Training? For…a 10K? Holy moly it feels surreal to say that. The 10K distance used to be one of my weekday marathon training runs!
Since it coincides with marathon recovery, training has been off to a bit of a slow start. During zero week, I only ran once. This week, I only ran 3 times for a total mileage of roughly 11.2. Even though almost all of my runs have been going well, it is making me a little anxious that I’m still not running as much as I’d like. My 10K is 6 weeks away now, which seems like plenty of time, but I want to be in great shape so I can blow my PR of 53:08 out of the water and hopefully snag the coveted sub-50:00 in the process.
I wanted to run more this week, but unfortunately work stress and bad weather put a literal damper on my plans. A downpour on Monday afternoon meant I had to postpone that day’s run home from work. After a work meeting ran late on Tuesday, I pounded out those 3.5 miles, rain and gathering darkness be damned. It felt great. It gave me a big boost of confidence to see that while running at a sub-8:00 average pace is still quite a workout, it is noticeably easier than it used to be. Maybe running a marathon really does make people faster….
Thursday – I DID SPEED WORK! YAAAY!! I almost scrapped this workout, because my calf was still really bothering me (remember me mentioning this in my zero week recap? No? Well, TL;DR version: I’ve been having some persistent tightness and discomfort in my right calf). To my dismay, things seemed to be getting worse, not better. As I tried to warm up for speed work, it was so bad I was practically hobbling. However, once I charged into that first interval, I barely felt a thing! So I proceeded with the workout as planned, and then it flared up again as I was cooling down. Unlike the last few runs, however, this time it seemed to die down a bit with some compression, stretching and foam rolling.
The speed work went well. Using a track is just not really an option for me these days, but luckily there is a relatively flat, uninterrupted stretch of sidewalk near my house that is exactly .25 miles. Perfect! So I did 400m repeats, with 400m rest between each (I would have done 200m rest, but this would have made the logistics of turning around and finding the halfway point too difficult). I had originally planned to do 6×400, but it got dark out so I cut it down to 5 repeats, which were pretty consistent at 1:44, 1:46, 1:45, 1:49, and 1:45, for an average of roughly 1:46. Not too shabby!
Kevin’s brother was visiting us from Pittsburgh this weekend, so Friday and Saturday were busy and I took those days off. Then yesterday, I did my long run of 5.2 miles. It did not go as well as I’d hoped after so many fast workouts lately – I came away with an average pace somewhere in the ballpark of 8:45. It was slugglish and slow and I actually had to make a pit stop half way through (come on, Hanna – a bathroom break on a 5 mile run? What are you, new here?!).
But it was a good learning experience. I came away with a few important lessons:
1. I do not run well in the late morning/early afternoon, especially if I have been sleeping in and taking it easy that day. Every run that I have attempted during this time of day has been sluggish and messy and seems to result in twice the effort for half the results. If I’m going to do another late morning run, it needs to follow an already active morning or I need to do twice as much warm-up as I think I need. Ugh.
2. There’s only so many times I can say “but I just ran a marathon, 5 miles is easy!” The marathon was over two weeks ago now – that fitness bump can’t last forever. I think yesterday’s slow run was the running gods’ way of telling me to stop taking the marathon training high for granted. The marathon is over. I’m not running 40-mile weeks anymore. It’s time to move on and start focusing on the here-and-now. If I can’t take my shorter workouts seriously, then I’m never going to make the improvements that my goals demand of me.
3. Don’t overthink it. The beauty of incorporating regular speed work into your routine is that it allows you to actually take easy runs easy without feeling so anxious about it. They’re not all supposed to be fantastic, you know. It may not be the long run you’re used to, but it’s still your long run, so follow the wisdom of the ages and take it slow. You’ve never suffered for doing that.
Unfortunately, I am still not out of the calf-discomfort woods yet. I remain hopeful, though. My calf still bothers me, but it bothers me microscopically less each day. Running on it yesterday was much easier than running on it Thursday and Monday. I think I just need to be patient as my body adjusts to regular running again.
Early last week, when it was really bad and I was worried that it might be a legitimate soon-to-be full-blown injury, I contemplated the idea of scrapping my 10K plans and taking it easy for a few weeks (this would also inevitably mean I will be underprepared for my January 24th half marathon, which is only about 3 months away now). But then after I got through my Thursday speed work and the next couple days with almost no discomfort, I changed my mind and thought maybe this doesn’t need to set me back after all.
I think I just need to see how I’m feeling after this week. Despite being insanely busy, I plan to run 4 times this week. If my leg continues to feel better, then it’s full steam ahead; if not, I will have to cut my losses and back off. There will be other 10Ks in the coming months, and plenty of half marathons next spring. Postponing my goals won’t be the worst thing in the world for me.
As I begin to let go of the marathon and immerse myself in 10K training, I am noticing how much I enjoy the ability to be more flexible in my training, challenge myself in new ways and most importantly, approach each day with more mindfulness. During marathon training, each workout was just about getting more miles in so that the mileage log total could go up, up, up. Now that I’m not so concerned about that, I can give more attention and focus to each individual workout and really make each one count. For example, tonight I have hill repeats on the agenda. Hill repeats means no pace tracking, no mileage tracking, just get out there and work it out, focusing on pushing yourself through each repeat. I like that I can mix up my workouts more often now.
Tonight’s hill repeats will be a good opportunity for me to grind out the stress and anxiety that have been building up these past couple weeks. Perhaps I underestimated marathon recovery, as I’m finding there is a big mental component to the process that I overlooked before. Or maybe it’s just bad timing, and if this time had fallen during a few less stressful weeks of my life it would not be so bad.
Here’s to getting back into a routine and working myself into tip-top-10K-shape!