You Spin My Head Right Round…13.

I haven’t decided which is harder, lacing up my shoes and walking out the door or running the actual 11 miles. The mental game is often times more difficult than the physical. I psych myself out, I find all of the excuses, I conjure up tummy aches and knee pain. I fall into the thought pattern that I’m just too tired, I wouldn’t be able to put 100% into it, so why should I do it? The mental struggle is real.

This round of half-marathon training is no different. I am currently in week 5 of my 13th round of training. Holiday Half, here I come! You would think that 3 weeks of zero running while in Central America last month would restart all of my motivation. (More on the trip later.) Not the case. This round of training has had an entirely new focus: speed. I am going to PR this next half-marathon. Track workouts once a week, tempo run once a week and a long run. I’ve gone from lifting heavy 6 days a week with intermittent running to focused running 3 days a week, lifting heavy 3 days a week and one active rest day.

It looks a little like this:

# Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 9/20-27 Track

8×100

 

Leg Day

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

3.5 

Tempo

Chest

Back

Core

7 L Off
2 9/28-10/4 Track

6×200

 

Leg Day

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

4.5 

Tempo

Chest

Back

Core

9 L Off
3 10/5-11 Track

8×100

 

Leg Day

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

5.5 

Tempo

Chest

Back

Core

11L  Off
4 10/12-18 Hill Rpt

5×30sec

LD 1

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

6.5 T Chest

Back

Core

12 L Body

Weight

 

5 10/19-25 1,2,3,4-

321

Ladder

 

LD 2

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

6.5 T Chest

Back

Core

13 L Body

weight

6 10/26-11/1 Hill Rpt

8x30secs

LD 3

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

4.5 T Chest

Back

Core

9 L 3-5 E
7 11/2-8 8×100,

4×400

 

LD 1

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

7.5 T Chest

Back

Core

15 L 3-5E
8 11/9-15 1,2,3,4,5

4,3,2,1

Ladder

 

LD 2

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

6.5 T Chest

Back

Core

13 L  Off
9 11/16-22 8×100

 

LD 3

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

5.5 T Chest

Back

Core

11 L 3-5E
10 11/23-29 4×400

 

LD 1

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

4.5 T Chest

Back

Core

9 L Off
11 11/30-12/6 8×100

 

LD Any

Core

Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

3.5 T Chest

Back

Core

7 L  Off
12 12/7-13 Rest or

Stretch

6.5 E Bi/Tri

Shoulders

Core

3.1 E Chest

Back

Core

REST! 13.1!

 

Track days included a mile warm up and a mile cool down in addition to 4 different dynamic stretches like walking lunges, squats, butt kickers etc.

Each of our gym days are a concentrated power hour in the specified muscle group. It’s heavy lifting and a killer challenge. The tempo run is typically 50% of that week’s long run and it is done at a 10k pace. The long runs on the weekend are generally run naked. That is, without a Garmin or headphones, so I can disconnect and actually remember why I love running.

Like I had mentioned, this round of training is focused on speed. I truly want to get better. But, let me tell you, the track workouts are a reality check! I consider myself an adult most of the time. I hate adulting, but I didn’t think there was much 5 year old left in me. I was wrong. Jess, the small child, comes out during track workouts. I must have thrown 3 temper tantrums during an hour workout. There was so much negative energy, pouting, arm crossing and throwing myself down on the ground. At one point, Eli made the mistake of asking how I was doing. I wailed, “I’m f*&%ing AWFUL!”

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I do give my best effort though. I push myself into asthma attack oblivion. I push beyond my comfort zone. That 5 year old can be quieted if I focus on the track in front of me. I keep my head up. My wings out. Thank you, Oiselle.

It’s all going to make me faster, right?

All of my complaining and failed adulting aside, I actually like track workouts more than I do tempo runs. I have the hardest time motivating myself to push hard for that many miles. Anyone else have such a complicated relationship with running?

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I am looking forward to seeing the improvements in my running. By designing this challenge, I knew it was going to kick my booty. I knew there were parts I was going to hate. What is that adage though, ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.’ I’m ready to change. I want to run faster.

I also want to keep the balance. I love running. I love running for the mental clarity, for the run highs, for the happiness. I love running to discover new trails and to both lose and discover myself. When I push myself to run faster, I lose that joy. It becomes solely about getting through the workout and not the joy of the run itself. I’m working to find joy in the challenge.

Maybe it looks like this:

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Or, perhaps this is just what a break during a long run looks like.

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“She Thinks She’s Fast.”

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Life. Life is about perspective. Your perception is your reality.

You could go to a concert and think the singer had an amazing voice. You would walk away satisfied with the band’s performance. As you discussed it later, you’d stare at your friends in disbelief when they all agreed it was the worst concert they’d ever heard. It doesn’t matter that you all saw the same performance. You perceived the artist as doing well. Your friends did not.

So often this is true of life. Your perception is your reality.

I was running last week and came upon a man doing the sign dance on a street corner. You know the type I’m talking about; usually waving about tax help, mattresses, or in this case, $9.99 Large pepperoni pizzas at Round Table. He had his headphones in, and as I passed him, he muttered under his breath, “Hah. She thinks she’s fast.”

…Excuse me, sir? Just because you have headphones in does not mean that I cannot hear you speak! I fumed about it for the next few minutes as I continued down the road. Who does he think he is? I’m not slow. I’m a damn runner, not a jogger.

And then I realized something: that was his perception. And, you know what? He’s right. I do think I’m fast. That is my perception. I am faster than I was yesterday. I am faster than I was two months ago when I was stuck in Das Boot. I am faster than the demons in my brain that I shake out with every footfall on the pavement. I may not be Meb Keflezighi, Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, or Nick Symmonds. But, I consistently put one foot in front of the other and keep going. That is my reality.

Speaking of reality, it has hit me hard of late. Coming back from an injury is a very humbling and drawn out process. My last marathon was in April, and I’ve hardly written since then. I really think there’s a correlation between a good run and a good blog post. In fact, I would venture to say that I derive my inspiration for writing from my running. No running = No writing.

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But, I’m baaaaack! It has been an incredibly slow process, with lots of listening to my body. It’s taken patience to realize that I couldn’t just jump back into 20 mile trail runs; that 3 miles was asking a lot of my weakened leg. It has taken humility to accept that I’m not as fast as I used to be. And, it has taken a positive attitude to fight all of that mental negativity that comes along with this process.

I want to catch you all up on the process and all of my adventures had over the summer. However, this will be in a separate blog post that I promise I am already working on! Be ready for a photo gallery.

For now, my first race since the injury, the Prefontaine Memorial 10k in Coos Bay. A race I ran last year, and also a few years back in my primary school days.

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Overall, a great race. The weather was perfection. Seventy degrees and clear, blue skies. I really love races in small towns. The atmosphere was so happy and relaxed. It allowed me to achieve that calm, pre-race zen that I love so much. I’ve come to realize that I’m not the competitive type, though I wish I was. I run to compete against myself and myself only. Those other people ahead of me? I’ve heard the whole ‘reel em in’ trick to push yourself. I usually just critique their form and wonder how mine is. The thought of passing them does not even enter my silly mind.

So, the Pre. I sadly went out too fast. I was pacing 2 minutes faster per mile than what I wanted for the first 3 miles. By the time dreaded Agony Hill came around, I was spent. My shin started acting up and so did my asthma. My immediate thought, as I stepped off to the side of the road unable to breathe, was this, “Jessica, you forgot your inhaler. You ran too hard. Your training schedule is a mess. You have a marathon in two weeks and you cannot even run six miles?! You are so full of excuses.” So, I started running again. Damn that negative self-talk.

About that time, this lovely pixie of a runner comes up alongside me. She says to me, as I’m having a very active argument with my brain, “Mind if I pace with you? You’re making this look easy right now.” You must be joking. But, of course I agreed. She came out all the way from Chicago to run this race and be my absolute savior because Steve Prefontaine was her idol. We pushed and paced each other all the way to the finish line, sprinting the last 200 meters. I truly could not have done it without her. Thank you, running gods!

While I was busy wishing I was taking a nap or eating Nutella (damn blerch) around mile 4, this guy was already crossing the finish line, 45th out of 830+ people.

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To think he was going to pace with me, finishing 400th. Hah! An absolute badass. I am so proud of him for ditching me and embracing the race spirit. I’ll get there someday. For now, a great race. Negative self-talk aside. I still crossed the finish line, didn’t I? A great weekend full of amazing people. A great way to get back into the groove. Less than two weeks until autumn’s best race, the Portland Marathon. I could not be more excited (and nervous)!

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Happy first day of autumn! I celebrated with a spectacular run on the waterfront in my new pair of pretties (New Balance Minimus wr10’s)! Just shy of double digits to break them in and catch up with one of my best friends. A run is truly the best way to cultivate a friendship. Sweating, spitting and swearing included. Love.

Current song on repeat:

 

 

Am I a fast runner? Yes. That is my perception. Am I fast as compared to others? No. But do I compare myself to others? Not in the slightest. Be happy, be you. Your perception is your reality.