Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: February 2015

Belt Tools and Cap Feathers: It’s Marathon Week!

It’s marathon week.  Holy shit.  In theory, I know how that happened but how in the actual fuck did that happen already?  All the exclamatory swear words!!!


I wrote this big long post with stupid bulletpoints and basically including my shopping list and dates and times of what I want to do what and where and that’s just so not in the spirit of this training block where I sought out improvement and consistency with a vague intent instead of a detailed plan and executed pretty darn well.  So let’s back it up, flip it, and reverse this noise.

Let’s even go out of order and start with the goal I’d like to accomplish during the race.  How’s that for whatever the fuck I feel like? Ha!

It has nothing to do with finishing time.  I’ve visualized this multiple times and while the “I’m flying way faster than expected and PR by like 30 mins with ease” version gives me a few more smiles than “I went wayyyyyy to conservatively at the beginning and now I’m sprinting for 4:59:59” version, I’ll be happy with the result either way.

Yep, I want to run this bad boy with a negative split.  A very significant one.  Is that the fastest possible way a marathon can be run?  Probably not.  Is it the fastest way that I think I can run a marathon right now?  Possibly, considering it’s the way I’ve been running in training.  Is it going to be a great exercise in patience and mental fortitude and a feather in my cap and a tool in my belt if I can do it?  Absolutely.  So, for that last reason alone, it is my plan.

And, as they say, if you continue to do the same thing you always have, you’ll get the same results.  Each of the 3 marathons I’ve done, I’ve a) headed out at 10:30-11 min miles b) gotten discouraged because it felt really hard somewhere between 13-16 and c) walk/run to the finish significantly slower than I intended.

That’s made it so I’ve not run up to my potential in a marathon, or felt like I’ve *raced* one vs just completing.  It’s not even the walking.  I walked the hills in Kerrville last year, but I still feel like I finally raced it, and I wasn’t quite sure how to quantify it until just now.  It had nothing to do with the finish time, but looking at my splits, they were damn consistent.

I walked, but guess what?  I walked that damn hill every time, and I’m convinced that if it wouldn’t have been hot as fuck and/or it would have been flatter, I wouldn’t have had to walk at all.  I may have to put my money where my mouth is this year because I think the new trail is done and my excuses for not running the whole damn thing are gone.  However, I absolutely believe that at no point I had given up or blew up or started racing for a revised goal time or stopped racing for a goal time at all and that is what mattered. The fourth 70.3 was a charm.


Here’s hoping the 4th marathon is a charm as well.  To that end, I want to take my normal plan, flip it, and reverse it.  I don’t want to even think about *racing* until the last 1/3rd.  Here’s the current plan:

0-13.1 – Run happy through the trees.  No pace target at all, frankly, I’ll have my watch on the cadence/HR screen.  I’ll see mile splits but that’s it.  The goal here will be to keep my HR at 150 or below.  No music.  Gel at 45-60 mins, gel around 1h30-1h45.  Just running a nice easy half marathon with a few thousand of my closest friends.

13.1-17 – Transition period.  Still not a pace target, but here’s where I start paying attention to cadence (as close to 90 as possible).  Heart rate can climb a bit but should stay under 160.  Caff gel around 14 to stave of the 15 mile crash.  Headphones on sometime during this period, but leave them off as long as I can stand it because that is one of the boosters on my rocketship to fire (and I don’t want to fire them too early).

17-20 – Start the kick.  Leave behind the heart rate/cadence screen and start paying attention to the pace screen.  If all goes decently well, I expect to be around 11:15 avg when I finally flip it over, but whatever it is, it is.  The goal here is to start targeting each mile to be 20-30 seconds faster than the average pace.

20-26.2 – Run it down.  Goal for this one is to work that average pace faster.  If my pace is 11:15, I’ll try to run down the average of 10:45 overall by the time I get to 26.2.

This is a fairly detail heavy plan, and I’m only laying it out this much because there’s a lot of time to think in 5 hours of running, give or take, and it may help me to have a focus.  The simple plan is: a) run the first half super easy and b) ramp up the next quarter comfortably hard and c) run the last quarter with all you got.

It’s entirely possible this plan could roll me over the finish line with a personal worst.  I would really like to have a marathon PR that starts with 4 instead of 5 and I’d love to have an average pace that starts with 10 instead of 11, but those are secondary goals. Successfully executing on a race plan will be worth it even if I don’t meet any other standards.

There are things that terrify me about this race and situation.  Obviously, leaving the kick til the end is risky.  What if I can’t do it?  It will be a challenge to hit under 5 hours and I’ll have flubbed my plan if I go out slow and find I can’t speed up to finish.  All the niggles last week from my legs waking up are normal but damned if they don’t get my brain in a tizzy every time.

Traveling to a race with my parents is going to be a challenge as well – we’re used to doing what THEY want most of the time on their schedule on trips.  They’ll have to understand that our bedtime is 7pm on Friday.  They’ll have to understand that food is what and when I want it until Sunday morning and there is no dilly dally.  They’ll have to understand that I may have a few hours of coherence the afternoon after the marathon, or I may need to lay in bed most of the day both tweaked out on caffeine and also exhausted.  Communicating this to them should help, and I am pretty impervious to guilt once I tell people how it’s gonna be and they don’t listen, but it’s still a thing to think about.

The weather is both a source of frustration and joy.  Unless throws me a curve ball, it will be the best conditions I’ve ever had for a major race.  Right now, Friday night is supposed to be a low of 37, so it should start in the 40s, I presume.  The high that day is 60, it’s supposed to be cloudy, and breezy but not gusty or super duper windy or rainy.  However, they day before is significantly cooler and the day after is significantly warmer and rainy, so things could definitely change as weather patterns solidify.  I just really would like to set aside my race clothes, please!

With all the unknowns and pre-race nerves and things to consider aside – I get to spend my morning running through a gorgeous 25 miles (and about 1.2 miles in a mall, LOL) of The Woodlands, TX with people there to fill my handheld and give me gels if I need it and cheer for me and celebrate 5 solid months of consistent and regular running this winter.  You can’t knock that if you tried.

Just a few more (as long as possible) sleeps, short runs (with as much stretching and rolling possible after), and a short road trip, and it’s go time.  Let’s do this!

The Void

It’s the second week of taper, and the light is starting to flash at the end of the tunnel as the fatigue starts to clear.  However, I’m also aware that this light is attached to a big painful thing barreling down at me called racing 26.2 miles that will be upon me in less than 12 days.


I’m reading this sci fi book, where they talk about the Void Which Binds (in this case, man and machine).  I fell asleep thinking about the concept of the void in that how it relates to my marathoning.

There is a void between the training I have been able to accomplish for this race and any other.  Sure, I keep saying that I’ve done a 21, 20, 18, 16, 15, 12, 11, and (whatever sub-half marathon distance I do this weekend, 10-12 miles planned), which seems to be rather adequate.

However, to be quite honest, going back over the whole marathon season, I’ve also got a 16.5, a 20, a 14, an 18, a 10, and a 26.2 from October and November.  That’s 14 double digit runs, 9 runs over half marathon distance, and 4 20+ mile runs.  And, that’s not even mentioning the nice weekly volume I’ve been keeping even on weeks where my longest run was 6-7 miles.  This. is. how. we. do.

There is a void between what I feel like I’m prepared to accomplish at a marathon and what I’ve been able to actually do on race day.  Maybe it’s a product of consistent running over the last 5 months, but I feel like if I can stay out of my own way, I might be able to come closer to that next weekend.  I know I said I was going to consider running this one easy, but I may have underestimated how well my training would go and feel like I’d like to try something different.

I always start too fast in marathons.  Not that I go out all happy puppy, I stick to my plan, but my plan forgets to factor in that my body takes a while to get going and all runs unless I try real hard not to do so are progression runs for me.  Running the first miles at MGP is like a death knell for me.  For some people, they may try to run fairly even splits or bank some time in the beginning, but my body just doesn’t fucking work that way and I need to stop making it try because I’m nervous about having the oomph on the back half to achieve my overall desired pace.

The 16 mile run I just did this weekend, I was able to jog the first ten at 11:25s and in the last 6, I kicked and ran it down so my OVERALL average (for the 16) was almost 30 seconds per mile faster (10:58s).

Let me say that again.  By saving my energy on the first 2/3rds of 16 miles – I was able to change an easy jog to a marathon goal pace run.  I won’t lie, it took a bit of mental effort to flick that switch.  It’s downright uncomfortable to start that kick (a bit physically, but mostly mentally).  However, after a mile or two, it became the new normal and I hung with it and it wasn’t so bad except the feels like 80 and full sun.  And…it probably took less effort overall. I’m naturally a fast finisher as long as I don’t wear myself out too much at the beginning.  I think, if I can accomplish this, I’ll feel like I have *raced* my first marathon.

On race day, I know my gremlins start to really come out and cackle and weave their words in my brain around mile 15-16.  Each time, I’ve reached into the void and found nothing but “fuck, this is really hard/really hot/bad cramps/so long to go” and slowed to a walk, when each time, I’ve completed a 20 mile run with ZERO walking during training.  If I was stopping to walk around mile 22+, that’s possibly physical.  Stopping before 20 is all mental unless something completely abnormal is wrong because I’ve done 6 of those in training, and not once have I taken a walk break.

This marathon, my goal is take a leap of faith into the void.  It terrifies me to start so conservatively.  I’ve never raced 16-17 easy miles and then been able to kick anything but a can on the side of the road during my walk intervals I have invariably started by then.  If I roll with this easy run then kick strategery, I’ll be asking myself to not only fight through the demons in the mid-to-late teen miles to stay strong, I’ll be asking myself to accelerate.

I still maintain that I have no time goal besides beating 5 hours if I’m ON.  This is simply the level of effort I wish to put into this race.  If that results in a 5+ hour marathon, so be it.  I want to turn the switch on and see what I can do the last 1/3rd of the race no matter the result.  If it fucking sucks, I’ll know to try something else next time.

And maybe that’s how you have to beat the demons.  Maybe you can only lose them by jumping headfirst into the void.  I’ll find out in approximately 11 days and 18 hours.

On Running Alone

Back on Halloween, my husband and I were training for a marathon together and then the next day, he went and fought a bear.  This resulted in three fractures in his leg.  So, not only was he out of the Space Coast Marathon four weeks later, he also was sidelined for the Woodlands Marathon (and the whole 3 month training cycle before it) coming up the last day in February.


I had some history trying to train for a marathon by myself, and it wasn’t pretty.  I had two attempts, which started with fits and starts and quickly fizzled into an Olympic triathlon plan and then next time pacing Zliten’s first half instead.  The third time I limped along, getting a 20 mile run cobbled together from mileage before and after a half marathon race, and two other long runs, but overall, I had poor and inconsistent training.  While I had a blast, I walked at lot of the second half.  After I got over the high of “I want to run all the marathons” post race, I kind of vowed not to do another marathon before Zliten was ready because I would much rather spend those long training runs with him.  And now… I had to deal with it all by my lonesome.

My training that last month was OK, but inconsistent, and riddled with questions and uncertainty.  Everything just felt… off.  I lost most of a week to nursing what I thought was something major but ended up just being muscle soreness.  I felt a little disconnected from the process and just kind of went through the motions to prepare for a race.

That showed up during the marathon itself as well.  I let my head get the best of me during a lot of the hard parts instead of digging in.  I had actually planned to hang with Zliten at least during the first half as my race plan, and when that removed itself from possibility, I just never really got over that.  Running by yourself for five hours (I mean, surrounded by people, but strangers) is just plain rough if you’ve had a constant run buddy for, like, 3 years.

After that race, I took 9 days with no running, and the next 5 with very little, and set my decision point at the end of December.  Was I going to go for the marathon or drop to the half?  The first thing I had to decided was if I hated running enough to train for a marathon without a partner.  I was very gentle with myself that month.  I took no electronics on my runs.  I ran whatever pace, whatever mileage, and whenever I felt like. I found a weird and wonderful routine over the holidays of lazing around all day, and running for the hour or so before sunset almost every day.


I felt a lot of run love come back by the new year, but the longest I was able to drag myself outside was 12 miles.  Every time I attempted a long run I got bored, or hungry, or ran out of time, or just plain didn’t want to run for more than 2 hours over Holiday break.  This didn’t bode well for running the marathon.

I did some soul searching and figured out that dropping to the half marathon felt like giving up something I wanted to do, and not just a weight off my shoulders.  I made a hard and fast rule with myself that I had to get in some quality long runs in January or I had to give up anyway.  I wasn’t going to run a marathon on a long run of 12 miles.

The weather didn’t really make things easy.  Neither did some major shakeups at my job.  The first weekend in January we had freezing rain for the entire thing, so I toughed out a 15 mile treadmill run in my living room.  It wasn’t *that* bad, and I’m sure I’ll repeat it again over the summer when it’s 90 fucking billion degrees out, but it wasn’t something I wanted to make a habit of in my life.

Then, the next weekend, allergies were so high I feared the outdoors, plus I was in the maximum point of uncertainty and depths of deep depression about what was going on at work.  I tried the treadmill trick again and failed miserably at 3.5 miles and 2.5 miles on two successive attempts.  Then, I went and got rip roaring drunk on a Sunday because life was awful and forgot to take my allergy pill that night, and I have no idea how I made it through work the next day but oddly enough, things started to look up.

I remembered that whole “stress is stress, whether through training or life” thing, and called that Saturday – Friday my rest week at 21-ish miles during that period of time.  By the end of that week, things weren’t totally OK, but getting there, and I shoveled myself out the door that weekend with a plan to get at least, like, 17 miles.  With victory chips and beer waiting for me if I succeeded.


Finally, it all clicked.  The stress from work clearing, the rest week lifting some fatigue, a decent day outside.  I not only did 17, not only did 20, but I did my longest training run ever of 21.3 miles (albeit WELL above marathon pace) simply because I was happy to be out doing it.  I only quit because I started feeling some deeper fatigue than normal and didn’t want to sideline myself if I pressed on.  Break on through to the other side, I was back on track.

The next week, I peaked my run mileage at 48, and had another slow but phenomenal 20 mile long run in almost 4 hours of pouring rain that ended at the pho place near my house.  I still felt good last week, so I celebrated my last week before taper with 48 more miles, and a much faster 18 mile long run (10:54 pace vs 11:44 pace the week before) which gave me some confidence that maybe, just maybe, if I show up and then stay out of my own way, I might have a PR in there after all.

That’s a lot of words about a training cycle that was fraught with peril and on the rocks for a bit, but ultimately seems like will end with a solid foundation to run on Feb 28th.  If I complete what’s planned, I’ll have long runs of 21, 20, 18, 16, 15, 12, 11, and 10.  I’ve had 3 weeks of 33+ and 4 weeks of 40+ miles.  I also conquered running alone and have learned some things from it:


Running by myself…

…is a great place to think things through.  I had so many conversations with myself and people at work in my head on runs, and I ended up figuring out where I really stand on a lot of things.  Also, those runs went by so, so quick.  When I used to need to get ready for a meeting right after lunch I’d skip my workout to do so – now I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

…is a great opportunity to do whatever the fuck I want most days.  Running with Zliten, we’d have to establish a route, distance, time, and pace goal parameters before the run.  By myself, I can shovel myself out the door not knowing whether I’m going to run north or south, 1 or 11 miles, or whether I’m going to have splits in the 12s or the 9s.  Hell, I stopped and played on the swings at the park one day during a run.  I can show up and see what happens.

…is great mental training for the race.  Running 4 hours by myself means it won’t be a shock on race day.  I have to motivate myself every day, I won’t rely on anyone to do it for me at the race.

…is fantastic when I truly want to be electronics free, since I pretty much could only pry my husband’s garmin from his cold dead hands (and he’d probably just use a phone app to track pace/HR or something as back up).

…means I get to talk about my run as a story, and we’re not both like “yup, uh huh, I was there, remember…” and also hear about how he killed it that day doing something else.

…is really helping me embrace my “run as travel” mindset, and not just clocking miles on a watch.  Taking the emphasis off watching a watch has allowed me to consider running as commuting, where before, I wouldn’t have done that because the stops or crazy terrain would have fucked up my splits.  I don’t give a rats ass about my splits if I can’t see them until after the fact.

However, Zliten’s making a comeback.  He is up to 30 mins on the treadmill or track, and should be running outside before the end of the month.  We even got to run together last night!  It was weird having company but then it was awesome.  While I’ve enjoyed running on my own for the last few months a lot more than I thought I would… nothing beats a run buddy!

February Goals

1 month down, 11 to go.  Really?  Already?  Sigh… time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose!


Race Goals:

Woodlands Marathon: #1 priority is to have fun and enjoy the run.  It’s a gorgeous one loop course in a beautiful area of Texas, which appeals to my sense of run as travel lately.  Also, no matter what happens, whether I PR or walk it in, I get to go on vacation the next day.

Now, if the day is going well, #2 priority is to shave 58 seconds off my time in Florida.  I’m not greedy.  I’ll be 100% satisfied with 4:59:59 official.  I have no super secret goals.  I just want to celebrate consistency and overcoming some demons this winter with a nice long romp through the Woodlands.

The goal really and truly is: show up, and see what happens.

Training Goals:

Let’s go by week here…

Week 1:

  • Last peak week of volume – in the 40s.  Aiming for approximately the same as last week which was 47.  Run 5-6 days (5 would include a double).
  • Last long, long run of 17-20, depending on how I feel that day.  Goal is to finish this run with a faster pace than the last two weeks.
  • One run faster than easy pace.
  • Swim twice.
  • Stretch twice.
  • Cycling only to loosen up the legs.

Week 2:

  • Let’s not call it taper yet because it’s really just a small ramp down.  Run about 20% less.  Somewhere around 38 miles.  Run 5-6 days this week.
  • 16 miles max for the long run, but with the last few faster.
  • One other run faster than easy pace.
  • Swim twice.
  • Stretch twice.
  • This starts the week of don’t do anything stupid.  Don’t go to a crossfit class, don’t wear high heels, don’t decide to walk to a different town because it sounds like an adventure, don’t decide to change your diet significantly, don’t party until 6am.  Just be a conservative version of normal.
  • A little more biking if it feels good and I have time, but all easy.

Week 3:

  • Ok, for reals, taper time!  30 miles max.  Run 4-5 days this week.
  • Long run ~12 miles, either easy or the last few miles faster, depending on the feels.
  • One other run faster than easy pace.
  • In the pool as much as I can for short (under half hour) sessions.
  • Stretch/roll at least twice.
  • Minimal biking unless I’m going crazy (and if so, just EASY).

Week 4:

  • Race week!  Run a few miles each morning/noon with pickups to keep the legs loose.
  • Get in the pool for short (10-20 mins) sessions when I can.
  • Minimal cycling just to spin out the legs.
  • Stretch if I feel tight, but don’t overdo it.
  • All the sleep.
  • Short easy shakeout run Friday IF I want to.
  • Race Saturday.  Then VACATION!


Eat/Scale/Food Goals:

Dear brain,

I have tried to be gentle and forgiving because we are training for a marathon, but with these long runs and higher run volume, you just take advantage of me and steer me towards things like large orders of fries and hoagies and cupcakes and ordering 18 dollars of food when I end my long run at the pho place.  So, now, we are back to the contract.

Yes, the contract of tracking every morsel I eat and trying to stick to a certain number of calories.  It’s not going well thus far, but we’ll need to work together to find a way to thrive and also shed a little weight.  Because it’s not only me that’s had enough.  It’s the scale, my bloated belly, and my clothes that are complaining too.

So, in February, we’ll track and weigh daily and continue to try to make clean choices most of the time (but I promise we’ll make room for potato chips and fries as well, that is not a life worth living, just in smaller quantities).

I would like to rid myself of these things by the end of the month:

1. My stomach feeling gross and bloated a lot.

2. The scale widely swinging from one extreme to another and also reading anything over 180 EVER.

3. This insane craving for sweets.  I have a salt tooth, until I hit a critical mass of indulging in sweets (which happened over vacation), and then I crave those too until I abstain for a while.

Work Goals:

1. Don’t get overwhelmed.  When I get overwhelmed I shut down and don’t do anything.  When I feel like there’s too much out there floating around, sit down and make a to do list and work on getting that checked off.

2. Play my games a bit.  Let’s not reach for the stars here.  I’d like to get ONE level in each by March.

Life Stuff:

1. Over the 3 day weekend, clean out the kitchen so we can store all your shit in cupboards. Prime targets: space above the bar, the pantry, the weird cabinet on the breakfast nook side.  Storage goals: ice cream maker, jerky maker, tupperware, and all the less frequently used spices tucked away.

2. Extra credit – start the closet purge.  Go through the stuff I have stashed already and see if any of it can be donated.  Go through my clothes and see what I don’t absolutely love and stash it for a while to see if I miss it.  This is a big project, so if I don’t finish it this month, no worries.

I think that’s about it for this month’s ambitions.  It’s a short month but it’s usually the transition from the YUCK of January to the happy of March, so I expect awesome things!

What is your February goal?

5 Weeks of Running

When I started this running streak, I aimed to go from my starting point (Dec 29th) through the end of January.  At times, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.  However, I think ultimately it was a really great experience.  Running daily taught me a lot of lessons in energy management and preserving recovery, and established some really great habits I’ll bank on for the rest of the year.


Running Streak by numbers:

Days: 34 (35 total runs)

Runs inside vs outside: 13 vs 22 (pretty good for January)

Runs by mileage:

  • 1-1.9 miles =  5
  • 2-2.9 miles = 2
  • 3-3.9 miles = 7
  • 4-4.9 miles = 3
  • 5-5.9 miles = 7
  • 6-6.9 miles = 6
  • 7-9.9 miles = 1
  • 10-14.9 miles = 1
  • 15-21.3 mile = 3

Analysis here: 5.5-6 miles is about what I can run in an hour, so if we boxed in 5.5-6.5, that would probably make up the majority of the runs.  3-4 miles is what I can run at the gym over lunch, and also seems like a reasonable jaunt even when I’m tired (less than 3 seems like a waste to me).  I did 7 runs less than 3 miles, but most of them I cut short to preserve my energy for the next day, not necessarily because I didn’t have more in me.

Days by pace:

  • 9-9:59 minute miles 3
  • 10-10:29 minute miles 10
  • 10:30-10:59 minute miles 15
  • 11 – 12 minute miles 7

My slowest runs were generally the longest runs or the shortest runs (recovery days, easy miles).  Fastest were surprise days I felt great and sped up a bit (3-6 mile distance).  The number I saw most often was 10:30-something.  I’m happy with 25 of the 35 being in 10-11 min/mile pace.  Hopefully 2015 will see that normal pace shift a little downward, but for now, it’s copacetic.


How about that mood:

  • Great vs crappy: 33 good runs, 2 crappy.  I’ll take that ratio.
  • Days that I would have not run if not for the streak and was glad I got out: 9
  • Days that I would have not run if not for the streak and still felt crappy after: 2

It’s kind of amazing how many times I thought it wasn’t a good day to run, but I got out anyway and felt great.  The two crappy days were: 1. dealing with the crux of mental and physical exhaustion before I scaled back the mileage a little bit and 2. a REALLY BAD hangover day.  If I feel good 95% of the time, I should be running more than 40-70% of the time (depending on when I’m at in the training cycle), yeah?

Time of day:

  • Morning: 1
  • Noon: 15
  • Afternoon (no headlamp): 14
  • Evening (headlamp): 5

If I could run whenever, as proved on vacation/weekends, I’d run about 4pm until sunset.  With work in the mix, the best time for me to run is at lunch (starting sometime between noon and 1) for an hour.  All but one of my long runs started in the afternoon (and the outlier was 11:40am), and I started to find the love for after work headlamp runs on warmer days near the end of the month.

I’d like to be more of a lark, but it really takes forcing it over the winter and I’m ok waiting until it gets warmer to get up with the sun since obviously I’m still fitting in training.


Workout distribution by day:

  • Just run: 15
  • Run/weights: 1
  • Run/swim: 8
  • Run/bike: 5
  • Run/bike/swim: 2
  • Run/run: 1
  • Run/bike/weights: 2

You can take the triathlete and put her into a marathon schedule, but over half the time, I’ll figure out how to fit in a bike or a swim as well.  Running and swimming go together so well.  I need to remember that during heavy run cycles that swimming just heals me.

I went a little more bike heavy at the beginning of the month, but found that too much definitely contributed to overall fatigue (by contrast, swimming took fatigue away), so I scaled it back.  Biking is going to hurt when I start it again for reals in March, but I feel fit at 2 out of 3 sports, so I’ll get to that when I get to that.

Dang… I slacked on strength this month, or I forgot to track some.  I think a little of both.

Good things about the run streak:

It was a great way to get mileage without stressing my legs out too much.  Running every day to get 40 miles made me less fatigued than trying to get that same mileage in 5 days/week.

I thought it would make me get sick of running, instead I love it more.  It became a daily routine instead of a workout or chore.

I got in the habit of running for an hour at lunch, which takes almost nothing extra out of my day.  I can only do it until it gets too warm (May? June?) but I’m going to continue to make use of my lunch hour to run more often than not.

While my paces seemed to remain even, I haven’t really tested myself with any sort of real hard effort.  I feel stronger, but we’ll see when I get to racing.

I was surprised by how not-as-crappy some of the post-long-run shakeout runs were.  While I think easy cycling or swimming flushes out the bad stuff better for me, the runs weren’t as painful as I thought they would be and I now see the point of recovery runs.

I actually liked having some sort of movement every day.  There were very few days where ALL I did was a 1 mile run, and most of those were to give myself a recovery day before/after a long effort.

I was able to make some improvements in my swimming this month too – race pace last year is now just “hey look I’m swimming” pace in the pool on two swims a week.

I was able to knock out a 20 and a 21 mile run on back to back weekends fairly comfortably without a lot of incremental distance ramp up (and without being dead after) because of a solid base.

Running used to have to have the stars align and the situation be perfect.  Now I figure out how to make it work.  Ate spicy food?  Suck.  Probably shouldn’t do that again before a run but whatever.  Dark?  Take the headlamp.  Rainy?  That’s just fun.  Hot?  Oh well, slow down.  Drank last night? Wait until at least lunch and adjust expectations (but oddly enough, this sucked way worse than expected as well).  Sleet? Long run on the treadmill.  Allergies? Run Monterey Bay at the gym.  No excuses unless a run would exacerbate an injury that needs rest.


Bad/Annoying Things:

Running 1-2 miles wasn’t a chore so much, but my legs really don’t warm up by then so these just seem like exercises in frustration, and wastes of time and workout clothes.  I’d rather sub in other sports like swimming or biking or a pure rest day occasionally instead of suiting up for that short of a jaunt unless the goal was to get run miles at any cost.

I found I wasn’t limited by time as much as fatigue.  About 40 miles is my comfort zone when I’m not crunched by being too busy or trying to split time between running and biking more evenly.

I don’t think I could maintain this level of effort and also do anything but maintain cycling.  To make cycling improvements I would definitely have to sacrifice some of this mileage.  I could definitely see running most days and cycling most days though if I wasn’t pushing for super long distances at either (more than 3 hours in a session).

Long runs were a little harder running every day.  I really had to tamper down the mileage Friday to run successfully Saturday.  Maybe with more practice I’d be ok but I wasn’t there yet and bombed a long run (sort of) because of it.

I only own 1 running jacket and 3 running worthy sports bras.  I was stinky by the end of the week every week.  Didn’t really bother me but grosses Zliten out.

Future Plans:

I plan to continue to incorporate a run most days.  I’ll probably skip the 1-2 mile “just for the streak” type days.  However, getting out the door twice for a lunch run is 11-12 miles.  Put that together with a longer session one morning and a speed session, and I can maintain a much bigger base than I did last year even when I’m biking 200 miles as well.

I’m still at a point where more volume is netting me improvements.  I’ve tried to do one session each week “faster” and one “long”.  That’s enough for now, but at some point, I’ll incorporate real speedwork and maybe a specific running plan.

I think it’s probably a worthy goal to swim, bike and/or run just about every day.  I mean, take a full rest day off if I’m crushed, but I find that a short easy spin or swim does wonders in making me feel better than just sitting on my ass (unless it’s been long enough without a break that I really need that day of sitting on my ass).

I broke my streak Feb 1 and enjoyed the hell out of my first full rest day since Christmas Day, but I was back to pounding the pavement Monday and Tuesday with no regrets.

I’m still training for a marathon at the end of this month and optimistic about the performance.  I think I have the run streak to thank for that – otherwise I’d probably be talking about running the half.

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