want that again. Luckily, I have more than five months to get out of my slump before training starts. Definitely possible.
With another week of little running, I continue to feel normal, with no fatigue and a lot of energy. I’m definitely getting settled into my new job and routine. I’m now biking to work most days, except when it’s raining or I’m wearing a dress that would be difficult to bike in. The round-trip commute is only 3.2 miles, and part of that is walking to my office from my bike parking spot. I’m not comfortable on a bike and tense up as soon as I start biking because I’m worried about crashing. People, more so than cars, are a big threat. While I don’t bike on roads and part of my route is a protected bike lane, you’d be surprised how many people step out right in front of me in the bike lane without even looking. I’ve only been biking for a few weeks, and twice I had to hit my brakes hard and swerve to avoid hitting the person. Cars turning left into the bike lane are actually very polite and wait for me to pass before turning, so far at least. So while I don’t love biking, I’m getting used to it, and it really cuts down on my commute and isn’t as tiring.
I’m ready to start running again, but I want to be sure I ease back into a routine that is in line with my current fitness and fits in with my work schedule. It’s been a while since I stopped formally training, and I want more structure, but not something that will push me beyond my current limits. I’ve decided that distance training is definitely out. The runs are just too long to fit with my work schedule, and my body is obviously feeling much better with less running. One of my goals for the year was to train for a shorter distance this spring, so that’s what I’m going to do next. I found a plan that fits great with my life right now and will, I hope, help me build fitness for a good foundation prior to marathon training. Starting this week, I’m going to do Coach Jenny Hadfield’s 10-week advanced 5K training plan, which you can find for free here.
Her plans are geared toward new runners, so the advanced plan is really only advanced if you’ve never run before. Here’s why I picked it.
- Four runs a week seem very doable for me. I’ll only have to run three times during the work week and will be able to shift the runs around to plan around bad weather. Plus, I’ll have Sundays off, which is awesome considering how much I found I liked not running all weekend. You know, I’d never before thought of not running both weekend days. Thanks to everyone who suggested taking a weekend day off. It makes so much sense!
- Runs are time-based instead of mileage-based, so I can easily see that this plan will fit in with my work schedule. During the work week, I won’t have to run more than one hour, which is doable. It was the two-hour runs that I did on Hansons that were so difficult to do before work.
- There are two workouts and two easy runs a week. I know I need workouts to challenge myself, get faster, and improve, but I really love my easy runs. I’m happy that with this plan I’ll still get to do two easy runs a week. The two workouts are a speed workout and a progressive long run.
- Runs are based on effort (or heart rate) and not pace. This is a must for me since I’m so much slower now and don’t want to be constantly disappointed that I can’t hit paces. Coach Jenny gives an idea of how hard or easy you should be running based on how you’re feeling on her scale of effort as well as by heart rate. I know that heart rate can vary based on a number of different factors other than how much your body is working (like sleep and even caffeine), but I like that there are two factors I can use other than pace to gauge how hard I should be working.
- Two days a week are devoted to cross training and strength training. Of course I want to continue strength training, but when I first looked at the plan I considered using one of the cross training days as another easy run day. I don’t like the traditional cross training options of biking or swimming and would rather run. But I started thinking about what else I could do. I like Zumba and dance cardio. I also have some good cardio DVDs, including some routines to do on my Bosu ball, as well as a number of HIIT routines from magazines. Doing some higher intensity workouts will definitely help me achieve another big goal for the year–getting back down to my normal weight–than easy running will.
So, not only will this plan help build running fitness that I feel I can do at my current level of fitness, but I’m hoping it will also help me with my weight loss goals. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited!
Speaking of weight loss, I’ve been doing great. After I lost two pounds, I had one very bad week after my bad 10-mile race when I felt like I’d never be able to run again and ate everything in sight. It didn’t help that I’d just discovered the Scandinavian Swimmers at Trader Joe’s (their version of Swedish Fish). So I basically gained back that weight. But since then I’ve been doing awesome and am motivated for the good habits to continue. Another motivation was that I bought a pair of Go Longer Shorts during a recent Skirt Sports sale. I’ve been wanting to try them. I bought a size medium and almost cried when I tried them on and they were too tight. I then tried on my Lulu Tracker Shorts I wore all last year–uh, yeah, too tight. I refuse to buy a size up, especially when I want to lose, so I absolutely have to get back to my normal weight to be able to fit into my summer running clothes. My weight-loss goal is to fit into my shorts! I’ve said this before, but at my leanest, I did much more strength training than cardio, so this week I made sure to get a lot in.
And with that novel-length pre-amble, here’s the weekly recap of workouts!
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Easing back into running; starting 5K training March 13
- Days running: 2
- Miles this week: 7.18
- Miles this month: 7.18
- Miles in February: 93.5
- Miles this year: 217.3
- Strength training sessions: 5 (94 minutes)
Monday: I did a new full-body 30-minute strength routine from a recent issue of Women’s Health Magazine (can’t find it online). It was crazy hard! I couldn’t even do some of the exercises and had to modify them.
Tuesday: Easy 3-mile run before work. In the evening I did 8 minutes of core exercises.
Wednesday: I did 12 minutes of upper body and core exercises.
Thursday: Rest day. This was to be the last nice day before winter came back, and I planned to run. Unfortunately, I accidentally set my alarm an hour later than I should have. I got dressed in my running clothes and was getting ready to leave when I noticed it was getting light out, which shouldn’t happen at 5:15 a.m. When I realized it was 6:15, I kicked myself. I need to be in the shower by about 6:20 to get to work on time, so I had no time to run. I did end up getting seven walks in during the day (this was the only day of the week I walked instead of biked to work), which sounds like a lot, but I think this is pretty common for anyone who lives in the city and has a dog.
- 20-minute morning dog walk
- 30-minute walk to work
- 15-minute walk to another building for a meeting
- 15-minute walk back
- 30-minute walk home
- 15-minute dog walk when I got home
- 45-minute walk with Dave and the dog because it was so nice
Friday: We ended up getting much less snow than the forecast called for, but I just wasn’t motivated to run. So I didn’t. Instead, I did 20 minutes of legs and core strength training.
Saturday: The real feel was 5 degrees, but I only planned to do four miles so headed to the group run. My toes were frozen the whole time, and the wind was brutal. Our group went very slow and easy, which was exactly what I needed.
It was too cold to take the dog for a long walk. Instead, in the most unexciting news ever, we got a new toilet. It’s a dual-flush toilet, so that’s the most exciting thing about it. We plan to redo our bathroom this year, including a new toilet, sink, floors, and ceiling to fix water damage. Dave thought he could put in the new toilet on his own, and he did! We are not DIY people, so I was pretty impressed. While Dave was doing that, I deep-cleaned some kitchen appliances and did a big trash pickup on our street since there was so much litter from last week’s strong winds.
Sunday: I did a 24-minute cardio-blasting strength training routine from Women’s Health Magazine. It’s the “Cardio Blaster” workout from the below. It really got my heart pumping, and I was sweating like crazy!
Now that I’m feeling normal again, I plan to up my blogging game. I want to get back to two or three posts a week and want to post about activewear again, which I haven’t in forever. This week I’ll have a Fabletics review, but for now, here’s my outfit from today’s workout. I’m wearing Fabletics Salar Capris (my favorite Fabletics piece) and a grey-striped white Athleta Chi Tank.
One last announcement is that Steff, a fantastic ambassador for Pittsburgh run bloggers, started a weekly linkup for recaps from Pittsburgh run bloggers. Be sure to check out the linkup to learn what other Pittsburgh runners are up to!