Before I run, especially on “long run” days (5 miles or more), I eat something. Usually a 1/3-1/2 of a banana plus a scoop of peanut butter.
Today, I was a little rushed to get going, yet also focused on making sure I didn’t forget anything important. Garmin, check. Water belt, check. Water bottle, check. Running pouch, check. Towel, check. Hopped in the Jeep and hit the Greenway.
Near the halfway point of today’s 5-miler, I felt great. Cool temps and lots of birds and cicadas out to cheer me on. But by the time I hit 3.5 I hit a wall. I was hungry – out of calories as I call it.
Then I remembered. No snack.
Thankfully, help wasn’t far away. On Saturdays, I plan for 5, but prepare for 6 or more. That means I take a Gu energy gel in case I need an extra push toward the end of the run.
I whipped it out, took a couple of sips of water and was on my way. Looks like I had everything I needed after all.
Once the weather is a little warmer, I increase my monthly running goals from 35-40 miles a month, to 50. I set and hit 50 this March and planned to do the same for April. As it turns out, I traveled in April, and was off my usual schedule for the better part of a week.
I embrace flexibility with my goals – not to let myself off the hook, but to adapt with changing circumstances. It’s not always practical or necessary to reach every goal “no matter what!” Especially in this case, where the purpose of the trip was to unplug from the grind and connect with my boo. Rather than Herculean efforts to rise by 5am and run 4-5 miles, we slept in most days, I ran a little here and there, and that was that.
When I returned home, I immediately adjusted my expectations
and changed my goal from 50 miles to 40.
I got back in the mix and resumed my schedule. This included my usual
short to medium runs during the week, and long runs on Saturdays.
This weekend’s long run was longer than usual. I crossed the finish line with 7 miles. When I finished today’s run, my last of April, I knew I had surpassed 40 miles for the month. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my final tally was 49.4. That’s right – almost 50!
I hopped out the car, took a sip of water, and jogged a quick loop in my neighborhood to get the last little bit. Although I don’t “stress” to get my goals, I do “stretch” to get them. To be honest, adding that additional 5 or 10 minutes wasn’t a real stretch but it was the home stretch. And I had almost missed it!
It was a good reminder to keep my goals and the progress toward them in sight. Because I took for granted that I would definitely meet the easier milestone, I almost missed my ideal.
It’s great to be flexible and make adjustments as needed, but that doesn’t mean I need to be careless or lose site of the bigger picture.
Are any of your goals are closer than they appear? Don’t sell yourself short. Take stock of your progress and keep striving. The home stretch might be just around the bend.
Every now and again I consider changing my running schedule. Right now I run – outdoors – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. I like Monday runs because most runners are off. With the exception of birds, bunnies and an occasional deer, I have the running trail almost to myself at o’dark thirty.
On the other hand, Monday is my processing day. I think about the week, and try to get ahead on a few weekly tasks. And as much as I enjoy running and the energy I feel as a result, the timing never feels quite right on a Monday morning. I always get into my office feeling behind.
On Mondays where the load is soft and I can flex my way through the day, it’s no problem. But more often than not I seem to be a little behind my targets. Not really an ideal way to start the week.
So again, today, I find myself rethinking my schedule. Is it worth it to lose the solitude of the Monday run and gain the upper hand in timing and starting the day?
Think of a moment when you were full of energy. You were clear, focused and productive for a time – a day, a week, maybe longer. What had you done in the hours or days leading up to that moment?
It’s likely that your clear, focused burst of productivity was after a period of rest. Or it may have come while you were working on something associated with your higher purpose. You may have engaged in something that stretched you and then turned to an easier project.
According to Loehr and Schwartz, performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. They elucidate four principles for energy management:
PRINCIPLE 1:Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
PRINCIPLE 2: Because energy capacity diminishes with both overuse and under-use, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
PRINCIPLE 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way elite athletes do.
PRINCIPLE 4: Positive energy rituals — highly specific routines for managing energy — are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
One can understand that elite athletes must have a reservoir of energy, must be able to call on that energy in times of need, and must be disciplined to replenish that reservoir so it’s available when the time comes. Loehr and Schwartz lend this framing to a concept they call the “corporate athlete,” – busy executives who must also perform well, consistently and under pressure. Beyond the time and the know-how, energy is the key.
Being able to recruit energy when needed is essential to attaining the ideal performance state (IPS). This is where the management of energy comes in. Managing your energy means intentionally moving between states of stress and recovery.
As a runner, I balance long or intense runs with days of rest. True story – as I write this, my legs are burning from today’s hill workout. If I try to repeat hills again tomorrow and the next day, I risk declining performance and injury from overtraining.
I need to allow my muscles time to recover via rest and/or cross training. Moreover, I need to provide my muscles the right nutrition, including water, to aid their recovery. If I do this, I’ll be in great shape when it’s time to tackle those hills again, and I’ll have better results on my easier, flatter runs.
The same is true at work. There are always proverbial hills to run, often without the attendant moments of purposeful recovery. In fact, many of us work until we quite literally can’t work any more, akin to an athlete passing out or suffering a serious injury due to overtraining.
Loehr and Schwartz recommend rituals that promote “oscillation,” which is the purposeful dance, or ebb and flow of stress and recovery.
The four sources of energy (Principle 1) are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In the last article of this series, we’ll explore each of these in more detail. Until then, what are some rituals you’ve tried to help you intentionally flow between exertion and rest?
I run three days a week (I cross train with weights or rest on the others).
Some seasons I go more often and once in a while, I’ll go less. Last July I decided to beg off running for a bit. I switched to short runs, or none at all, and favored heavier weights and more rest instead.
As it turns out, the cardio (plus plenty of water) helped my blood pressure more than I knew, so by winter it was time to get real miles back in the mix. I returned to my favorite discipline in December, and have been increasing my mileage since.
I’ve run for years. Almost always outside, with the exception of serious cold (below 20° F) or heavy rain. It’s beauty seeking. It’s meditation. It’s goal setting and personal bests. It’s deep thinking. It’s #selfcare. It’s me time. I love it.
Depending on what’s going on in my life, I alter the timing, types and frequency of runs. But I’m getting those miles – usually outside. With all of that, I don’t necessarily advocate running. It’s not for everyone. Instead, I advocate movement. Something sustainable and just right for you. Something motivating, invigorating, pleasurable in one way or another. That may be dance, swimming, walking, tennis, boxing, hula hooping, rugby, whatever.
Work your heart, strengthen those muscles, look better naked. 👀 At least feel better anyway. And that counts for quite a lot.
It was supposed to be an easy run. That’s runnerspeak for conversation pace, or kind of slow. As in taking it easy.
We began that way, running a 12-minute mile to start. We sped up as we ran, and actually I started to tire out. We walked in a couple of places near the end.
With all of that, I still ended up running a PR!
Well, sort of.
I’ve only completed a handful of runs at 10k (6.2 miles) or longer. The first time was November 2013. I didn’t run that distance again until this year.
RunKeeper has my data since 2011. It knows the truth – my 2013 run was faster. Garmin only has data since February 2016, so today’s run is the fastest it knows.
That said, today’s run was still a milestone. It serves as a great baseline for my training program. My goal is to run 10k in less than an hour. With 10-weeks left to train, I’m aiming to cut a solid 8 minutes off my current 10k pace. It feels doable, although a stretch. And that’s the reason I chose this goal in the first place.
My training runs have all gone according to plan, so I’ll trust the process and keep on keeping on.
I journaled in Aspen, but chose not blog. In fact, I only touched my computer once during the trip. I do want to recap my adventures here, especially my new appreciation for theoretical physics and cosmology. But today, I’ll stick to running.
Typically, I run four days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Because I traveled last Sunday, I ran my seven miles on Saturday instead.
Due to altitude and conference proceedings, I didn’t expect to run much in Aspen. I did attempt one run, and as luck would have it, the trail from my hotel was uphill.
It took a lot of work to eek out 1.5 miles, but I was proud by the end!
I returned home late Thursday, and Friday I visited a local running store, The Big Peach. I purchased a new pair of running shoes. They’re beautiful, I must say. My “old pinks” were Pegasus 29 and the “new blues” are Pegasus 33. They’ve radically changed the shoe, and it’s comfy, lightweight and responsive. I’ve seen these words in shoe reviews, but had no idea what they meant in practical terms. At the Big Peach, I ran outdoors in a couple of brands, and the words sprang to life.
Although these feel great (!) I’m concerned the responsive feeling may mean I don’t have enough support for the 8, 9 and 10 milers coming up in a few weeks. I won’t know until I put in the miles… I do know I’m retiring my “almost new” Brooks Launch. Hopefully they’ll find a loving home.
Today I picked up the miles I left behind last Saturday. Blue came with, and we ran three miles and three strides. Tomorrow we’ll do an easy six-miler, and restart my Sub 60 plan next week.
Today’s 7-miler had a twist. Last week’s goal was simply to run 7 miles at a steady pace. Ha. Simply. That was just my third time at that distance…
Today’s work was quite a bit more challenging. The first three miles were steady (11:00-11:45 pace), the next three were fast (10:15-10:35), and one more mile at steady/cool down pace. It kicked my ass, but I made it. Better than made it. Blue and I ran negative splits for the six miles, even though I had to walk a few seconds just before mile six.
We stopped during the last mile to chit chat with some friends at a water station (shout out to North GA Running!) and then brought it in for the finish. Last week I said I wouldn’t try for another personal long; I’ve hit the same “long” twice now at 7.27, and a few weeks from now the plan requires 8! But after the water break, I had a little (just a little) energy left in the tank. So we squeezed out a few more steps and hit 7.35!
To avoid injury, we dial back the mileage the next couple of weeks, and my first 8-miler is scheduled for July 10, if everything goes as planned. So stayed tuned for my new PR then.
I haven’t had time to soak in a salt bath, and I think that’s the key to last week’s quick recovery. I plan to remedy that sometime later this evening. Sometime before I pack.
That’s 4.65 in the books. It took effort, yet I felt strong throughout. My legs, a little fatigued from strides on Tuesday and strength training yesterday, held up with no problem.
I haven’t gone shoe shopping yet, so I’ve made due rotating my old pairs. I have another long run coming up soon. In fact, it’s supposed to be Sunday, but I’m flying to Colorado for the week. I’ll skip the official Saturday workout and do Sunday’s 7-miler instead. Based on my travel schedule I may basically skip one whole week of my plan, or at least delay it. Having been to Aspen before, I know it takes a few days to get used to the elevation, making exercise of any type very difficult.
I’ll play it by ear (or breath) and look for blogs about my adventures there.
Today was workout 21 of 61, and I ran 3 miles, 5 strides.
The three miles is old hat this point, but we’ve upped the strides this week. That last stride just about did me in! I wanted to give it my all, and I did, but rather than running through the tape, I pulled up at the final split second. I felt disappointed as I heard the last chime, but I gave all I felt capable of at that moment.
All day I assumed the last stride was slower than some of the others, but now I’ve checked – it was fastest! By far! Goes to show, perception is not always reality.
Still, I plan to work at running through the tape. It’s easy for me to do when I’m somewhat tired, but when I’m truly fatigued, I stop short. If I ponder this long enough, I can probably think of many life circumstances where this was true as well.
In other news, I hit a writing milestone. Yesterday I polished a children’s book I wrote years ago, and today I sent it out into the world! Very exciting.
Knowing that it takes anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to hear from some publishers, today’s step motivated me to write more. Several things can happen at this point:
Form letter rejection
Personal rejection/ editor’s encouragement
Rejection with request to revise and resubmit
Obviously I’d prefer options 3-5, but I feel liberated. My only choices are to wait or write. Having this story circulating, no matter her fate, is freeing. I choose to write.