marathon running

A Flash of … Clarity? Peace?

Ever have those moments when you have a total flash of clarity? Even when you didn’t even know you needed one? Well, that happened to me in the middle of a five mile run on Monday and it instantly relieved weeks of tension…tension that I didn’t even realize I was carrying. But lets back up a bit….
 

Norway Running

I have been chasing a BQ for awhile, but I have also been struggling with an extreme lack of confidence and that has bled over into my training. I don’t push myself as hard as needed, if a workout isn’t going well – it gets cut it short, I’ll skip long runs, and I won’t prioritize the training over other aspects in my life. I think part of me believed that I would miraculously run a BQ without all the hard work. Well, I decided a few months ago that this would be my year – I would focus on the training, push myself when I needed to, and actually feel confident when I toed the starting line at the Erie Marathon on September 10th.

 

About a month ago, I was presented with an almost once in a lifetime opportunity. A June work trip to Norway would coincide with Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromsø. This is a unique race in that marathon occurs right around the summer solstice and start time is 8pm! I’d been trying to run this race for years, but work never really lined up. I signed up for the marathon with every intention of this being a “fun” race. I was going to train enough that I didn’t embarrass myself, but I wasn’t going to have a time goal. It would just be a really cool race experience.

Midnight Sun Marathon – Doesnt It Looke Gorgeous

As I started building my training plan, a little whisper started creeping into my brain. “How cool would it be if you qualified for Boston in Norway?” The whisper started growing louder and I found myself checking to see if BAA would accept a result from that marathon (they would). So my low key training plan ballooned into one that had be running 60 and 70 miles a week! My previous weekly high was about 55 during peak training. The realistic part of my brain kept trying to interject with reason “you had a plan…stick to it! You haven’t built up a base to support that mileage! Don’t throw away your shot on a pipe dream” I kept ignoring it.

 

So I started following the plan and, almost immediately, fell behind. It didn’t help that I had two ten day trips to Norway in a six week period – which meant a ton of treadmill miles. But I kept thinking that I would be able to do it – I just needed to keep pushing. Then I had a week and a half where none of my runs went right – from quads that wouldn’t loosen to being exhausted after long days at work to a fall during a local 5K.

One of the Few Good Runs in the Past Month

This was the backdrop as I was struggling through that 5 miler on Monday – which was supposed to be an 11 miler. Out of nowhere a clear thought entered my head “Meg – you don’t need to BQ in Norway – just enjoy the race. Erie is the goal.” And I physically felt the tension that I didn’t realize I was carrying loosen. Why that thought made it through and all the previous reasonable ones didn’t, I don’t know. But I really took it to heart and, when I got home, I ripped my training plan off the fridge and threw it away.

The Ill Thought Out Plan

I’m still running the Midnight Sun Marathon, but it will be a fun run where I can enjoy running north of the Arctic Circle. And I’m still ready to claim that BQ in September, just not a moment before.

 

I actually ended up having two epiphanies during that run. But that one is worth a blog post all on its own.

 

 

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Running Hippie Recovery Method

Recovery. Recovery. Recovery.

This is a constant mantra in the running world – no matter what running magazine, book, or website you read. It can range from walking or resting between intervals to making sure there is a day of easy running after a hard workout to taking time off after race. I’ve never had a problem on the lower end of the scale. Walk/jog 400 meters after an 800 meter repeat? No problem – in fact can I turn that 400 into an 800? Three easy miles the day after a seven mile tempo run? Yes – please!

Shoes and paws

Trail Shoes and Trail Paws

However, I do have a problem with the post race recovery – mostly when it comes to post marathon recovery. If one follows the traditional adage of one day of recovery for every mile raced – that is practically a month!! And I know the month recovery period is not a month of sans running or being active. And I know I need downtime for my mental health – otherwise I’ll just burn out on running. But I have never been able to master the perfect marathon recovery month. I either do too little and have to work hard to bring my fitness back up or I do too much and struggle through the beginning part of my next training cycle. I’ve tried following Recovery Plans because I generally like a good training plan, but I find them too regimented. And, on top of all of this, I have a running addicted pup that doesn’t understand recovery at all. She wants to go for a run Every. Single. Day.

But I think I’ve finally hit upon the secret! I call it the Running Hippie Recovery Method. Here are the “rules” (except there are no real rules because, you know, hippie):

  • Relax
  • Have fun
  • No watches
  • Go for long walks
  • Explore new running route
  • Run on trails
  • Hike
  • Play like a little kid
  • Try some yoga – or continue to practice if that’s your thing
  • Run slow or fast or medium. Run how you feel that day

Essentially “playing” through my recovery allows me to keep my fitness, but doesn’t stress me out. I’m starting my new training cycle (going for a half-marathon PR!) this week and I feel ready to go. And – most importantly – the Running Hippie Recovery Method allows me to keep the pup entertained!

What do you do for recovery? Do you follow a plan? or do you just “wing it”?

Upsidedown Me

Wasn’t kidding when I said play like a kid!

Tess and I - Old Town

Tess doesn’t understand why we stopped running

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