Taking the steps

Taking the steps

I’ve done a decent amount of racing post-Eugene, with the 5k, Ragnar, and the 15k, yet I’ve been finally antsy lately about my Chicago and NYC training. In my distorted view of the running community, it seems like *everyone* I follow on Twitter or dailymile is talking about their training for either race, which makes me nervous because I haven’t started training yet, because I’m planning to do a 12-week program, but then because all these other people are talking about their training RIGHT NOW, it makes me nervous, and then I start to reconsider my plans…

and then I calm the fuck down.

Or try to, anyway.

And trust myself that I know what I’m doing.

In an effort to hold myself over (read: maintain some sanity) and not let this pre-training taper, if you will, send me climbing the walls for the next three-four weeks, I’ve put together a basic-yet-structured “maintenance plan” that I’ve begun this week. The only real noticeable difference between these next few weeks’ running and what I’ve already been doing is:

a) I’m reintroducing speedwork for the first time since Eugene, and

b) my weekend long runs will alternate between 2 and 2.5 hours. The distance matters less to me right now than the time on my feet, though really, I’m not totally wed to anything right now. I will definitely do everything I can to get back into this type of zone, just so I’m ready to go in a few more weeks, but if not, it’s definitely not the end of the world. The fitness is there; I just have to believe myself (and my training partners, who know a lot, who tell me so).

I’m planning to continue to strive for my strength and core week thrice weekly, each, over the next four weeks, and then I’ll reassess come “official training” time. Otherwise, not much is new in my running these days; I’m just putting my head down and (slowly) beginning to focus.

I also had the pleasure of clocking in some healthy mileage on Sunday, thanks to a solo 10k I did prior to pacing Stacey for 11 miles of her (very hot and steamy and humid) half marathon. Being on my feet for 17+ miles in some good, ol’ fashioned Chicago heat and humidity I think hazed me back into summer running. (Sidenote: I will NEVER understand people who dislike winter running and prefer this nonsense over the sub-30 temps. NEVER!) A few added bonuses from Sunday’s running included meeting Molly, a member of Fellow Flowers, mid-race while pacing Stacey, and Molly kicks serious ass because not only was she haulin’ it on a nasty hot day, but she also JUST FINISHED CANCER TREATMENTS (as a young 30 year-old, no less), was on track for a sub-2 half… and did I mention she had just finished cancer treatments?

Pretty sure I teared up when Molly overheard Stacey and me talking about Stacey’s friend undergoing treatments, and she (Molly) turned around and said, “cancer treatments? Yeah, I just finished mine, too!” like it was just something else she did recently, like her laundry.

Talk about a moving (and humbling) experience.

While waiting for Stacey post-race, I also got to meet Jenny and Hillary, more excellent and speedtastic Chicago running bloggers, who had raced the 5k that morning. I saw them both (and even got a shout-out from Hillary mid-race) at their half marathon on the north side, through my stomping grounds, back in the winter, but we hadn’t gotten a chance to meet or chat in real life, like normal people, since then. Interestingly, I think every person I’ve met from Twitter (and/or dailymile) since I joined in January has been a really fast runner.

Anyway, things might be quiet-ish around here for the next few weeks. You might have noticed the shiny new badge to the right, announcing that I’m an ambassador for an all-women’s 10k in late July here in the city. That’ll be my last official/chip-timed race pre-Chicago & NYC, since the WTTW 5k is more a fun run than anything (and a chance for the little one to meet the Sesame Street gang again this year).

I’m thinking of this interlude right now like how I approach getting ready for a big test; I usually can’t just sit down and study for hours on end. Instead, I have to make sure my room is clean (or clean enough), put out some beverages and/or food so I don’t have an excuse to leave the immediate area, and only then, once I’ve taken all these little steps, can I finally begin to sit down and focus.

Establishing the strength and core habits, in addition to reintroducing some speed and long runs, before I really “sit down” and focus on my training, I guess is my way of doing the necessary pre-studying before it’s really time to.

One of the more impressionable quotes Runner’s World sent me came from Mia Hamm, the professional soccer player. As soon as I read this quote, I knew it would become a new training mantra for this fall cycle. I’ve committed it to memory already, so I can start dropping it to myself in the throes of some ass-kicking speedwork.

I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel.

At just the right moment, I light the match.

What are your pre-training “habits” that help focus you for when your “official” training begins? Am I the only one who does these?

3 thoughts on “Taking the steps

  1. I’m a race virgin so I don’t have a lot of helpful advice for the end question. But Molly story really does set you in place and be thankful for what we have.

    In my mind I think of myself as those little cars you pull back and then they speed away. Training you pull back a little more each time, and let yourself go a fair bit, but never so much to max out, Come race day those gears better be ready! Plus on my end, at heart I’m more of a non race runner I think, so the few I do will be go big or go home, just a little self pressure.

    Stay strong!

  2. It was so nice to finally meet you IRL, Erin! You’re a smart runner and you’re now my 5k-race-sister-in-spirit after the 20:41 on Sunday. 🙂 That Mia Hamm quote is seriously one of my favorites. I need to keep it in mind next time I race!

  3. Love the Mia quote, and so nice to get more than a “HI! IT’S HILLARY!” this time around! 🙂

    I haven’t really had much of an “off-season” during which to build or maintain. Between Fall and Spring marathons, I sandwiched in a quick, six-week 5k and 8k training cycle that kind of broke up the monotony of the longer distances and got me back on the track (my favorite workouts). It was kind of nice to focus on a shorter-term goal for once, and kept me from slothing too much. I also tend to “nest” a bit prior to a training cycle: new gear, etc. tends to get me excited for the miles to come.

What'cha thinkin?