On Patience, humidity and hustle

 

Death by 800m Repeats

Wow. How is it all of the sudden SEPTEMBER? I really do have a goal of blogging a lot more, and while I am often overflowing with ideas on what I want to write about, the reality is I don’t make the time to get it all down. Could I “hustle” a little more and make this time? Sure, but it might mean a little less sleep and a little less down time. After the stress spirals I fell into at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 and resulting adrenal fatigue, I am also trying to make more of an effort to let things go, as I mentioned in my last post. So yes, I want to write more, but I am not putting the pressure on myself saying that I HAVE to write more. Especially since my time has been consumed with what I really have made a priority- my training.

I am now more than HALF WAY through my training cycle which seems crazy to me. Where did the last ten weeks go? How do I only have less than eight more weeks to go? I won’t lie, I’m a bit freaked out. I keep thinking “I don’t feel ready!” until I take a pause and reflect on how far I have already come and how much time I still really do have. That being said, over the last few weeks I finally felt like things started to click and I am proud of how much work I have put in and how consistent I have been.

When I used to see people who were so consistent with their workouts and training, I would feel so envious of their drive and think “why can’t I just do that?”. The thing is, I COULD, but I kind of have a habit of over complicating things. There are always going to be excuses, but this time around I have kept it simple and I have found the secret to being consistent is, well, just getting out there and doing it and not thinking too much about it. So, that’s what I’ve been doing, just getting out there and doing it. It really is that simple.

The first seven weeks of my training were HARD. I went into this cycle with basically the bare minimum of a base, if you can even call it a base. I had only been back consistently running for just about two months and I was so so scared about getting hurt. I had a few lingering aches and pains and my left hamstring still had a habit of really seizing up and feeling tight after long runs, but I’ve been cross training, stretching, rolling, putting my legs up and overtime it has improved. I can now officially say I pretty much run symptom free other than the usual marathon training wear and tear I know I can handle (tight calves, some nasty blisters, that sort of thing). I have also been SLOW. Now I know I’m a slow runner in general, but I have been EXTRA slow. Like, I didn’t know I could run this slow, slow, like I’m pretty sure I was faster when I started running, slow. Instead of getting in my head about it though I am really trying to just let it go and do it anyway without too much thought (as you can see, there is a theme here) and be patient with myself that the work will pay off.

 

Where I am struggling:

Long runs have been a STRUGGLE. I had a few good-ish ones at the beginning and then about three really really terrible I-want-to-quit marathon training dark and difficult ones. It is so hard to get out of that headspace once I’ve engaged with it and I find it EXTRA hard going at it alone in the intense heat we’ve had. A few weeks ago I ran into my coach during my long run, we talked about the struggle of the long run and she said something along the lines of “you don’t do long runs to make a marathon feel easy, you do long runs so you get better at being uncomfortable and learning how to push through when things get really tough in the race”, and that was some much needed perspective. None the less, I am proud of myself for pushing through those tough long runs, even though they were at a turtle pace.

Humidity is not something I am really used to but OH BOY was it a humid summer. We are mostly out of the woods now with it, but the humidity was absolutely killer and I am hoping is the reason why I have been soooo slow. It really gave me so much respect for people who run in intense humidity all the time. HOW DO YOU DO IT!?

Post-long run nutrition is another area where I am struggling a bit. Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows that the post-long run hunger a few hours later or the next day is REAL. I try and get a fruit heavy smoothie in me as soon as I finish but it’s always much later on that day where I want ALL THE FOOD, and usually not the good kind. I eat very well, and follow a very balanced healthy diet, so I’m not going to make myself feel guilty for indulging in some treats every now and then, especially with the work I am putting in (and nor should anyone), but I don’t feel great about letting myself get super hungry and then being unprepared and gorging on pizza and a few beers, mainly because it makes me feel like crap and is probably not the best choice when it comes to recovery. Besides, if I’m going to indulge in something “junky” I want to eat it because I WANT to eat it and savour it, not because I’m out and I’m starving and it’s there. With the release of Shalane Flanage and Elyse Kopecky’s  new cookbook “Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow” I already know that I can do things to improve this as I have so much new recipe inspo to work with- I just need to plan ahead. I’m super amped to make the recovery pizza later this week, an indulgence that’s probably a little healthier. (Also just a side note I am officially obsessed with the recovery chocolate “milk” and thai quinoa salad from the book and can’t stop making both!).

Blisters and shoe woes my feet are angry at me. I have this nasty cluster of blisters on the inside of my right foot that just won’t heal and keep getting worse. I was running in the Nike Zoom Flys as well as the Pegasus 34s but they were feeling a bit narrow on longer runs. I went on a mission to find a new pair of shoes and ended up with the Pegasus 35s because they felt really great in the store. This was kind of a silly mistake though because if the 34s were feeling narrow I don’t know why I thought the SAME SHOE updated would be better, but it did feel better as first. Well, obviously, they weren’t better, so I went on a mission to find something with a wider toe box and ended up with the Brooks Ghost 11s. I fell in love with them after my first long run in them. These are now my go to shoe but I’m still wearing my Nikes here and there to switch things up. However, the Ghost’s also are giving me these hellish blisters on my long runs. Can’t win. I guess this is just marathon training?

Humid humid summer days

The pay-off:

Week six was tough. I was sick, I was feeling stressed at work and nothing really went according to plan. What I will say though is that this week was still somewhat of a breakthrough because I still got out there and put in the work. This is NOT something I would have done previously in a week like this, especially since every run just seemed EXTRA hard. I was trying SO hard to remain patient but it was wearing on me. I thought about giving up on a few occasions, especially so during my long run. All I could think was “HOW ON EARTH will I ever run 42.2km?” and I said to more than a few people on more than a few occasions “I thought things would have started to click by now. I should be improving but I just feel like I’m getting slower.” Well…lo and behold…

THEY CLICKED. Week seven was ah-mazing. My speed workout started slowwwww but quickly became one hardcore, speedy, empowering, confidence building workout where I exceeded my own expectations. My easy runs, while not exactly easy, started to feel just a bit more comfortable and easi-er. And my long run, well…what a beauty of a beast that 28km was. FINALLY, the weather seemed to be a little more on my side, offering some relief from the humidity. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, the last 1/3 was pretty tough, but I pushed through, and managed to have a better pace than previous weeks.  The first 2/3 however, were glorious. I mean, smiling as I run, thinking happy thoughts, not even noticing the kilometers go by glorious. I was also visiting New York City during week eight and was lucky enough to learn about a group long run that New Balance was hosting on the Saturday morning. I happily signed up and while I was EXHAUSTED from all of my travelling and tourist-ing I am happy to report that the run was amazing. It was great to run some of the course, including two of the bridges (Pulaski and Queensboro) and feel strong as I climbed them. The patience really has paid off!

When things finally click

What I’m loving:

Supplements are never something I have been consistent with but after some other non-running related health issues became detrimental to my health, I buckled down and am actually following the supplement regime my naturopath has me on. I am currently taking a giant curcumin (turmeric) capsule every day for inflammation and this has helped noticeably with any post-run soreness I used to experience. I also underwent 10 sessions of IV therapy where an intense vitamin cocktail was pumped into my veins. Not only has this significantly helped with my other health challenges, it has really improved my energy levels and recovery. The high dose of B vitamins in the IV definitely have something to do with this and I really recommend it to other athletes.

“Let your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking my way to Victory” by Deena Kastor is the book I am currently reading as recommended by my coach. I’m not too far into yet, but can’t put it down. It’s all about how much your mind impacts your performance- something that never ceases to amaze me. Definitely check it out!

The feeling of hustling for something so intensely when nothing comes easy. Maybe this is a little twisted but I’m really digging my own persistence even though the reward has been minimal. Yes, things have started to click, but running is still (and probably always will be) incredibly hard for me. It is humbling how much it kicks my ass. I feel like I can do everything the right way and I’m still never going to run a BQ, and I’m okay with this. I love running because it challenges me. When I first really started living a healthy lifestyle and working on my own physical fitness, I had an instructor who always said “make the uncomfortable your comfortable” and this has stuck with me in such a profound way even 11 years later. So far this training cycle has been all about just living in the moment and putting one foot in front of the other when it’s felt anything but easy. Again, this links back to so much of what I learned in my mindfulness meditation course, and applies to so many different aspects of life. I love the beauty of that- there is no giant pay-off here and huge reward at the end of this, just the feeling that I worked really really dang hard at something day in and out stuck with it- no matter how uncomfortable. This feeling truly is what it’s all about.

Let’s hope things continue to move in a positive way- just over seven weeks to go!

 

P.S. I will be running the TCS NYC Marathon with Team for Kids; to learn more about why I am doing this and to support this great initiative, please click here.

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