Lesson 4: Knowing When (and That it’s Okay) to Stop

Well hello again, and welcome to the fourth installment of lessons I’ve learned as I navigate post-baby running! If you’re keeping score at home, my previous lessons are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. Be prepared
  3. Be willing to compromise

This week’s lesson is all about knowing when to quit, and knowing that it’s really okay to do so.

Let’s set the scene. It’s yet another Sunday morning and Drew is encouraging me to get out and run with the Shammies. However, it’s Beach 2 Beacon weekend, and most SMSers are up in Maine.

[Brief aside: in my post about B2B last year I said I wanted to run it every year. It’s a fab race. I actually won a spot in this year’s race via the lottery, but ended up transferring my bib to a Shammie who didn’t get in. By the time I found out I got a spot, all the good hotels and airbnbs were booked, and logistics with a baby were too much for my brain to deal with. There’s always next year! #loweringmyexpectations #rollingwithit]

Drew took the Bairn out to get breakfast, and I set out for a run around the neighborhood. Last time it went really well, so I had some hopes of repeating that. Some things had stacked up against me, however, and it was not to be.

For one, my shoes are starting to hurt. I had heeded Lesson 2 and had my shoes all untied and ready to go, but they felt squeezy and uncomfortable. Sometimes pregnancy can change your feet a bit and make them bigger, and I’ve been wanting to get my feet/gait checked at Marathon Sports to make sure I’m wearing proper kicks. But that requires time, which I don’t have a lot of these days, plus I couldn’t justify spending money on new shoes when my current pair are still in decent shape. Alas.

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The shoes in question

For another, my knees are a little dodgy lately from all the bouncing I’ve been doing on our exercise ball to help get the Bairn to sleep. (Sometimes, even though They say not to, you just need to fall back on your sleep crutches so that YOU can get some sleep. Still in survival mode over here. And hoping that someday he’ll realize that he can, in fact, fall asleep on his own.)

And third, after wondering if my great run last time was at all due to my new Legend compression calf sleeves (review coming soon), I decided to go sleeve-less this time around.

So, yeah. After a brief warmup walk, I set off down the hill and right away my feet hurt. Not badly, but enough to throw me off my game. Then I could feel my knees… they didn’t hurt, per se, but they felt like they were about to start hurting at any moment. And then my shins, ow the splints. So splinty. Turns out the calf sleeves really make a difference.

I had barely gone 25 yards and my body was protesting. I wanted to stop, but I felt like it was way too early to declare my run a failure. I told myself just to make it to the end of the street, to take it easy, to focus on keeping my knees from doing anything stupid.

And I barely made it. I was practically limping, and my feet were doing weird things in my shoes to try to escape the squeezing. I turned around at the end of the street and walked, mentally assessing my body. I felt like if I tried to go any further, I’d be risking injuring something, and I really don’t want that right now, right as I’m making my semi-glorious return.


So I walked home. I traveled 1.03 miles in 16:30, and less than half of that was spent running/hobbling.

And that’s okay. As short and bad as it was, I got out for a run. That little bit was better than nothing, and better a short, bad run than a longer one that ends in injury.

It’s hard sometimes to quiet my inner voice that says dumb things like “no pain no gain” or compares my current running attempts to my halcyon days when I was in shape and uninjured and getting faster all the time.

But that voice needs to shut it. I’m not in the shape I was once in, my body is still a little wonky and I’m still getting used to it, and someday I’ll be better. But right now I just need to get out there smartly, so that I can get better. I’d rather quit a run and potentially stave off a return of my dodgy knees than explore the alternative!

What exciting lesson will I learn next? Stay tuned to find out!

Lesson 3: Compromise

Hello there, reader! You’ve stumbled on the third installment of what has turned from two rambling, somewhat related posts into some semblance of a series. As I make my slow return to the world of running after having a baby, I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) tips that are making this return easier, bit by bit. So far, I’ve learned:

  1. …that I need to lower my expectations
  2. …that it’s helpful to be prepared

My lesson for this week is: be willing to compromise!

If you’ve visited this blog before, there’s a good chance you’ve read about Tuesday night track workouts with my run club. A Tuesday night speedwork session was my first Shammies experience 3 1/2 years ago, and I’ve loved (and hated) them ever since. Drew knows that I’ve been itching to return, and so for weeks months now, he’s been offering to take over the Bairn’s bedtime so I can get back out there. And yet, each week my excuses pour out: it’s too hot, it’s too humid, I’m too tired, the Bairn is melting down and I feel guilty running away, it’s raining, I’m out of shape and track sessions attract all the fast people, etc.

Last Tuesday, I decided I was going to bite the bullet and go to track. Even if I didn’t do the workout, I could still run-walk around Lane 6 and see my run club peeps. I told Drew I was going for it, he expressed his full support, and I spent the day mentally preparing for Shammie time.

[Note: Here is where I ask for your understanding, dear reader. When I was thinking about this post a few days ago, my point was clear. Now that I’m actually writing, my still-rampant pregnancy brain (apparently it’s here for a while – boo!) has struck and I can’t remember a pretty important detail. Please bear with me as I carry on regardless…]

As track time approached, something [see note above] happened. I can’t remember what now. Either Drew came home from work and had had a bad day, or the Bairn was melting down, or… yeah, it’s gone from my brain. In any case, something occurred that would have made my going to track difficult, for me but mostly for Drew.

Thankfully, this lesson wasn’t learned the hard way. Perhaps because of many of those excuses I listed before (it was hot, track is full of fast people and I’m slow and out of shape and self-conscious, etc.), I wasn’t upset at giving up my Shammie time to help deal with the Bairn.

And, once he was cozy in his crib, I threw on my kit and set out for a run around the neighborhood. It was cooler by this point, I didn’t have to feel self-conscious in front of all the Shammies who regularly place at races, and I knew I wasn’t leaving Drew in the lurch. I set myself some modest goals – run to X then walk to Y, three times with different Xs and Ys – and managed to meet them (huzzah!). Post-run analyzing of my run even showed that my average running pace was 11:- and change, which is an improvement from the 12:-s I’d been running, so that was encouraging too.

I guess this lesson is pretty connected to lowering my expectations… had I been dead set on running a speed workout, I would have been disappointed to miss out. But, honestly, I don’t have many expectations when it comes to running these days, so just getting to run around the block for 20 minutes was pretty exciting. Plus I got to reward myself with freeze pops, a cold can of cider, and an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Thumbs-up all around!

postrun

What lesson will I learn next? Will there be more, or will my posts devolve once again into even less structured rambling? Stay tuned!

The Art of Being Prepared

Wow, was my last post really a month and a half ago?! I swear I just wrote it. But then again, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s August already. What the heck.

Anyway.

Hi! Me again, here to blab at you about life and attempted fitness post-Bairn. I’m still working on keeping my expectations low (and doing a decent job, I think!), and my lesson for myself this week is to try to be a little better prepared. For what, you may ask? Running specifically, since this is my running blog and all, but really, for lots of things.

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Let’s travel back a few Sundays, to when I was determined (albeit with lowered expectations) to meet up with the Sunday Morning Shammies for some kind of run. They go out around 7, so I set an emergency alarm for 6 (ha!! As if the Bairn would let me sleep that long), planned out my morning so I could get out the door at 6:45, and crossed my fingers.

Sunday morning came, and though I made a solid effort, my morning fell apart. Drew overslept, and it turns out 45 minutes isn’t enough time for me to change and feed the Bairn, and then change and feed myself before heading out the door. At least not when I’m half asleep. So I skipped the run. (Could I have gone out on my own? Sure. But I was all upset and stubborn… these post-baby hormones sure do stick around longer than I expected).

How could I have made that morning smoother for myself? By being prepared! Have my running kit out and easily accessible, so I wouldn’t have to risk waking my exhausted husband while stumbling around in our dark room. Have an easy-to-grab pre-run bite to eat ready to be grabbed. And so on.

Well, I tried to learn from my failure the following week. I had my kit ready to go. I had something to eat. I had that laughable emergency alarm set. And somehow, even with Drew up this time to help me, it was still a rush to get to the door in time, let alone out of it. I was on the verge of missing the Shammies – and thus my motivation – and when I went to put on my shoes, the laces ended up being very stubbornly double-knotted. I couldn’t undo them while in a rush. So I threw on an older pair of shoes that I’ve been mainly using for walking:


Turns out these shoes are pretty dead. They feel fine for walking, but after running a bit in them: ouch. My back hurt for a week… though to be fair my back is in rough shape anyway from hefting the Bairn around.

BUT. I made it out there! I saw my Shammies, got the social motivation I needed, and let them set off on their 7-mile run. I walked to the pond, figuring I’d do a lap and walk back to HQ, but after a turn through the lagoon, it was so lovely I decided to do it again.

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View of the pond from the lagoon

The lagoon has a lovely dirt trail, lots of shade, and had far fewer people than the paved, route around the pond. So I walked the causeway back to the start of the lagoon and ran a second loop. Well, run-walked, but still. It wasn’t my prettiest run, but it was a run nonetheless!

So, a little preparation and I managed to fit a run in. Had I thought ahead even more, I would have untied those silly shoes, but, well, hindsight is 20-20. And now I know my Adidas sneakers are toast.

For those keeping score at home, the post-baby fitness lessons I’ve learned so far are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. A little preparation goes a long way

What lesson will I learn next time? Stay tuned!

Learning to Lower My Expectations

Perfect gif for this post, right? (source)

Hi-diddly-ho, readers! When I last saw you, I was gushing with excitement at my Grand Return to Running. Since then, I’ve been for one more run. It didn’t go as well.

It was that kind of morning.

I think I wrote a few posts ago about how having a baby has made me realize I need to go with the flow, since the Bairn has a way of foiling any plan I make. Want to meet friends for lunch at a specified time? Oops, morning nap turned epic and now I’m late. Want to stop at Target to grab some things since the Bairn is sleeping peacefully in his car seat? Oh wait, he’s awake and no longer peaceful. Want to watch an episode of Kimmy Schmidt after the lad is down for the night? Just kidding, did I really think he was down for the night? And so on, ad nauseam.

Unsurprisingly, this includes any attempts I make to run, go to the gym, or otherwise not feel like a lump. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I quite like being a lump sometimes. But sometimes I need to move!) And that’s been hard.

I was by no means expecting to be running races again immediately after giving birth, but I was hoping to at least take the Bairn out for walks and work my way back smartly. I wanted my Grand Return to Racing to be the Worcester Firefighters 6K; being in June, I figured 5 months postpartum would be plenty of time to be ready for that. I didn’t need to PR, I just wanted to complete the course. Alas, poor DGobs.

I think I took the Bairn for 3 walks during my maternity leave. He was born in January and, this being New England, of course the weather didn’t cooperate fully. We did have a few warm days that were perfect for walks, but they tended to fall after snowstorms and – as I’m pretty sure I’ve complained in this space before – people in my city rarely clear their sidewalks. Not conducive to pushing a stroller. I had a wrap, but the Bairn was so tiny (he was just shy of 5 1/2 pounds when he was born) that I didn’t feel comfortable carrying him in a wrap built for babies 8 pounds and up. I couldn’t easily take him to the mall for walks either, as I’d had a C-section and my midwife advised against driving for 6-8 weeks.

All that to say, the Bairn and I got used to being lazy cozy in our warm, snug house, and exercise wasn’t so much happening for me. I was dying to get to the gym – Expresso Bikes kept emailing me about fun new challenges! – but logistics were complicated and honestly, whenever Drew offered to take Baby Duty so I could go, I’d usually opt to sleep instead. (I’ve opted for sleep the last several times he’s tried to shoo me out to run, as well. I’m tired, yo.)

Anyway. I managed a few stroller walks eventually, and after going back to work, where it’s a 10-minute walk to and from the T plus a continuous stair workout as my desk is on a mezzanine – I was feeling stronger and once again setting my sights on the 6k. The Shammies promote a race at the beginning of May, and I figured it would be a good test run.

By the end of April, there was no way I felt ready to run a 5k. I still wanted to support the race (which supports the local Boys & Girls Club) so decided to sign Drew and myself up as walkers, figuring we could push the stroller and still take part. I was a little wary of signing up ahead of time – remember what I said about the Bairn and my plans, and mice and men and all that – but knew it would be much harder to get us all down to the race if we weren’t signed up and committed. So I bit the bullet.

Race day arrives. The Bairn is recovering from bronchiolitis, and none of us have been getting much sleep for over a week. The 10:15 start time, which seemed so luxuriously late, came and went while Drew was still in bed and the Bairn was napping on me. Ah well, at least part of the race fees went to a good cause. And we did swing by the post-race festivities to show off the Bairn, where he was awarded his first race bling:

The president of the Shammies gave the Bairn his age group medal, just for being cute

After that race is when I finally got to run, and after 2 walk-run extravaganzas, I felt like I could at least finish the WFD6K. However, learning my lesson and lowering my expectations, I didn’t preregister. Even as race day crept ever closer and I wanted SO badly to sign up, I just had a feeling.

The WFD6K was last Sunday [edit: now two three Sundays ago; I’m lowering my blogging expectations too, you see], and I did not participate. The day ended up being a scorcher, in the 90s, and that race is midday and traditionally hot. My own lack of enthusiasm for hot races aside, I kept thinking of poor Drew having to keep the Bairn cool in his black stroller. Plus logistics about nursing, plus the fact that the Bairn was (is?) going through a phase of screaming bloody murder in the car, and I was relieved to not be running. I’m still bummed at missing out, but there’s always next year!

Last year, when the Bairn (who was about the size of a blueberry) was much easier to run with

So… where was I going with this post again? Oh right, lowering my expectations (as well as yours, for any sort of pithy posts). Back in January, I was determined to run the WFD6K. I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I weren’t back to a running routine(ish) by that point.

Now that the race has come and gone? Meh. Sure, I’m a little bummed that I missed the race, but only a little bit. At this point, if I actually make it out the door for a 20-minute run around the neighborhood, I’m happy. Someday I’ll get my running groove back, but for now, not lowering my expectations will only lead to feeling bad about myself and ain’t no one got time for that.

Now if only I could get better at lowering my expectations for pace when I run… I know it’ll take a while to get back down to mid-9-minute miles again, and yet I’m disappointed in my 12-and-change pace these days. Unfortunately I think there’ll always be a part of my brain that thinks I’m FloJo.

Til next time!

How I Fell Off the Running Wagon

Hello there! Apologies (yet again) for a lack of posts lately. Same excuses as last time… busy at work, busy with homework, battling ever-present exhaustion, and less mental capacity for the whole blogging thing… both writing and keeping up with reading the blogs I follow, as well as keeping up with social media. I admit that I am a deviant, and I’m sorry.

Now that that’s out of the way, the one blog post that’s been vaguely bouncing around in my brain for the last few months is about how being pregnant has affected my running. I’m going to attempt that post now… it might border on TMI, and will probably be rambly, so feel free to run away now if you’d just rather not!

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Happily(ish) embarking on some preggo running back in September

When I first found out I was pregnant (early June), I was determined to keep running. I had several races on the horizon that I was looking forward to, including a half marathon that I was feeling very unprepared for… as you may remember. I was doing so much better in 2016 in terms of *not* DNSing (2015 was my year of the DNS), and I wanted to keep up that trend, if possible.

I was lucky enough to have a doctor who was also a runner, who gave me lots of advice along with encouragement to keep it up. Since I had recently dove back into a training plan (sort of), she didn’t see a problem with my continuing to run regularly, so long as I stayed hydrated and took it easy. Her number 1 rule was “listen to your body!” and since I tended to err on the side of that anyway, I figured I was good to go.

 

Now, as I type this, I’m teetering on the edge of my third trimester (!!) and I haven’t run at all since the QEOP 10K at the beginning of September. Prior to that race, I hadn’t run once since Beach 2 Beacon, a full month earlier. What happened? How did I fall off my gung-ho running wagon?

For one, running while pregnant is hard, man. Heck, walking – or even putting on my socks, some days! – leaves me out of breath and with a pounding heart.

(Although, I do have to admit, finding out I was pregnant made me feel a lot better about the runs I did in May that felt so incredibly hard, yet were so incredibly slow. After PRing in both 5K and 10K races earlier in the year, I found these runs and my lack of fitness/speed to be particularly frustrating… just when it looked like I was improving, suddenly I was slowing down and tiring so easily and I couldn’t figure it out. Seeing the positive pregnancy test was an a-ha moment!)

At least in early June I had immediate goals to work toward – the Worcester Firefighters 6K and the Worcester Half Marathon. The half especially, and my lack of training leading up to it, kept me motivated to keep running in the early days. Somehow I managed to pull off a PR in the 6K, and, despite a hot day, lots of hills, and my purposely taking it easy during the half, I somehow came within a few minutes of my PR. You’d think those feats would have motivated me to keep going, right?

Another problem? This summer was hot. Like, in-the-top-10-hottest-on record-in-Boston hot. I don’t do well running in the heat when I’m 100%, let alone when I’m building another human, so I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to pound the baking asphalt. I went to a few speed workouts with the Shammies, but those didn’t go so well; I either ran like crap and got frustrated, or I had to put the brakes on when my body started protesting, either from the heat or from fun things like round ligament pain.

Speaking of pain, there’s reason #3 I fell off the running wagon. My fellow-runner doctor urged me to stop anytime I felt any kind of pain, which I was experiencing with more frequency as the weeks ticked by. Partly due to the aforementioned round ligament pain, partly due to some cysty business, it would hit me more often than I would have liked while running, causing me to stop a lot. I’d be sitting in the grass, watching the Shammies run sprints and do other things I wanted to do, and it just got frustrating. Sometimes I’d go to workouts and walk, but it was hard not running when I really wanted to. So I just sort of stopped going.

Related to pain, reason #4 is general discomfort. I look back at my Worcester races in June and sigh wistfully about how good I had it back then. Sure, I tired more easily, but that was pretty much it. By the time Beach 2 Beacon rolled around, I had gained 10 pounds and certain parts of my anatomy were more, um, jiggly than they had been before (see below). Plus, there was the whole bladder situation that wasted about 10 minutes of my race and made the whole thing pretty uncomfortable.

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Left: June 19; Right: August 6. Same singlet, a bit more stretched out on the right. (Please ignore the bird I’m flipping on the right… it was accidental!)

By the time I was running the QEOP 10K in London a month later, I had graduated to my singlet that’s two sizes larger than the one pictured above, and cursing myself for not having bought a new sports bra that a) fit better, and b) supported things better. By that race, not only was I still dealing with round ligament pain and an almost constant urge to duck into a portaloo, but I was also dealing with bits that had gotten even more jiggly to the point of being painful. If I hadn’t been holding my phone and a bag of gummy fuel, I probably would have been holding myself as I went.

Right, so, where does that bring us on the list of my excuses for why I’m not so much running anymore?

  1. I tire more easily/get out of breath quicker
  2. It was too hot (hot damn!)
  3. It hurt
  4. It was uncomfortable

Number 5 is a combination of lack of time and general exhaustion. I know I mentioned tiredness in my first excuse, but that was more of a getting-tired-more-quickly-while-running situation. This is just straight-up tired. All. The. Time. During my first trimester, I felt levels of tiredness that I didn’t even know a human could experience (and I haven’t even reached the sleep-deprived newborn stage yet!). I’d be so tired, I’d literally crawl under my desk at work and curl up on the thinly carpeted cement floor and fall asleep.

By the time I’d get home from work, it was all I could do to put dinner in my face before dozing on the couch before then slinking off to bed at 8pm. The thought of running (or blogging!) after work went right out the door, as did thoughts of getting up early to beat the heat on the weekends. I really wanted to try a prenatal yoga class, but the most convenient one to me was at 9am on Saturdays and even that was too early.

Although I got slightly less tired during my second trimester (allegedly the “honeymoon stage” of pregnancy when you’re supposed to have all kinds of energy – ha!), I was still exhausted all the time, and somehow my life got super busy. Drew and I were either traveling every weekend or running around like mad to do errands, visit family, and do other things we couldn’t do while traveling. Then I had the brilliant idea to sign up for a graduate-level history class, which has eaten up most of my free time since early September, and which goes until right before Christmas. I should be doing homework now, actually, but alas.

So there we have it. Those five things have conspired to derail my running-through-pregnancy plans. Could I have beaten them all with an ironclad will? Sure. But anyone who’s read this blog knows that’s not really my style. I know women who have run through their entire pregnancies, and I think that’s awesome. Part of me wishes I had muddled through and done the same. The other part of me lays on the couch with a cup of tea and my feet up thinking “I’m listening to my body!” The more things change, the more they stay the same 🙂

In the meantime, I’ve taken advantage of Old Navy and Primark clearance sales and bought myself some maternity-size workout clothes, and I still have good intentions. I try to go for a walk every day at work during my lunch break, and one of these days I’ll join Drew at the gym instead of doing homework. I signed up for a prenatal yoga class that happens in the evening. I’ve researched and registered for a jogging stroller. I’ll climb back on that running wagon… someday.

Have you ever fallen off the running wagon for any reason? How did you climb back on?

Any running moms out there – did you run through pregnancy? How did it go?

Half Marathon #2: The Build-Up

Hi there! Remember me? Apologies yet again for abandoning the blog for a bit… I know I’m overdue for a recap of the Worcester Running Festival Half (spoiler alert: I finished!!), and I have a large handful of other posts I’ve been meaning to write. It’s my same old excuse, but life and work have been crazy, leaving me not much time or mental energy to write. But a long weekend is upon us and hopefully I can get back in the swing of things!

I started drafting a race recap for the half, but found that I was rambling on a LOT about the build up and pre-race stuff. So instead of deleting it (my first instinct) or posting one honkin’ long race recap, I decided to break it in two. And so… let’s get on with the rambling, shall we?

logo_worcOnce upon a time I signed up for the Worcester Running Festival half marathon, both as a fit of hometown pride and as a goal to work toward. Then I injured my knee and grudgingly dropped to the 5k option, and then the race was postponed due to lightening. Since I was going to be out of town on the make-up day, I took the waiver they offered to run it the following year, and bumped back up to the half in expectation that I could be properly trained by then. Again, it would be a great goal to work toward.

Well, that year has come and gone, and this is my story.

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Instagram these past few weeks, I was freaking out a bit before this race because, well, I hadn’t trained properly [sad trombone]. I had only got up to 5 miles in my training runs, and the farthest I had run all year was a 10k. I was vastly unprepared.

Add to that anxiety about being under-trained the fact that the forecast for race day was upper 80s and sunny, and I was dreading things. My first and only half marathon was run in October when it was a crisp 50s with cloud cover (perfect running weather!) and I’ve run no more than 5k or so when it’s been wicked hot, so I was nervous. I don’t usually do well in the heat!

Appealing to the camerawoman for help during one of my hottest races to date

Appealing to the camerawoman for help during one of my hottest races to date

Maybe the smart thing would have been to drop to the 5k once again, or just not do it at all, but I was already registered, darn it, and I couldn’t bring myself to have yet another DNS on record, so in spite of my anxiety I was determined.

The Day Before

The race started bright and early at 7am, so I splurged and booked us a room in a hotel that’s a 5-minute walk from the starting line. I spent the first part of the day before packing and trying to make sure I remembered everything, then I accompanied Drew on a work errand before making a quick stop at my work to pick up the earbuds I had forgotten. (I’ve never listened to music during a race, but I knew I’d need all the help I could get at this race!)

Earbuds in hand, we set off westward for Worcester… only to get a good ways down the Pike before I remembered that I had forgotten – of all things – my running shoes. Seriously, how did I forget those??

I'm not cut out for this. I need my kicks! (source)

I’m not cut out for this. I need my kicks! (source)

Another detour home to grab the shoes and we were once again on our way. We managed to just get to Sneakerama in time for me to pick up my bib (anything to buy me 5 extra minutes of sleep the next morning!). I was the only one there, and got my bib, shirt, and a few coupons within a minute. I even got a friendly reminder from the race director to set an alarm for the next day.

We checked in to the hotel, and I realized that I hadn’t grabbed any breakfast for pre-race… just a Honey Stinger waffle. I felt like I could use something more substantial for a half, so we went across the street to the convenient store to pick up Honey Nut Cheerios, a protein bar, a giant bottle of water… and a pack of mini-donuts and a protein shake for post-race recovery. And Polar orange dry, because we were in Worcester and you kind of have to rock the Polar when you’re there (and anyway, orange dry is my love!)

Pre-race dinner

Pre-race dinner

We picked up some takeout pasta from a local Italian place – fettuccine primavera for me, so good! – and I spent the rest of the evening watching tv with my legs up. And hydrating. And still freaking out a little. And regretting not dropping to the 5k. And worrying that I wouldn’t sleep well (we stayed at the same hotel last year and it’s literally right across the street from a railroad crossing where trains lay on their horns all night. It’s a good time. And plus there was a wedding reception and all the rowdy guests seemed to be on our floor).

I eventually managed to fall asleep (and only got woken up once by a train, miraculously), and after a night of stress dreams about the race, was up at the crack of dawn and donning my kit and fighting back crazy pre-race nerves.

Would I make it? Would I faint on the course? Would I have to DNF? Stay tuned for part 2 to find out the answers to these and more! (Except I already told you I made it, oops!) 😉

Do you have any rituals for the night before a big race? Certain foods you eat?

Anyone else experience race-related stress dreams?

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad…

…and there you have the facts of (running) life. Am I right?

I know I owe a race recap from the Worcester Firefighters 6k (spoiler alert: I PRd by 5:30!!), but this post has been bouncing around my brain since last night’s suboptimal track workout, so it gets to go first.

  
Right. Track workouts. Speedwork. It’s terrible and it’s awesome and and I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Coach Steve is great at putting together tough workouts and people always give him a joking hard time because everyone hates them, but they’re also so good. Even before I was working on changing my gait, the speed workouts I was doing with the Shammies were definitely making me a little faster. 

Anyway. Last week’s workout was one of the “you take the good” kind. It was 12x 200s with 200 recoveries between, and I killed it. It was hot and humid but I was ready and hydrated and I killed those 200s (for me, at least!)! I felt awesome during (I’m running fast! I’m running pain-free! This is awesome!!) and I felt awesome and accomplished after. I couldn’t wait to do it again the following week. 

And then last night’s workout happened. It was rough. It started with a 10-minute tempo run at 10k pace, then went to ladders on the track at mile pace – 3x 200, 2x 300, 1x 400, 2x 300, 3x 200. 

I attempted the tempo and made it barely 5 minutes in before I got all kinds of side-stitches. Since I had already warmed up, I cut the tempo short and took a water break while I waited for everyone else to finish. 

Then the 200s. I was so excited for these, after nailing them last week. But, silly me, I wasn’t only doing 200s this time around, so I should have paced myself, right? Heh.

I took off on the 200s (mile pace? pshh) and, once again, killed them. Then I ran the first 300 and promptly died (metaphorically, of course). Seriously though, why do 300s feel so much longer than 200s??

I had a crazy cramp in my side and an attack of shin splints, which I haven’t had in almost 2 years. What the heck? I was miserable and barely made the last 100m. I limped off to my bottle of Nuun and sat out the next 300, then promptly realized there was no way I could do a 400 without something going wrong. 

Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I am so scared of injuring myself now before my horrifying half marathon on Sunday, and so I used that as an excuse and I stopped the workout. I stretched and sipped my Nuun while I watched everyone else zip around the track. And I felt anything but accomplished on my way home, a much different scenario than the previous week when I was practically throwing myself a mental victory parade. 

But that happens, right? How many bad runs have I had over the past few years that I’ve bounced back from? Quite a few. But even knowing that, I really let last night’s run get to me. I felt like a facsimile of a sham of a runner and that was a bit of a bummer. I’ve never had to quit a speed workout that fast before, and I’m still bummed out about it today. 

But, trying to think on the bright side, what better time to learn from a crappy run than now? What went wrong that made the run so crappy? Let’s see…

  1. I probably wasn’t hydrated enough (anyone surprised?). That could explain the side stitches. 
  2. I wore different shoes than I’ve been wearing for track. Maybe this is why my shins freaked out?
  3. I completely ignored any kind of pacing, let alone my goal pace. Steve has a chat that lists goal paces for each distance based on your most recent 5k result. My 200s were way faster than my goal pace, which is probably why I crapped out so quickly. 

So, yeah. I wrote this rambly post mostly to hammer into my brain what can happen when I don’t do anything I’m supposed to do, like drinking water and following Steve’s instructions, and, you know, using proper footwear. You think I’d know these things by now, but… alas. 

I’d say I’m hoping for a better workout next week, but that will be 2 days post-half so I probably won’t be doing any speedwork yet! But hopefully the week after or so will be better. 

When do you stick a fork in a workout that’s not going so well? 

How do you move on after a run or a workout totally bums you out?