I’m going to say it right here and now…so listen up! 5K races are my least favorite distance. I never feel like I’m pushing myself fast enough, despite pushing these short little legs harder and harder with each mile. And at the end of a 5K…I never have the drive or the energy for that final kick that so many of my running friends have. And it makes me dislike that distance even more.
Let’s face it…these short little legs were made to go long. I actually would rather run a longer race any day than a 5K race. Winning an award at the shorter races is all fine and good…but I love the challenge of the longer run. I love to push my legs past the distance they think they can go…and prove to myself that my passion for the longer distances truly is what drives me when I run.
With that all being said…this past weekend, I had to shift my long run to Sunday because…well…Saturday I had a 5K race. Normally I wouldn’t have signed up for one. I’ve been avoiding races to focus more on my marathon training…but this is one race I would never dream of missing. My Aunt Debbie died 3 years ago from colon cancer, and here in Louisville, for the past three years, I have ran in the Walk Away from Colon Cancer & 5K Run. The only difference between the past two years and this year…is that this year I wasn’t returning from an injury that kept me out of running. This year, the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run was not a comeback run. This year…I was free to run it as I chose…and I chose to run a smart, safe, and fun race. And that’s how it should be.
Having the race on Saturday also decreased my usual weekly mileage…but…you know…it was worth it. I’ve racked up some crazy mileage over the past couple of weeks, I think giving these legs a shorter, but harder (as in speed and the fact that I tested them out on the hills of Iroquois Park), run was just what they needed. Speed work. Hill work. All in just over 22 minutes…done.
I admit, however, that the morning of the race I was not in a racing mindset. I hadn’t actually raced since The Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY back in early July…and I was having a hard time finding that run hard, run fast mindset. Regardless, I took to the course and had a fun, beautiful, and very hot run yesterday morning. And it was for a good cause and in memory of my aunt. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
But…that was the end of the week…I still had the entire week before I got to my race…so…
Sunday is the normal “Whatever My Legs Feel Like” training run…or rest day. It just depends on how I feel that morning. Except, keep in mind, I busted out 20 miles the previous day. So, as I was getting ready for bed, I asked my roommate what I should run in the morning. She shrugged and said, “I don’t know…13 miles?” Then paused. “No…do 13.1.” Ah…a half marathon challenge. I was game. I figured I could run it at the LSD pace and have a good morning run. I guess I was feeling super that morning, despite the heavy mileage on Saturday…because I took to the streets and my legs felt strong and good…not tired…not sore. I was having a great run. The first half of the run was rather flat, but then I decided to challenge myself and run a very hilly second half. I just wanted to see how I would do on tired legs with a bit of a challenge, I guess. I wasn’t slowed in the slightest and somehow ended up rocking out 13.1 miles in a time faster than my half marathon PR. If only this had been in a race. I was super-stoked. Super surprised. And super proud of myself. That was on legs that had gone 20 miles the day before? Had I not been the one running, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. I was feeling amazing and hit negative splits to boot!! Yeah…I was feeling sort of invincible that morning, I guess. I was all smiles after that and feeling like Beast Mode was activated. If only every run felt that awesome. That evening was the Bruno Mars concert that my roomie and I had tickets for. I didn’t get home until well after midnight…and my legs were tired and sore, not just from the previous two runs, but from standing the entire show. LOVED that concert though. Had such a great time.
But…Monday morning rolled around and that meant it was back to the training schedule. That morning I was not feeling as awesome. In fact, I felt a bit defeated. The schedule called for 7 miles. And I did get 7 miles out that morning. But, I was running on very tired and somewhat sore legs. In fact, I actually went to bed in my running clothes…because I wanted to get more than 4 hours of sleep. And to knock out 7 miles…I needed all the time I could manage if I wasn’t getting up until 5 a.m. The later start sort of threw me off, but sleeping in my running clothes was sheer genius, because it meant I just needed to slip into my compression sleeves and my shoes before hitting the road that morning. It definitely got me out the door quicker. There was also a definite change from the weather I had the previous Monday morning. So, with the return of the humidity, the run just felt hard. I managed to press on and rocked the run with negative splits, but it was a hard-fought battle. And then…even with the tired legs, I wouldn’t dream of missing my Monday night fun run. So after a long, long day at work, I went home to eat and change and headed off to Louisville to do a run with my group. We were supposed to do hill work, which is something I really need to focus on. However…they vetoed it before I got there and half of the group was going to run trails, and the rest were going to hit up the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park. I am not currently running trails because I don’t want to get injured, so I stuck to the road. And for the first mile was running with the group. My legs were still sore from all the hard efforts I put on them…as well as sitting for a long period of time at the office…but none of that seemed to matter. I got to the hill after Hogan’s Fountain and I was off. I had intended to stick with everyone, but I got ahead and there was no stopping me. I didn’t push…not for speed or anything because my Achilles was acting up a little…and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself on a fun run. Foam rolling commenced the moment I got home. Monday’s Daily Double was in the books.
Tuesday, of course, meant it was my cross-training day. And, as is the norm for Tuesdays, I resist the urge to run, even though I have the time and the ability to do so…and instead head to the gym before work. Tuesdays means it’s Arc Trainer day. The Arc Trainer, by the way, is basically the high calorie burning solution to the modern elliptical, built to be safe for high intensity workouts. In other words…it works like an elliptical, but is scientifically tested to be gentler on your joints, burn 16% more calories than a standard elliptical, and it can help the user train for strength, power, endurance, cardio and weight loss. It has this range of incline and resistance levels which makes this seem like 3 machines in one. Honestly. At lower incline levels, it’s has a glide like a cross country skier. In the mid-range levels, the motion is a stride, like on an elliptical but with proper positioning. And at the higher levels, it has the climb of a stepper or climber. I use the preset programs on the machines which automatically changes up resistance, incline, and the intervals. It makes this machine challenging, yet still puts you through a total body workout. It’s an elliptical on crack and I love to hate it. This time, I was on Program 5 – Intervals 1:1, meaning I had 1 minute at a lower incline, then it shot me up to hard resistance and the “climber” mode for 1 minute and it would rotate this out. I did this for 45 minutes on Level 7 and managed to dig out 2.08 miles. After that, it was on to the Cardio Wave. If you’re not familiar with this machine either, it is also like an elliptical machine, except that this one focuses more on strengthening the gluteus and lower limbs while still focusing on the core stabilizer muscles…so you get a full body workout that is safe and non-impact. And…your legs move from side-to-side and not the usual forward and back motion that I get with other ellpiptical machines and my running. It’s a nice change of pace and it works three different planes of movement simultaneously: extension, abduction and external rotation. My roommate hates this machine, but I love it. And I rocked 3.89 miles on it set to a steady Level 13 that morning. Then it was downstairs to hit up a few strength machines to help build up some muscle. After work, it was time to circuit train and that took some convincing. I knew it needed to be done, my body was just tired. But…my roomie and I knocked it out of the park and it actually helped loosen up the muscles and tendons that were giving me issues on my runs on Monday. So…bonus!
Wednesday marathon training is always speed work/pacing day. And today…it was all about pacing. The schedule called for 8 miles…yes…8 miles. But this was to be a Tempo Run…meaning I was to build up to about my 10K race pace, hold that for a couple of miles, then ease back down. I ended up steadily building up my pace, making this tempo run more of 8 miles with negative splits. Whoops. So, I guess I ddi one better than what training called for. And that was a miserable morning. Because it was 8 miles and would take about an hour to do, I got up half an hour earlier and headed out. It was 70 degrees at 3:30 a.m. and we had 92% humidity. Needless to say, I was dripping by the end of it and was more than happy to hop into the shower before getting dressed for work and making a healthy breakfast. After work, it was the second session of the circuit training and this one really felt hard. My legs were screaming for some rest. I promised if they got through “the shred” than they could have some downtime. They saw me through the circuits and weights…and so…I rested them that evening.
Thursday was a lot easier this week. Training simply called for 4 easy miles. Four miles…and I’d be done. It was another humid morning and my legs were tired…but my four miles ended up as 5 miles. I wasn’t at all happy with that run, honestly. Maybe that is why I pushed the extra mile. Or…that I just am not used to lower mileage under 5 miles at times…regardless…I got through the run, but it was not a happy 5 miles at all. After that, it was the second day at the gym. With my legs angry at me for that run this morning, I knew better than to really push it on the cardio portion of this workout. So, when I climbed on the elliptical, I set it for my usual Level 7, but didn’t push on the speed too much. I managed under 9 miles in 49 minutes…which is under what I normally can do. But, I was listening to my body. The second machine of the day was 10 minutes on the rowing machine. Ah…the rowing machine of doom. I put on my gloves and settled in for a L-O-N-G 10 minutes. But the rowing machine is such a great machine in that it works so much of your body. Not only are you working biceps, back, and shoulders, but you also work your quads, glutes, and core muscles as well. So…while I hate it…I love the workout I get from this machine. After that…it was downstairs for some more strength machines before heading to work.
Friday is the dreaded, but necessary, rest day. And, since I was going to be racing on Saturday, I definitely wanted to keep it holy. I admit though…I did take myself out for another brisk morning walk. This has become the Friday norm. I walked 3.26 miles that morning in 36:42…which is good. Very good. It also took the edge off the rest day so I wouldn’t be cranky, crabby and miserable. It worked. And the rest of the day felt okay because I had at least gotten some form of movement in for the day.
Saturday…it’s usually my long slow distance run. And this week I was to run 18 miles. Except, I had another commitment on Saturday morning. *GASP* I know. But this was important. As I mentioned, my Aunt Debbie died from colon cancer a few years ago. Every year since, I have been a part of this race. It’s the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run. I would never dream of missing this. Even if it meant I didn’t get to meet up with my running group and do my usual long run. The long run was pushed back to Sunday…which I’ll tell you all about next week. But Saturday was all about honoring my aunt’s memory, running for a great cause, and putting some speed work and hill work into play simultaneously. I won’t lie…a part of me was hoping to rock out a sub-22 5K, which is something I am still chasing…but Iroquois Park is not the place for that. And I knew that going into this race…but it was a dream. It will happen…one day. Until then…I just sort of ran this race with how I felt. My legs were rested. My mind was clear. And I was focused on just getting to that finish line. Like I said…5Ks are my least favorite distance. I place a lot when I run them, I just don’t like running them. That being said…this race was hot and hilly…but I just went out there to have some fun and “do some work.” And I did. In fact, I ended up finishing 27/799 finishers overall, 4/496 female finishers, and I was 1/67 in my age division. WOOHOO!! The speed and hill endurance will come with practice. This was my 2nd fastest 5K to date…and that is saying something! I thought about running more later that day, but I had so much going on…shopping for items for my upcoming trip, grocery shopping, cleaning…and since Sunday was now going to be my 18 miler…without a group…I thought my legs needed the rest of the day off.
So, this was a much lower mileage week than my previous ones, but I think it was good that I listened to my body…and my heart…and ran what I needed to run, the speed I needed or felt like I needed to run. I still managed to nail my training, and that’s saying something. This week was a tough one, despite having fewer miles…but I got through it and knocked it out. Proving once again, even if my body is tired…my determination always makes me feel stronger and better. Lack of sleep and harder runs made the lower mileage this week a welcome change of pace…but it never once slowed me down.
Time to see what I can manage this coming week…