Running Log: October 16-22, in which I run a race

This was a good week as far as running goes.

Remember how I mentioned that the races I signed up for got cancelled? Well, only one of them did. The other race was re-imagined by the Berliner running club who were putting it on and I decided to do it, despite it not being at all what I had signed up for. Rather than setting up the course in the forest as they originally were going to, they set up on a track. A dirt track. And rather than having hills and roots to watch out for, they set up mini-hurdles.

I considered the boredom of running in a loop, as well as the small participation, a challenge. There were about 35 people doing the 30-minute and the 60-minute together, but only 12 of us were doing the full hour. But they did have music and the timer on the track meant I’d get to know how fast I was running each lap.

It was an hour long race, the first of its kind I’ve ever done. I’ve had my own hour-long attempts- trying to see how much I can get done in the hour I had allotted, for example, but never a race where the time was measured and it was up to me to see how much I could get done in that time.

Turns out, it’s a tad above 13 kilometers: 97 meters more. This comes out to a 7:21 mpm average pace. At least, that’s my ability with my current fitness.

I went in with a goal of 8 miles, which is a 7:30 pace and I felt it was doable, since I’ve been running pretty consistently at 8:15 to 8:30 as an easy pace and the 800s in 3:20, so 7:30 was modest. This meant I was actually hoping (and going for) over 8 miles.

I managed to be a newbie and start off too fast: 1:36 for the first lap. But I settled down a bit and got 3:22 for the first 800 and 22:15 for the first 5k. But I also made the mistake of paying attention to the pace my GPS watch was showing and not the actual time, and of course the pace was based on distance and my GPS overcalculated distance (as it is wont to do on a track), so I thought I was going 7 minute pace the whole time, when really it was the 7:20 I ended up with.

When I first saw my splits (seeing each 0.25 mile is a novelty!) I was proud of the consistency with which I ran. Other than the first lap where I went too fast and the 17th lap where I took a fueling break, I was really consistent. But maybe it just looks that way since I did laps and not miles. Calculating the 5 second spread in miles, it’s a 20 second difference in pace, so perhaps my paces were a bit more spread out than I think now. I’ll find out on Monday. (edited to add: according to my TomTom, my paces per mile were  6:51, 6:55, 6:56, 6:57, 7:20, 7:02, 7:05, and 7:02- so, consistent enough!)

My longest lap was lap 17 where I took a fueling break to down some water and eat a third of a banana. It was 30 seconds off my average, and in retrospect, not having it would have allowed me to be first woman- but did the fuel help? Probably. I won’t blame it on that.

Which brings me to the fact that I also could have gotten 1st woman if I had a stronger mental game. Around lap 28, a girl came up from behind me, and while I was sure there was only one other guy in front of me, I couldn’t figure out the logic of racing on a track (despite having done 5 years of track and cross country but hey, it’s been a while!) and thought the girl had lapped me (I call her a girl, she is a 23-year old woman). I still tried to stick with her, for sports sake, but as she pulled away, I figured she had 0.25+ on me anyway, so catching up wouldn’t mean much. After the race, however, I realized she was on the same lap as me and only finished about 100 meters in front of me. Darn! Add in the doubt about the 30 seconds of fueling and I manage to sour what was otherwise a positive racing experience; kudos to the SC Tegeler-Forst running team for organizing a great event!

But that’s peanuts. I finished healthy (I think- going to evaluate after post-run fatigue is gone tomorrow) and had a good time. I also have an hour-race PR, so there’s that.

As for the week, one can see I took it easier. Part of that was to prep for the race, but I was also  sticking to what I wrote last week! I did want to take it easy. Got a bit of biking in too, so my activity points for the week are earned. Now, as for personal, academics? If only they were so easy as running in circles, sometimes.

 

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Running Log: August 16-27

August 16-27

Ha ha. I thought I’d get around to collecting my thoughts about the summer in Germany and blog about it, but look, it’s already time for another recap on running.

I’m consistently getting closer to regular 6 miles. I haven’t done more than an eight mile run in over five months, but I’m getting closer to the point where I’ll try an 8-10 miler (maybe even next weekend?!). These past three weeks I’ve averaged around 20 miles as well and run more days in a row.

I obviously didn’t run on the day I flew back to the US, but I ran the four days after that and kept the runs shorter and comfortable (I was woefully reminded of what running in sub-tropic climates in the summer feels like). I managed to get a cold (probably from sitting around too long in air-conditioning in sweaty clothes). Still, I felt ready for an interval session on Friday, so after rearing myself in after a fast warm-up mile, went for 3 x 800s with .2 mile recoveries. The humidity of South Florida is not to be underestimated, though. I found the 3 were enough and couldn’t get under 3:16. But it’s a good baseline for September running in Florida and training in these conditions will prepare me for the cooler, drier fall in Berlin when I head back.

Hope everyone is running/recovering well and that Harvey doesn’t leave too large a trail of destruction. Stay safe!

 

Log: March 6-19 (weeks four and not so five)

First of all, this is a late post and that’s a bit lame. In retrospect, I probably was reluctant to post about my first “failed” week, since I’m so used to writing when things are going well. But they’re not going well right now- I’m injured (even if still a bit in denial about it) and have a hectic personal and family life at the moment, but I figured I should update all the same.

Secondly, thank you to everyone who gave me tips for my heel pain. I tried all of them (not quite at the same time, of course) and none were bad advice. Thank you!

The problem is, no amount of  magic is better than the magic of pure rest. After completing the first three runs of last week alright, I still felt the condition of my right foot deteriorating, and I decided to do what I probably should have done as soon as I noticed a bigger problem- take a break.

I finally pulled the brakes two Fridays ago, because I realized the pain in my foot may not even be PF, and I was feeling discomfort in other parts of my foot as though I’m compensating, which is a bad sign. I didn’t think quickly enough to get an appointment before an unscheduled trip home, but I booked an appointment with a foot doctor (who is a runner herself) for as soon as I’m back in Berlin (in about a week). I’m not running until my foot has been checked out. I figure that whatever I have needs some rest anyway, and if what I have is more serious, I can get a head-start on the healing time the doctor predicts for me.

In the meantime, I also took a good, long look at myself and decided I this forced break is probably what I needed, and I need to be easier on myself.

As most of us do, I find being easy on myself very difficult. I’m a Type A personality, and even when I’m doing well in school, work, running, and in my relationships (or so I’m told), I never believe that to be the case. I always think there’s something I need to do better… and there probably is! No one is perfect! But that perfectionism mentality is pretty perfect in making one think one can be perfect- and that’s the curse of it.

There are personal struggles all of us go through, whether they be body image, relationships, work environment- basically figuring out what we want for our future and how we want to get there. I’ve had my fair share of these struggles,  but while I’m still young, I’ve lived long enough to know there are no quick and easy solutions and that I need to figure out what goals I think are worth taking the long route for.

However, I still look for the easy way out though in my work and in my eating habits… and I developed a few unhealthy patterns because of the resulting mentality. These past weeks of unscheduled rest days were daily reminders that I can and should have enough respect and love for my body to go easy on it for as long as needed, and I shouldn’t worry about the miles not run and the calories not burned, and I definitely don’t need to worry about the time not run…because there’s always a way to use time well.

So, until I’m cleared to run again, I’m not going to drive myself crazy with marathon training. Maybe I won’t even run any marathons until the fall, or this year. If so, the only person who really cares is me, and if I say I’m okay with not running, I’m sure I’ll find ways to be happy without it.

Of course, that being said, I know being active is a part of my lifestyle, and I am happy when I’m doing something even if it’s not running. But it doesn’t have to be intense or at the level of marathon training. I tried that last summer after breaking my toe, and ended up injured again anyway.

So, for now, things like swimming, biking, and weight training to keep some fitness and get some energy out is all I need. In the meantime, I also need to straighten out a weird relationship with food and exercise I’ve developed since last year, so it’s probably good to start at square “A” in training and fueling.

graph
These runs include: 8 x 800s at 3:30 or less with 400m recoveries, I had a 3:25 average and felt strong and controlled throughout. The heel was complaining afterward, but not as much as after long-run Saturday; an easy 7 miler with a fast finish; a 3 mile tempo run at sub- 8 mpm; and what was supposed to be an easy 3 miler that became reduced to 1, in order to preserve myself for my schedule 13 miles at half marathon pace. That didn’t happen, so I ended up with a tad above 22 miles for week four. Week five started off with a two one-mile test runs… and then a few strides at the park that weren’t so great either.

In short, yep, marathon training weeks four and five aren’t ideal. But I’m pushing myself out of the denial and depression and into some more positive thinking, because that’s just how I roll.

Hope daylight savings didn’t kick you in the butt too much and that training is going well for all you April marathon folks!- Dorothea

Log: January 2nd-8th

graph

This was a good week of running ; I got the mileage in that I wanted. I did sacrifice some time for friends and work, which I am a bit disappointed about, but I guess I justified it with the idea that it would help me get back to routine faster, which it did. It also helped mitigate the effects of jet lag.

On the other hand, not having a proper rest until more than 36 hours after the 5k and some wonky shoes meant I started having foot niggles by Wednesday. They threatened to cut my long run short yesterday, but I still manage 12+ miles, which I’m happy about. Next week, I’m going to try and do the same daily mileage with one extra mile on the long run and maybe an extra mile somewhere else.

Backwards and Forwards

Dear readers,

Happy new year. May it bring us all positive answers, a stronger sense of security, and some peace.

The days between the years were great. I went home to blue skies and lots of sunshine for Christmas and flew back to Germany on the 31st. Long flights leave room for thinking (if one doesn’t get too distracted by the onboard entertainment, this time including the pilot), and this time of year invites reflection in general. So I will reflect on a year of PRs, months riddled by injuries, and a much lower mileage than I had planned for.

First of all, if anything, I can appreciate my 10,000 lifetime recorded miles. Assuming I continue running, I can’t expect another 10,000 until 2023. But to run strong through 2023 is a good long-term goal! I’d love to not have any injuries until then, but to ensure that, I am going to need some assessments of my health that I hadn’t taken seriously enough, and age 25 is a pretty good time to start, especially if I want to continue to be a runner. I have a few doctor appointments planned.

year-2016
All things considered, I had a pretty good year running the majority of the time.

Not meeting my 1500 (bumped up in June to 1700) miles goal is not bad news to me. I accept that I was challenged by injuries (one major one not running related) and should have been smarter. I reached 1367 miles this year, which is a nice prime number if you ask me. As long as I’m logging more than a mile a day for a year, I’m in pretty good shape.

I guess not meeting a mileage goal (the first time I ever set one, actually) helped in the realization that I don’t have to take myself as seriously as a runner. I still have my lifetime goal of a sub-3hr marathon, but that’s not a priority, especially not now while I’m working on my doctorate. I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to focus on the training enough to dedicate mind and spirit, whole-heartedly, but for now I am grateful with consistency that will always leave a starting point better than square one, should I chose to reach that goal. Running is a part of my life and always has the potential to be more. Right now, that potential is enough, especially when I’m continuing to score age group (and super-occasionally overall) wins.

My training from 2015 paid off into 2016 with a PR in the half-marathon in January and an 18 minute PR in the marathon February. I didn’t race again until Fall 2016, but did fairly well (considering 6 weeks off due to broken toe) in a 10.7km, 8.6km, and a 20km in December. I never recapped that race, but I was 7th overall for the females and ran a 1:33:40. Not amazing, off my goal by about 3 minutes, but still a good race considering the injuries, etc.. It also probably prepared me to end the year on a positive note with a 5K race on New Year’s Eve.

In my race Saturday, I ran 21:32, placed 8th for the women, won my age-group and was off my 5k PR by only 18 seconds despite a hurting back, a freshly stubbed toe (race-morning wandering around the house in the dark, because I didn’t want to wake the whole household up) and not having trained specifically for a 5K nor training properly at all, due to a hurt tendon in the foot after the 20k.

My weeks (Dec. 5-Jan. 1st) since the last time I posted looked like this:

graph-runs-4-12-through-1-1

One can see how I took a few days off after I hurt my foot (coinciding well with a scholarship application due on the 15th), and slowly ramped up the mileage the following week. I learned again not to do too much too soon following a race, and the graph shows I had a better month than I allow myself in my memory. In general, the stats always seem better than the reality in my head. I need to get out of my head more often.

One last running highlight of the year that I’d like to mention was volunteering at the Berlin marathon. I somehow missed signing up for the lottery for 2017, but may just volunteer again, anyway.

Looking forwards, I intend to keep logging my running and keep updates with my blog posts. I also am running at least one marathon that I’d like to PR at on April 23rd. I haven’t decided yet if I will do another one (I signed up for one on April 15th, but am not sure about messing up my chance to PR on the 23rd), but for now the plan is to just slowly start upping the mileage anyway. I will also continue strength training, since I noticed a huge shift in the effort in the fall after the work I put into increasing my core and upper body strength.

I plan to get to 50 miles a week by the middle of February and once I’m there, double-marathon specific training can still be decided. I can also use this time to address my nutrition without stressing about specific workouts, and in general focus on my academic life a little more. In February, it’s time to reassess and think about later in the year. But for now, I’m satisfied in my planning and excited about a lot of easy and long runs.

Wishing you all a great year of running- and otherwise.

-Dorothea

Running Log Nov 21-Dec 4: In which I log 10,000 miles

Of course, I didn’t log 10,000 miles in the last two weeks alone, but this morning I reached a a milestone, almost literally (it wasn’t a stone, but at least it had to do with miles). Logging my run today marks 10,000 recorded lifetime miles. It’s not totally impressive. It doesn’t include all the miles I’ve ever run, but it’s still not beating some ultra-runners’ five year totals. Still, for a 25-year old, I’d say it’s a pretty good number and it’s a beautiful realization for me to see my body and know that it has taken me at least that far, and I recorded how it did so.

The first run I ever recorded was April 2008 during junior year of high school- four miles  after a disappointing track season. The next run was during August of 2009, first run at my new college and the beginning of a self-guided running adventure since then. During high school, I had a coach and just ran what I was told, running on weekends and holidays when I felt like it. Once leaving high school, I realized I needed to take charge of my running and where I wanted to go with it, so logging became a habit and a necessity (sometimes). My 10000 miles don’t include weeks where I ran “naked” or only timed the run without counting distance. But the point is, it’s been a long time that I’ve been logging, and it astounds me that I have these records for so long… only to keep going.

Speaking of going, I went places these last two weeks.

runs

The scheduling was a bit off and I took an extra rest-day after last weekend’s activities in Hamburg, but this week was mostly good and I feel tired. This comes just in time for a mini taper for next weekend’s 20k.

I debated a few times in my head about whether to step down to the 15k distance for next weekend, since I can tell that there is more competition among the 20k runners, but then I realized I was backing out of a challenge and I shouldn’t go the easy way out. The 3rd place in Oct. made me a bit ambitious and now I want to place at all the races I run, but I have to tell myself that I only just started running regularly two months ago and my fitness is not at the level yet to where I can expect such awesomeness from my body. What my body is capable of doing now is already awesome, and I need to remember that. I will push myself next weekend, but I will keep my expectations reasonable.

Hope you are all are also enjoying winter running. I alternate between miles on the treadmill and on the trails. So far, being warm has its perks, but the frost on the pines make my heart leap up, so both options have been good. I may need to go invest in a new pair of thermal tights, though.

Happy running -Dorothea

Running Log Oct. 17-23: Full Circle

So, it’s been a while, but I’ve decided I can finally be cautiously optimistic.

This is the first week where I’ve managed five days of running, and I had my first three-day block this week as well.

I’ve been a little more patient and a little more careful, and so far, I’m being rewarded with a slowly, but surely increasing mileage and fast speeds. Mind you, I’m not doing workouts yet. I’m just running fast when I feel ready to go fast. I’m not forcing my legs or feet to do anything they don’t feel 100% ready to do yet.

A little more than a month ago, I ran a 7 mile tempo run that was the straw to break the camel’s back, or rather, run to cause a stress reaction in the left foot. That run included an easy warm-up and the worst cool down hobble ever. It was an 8:23 overall with a 7:24 second mile.

Fast forward five weeks later, and I ran my first 7 miler of this new start. I started slowly like I have for all my runs since returning from injury, and slowly built up to a 7:12 for the last mile. Overall pace was 8:06 and while I’m a bit more tired today than these past weeks, things are feeling good. Even this little piggy *wiggles pinky toe* went all the way home.

sept-oct-2016
5.6  miles per week to 13.7 to 17.4 to 24.1

So far, so good.

Now, I have a few races on the horizon.

I know, I know; I wrote that I wouldn’t give myself the pressure of a race this side of 2017, but I couldn’t help it. I miss having a running club and the social aspect of races. I also miss the motivation of having a race to prepare for.

Still, I know it can be dangerous to have goals too soon, so I chose races that have new distances (not hard to do when everything is measured in kilometers rather than miles). I’ve got a 10,6k next Sunday on the 30th, an 8,6k on November 6th, and a 20k on December 11th. I was a bit worried that a 20k is too long of a race, but I have more than a month to build up to that distance. If anything, I just run it as a training run. That’s the plan for all these races, and honestly, I am not ambitious about these races at all. I have nothing I need to prove, these are automatic PRs, and I’m just going to do the best I can on those days.

Sound good? Thanks for following! On to a comfortably fun end-stretch for 2016.

 

Looking Forward: April 2017

Disclosure: I did end up running in Munich yesterday… running to catch my bus back to Berlin, that is!

Yesterday, thousands of runners started their Munich Marathon race, and I saw a few of them on my way out of the city. In honor of their run, and my almost-run, I did an easy 2.62 miles. My feet have been feeling good these past two weeks. Despite my toe suffering the wrath of my iPad, the hobbling was gone the next day, and the toe is slowly returning to its normal color. I did a few test runs last week- not more than a mile and always with rest-days in between. Things have been looking up.

The nice run yesterday, and the lack of any ill effects today makes me feel ready to slowly start again. I’m only thinking 10-15 miles this week and next, maybe 20 the following. Six weeks from now, I’d like to be able to run 30 miles, but I’m not going to push it. I’m also not give myself the pressure of a race this side of 2016.

However, on the 7 hour ride back to Berlin, I did do some race research, and found a few races happening in April that really caught my attention. The Hamburg Marathon obviously caught my eye, happening April 23rd. Unfortunately, the Darß Marathon is also happening that day, and I have a hankering to do a nice run in that beautiful landscape. Plus side: I already have a place there where I could stay that weekend. I also have a few friends that may feel like running the race with me. Downside: it’s a rather small race and it would mean I’d maybe miss out on a chance to run with some study-abroad friends in Hamburg.

The other thing is, there’s a marathon in Berlin happening the week before on April 15th. It’s also a small race (last year had only 91 runners, 21 of them women), and it’s a week before two other great races. This set-up is making me think I may shoot for back-to-back marathons for the first time in my life. Maybe I’ll make it on the marathon maniacs bronze-level list. Since it’s 28 weeks out, I am sure I could train sufficiently for this. I’m also excited about a new challenge. Depending on which race I would pick for the 23rd, I could make the first or second marathon my goal race. There’s a lot of possibility in looking forward right now…

These past two months have been an up-and-down of hope and pressure to be able to run the Munich Marathon. Now that the race can’t even be on my radar anymore, I feel like looking forward again.

Finally, fun fact: I turn 26 next April, which makes a marathon or two that month pretty much (a) mandatory event(s).

 

More struggles, but also some silver linings

I realize that whining is not a great character trait, and that it’s also not much fun to read or respond to… since one ‘d be called insensitive for telling the whiner to shut-up and deal with it, and the obligatory “hang in there, keep the chin up” is annoying to write and doesn’t really mean much to the whiner, either.

So you don’t have to write those comments and I won’t whine. I just want to write another post about the harder parts of training to accompany all the posts where training is going well, because once marathon time comes around, I know this period will provide me with more mental strength than anything else.

This past week was another week of trying to keep the training up-diligently. Training for any race requires determination and diligence. The consistency, after all, is what makes us better- not the individual efforts. Still, there’s a difference training for the event with the sports one chooses above all others versus with the sports one does to replace that one sport.

I’ve chosen to use spinning and bicycling to replace running, since my bike and a spinner at the gym are the two most accessible tools for me at the moment. It helps that bike can get me all around the city and country side, and I can train with destinations to help the time on the seat go by faster. Still, it nags at the back of my mind that I’m not working on my endurance on my feet. A four and a half hour ride on the bike means I can carry myself pretty well on an iron horse, but I have no idea how my feet will hold up 20+ miles.

However, it helps that the hardest part of marathon training is getting the aerobic fitness up. Sprinters are able to transition to longer distances, as far as muscles go, in a few weeks. It’s the ability to get the air pumping long and fast enough that takes more time. So, I keep that in mind as well, and that gets me to push myself harder on the bike, even when I feel it’s pointless.

I’ll admit, I may be pushing myself too hard. I read recently that one shouldn’t try to get one’s heart rate into the max zone too long, too often. With several interval, hill sessions in a row, I noticed myself struggling on a fartlek ride on Thursday, and took it easier on Friday again. I’m tallying up 150+ miles for the week, which is fun for me to see. Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me won’t consider that a solid week of training, but changing my mentality is something I’m working on, even while writing this.

I’ve been buddy-taping toe, and it’s been easier to walk on. I can even walk on sand now, which was nearly impossible because of the pain a week ago, and short spurts, across the street when the light is about to turn red, cause no pain at all, which is a good sign. However, it’s only been three weeks and once the tape comes off, the toe is aching, so I’ll wait a bit longer. I’m in the tricky part of an injury where the pain is bearable and one wants to test one’s limits. I just don’t want to test and regress in the healing. I’m too close to the marathon for that.

One thing for sure, this too will pass, and I’ll be able to enjoy the thrill of running again, soon. I’ve taken off too much time (four weeks on Tuesday) to jump right back in, but I’ll balance running and cross training for a week or so before replacing bike/spinner workouts with the runs again. I hope to be able to taper according to plan. But this injury has also trained my patience muscle a bit more, so I’m willing to see what happens.

I recently switched gyms and started TRX training, which offers a new set of challenges, and I like to think I’m strengthening my body- making it stronger for the marathon than following my training plan would have done.

So, as one can see, I have enough to write about, even if I’m not currently running. I’m also doing what I can to keep the München Marathon a reality. No one can say I’ve given up, and I’ll just have to keep that in mind over these last days/maybe week(s) as the injury finishes healing.

I also have to stop being marathon training obsessed! But as anyone who trains knows, it’s pretty life consuming. Still, I’ve been having interesting times outside of that, so I will probably post something there again soon. I need all the distractions I can get!

Happy Sunday,

Dorothea

To start again 

I need to get this out in cyber text before I forget the feelings I want to share about it: it’s training time again and sometimes one needs to recharge before hitting “reset.” 

Writing from a bus with free wifi on my way from the Baltic to Berlin. Can’t catch catch all my spelling and grammar on my tiny iPod screen. Apologies for any misteaks ;) 

Since taking off my compression socks in the landing plane in Düsseldorf, Germany last Tuesday, I struggled with the next step. I mentioned in my last post that I signed up for a marathon in München on Oct. 9th (I’ll be running the same day as some of you running Twin Cities, or Chicago), but other than figuring out my plan (a modified ASICS sub 3:30 plan that I’ll have to link at a later date for anyone who doesn’t want to open a new Google tab), I wasn’t excited about the race. In fact, until yesterday, I really didn’t think I was ready to begin training today. Call it jet lag, or burn-out (not that I was training, but I pushed myself a bit hard the last weeks before leaving, [even with no real reason]), I just didn’t want to run last week. So I didn’t. I ran the day of the flight (Monday), seven miles to get to the beach one last time, and then again on Sunday, but with no motivation and an urgent need for the bathroom.

 I didn’t run before Sunday because I was working hard at moving and cleaning, and because running in the morning would have felt like death (1AM blood pressure). PSA: some coaches advise one day of rest or easy running per hour of time-zone difference before going for workouts again.

But maybe I also subcounsciously knew that I was about to commit to four months of training. I guess I felt I might as well use the last week I have beforehand as a break.

It was meantally and physically a good choice. While Sunday’s five miles were rough, it told me I didn’t need to push any runs before today. I took two more days off and had a blissful non-running existence.  Then magically, luckily, perhaps quite logically, when I woke up today, I was ready for six miles easy. Done at an 8:17 clip, it was the confidence-inspiring way I like to start my season. Here’s to fall marathon training!

And now, just like that, I’m motivated again. Of course there are no garauntees that it will be that way for 16 weeks, and 6AM is sometimes no better than 1AM, but at least I’ve started… And I’ll see it through to the finish! 

Good luck and good speed to any and all others (marathon training and otherwise). Just think, we also have summer Olympics to motivate us through key workouts.

Dorothea