On Monday, I started training for the Fool's Dual Half Marathon on April 7th. It was my first week with my coach, and I'm so happy that I pursued getting a coach and that I chose Erin! All of my runs this week went perfectly, and the little niggles that I've had in the past few weeks are gone. I attribute that to the smart strength and core work I've been doing, as well as an amazing little routine called Myrtl, all of which were suggested by my coach. Those Myrtl hip circles have changed my life! I love finding another piece to the staying-injury-free puzzle.
All my runs rocked this week, but the best part of the week wasn't physical. I noticed a significant shift in my attitude. I'm worrying and beating myself up less, and relaxing more and feeling more satisfied with my running. When you don't have a coach, you are coaching yourself, and it's a lot of work, especially when you don't know shit about being an athlete. You learn as you go, and that's great, but there's a lot of second-guessing that goes on. Anyway, it's probably too soon to make proclamations, but I really think I picked the right coach for me. She's encouraging and knowledgable and straight-shooting. I should have done this before!
I'm going to try something new this week. Instead of writing about all my runs (boooor-ing!), I'm going to write just about the hard runs; the "workouts". Hopefully this will make for a less boring blog post. You tell me.
My key workouts this week were:
- Speed: 8x400 (5 miles total)
- Tempo: 2 miles (4 miles total)
- Long: 7 miles
LongI did my long run yesterday morning in Bennington, Vermont. The ground was dry and not slippery at all, so I was determined to run outside, despite the weather. It was 16 degrees with 50 mph wind gusts. I've never run in Bennington before, so I mapped out an out-and-back route from our hotel. The maps app on my iPad doesn't show elevation, so I had no idea that my little 7-mile jaunt was going to be an eyeball freezing 760-foot climb of death. There was a fair bit of moaning, a tiny bit of walking, and much freezing of the aforementioned eyeballs, but I finished with a respectable 10:14 average pace. (My goal pace for long runs is anything between 9:55 and 11:10.)
Another reason the long run was so tough was that I did all my other runs on the treadmill this week. I run between 6 and 7am, when it’s still really cold and icy outside. Since I'm really scared of falling, I've taken to the treadmill. Most folks suggest running at 1% incline to get the equivalent of running outside, but since my ankles hate incline, Erin said to keep it flat and just bump up the speed a bit to get an equivalent workout. That was smart because I've had five great treadmill runs in a row this week, and usually I can't do more than two in a row without pain. And even then I'm beating myself up for lowering the incline to 0% at the end.
I also found a treadmill pace equivalency chart which gives effective pace at different inclines. Did you know that if you leave the treadmill flat, you are actually not doing as much work as your pace would suggest? Well, if you believe in this pace chart anyway. For example, the chart suggests that an 8:00 pace on a flat treadmill is equivalent to 8:20 pace outside on flat ground. They say it has to do with the lack of wind resistance, but it seems to me that belt’s movement must make the treadmill a bit easier to run on. You can just sort of plop your foot down and then pick it up again, which seems easier than pushing the ground back. I'm not sure what to believe, but I am increasing my paces a bit on the ’mill.
TempoTempo runs are my Achilles heel. Groan! When I saw that I had a two-mile tempo run on the schedule this week, I was excited instead of scared. Two miles seems really manageable, and I rocked it. Now I have more confidence than usual going into my next (three mile) tempo run.
SpeedAs I mentioned before, I love speedwork. My 400s were great on Tuesday, but afterwards I was worried that I felt a little too great. Like maybe I didn't work hard enough. I asked Erin about this and she said that I shouldn't feel completely spent unless I had just crossed a finish line. Now how much sense does that make? Sean has told me this before too, but I have a habit of not believing anything he says until someone else says it; someone who isn't 90% motivated by not wanting me to cry.
Erin also said two more smart things. She said that 8x400 is not quite a full set of 400s, which means I will be more tired later when I do 10 or 12 of them at the same pace. She also said that you should always feel like you could do another repeat at the end of your speedwork. I was starting to beat myself up for not running harder, but I decided to trust her wisdom, stop stressing, and move on with my life. I never would have thought that having a coach would give me this kind of freedom!
Having a coach is amazing. Especially when you're a basket case.