Sometime last year I wrote about my progress in running and it seems fitting that I follow-up on my progress this year.
A sub 8 minute mile and a non-stop 10 mile run
I must say, I really feel like a runner now. Everyone has a different definition of this and to me, the moment I became (a more serious) runner was when I met two personal running goals. (1)The first was to be able to run an all out mile in less than 8 minutes, more precisely at a 7:40 mile/minute pace. (2)The next goal was to be able to run 10 miles, non-stop. This I was able to do at about a 10:40 mile/minute pace.
Racing, 13.1 & 3.1 mile pacing, & personal records (PR's)
As you would imagine, the pacing for a 13.1 mile race and 3.1 race are vastly different. I learned that the proper way to run a half marathon should feel no harder than an effort level of about a 9 from a scale 1- 10. Additionally, most of the race should should be ran at slightly below one's lactate threshold. Lactate threshold can be defined as the "point during exhaustive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it." During my most recent half marathon I was completely focused on running as much of the distance as possible and trained so that I wouldn't have to make any bathroom breaks. My efforts were rewarded with a half marathon time 30 minutes faster than last year and which I happily PR'd :)
A 5k or 3.1 mile race is a totally different animal. There are a number of strategies to run this race but the one that made the most sense to me, at my current fitness level, and lack of racing experience, was to do a proper warm up, some priming, and start out hard and fast without bonking. By the time I got tired, I'd slow down and do my best to hang on, not bonk, and not throw up. Even if this race is significantly shorter, it is significantly more intense. From a scale of 1 to 10 my most recent 5k was ran at an effort level of about a 9.7. I felt slightly nauseous and dry-heaved at the end of this race. I first trained for a half marathon and immediately after trained for 5 weeks to get my 5k under 30 minutes. I met my goal, shaved off seven minutes from last year's 5k, PR'd, and was extremely ecstatic.
Just yesterday I learned that out of 102 female participants in my age group I came in at #15! Since this is the first season I introduced formal speed work into my training, I was absolutely over the moon about this!
Consistency, learning from mistakes, my current plan, & injury prevention
I have been running consistently for a little over a year now. A good part of this time has been invested in building an aerobic base of slower paced, long runs as a recreational runner. I've just recently started implementing running plans and racing. And by racing I mean running for time and not just distance anymore.
The biggest mistake I made last year was to do too much too fast in terms of introducing a strength training program. Coming off from the high of completing my second half marathon in Kauai last year, I lifted too much, too soon, and hurt my knee. I had to take over a month off from running and I was royally pissed. Never again I promised myself.
My current training plan calls for weight training & running. My strategy this time around is to remember that I am a Runner. To me this means my lifting as it pertains to my lower body needs to be done at a moderately-light effort level, executed slowly, and with impeccable form. My upper body and core workouts are done moderately-difficult, executed slowly, and with equally good form.
Safety and sustainability is extremely important to me as well as injury prevention. I take the time to complete a proper warm up and cool down. I take rest days after hard workouts. I can be stubborn but I absolutely listen to my body, always. When I've had a hard run and feel discomfort I back off and ice that body part and rest up.
For the first time my fitness has improved to the point that I can actually perform and sustain fairly hard runs.This in and of itself feels absolutely amazing. My favorite running workouts are at my local middle school track where I unleash the inner athlete I never knew (but getting to know and really like) emerge, grow, and kick some major a$$. Mine :)
I pray that I continue to receive the gift of good health and fitness for many years to come and be able to compete and grow until I'm a great grandmother, gray, but still luminescent because I am filled with life, light, and most importantly love :-)
I'm hoping that whoever reads this will find that you and yours will always be healthy, charmed, and blessed!