Happy fall! I just got back into the swing of things after a week of no running. Week of no running, what?! First, let’s go back to week 12.
Week 12 started out pretty crappy. It. was just. so. hot. out. And I was so over it. Not unlike my last two training cycles, this is week was the week I just felt ready to be done with training. Eighteen weeks is a long time and by week 12, I’m just done. This spring I will definitely be implementing a 16-week training plan in hopes that cutting it back by two weeks will help this usual slump. Anyway, I went out for my Monday morning run and was pouring sweat a mile in, my right leg was super stiff where I’ve been dealing with issues, and I was just super negative and in a crappy mood. After a mile and a half, I took a right turn instead of a left and headed home. I felt no guilt about it, but I also haven’t cut any runs short this training cycle.
The week went on as usual and I got in my runs. I had a half marathon coming up on the weekend and, since it was a cut-back week, I decided to just ditch my Thursday run. My coach had told me to make no plans to race the half both because of my leg and also because it’s not a great course for racing, but I knew I did want to push the pace to comfortably-hard and I didn’t want to screw my leg more. At this point, I’ve thrown my goals for Chicago out the window so I’m not hell bent on sticking straight to my training plan.
Saturday morning rolled around and I felt okay. I picked up my friend Angela and we headed to the race together. The weather was actually really nice – around 60 degrees, only slightly sticky, and it wasn’t supposed to get very sunny until later in the day. I caught up with two of my teammates who asked what pace I planned to run and both said they’d stick with me. One was running his second half (while training for his first full) and was hoping to PR, so I told him I would pace him to his PR goal. I actually had a lot of fun running this race. I chatted with my teammates most of the time and talked to some random people on the course. We came in at 1:50 and some change and I felt strong for most of it – there’s a mile-long hill at mile 11 that wore me out a bit, but for a very hilly course, I felt good at the finish. No formal race recap for this one since I didn’t race it.
Sunday morning my leg felt pretty good and I decided to do something I had been thinking about doing anyway – take a week off from running. Not only could my stiff, pissed off muscle benefit from it, the hot weather really put me in crappy moods this entire training cycle and I thought that I could benefit from a mental break from running, too. I generally add an extra week into my training since inevitably I get sick or am just exhausted and need a few days off, but since I had a strong base going into this cycle I didn’t do that. Nevertheless, I knew sticking to cross training for a week would have no impact on my fitness.
For my weekday runs, I hit the bike for the same amount of time I would be running. The Y has a ride simulator where you pick a certain course and ride along with other riders on the screen. Normally it can be pretty difficult for me to get my heart rate up on the bike, but this one threw some challenging hills my way and my competitive side kicked in making me want to pass other “cyclists” on the course. The bike has “gears” to make hills easier, but it doesn’t allow “cruising” down hills, so I had to constantly pedal. I really enjoyed it and was happy to see my heart rate in zones two and three for the majority of the time during these rides.
Earlier in the week, the weather was calling for cooler temperatures on Saturday and I thought it would be hard for me to keep myself from going to my group run instead of cross training. When Friday rolled around it was torrential rain and just nasty, and forecasted to remain that way through Saturday morning. I ended up having no issues skipping my run. Plus, I got to sleep in almost two hours later than normal! In place of my Saturday run, I did an hour on a bike followed by an hour cardio/strength class. The class was Tabata-style and definitely provided a great workout. When I finished up my morning at the gym, I actually felt more proud of myself than from my normal Saturday runs. When I first got there in the morning, I told myself I’d see how I feel after the bike if I really wanted to stay at the gym for another hour, but ultimately I knew I needed to do it and I got it done.
By mid-week, my legs felt pretty normal. There was no more stiffness in my right leg where I’d been having issues and it felt like a lot of the knots had either relieved themselves or gotten smaller. I am a little concerned that once I start ramping stuff up again they’ll get messed up again, but I am relieved that they’re feeling more flexible for Saturday’s upcoming 20-miler.
As I mentioned, I’ve thrown away my goals for Chicago. There’s no point in pressuring myself to hit a specific time goal when I haven’t been able to complete my training the way I’ve wanted to do it. I am still confident that I can grab a PR if my legs are feeling good on race day. On the other hand, I’m registered for Richmond, so I am debating just running Chicago for fun and racing Richmond. Either way, I don’t expect big things but do feel I can run it faster than my current PR.
In all honesty, I haven’t been into this training cycle the way I have been in the past. The heat is partially to blame for that, but there are other factors. Figuring out where to train has still been a battle for me. I love my weekend group and our routes, but during the week I’m still working through where to go. My neighborhood has a ton of short, steep hills and inclines that make it hard to just relax, run easy, and enjoy the morning. I enjoy my weekday running group, but I’ve found they’re a better fit for off-season running. However, I don’t feel completely comfortable venturing out by myself early in the morning outside of my neighborhood so I like having other people knowing where I’m going and knowing to expect me back and making sure I get there! The summer is also the slower time for my husband at work, so I have been trying to take advantage of being able to hang out together before things start to get crazy (starting this week!) and he’s not around as much. I think it will be a little easier to focus on training this winter when he’s super busy.
Aside from running, I had a pretty jam-packed Labor Day weekend. Saturday night my brother-in-law had a suite at the local minor league baseball game and I had fun hanging out with them at it. Sunday my husband & I headed out of town for the night to visit family to celebrate his grandpa’s 95th birthday! The first thing his grandpa said when I walked into the house was, “You didn’t go running today?” He is still sharp as a tack, moving well, and hilarious. We had a really nice time getting away for the night and visiting with family. We wrapped up the long weekend with dinner at my sister’s house.
Now I’m heading into my first peak week. The weather is looking amazing for Saturday’s 20-miler, it should be in the low 50s when I get started and the high for the day is only 73 right now. I’m hoping it sticks like that because that will be a very welcomed change and much more comfortable than the horrific weather I had for both of my 18-milers. Hopefully it will got well!