Taking a breather

I’ve been fighting this nearly all summer, but I’ve finally decided to take just a bit of a running breather.  I’ll still run to maintain fitness, but I’ve been feeling pretty fried, so nothing with any intensity.  As I think back, I’ve been training pretty hard (for me at least) for about a 18 months.  I’ve loved the progress I’ve made, but this summer it’s really started to feel more like a chore.

 

When I first started working with a coach to improve my running, I recall feeling a bit scared when I started to see intense workouts on my schedule.  Prior to that, I had only put in the mileage, but nothing more.  I remember the first few fartleks, speed runs, tempo runs and threshold runs and that feeling of utter exhaustion at the end.  But, I always came back wanting more.  In fact, Thursdays became my favorite running day because I knew I’d be doing some tempo work.  I had that “I can’t wait to tackle another tough run” feeling all last summer, over the fall and winter, and even into the spring this year leading up to the Glass City Marathon.

This summer, I just haven’t been able to get into it.  Most runs felt more like a sentence than a challenge.  So, after fighting it for a couple months by thinking, “I just need to push through this,” I’ve decided to take a little breather and get my head and heart back into it.  Backing off the intensity will also allow a couple of little niggly aches and pains to heal up too.

Stop pushing
Stop pushing

My ‘A’ race this year is December 2, so I have a bit of time to spare before I really need to start that training cycle in earnest.  And I want to be ready to attack that cycle like I have in the past.  So, until then, I’m going to run when I want to run, and not worry about time and pace and weekly totals.  I’ve already been doing this for the past 4 or 5 days and I can already feel a difference in my attitude.

First summer results

As I’ve said before, I’ve decided to take some time this summer to work on speed in shorter races in hopes that it will also prove to help my longer race times.  When I started running in the fall of 2009, I did a 5K, then a 10K.  Since then, every (solo) race I’ve run has been either a marathon or a half marathon, so I thought it would do me some good to shake things up a bit and see how I’d fare at shorter distances.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and was my first opportunity to see if I’ve made progress.  I ran the Celebrate Summer Series 10K in Loveland, Ohio.  The only other 10K I’ve ever run was the Thanksgiving Day 10K in 2009, so I was pretty sure I’d be able to PR at this distance.  I remember waiting for the start of the race on that cold day a few years ago wondering if I’d even be able to finish the race because prior to that day, I had never run more than 5 miles at one time.  When I crossed the finish line that Thanksgiving day, I was proud of myself for making it without walking.  I had run the course in 1:04:24, an average pace of 10:21 per mile.  When I read back through that blog post, I have to laugh at just how much I didn’t know!

June had been a brutally hot month here in southwest Ohio, just as it had been for most of the midwest and east coast.  Record-breaking high temperatures seemed like a daily occurrence, and that made for some steamy training runs.  June was also the most inconsistent month of training I’ve had since I started taking improved performance seriously.  I’m a pretty structured guy and I like to stick to my plans, but that just didn’t happen well this June.  I have no one to blame but myself, so no excuses.  I did the workouts, but I didn’t do them with the kind of dedication I have been putting in over the last year or so.  Yesterday, that lack of focus smacked me in the face, so I have renewed motivation to make the rest of the summer far more productive.

The day began as many have recently:  high temperatures with high humidity.  My wife and I got to the race at about 6:45AM at it was already topping 80F, but the humidity was the worst part.  90% humidity made it feel like trying to breathe underwater.  Never-the-less, it was race day and it was time to get to work.  We got our bibs all sorted out, did a bit of a warmup run, then waited for the gun to go off at 7:30AM.  When it finally did, I did my best to find the right rhythm to keep me at the pace I wanted to run.  I had planned to try for 46:00 or somewhere close, and I thought I’d do that starting out the first mile at 7:25 then ratcheting it down a bit with each mile.  Within the first mile, I could tell that a 7:25 pace felt like far more work than it should, and I’d blow up if I kept it there, so I backed off a bit.  I never really did find a groove, and my splits were all over the board.  In the end, I ran a 47:13 for an average pace of 7:37 per mile.  Definitely far better than my first 10K, but not where I wanted it to be.  I know the heat and humidity played a role, but I really think my lack of focussed training was the bigger culprit.  I did manage to score my first hardware at a running race by placing third in my age group, so that was fun.  Once I got home and saw the official results, I also found out I came in 8th overall (out of a little over a hundred).  Also pretty cool.

The best part of the day, however, was seeing my wife complete her first 5K in about 4 years.  She’s been working very hard at C25K, and this was her graduation race!  I couldn’t be more proud of her.  She never stopped to walk at all, even despite the heat.  She now has her eyes set on a 10K later this summer and I’m sure she’ll nail that too.  Here we are just prior to the race.

Michelle and I prior to the Celebrate Summer 5K/10K
Michelle and I, prior to the Celebrate Summer 5K/10K