>Folks – I need your help.
This past week has NOT been a great training week. Apart from my first workout of the week (1o min warmup then 10 x 400M at 13.7 km/h, followed by 10 min cooldown) the rest of the week was tough. I was meant to do 5M at 8:15 min/mile on Wednesday. Went out into the park in London (we went down for a few days for the half-term holiday) and gave up after 2.5 miles. It was too hard – I just couldn’t hold onto the pace. Thursday morning I got out there again and ran the 5M at 8:12 min/mile pace, without stopping once. Much better. Not easy – but I felt so much more accomplished. Driving home from London on Friday I decided to do my 15M on the treadmill at the gym – the weather was horrible and very windy and I was meant to stick to an 8:40 min/mile. Well – another fail. I think I managed 2.5 km before I gave up. The will to live people! I could NOT do it. So I thought I would go for a swim in the pool and do my routine of 250m warmup (100m kickboard, 100m kickboard with 2x5m acceleration each length, 50m slow freestyle) and then my freestyle pyramid exercise (50m breathing every 2 strokes, 50m breathing ever 3 strokes and so on till 7 and then back down again). But another fail! I just could not manage the long intervals – I would come up gasping for air! I am struggling with this breathing out under water business – I just seem to keep swallowing water. So I headed home, tail between my legs. Saturday morning I was at the gym, bright and early, ready to tackle that beast again. I had, by now, resolved to warm up for 5K and then run 16K (10M) at the required pace, before cooling down. I made it to 13K this time before losing the will.
I don’t know what is going wrong here. Here are my theories:
- I have said before, I don’t enjoy running all my long runs at a prescribed (fast) pace. I found it hard on the Pfitzinger program when he interjected marathon-pace runs but I could do those – they were never the full-length of the run and they were not every long run either. Having said that, I’m following a half-marathon plan at the moment and looking at the full marathon plans in Run Less, Run Faster – those long-run paces look more reasonable. But I basically like running my long runs at a pace that does not make me out of breath so I can chat to a friend / listen to my podcasts = zone out for an hour or two, or three.
- nutrition. I have been on the go so much in the rest of my life that I don’t think I’m watching what I eat / drink enough. I don’t eat to train. I don’t think I eat unhealthily (very often) but I could definitely eat in a more targeted way. I think. Funnily enough, the most succesful training cycle I have ever had (the one leading up to London 2009) was when I was on Weight Watchers. I ate lots and lots of vegetables, drank very little alcohol and was quite assidious about post-run nutrition. What do you think?
- General tiredness. I am not sleeping very well at the moment – for some reason, something disrupts my sleep every night and I end up being tired, a lot. Another reason for my tiredness might be continued iron deficiency? Maybe – I’m going back to have my iron levels tested. I’ve been off iron pills for a few months now to see if my ferritin levels have stabilised but I fear they may not have.
- General aimlessness. The loosey-gooseyness of my training – despite the training plan I have no target race – is not helping, mentally, to keep me in the game. It was nice for a while, but now I’m feeling lacking in focus.
It’s strange, because overall this has been a good time for me. After a year which has been enormously taxing on the personal front, I am getting to a good place mentally. In the best way possible really, because it’s not like some of the external stressors have disappeared – it’s more that my attitude towards them has changed. I am hardly there – wherever that is – but I’ve moved on from the bad place, from the real cr*p of the past year, and from feeling so intensely cr*p about it and myself in it. I have had help, advice and insight from so many friends, near and far, and quite a lot of them you, my lovely readers and commenters, and I have gained a keen insight into who my friends truly are – and am learning to stop worrying about those who are not. So all that has been good.
So if my life were a Hallmark movie, my running would now be amazing. You’d see me running in slow-mo, with “Chariots of Fire” in the background, medals overlapping on my chest. Not so people, not so.
So this is where you all come in. I need your practical and emotional insights and advice on my training. Let me lay it out for you:
- I have entered two main events next year; the Boston Marathon and the London Triathlon. I intend to race shorter distances in the run-up to both – a hilly half-marathon (TBT) and the Ashby 30K (very hilly) before Boston and 2 local sprint triathlons before London.
- I think – but please tell me if you don’t agree – that this means that between December and April I will focus my attention on running, using swimming and biking as crosstraining and improving my skills in both.
- Then, from April (but look at my caveat below) I will focus on tri-specific training – spreading myself more evenly across the disciplines.
So far, so good? Good. Then here is quandary number 1. Everyone tells me not to race Boston. I am told that by doing so I won’t experience the whole sense of it, the whole glory of it. It’s a hard course. And my personal worry is that if I race it and then have a bad day, I will ruin my one shot at being there. But if don’t race Boston, then I need a race, maybe 4-6 weeks after Boston, where I can race. What do you think? And of course, part of me thinks, maybe I should just race Boston – give it all I’ve got. Not be afraid of failure, if there is such a thing. Go out with glory. Train like a demon for Boston and then make.it.so. Yadda yadda yadda. Make a note of your thoughts for this and hold off because here’s my next quandary:
How am I going to train? Which program am I going to follow? Do I carry on with Run Less Run Faster, running three times a week and cross training? I’m liking the tempo and the speedwork but the long runs – not so sure. And is 3 days a week really enough? Or do I add cross training onto the Pfitz? Bike one day, swim one evening? Or do I find a coach to somehow mesh something up for me? I know some of you are coaches – do you do this remotely? Could any of you help me transition from running to multisport over the course of the year? Help me?
Finally – just let me finish off a thought that’s been dangling in my head for about 2 weeks now about the Boston marathon filling up so early. A lot of you have posted about it, and a lot of you have made lots of valid points. I found myself, in the days after registration opened and closed, feeling very antsy and defensive and when I actually started to think of why, I realised it was because I feel that am one of the people in the group that critics think “have it too easy” – I am in the 35-39 age group with a qualifying time of 3:45 and I’m well aware that many feel that that is too lenient, that men my age have to work harder to qualify and that there are many many women out there who are far faster than me (in my age group and often above). Moreover, I’m well aware that if they change the qualifying times by more than 12 seconds (likely) I would not have been in, at all. So I am quite aware that this is probably going to be my one and only Boston – and I am totally fine with that. I never thought I would have a shot at it, at all, and I’m going to give it my best. And then run some of the other awesome races that can be run all over the world..
So now can now all tell me how you think I should my next training year. And if you’re thinking – hey, she’s leaving the second half of the year unplanned – well, I’m kind of waiting to see how the first half unfolds. But if you have other thoughts on that – bring it on! I want to hear it. Till then my friends – bottoms up! (Although I’m sure you’ll be telling me to make that a protein shake if I really want to get my mojo back and I might even listen!).