It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post about anything other than my experience racing the previous weekend. Well, I didn’t race last weekend and I don’t race this weekend. In fact, I don’t have another race until 11/2/17, which will be my last OCR for the year! The race season is ending and I am meeting it with mixed emotions. Part of me has loved traveling around seeing all these new races and venues – it’s been an incredible experience! But there is also part of me that is just tired. Not just physically, but mentally. I never really understood it when I would hear athletes talk about the difficulty in maintaining their training during their sport’s season. I have learned that trying to keep your personal/family life together, to keep training at a high intensity, and to race at least once every two weeks or so is extremely difficult. So, it will be nice to have some time off.
After my race in Fayetteville I decided to take the entire next week off. I didn’t run, I didn’t lift a weight, and I slept in everyday. It was amazing! But what was even more amazing was by Thursday my body was yelling at me to move. I know that I wasn’t 100% healed up as I still had (and have) some sore spots, but those few days of relaxation were enough for my body to catch up and it was ready to start working again. I resisted the urge and held out until that Monday to start working out again, just to be sure I was ready.
I am very surprised when I started doing my normal workouts again. It has been months since I was on any solid workout plan because I was trying to give my body the time it needed to heal in between events. I’d workout when I could and I would try to hit the things that felt the least tired, but it was more cardio and yoga, and less strength training. Now that I am strength training again my body is responding very well to it. It seems that it has been missing that aspect of my training and it feels great to be doing it again. The most interesting part is how much strength I’ve lost. I suppose the muscles that were involved in racing have been maintained, but I have lost a lot of strength and even endurance in a lot of exercises. I have even lost some of the progress I was making towards doing pull ups. I thought that the OCR events would have been enough to maintain that strength, but I was mistaken. The good news is that I can feel that strength returning pretty quickly and with each workout things are getting better.
I am pretty excited about training this Winter and to come in strong next year. I am in a much better and more fit place than I was this time last year, so if I can make the same improvements this Winter that I made last Winter I should be in a very good spot come Spring! In addition to getting stronger I, of course, want to be a much faster runner. I haven’t really done any running (outside of a race) since late Spring. The races were just too frequent and with my history of injuries I couldn’t risk pushing too hard. While most of my strength was diminishing over the season, I felt that my running was doing ok. I wasn’t really getting much faster and I’ve been having a little more trouble in the longer events with endurance, but for the most part I think that aspect of my fitness has been holding up pretty well over the months.
I decided this week that it was a good time to try my legs out and to see where I am with my running. Again, I hadn’t done any training runs and I haven’t done a mile time trial for almost a year now, and I was really curious to see what my time would be. Remember, when I started I finished my mile in 9:45 and my second test was 8:44. I wasn’t really sure how this one would go, I was hopeful, but didn’t set my expectations too high.
Unfortunately, most of the schools around here have been locking their tracks a lot more often lately. I am not sure why, but it’s really disappointing. I don’t really have the time to drive all over the city trying to find a track that I can run on, and honestly that would be stressful than it’s worth. I have a few relatively flat roads in my neighborhood, so I decided, for simplicity’s sake, I would just go out and use my phone to track my distance as I ran on the road. I know it’s not quite as accurate and that the uneven road surfaces and elevation changes would affect my time, but it would probably be close enough that I could feel good about it. I also used 3 different run apps at the same time to be sure my results were as accurate as possible.
It was a hot and muggy morning, not ideal for running, but I did it in the early morning so at least the sun wasn’t up to make it more uncomfortable. As I was running I felt like I was definitely moving at a pretty good pace. It felt faster than I remember running in any other test or race. By the half mile mark I was getting pretty winded and I was a little worried about keeping up that pace until the end, but my legs were feeling pretty good, so I tried to just keep pushing it. I think somewhere around the 3/4 mile mark I started really hurting and I slowed down a bit, but knowing I was almost done gave me a little push at the end and I stepped it back up. I have to say when I hit that mile mark I was pretty impressed with my time!
I ended up running that mile in 7 minutes and 12 seconds! That is the fastest mile I have run in my entire adult life! I am amazed that I was able to run that as I haven’t really been doing much ‘running’ and I figured progress wouldn’t be so dramatic! Oddly, being so close to breaking 7 minutes made me a little sad. I’m not sure if everyone is like this but I feel like that 7 minute mile is sort of the bridge between a casual runner and someone who is a fast runner. I do realize there are a lot of people who can’t even run a 7 minute mile, but I was the most proud of my running when people would ask what my mile time was an I could start it off with a 6. Even though I am not there yet, I am so close! And I think that this really reinforces that I can reach my goal of breaking 5 minutes. I still have a good amount of weight to lose and I know that I am capable of so much more. Now that race season is just about over I am very excited to continue my training and to see where I am this time next year!