|Coach T after a hard workout|
Coach T: So, I noticed that you sort of went radio silent there after your last race. Can you explain to us what happened?
J: Sure. I had a pretty tough training cycle leading up to that race. The workouts I did in the last few weeks were pretty awful. My legs had no giddy up in them at all. I wasn't particularly confident going into the race, but I also learned from a very wise woman not to ever count myself out. I felt as though I'd put in the hard work and something great may happen on race day. I made some bonehead choices, like thinking it was a good idea to travel for work to Orlando, FL 5 days before the race, sleep less than 5 hours a night race week and then spend 12 hours traveling to Duluth two days before the race. I was just flat on race day, and my little legs didn't want to go very fast. I do not regret making the trip to run in the Half Marathon Championships as part of Grandma's Marathon. The race was amazing and the support was really top notch. I hope to travel back that way again for the full marathon at some point. When I got home, I realized I was pretty burned out. It is mentally tough to train really hard for a race and then have a subpar result. I just wanted to give myself a break, which included a break from telling my running stories.
Coach T: Fair enough. So, did you come in last place?
J: Harsh, Coach T. No. I did not come in last place this time. I was at the back of the pack for sure, but not last. (Proof here).
Coach T: So, what have you been doing since the race. You said that you are taking a break? Are you running at all?
J: I mentioned before the race in this post that I felt like I was putting too much pressure on myself and running was starting to become unfun. I realized after the race that I actually had a fair amount of anxiety associated with my running, and I needed to figure out a way to get past that. I was having trouble even getting motivated to just go out for an easy run. I did what all good type As do and tried to power through those thoughts and feelings at first, thinking that if I just set a new goal and developed a training plan, I would muster the motivation to start anew. That approach flopped as you could probably easily predict it would. My first workout of this new training cycle was just as angst-ridden as any I had done in the last training cycle despite my newfound desire to keep my running all Zen-like and flowy. It took me about a week to realize that I needed a mental break. I talked with Coach L about this, and he said it was a very smart idea. So, for the past two weeks, I've let myself just do whatever I wanted. I ran when I wanted to run and I didn't run when I didn't want to run. It has worked wonders. Just giving myself that mental break has breathed some life back into me.
Coach T: Does that mean you have new goals?
J: I actually set a race goal before I decided to take this break. I thought it would be fun to run the Masters Marathon Championship race at the Twin Cities Marathon in October. I ran this race in 2009 and really enjoyed it. It's a good course for me, and I loved the race hospitality. I actually developed a training plan with Coach L right before my training implosion. Despite the beauty of the plan, I just couldn't get excited about gearing up again for a big training push. Over the last two weeks, I've started to feel much better about running and more motivated to train. I've had 3 weeks of low mileage and am building back up. I have taken the time to do a lot of thinking about my running and a bit of troubleshooting about why I felt so flat in the last training cycle. I've started experimenting with some of the elements of my training that helped me become a strong marathoner in the first place. This is stuff I once complained about doing, but I find myself oddly looking forward to: stuff like plyometric hill drills and a suite of variations on strides. I hypothesize that these activities will help me get the pop back in my legs, and I actually think it's working. I think I'll try different types of workouts and do everything effort-based at this point so I don't pressure myself into trying to hold a certain pace. I don't have to pull the trigger on Twin Cities until the end of August, so I have time to see how far I get in these next few weeks.
Coach T: I like your approach. I personally think you should be doing more squirrel sprints and digging exercises, but those are the things I love. If you like hopping on one leg up a hill over and over, then knock yourself out.
J: I think we're on the same page, Coach T. Do what you love; love what you do.
Coach T: Okay, that might be a little too touchy-feely for my tastes. So, you're getting pretty old aren't you? I understand you turn 45 soon?
J: That's right, Coach T. I'll be in a new age group. I'm excited about what I'll do with the rest of my 40s. I never would have guessed that I would have accomplished what I did in my early 40s. I have many great female masters runners to look to for inspiration--some of them are still setting PRs well into their 40s. This past year, I feel like I've been on an accelerated learning track with running. I had some crazy ass shit happen, but I met some of the most amazing people too and learned an awful lot about myself. It was a year of growth for sure.
Coach T: It has been fun chatting with you here in beautiful Cali, but I have to go do some beach running and eat some crab shells with my boy, Püddle. Hasta, chica.