Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Check In

Last night I was reflecting on this past month of running in my new Believe Training Journal. I like that at the end of each month it prompts you to reflect back on the past couple of weeks so you can assess what worked and what didn't. Overall January was a fantastic month of training, but not without some hiccups. Here's the rundown for January:

The Good:
  • I logged my highest monthly mileage ever at 110 miles for the month. I've come close to 100 miles in a month a few times before but never passed this particular milestone. I credit running consistently 5 days a week and upping my mid-week miles. 
  • A new 5k PR!! I started the month with the Commitment Day 5k. Going into the race I wasn't really sure what I wanted to achieve, whether I wanted to race it or just take it easy. My training plan that day called for a negative split 5 miles so I decided to have a 2 mile warm up and see what my legs felt like doing for the race. I sped out the first mile at 9:16/mile and knew I really couldn't maintain that pace for the whole race. I was hoping for a 9:45 overall average so I tried to calm myself down in the second mile.The second mile clocked in at 9:58 and I was getting tired. I wanted to give it all I had for the last mile but the path was covered in black ice and we all had to walk a few portions. Since my number one goal is my half in March I wasn't about to risk injury. The last mile read 10:10. My official time was 30:37 (9:52 avg pace). So close to sub-30! It made me excited to try a few more 5k's after my goal race in March!

  • Nailing workouts that looked scary on paper. 
    • This training cycle is the first time I have tried tempo runs and I love them. Over the past couple of weeks the tempo miles have been increasing and instead of being intimidated, I find myself looking forward to them.
    • Long runs with a few race pace miles in the middle are also new to me and I was able to do them just fine.
    • My favorite run of the month was a negative split 6 miler. The plan called for a 2,2,2 run meaning that my pace should drop every two miles. During the week I usually run on the treadmill since I have to go very early in the morning. This particular morning I decided to drive out to the trail and try pacing on my own instead of relying on the treadmill. My plan was a relaxed first 2 miles, then my "B goal" half marathon pace (10:45) and then my "A goal" pace (10:30), By the time I got to mile 5 I was feeling so good I decided to give a little extra in the last 2 miles. I think I did pretty good.

The Not-So-Good
  • Perhaps related to my jump in mileage this month I have developed a tightness on my left leg, particularly in my calf. Because my huge injury last year was on my left side this gave me cause for concern. Then last week when I started feeling some old familiar pains in my SI joint I knew it was time to step back a little. I actually skipped my last long run of the month and took a couple days off. That seems to have helped a lot because everything is feeling much better.

Things To Work On:
  • My main goal for the coming month is to listen to my body and don't be afraid to take a step back if necessary. Taking a few preventative days off is way better than being forced to take 5 months off again.
  • Consistent core and hip strengthening. I have been doing this a couple of times a week, but I really feel that I need to incorporate a few hip strengthening exercises each day in addition to what I am already doing. I just ordered some resistance bands to help me out.
  • Get enough sleep!
  • Be mindful of what I am eating. I am slacking off a little and I need to get back on track.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Best of 2014

As far as running goes, 2014 just wasn't my year.  I had such high hopes. I went into 2014 calling it "the year of the marathon". My first marathon was supposed to be in April and then Marine Corps in the Fall.

My training for RNR Raleigh came to a screeching halt with my first 20 mile run. What followed was 4 months of physical therapy and 2 months of getting up the nerve and the athletic base to start running again. I DNS'ed more races than I ran, including Marine Corps.

To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. When I started running again in August, I felt like I had a huge hill to climb to get to where I was before I got injured. My legs felt heavy and nothing about it was easy.

But then something clicked. Looking at my training log it seems like all of the sudden with one 4 mile treadmill run everything changed for me. I stopped running intervals and my paces were dropping. I give a lot of credit to the Another Mother Runner 10k Finish It plan. I used it to train for my Thanksgiving Day 10k race and the workouts were more structured than anything I had tried before. And I was nailing them. Training for that race using that plan gave me so much confidence in my running.

As the Fall went on I PR'ed in the 5 mile, and 10k distance and placed 2nd in my Age Group for a trail run. I had so much fun coming back to running. Looking back on my injury, I can honestly say that I am thankful for it. While I could not see the benefits while I was in the thick of it, it gave me the chance to completely reset my running and the tools I needed to get even better.

So instead of looking at 2014 as "the year that wasn't" I prefer to focus on the positive experiences. And because I really like Miss Zippy's Year in Review (2012, 2013), here is my Best of 2014!

Best Race Experience
I'd have to say my best race experience was the Bull City Race Fest 5 miler.  It was a race I initially signed up for for fun because it was a local race and a lot of people I knew were running it. I was my first race in almost a year and my first in my Oiselle singlet. It was awesome to have friends and teammates on the course. Plus, I completely shocked myself with a >9 minute improvement over last year's time.

Best Run
It may seem strange but my best run was a 4 mile treadmill at a ungodly hour on a Monday morning in September. It was an easy 3 miles followed by 6 strides and I did the whole run without stopping once. This was huge for me. It got me thinking about the personal boundaries I set for myself and gave me the courage to push past them.

Best Piece of New Gear
My Oiselle singlet! This year I joined the Oiselle Flock and am having so much fun being part of this team!
Lovingly stolen pic from here

Best Piece of Running Advice
This came from my physical therapist who strongly indicated over and over again not to neglect my core and hip strengthening exercises. I very aware that running can't just be about actual running. To prevent another lengthy injury and to become a better runner I really need to make core work and hip strengthening exercises a priority.

Most Inspirational Runner
This would have to go to my Oiselle teammates near and far. I love reading their highs and lows and everything in between. In particular I absolutely love the little team we have assembled here in North Carolina. I've lucky to not only consider them my teammates but also my friends.

Oiselle Team NC at the City Of Oaks Marathon Relay in November

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
A total learning experience.