Friday, August 27, 2010

What makes a good run?

I have now completed 3 double-digit runs, the most recent being an 11-mile trek on Sunday with my running partner. It was tough at times (the last mile was uphill with no shade and seemingly neverending), but overall it was a good run.

While we were stretching out our tired legs, we agreed that the 11-mile run had been easier than our previous runs that week. My previous run was supposed to be 8 miles, but I quit at 3.5 miles and ended up coming back to run another 5 an hour later. The same thing happened to me yesterday on a scheduled 6.5 mile run. At 3.5 miles, I just didn't feel like running anymore and there was a storm rolling in, so I cut it short. Unlike last week, though, I didn't ever get out and finish the last 3 miles. I can't explain what happened on either of those runs. I just didn't feel like finishing, and I was running a "figure-8" route that took me past my car at 3.5 miles, so it was easy to quit.

I have grown to enjoy my short 2-mile runs. It is easy to get out the door and hit the pavement, knowing I'll be done in 20 minutes or less and still have a good workout. I don't have to prepare for those runs in any way. I anticipate my long runs all week, and I prepare. I hydrate, I watch what I eat, I plan out my route, I load my I-Pod with good tunes, and if I am lucky I have company. Those runs are an accomplishment, especially since I've been increasing my mileage.

So my goal for the next few weeks is to make my mid-length runs an Event. First, I have to stop running that figure-8 route so it's not easy to stop mid-run. Next, I need to focus on hydration the day before the run. It's a subtle thing, but a hydrated body is a happier body. Maybe a good audio book. Definitely a reward for myself when I complete that next medium run, like a chai latte or a new running tank.

I've got about 5 weeks until the race, and mediocre runs aside, I feel ready. I could get out and run 13.1 tomorrow, so I feel like the next month is just going to make me stronger. I'm even contemplating a full marathon in February...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weeks 8 & 9: Some highs and lows

The past two weeks have been hectic. I've been doing some contract work for another attorney, which has involved a lot of driving to meetings, usually early morning. I guess it's a preview of what life would be like if I had a regular job instead of being self-employed. Fitting in an early morning run has been challenging.

Week 8 was an eventful running week. I didn't get my first run in until Wednesday, a 6-mile run that I desperately wanted to cut short for some reason. I pushed through it, which felt really good. One of the things that makes running so rewarding is that there are always challenges to overcome, but they can be wrapped up in a comparatively short time. My next run was on Saturday, a 3.1 mile race to benefit the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. It was a brutally hot race, and I pushed myself too hard in the first half. I had to stop and walk twice, but I was able to sprint the last stretch. My time wasn't my best, and I was really disappointed for a little while. Then I got to watch my 8-year-old neighbor run in the one-mile kid's run. She has been inspired by watching her mom fall in love with running, and this was her first race. She placed second overall out of the girls, which turned my mood around. At the awards ceremony, another treat was that her mom (my running partner) ended up placing third in our age division, so they got to take home two medals. My final run was supposed to be a 9.5 mile run, which I scheduled for the day after the race (probably not the best idea). I miscalculated my route and ended up running a little over 10 miles. Strangely, it was an easier run than the short race the day before. I was slow but steady, and I planned out my hydration stops very well. After that run, I came home and took an ice bath. It actually felt great. My first double-digit run was a much-needed accomplishment.

Week 9 was another recovery week. After the race and 10-miler, I was ready for a break. My quads were sore for days after that weekend. But by the middle of the week, I was desperate for a challenge. The four-mile jogs fit into my unusually busy schedule, but they weren't long enough for me to really get lost in the motion. I can't wait for my 11-mile run at the end of week 10.