Monday, September 14, 2009

Half-Marathon Training

It has been a long time since I have written about running. This has not been intentional - in fact, every time I hit the treadmill or run though Central Park, I think about how I desperately need to write an entry.

In fact, the truth is that running has become my only escape during the day. My runs are now usually the only "me time" I can squeeze into my schedule, so I guess I've become a bit protective over sharing adventures on my runs.

A few weeks into the summer, I found myself in a bit of a fitness rut. I had finished my half marathon in April and since I did not have another distance race in the foreseeable future, I lowered my weekly mileage to avoid injury.

But when I lowered my mileage, I consequently lowered my endurance, making longer distances more of a struggle on the weekends. I grew bored with running for a few weeks and tried to supplement my usual running time on either the elliptical or rowing machines at the gym. I've had a relationship with running long enough to know and expect this will happen every once and awhile.

However, I have also been in this relationship long enough to know that nothing has ever been able to replace the void that running fulls for me, so if I give it a few weeks, I usually come back open arms.

Sure enough, I started to miss running terribly. I realized part of the reason I had lost interest is that I had no races on my calender! There are surprisingly few races held in the summertime, so I had just been running with no real goal.

I got it together and planned out my races for the rest of the year, so that I could still qualify for the 2010 NYC Marathon. I had been using my busy schedule as an excuse to put this goal on a back-burner and it was time to pay more attention to it.

So I signed up for the four remaining races I needed to complete, one of which is a half-marathon in October. That's right, if my schedule wasn't busy enough, I decided to throw in training for a 13.1 mile race as well.

I didn't do this to be selfish; I did it because I wanted to improve on my half marathon in April and I needed a real reason to get my butt back out on the Central Park runner's loop.

I did make one, fairly significant adjustment, to my approach to training. Training for the half-marathon in April became my entire life, not on purpose, it just happened that way. Pastry school had not yet started, so I was still feeling restless and bored at work.
Everything was planned around training; I would never have more than one drink in an evening, I became fairly restrictive with sweets and every meal was consumed with the next run in mind.

I did it all because I thought it would help me become a better runner. And, to a certain extent, it did.

But mother nature threw a curve ball on race day with the heat and humidity. Weather was the one factor I could not control and it contributed, in part, to me not hitting my goal time.

Before the race, I imagined that if I crossed the finish line without hitting my goal time, I would be extremely upset - tears were likely, but I was hoping to spare Mike from the situation.

And I didn't hit my goal time. After I crossed the finish line and met up with a concerned-looking Mike, all I could do is shrug my shoulders and laugh (although that hurt). I finished my race. I was alive. I wanted a beer - no, two actually.

This time around, I couldn't making training my life. My life is work and school. So running was going to have to learn to share.

I have to say, training so far has been far more enjoyable than a few months ago. I try to run three times a week during my lunch hour, but sometimes I only run two times. I find myself telling my legs to back off the pace during my long runs on the weekend, so I can be sure I finish the distance and try to take in the world around me. An entire 90 minutes all to myself is completely rare now, so I want to savor every free moment.

It's tough to be restrictive with sweets when you are in pastry school, so that rule went out the window. And, now, if I want to have two glasses of wine, I let the wine pour freely and do not feel one ounce of guilt.

One of the biggest lessons not hitting my goal time taught me is that I had to achieve a work-school-running-life balance. If I make one of these factors more important than the other, I was risking success and happiness in the others.

1 comment:

  1. smart girl, we all have to come to the same conclusion if we want happiness to rule our lives


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