Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scenes from a Snow Run

We got around 6" of snow overnight in Richmond. This is not a usual occurrence for us; I'm sure you can imagine the mad rush to obtain toilet paper, milk, and bread that happened yesterday before the flakes started to fly.

My work was closed, but I have looming grant deadlines that don't care about snow days, so I spent the majority of the day at my desk. A group of friends went out very early and made first tracks along the trails of the James and I was so envious of the photos that they were posting that I couldn't stand it. I worked even harder and promised myself that as a reward for significant progress on the grant I was writing, I could go on my own snow run at Pony Pasture, just steps from my house.

There's no better incentive than that, let me tell you. Needles to say, I got my work finished and then thoroughly enjoyed my reward.







Monday, February 16, 2015

Quality Over Quantity

There have been many times over the past three months that I have composed thoughtful entries, but for whatever reason I haven't been able to take the leap from mind to [digital] paper. The combination of the holiday season followed by the doldrums of January and a lot of work-related stress have sapped me of expressive energy. I've withdrawn into myself, relying on a tiny group of core people to lean on.

After the Richmond Marathon, there was a lot of searching of my running soul. I had been beating myself up with feelings of inadequacy and failure for a month. It took me time to realize that what I needed to do was stop comparing myself to others. I am the runner that I am; there is nothing that I can do to change the fact that I can't run 50 miles a week or back to back marathons. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I don't need to run a lot of miles to prove that I am a "real" runner - whatever that means. That's why, in 2015, I have decided to focus on quality instead of quantity.

I'm not running races just to run them, or because someone else is.

I am training to become faster and stronger. I signed up to run with the Spring Marathon Training Team again - not because I plan on running a spring marathon, but because it is a fast group of runners, many of them Boston bound.

Someone once asked me how you get faster. It's simple - you run with faster people. I'm applying that theory to my next goal: a BQ. You want to run Boston? Well then, you'd better run with Boston qualifiers and marathoners.

I will use each run to better myself. To push myself in some way.

I don't see the point in running just to run this year. I want to make every mile count. I want to WANT to run every mile. I don't ever want to stand in a corral at a race and say, "Can we just go home?" Or at the start of a training run either, before we've even taken a step.

If you don't love it, why do you do it? I don't run to prove anything to others. I do it for me.

The run is my sanity and my sanctuary. I don't want it to ever be stale.

Thankfully, my cranky knee has finally started to calm down and go along with my plan. Lately, if I think about my knee it is something along the lines of, "Hey, my knee hasn't hurt for a while!" instead of, "Ugh, why does my stupid knee hurt again??" Whatever was going on seems to have resolved itself, thank God.

In the past few weeks, I've been clocking 30-40 miles per week, which is a lot for me; BUT each of those miles has been a quality mile. Cut the junk, focus on the good stuff. Two fast mid-length tempo runs during the week, and then chasing the Boston group at SMTT every Saturday. The result? My long runs average around 8:00/mile, including a sub-8:00 15 miler and 18 miler. I shaved a full 15 minutes off my last 18-miler, completed in September, a period of time that I considered the height of my fitness.

These are tough work outs, but I look forward to them and the feeling that I know will come when I achieve the mission for the day. The best thing is that when I'm finished, I feel accomplished but not zapped; I'm tired, but know that I've gotten better.

Faster.

Stronger.