It’s been a long time… and while I thought it was necessary to take this break from blogging, it didn’t actually make me more productive and interesting in “real life.” Frankly, I can’t think of a single moment where I did something where I said “wow, this would be cool to blog about.”Maybe that just goes to show that our lives are worth living whether we blog about them or not- or something. Still, I did find it a relief for the first few weeks after the marathon to not be accountable for blogging about my running life. Now though, I miss it again (and the interaction with you!) and feel it is time to return.
What do I have to report? Besides a few notes about my stupidity, not much.
The marathon, as we saw, was a good one/run. I’m still tickled pink by the great improvement on my previous PR and being able to see what level I’m at. I know I want to be faster, eventually, but for now I haven’t felt the urge to better that run. I don’t feel like I have to prove something or avenge a bad run. It was an awesome race.
I still had the post-race blues though, through which I got with some heart-to-hearts with my family, an Epsom salt bath, foam rolling, and some new things to read. Then, once the post-race soreness was gone, I decided to go for a few easy runs. Those felt good, and for some reason, I thought I was ready to attempt a new run streak. My previous one in fall of 2014 (which left me with plantar fasciitis) was 61 (or 62, can’t remember, though I could probably look it up, but that seems like more effort than typing these few words) days. I felt that the last months of the semester before going abroad for vacation and more school was a good time to try it again. It started off well, and I felt good. A lot of doubles (two-a-days), and I was feeling motivated about strapping my shoes on and just lurching out the door. I ran watchless and musicless for four weeks, and it all felt so natural and free.
Then, I got over confident about my abilities, forgot to think about long-term fatigue and lack of rest days, and went out for back-to-back mid-distance runs, or went too hard two days in a row.
My mind was telling me that I couldn’t hold it up the way that I was going, that I should take a rest day and prevent an overuse injury, but my heart was saying “I’m strong, just as strong as many of those out there who do extreme ultra running (think Appalachian Trail runs). If they can do that, why can’t I handle running every day 1-10 miles?”
It came to the point that I was listening more to my ambition about the number on my “streak” log than the pain on the outside of my knee or heels of my feet. My runs got slower and slower, and I woke up with pain every morning that I manically tried to roll out with the foam roller and ease out with stretches 30-40 minutes a day. But what finally made me realize I was being stupid is when the runs stopped being enjoyable. I was running to keep the streak alive, not myself. That was foolish and so one Thursday, I just ignored my inner-voice telling me to go out, and the streak was broken.
Since then, I’ve eased off running for a bit again. I took a longer break than I did post-marathon and am slowly making it back into the 25+ mpweek range. My runs have felt better again, and I’m enjoying it again. I do run occasionally with my watch to see where my fitness is at, but I’m not afraid to run without it if I know the route I’m taking.
I have decided that I maybe didn’t take enough time off after the marathon, feeling pressured by some of my awesome running friends who run within 24 hours of their marathons. I thought taking three days off was already being a wimp, when really, I could easily have taken a week off, at least.
I have also decided that I don’t work well without a plan. The streak was fun because I didn’t have to think about whether or not I would run. I just ran what I felt like and pulled off some pretty great mileage because of it. But going from marathon week to 12 to 35 to 47 miles was stupid, for me. Also, I like planning out my hard and easy efforts during the week, and allowing myself the time to rest so that my hard efforts can be kick-ass. With my streak and without a plan, I was too easily drawn into the myth that I could handle two hard efforts in a row, take day easy, and then do it again. There’s a reason most running plans cycle easy, hard, and long runs, and I should have tried my streak with that in mind, or not at all.
So, lesson well learned. If I ever do attempt a streak again, I will do it with a plan in mind of following what has become my natural push and rest cycle. The light-tempo, interval or tempo, easy, rest or easy, easy, long run, rest cycle of runs works for me, so I should just stick to it.
Because of how the last two weeks went, I decided not to sign-up for the 10K that was supposed to happen today in my area, but I did do a pretty sweet 10-mile run at 7:35 overall pace yesterday, which felt darn good. I know I could have gone faster, so I’m motivated to keep working on my running in a smart way to be prepared for some summer races.
I like having my running, because sometimes it’s the only thing I feel like I’m marginally good at, and it helps distract me from failures I experience in academia or life. I turn 25 on Tuesday (quarter-life crises, I hear, are a thing). I’m figuring out what I’m going to do next year, how I’ll finance it and support myself, and whether I can rise up to the expectations I have for myself, and it’s good to have running to get my mind and body in the space to think these things through and remain positive. A running life really is a good life, so I’m glad I stopped the streak when I did to avoid a long-term injury (even if plantar fasciitis symptoms can be pesky).
Hope things are good on your end! I’ve been following blogs as well as I can this semester, so I know there are a few awesome races coming up that I can’t wait to read about!