Monday, February 17, 2014

Five weeks in - Facing the mental giant and the solo run

This weekend I wrapped up the first five weeks of training for Lincoln. Despite all the crazy weather (ice and lots of rain and cold) I have been able to complete all of my training runs, and complete them successfully. Success means different things for different people. Right now, for me, success is running strong and finishing with a good feeling about the run. I am not running for any certain finish time or trying to maintain a particular pace. I just go out and let the day determine itself. Usually when I do that, I have a great run.

Running has always been very mental for me. My blog over the last few years speaks about that a lot with all of my ups and downs. I am not as fast as I have been at previous points in my running, but I am content with just running. I do like being faster and having fast goals, but I usually end up putting too much pressure on myself and the fun completely goes away. I get nervous, stressed, and never find a way to enjoy the moments. The mental aspect of it all overtakes the run and the whole experience changes. So I'm running just for fun, while still working hard, but to try to keep the mental blocks out and the fun in.

With running being very mental for me, solo runs are often tough. Most runners are social and love having running partners to train alongside for accountability, company, and that extra push when needed. I am no different. I had a stressful ending to last week, and when I get down about something, I tend to withdraw and remove myself from social encounters. That is how I process. The usual Saturday crew was going to be combining their long run with a local 5k that a friend of ours was directing. My plan was to work all of that into my 14, however, I made a last minute decision to scratch that plan and do my 14 alone. When I opt for a solo run, especially on something long, it's really needed (and extremely rare!). I plugged up to my iPod and went for it. It was one of those days when everything clicked. I started slow, ended fast, and recorded negative splits on all but two miles. It was a beautiful morning, and I allowed myself to get lost in the run. I didn't think about what was on my mind, and by doing that, all that was on my mind felt better at the end of the 14 miles. It was just what I needed.I finished strong and feeling great about my run.

I don't know what the next 11 weeks will hold for training, but my plan will continue to consist of fun, social miles with friends with the occasional solo run to blow off some steam and to keep the mental cobwebs at bay. It's supposed to be fun, so why make it otherwise!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Back to blogging...Back to Running...

I'm not even sure why I have a blog since I find myself NEVER writing! Well, I guess one reason I stopped writing was because I wasn't running as much, and my blog is titled Dawn Will Run! I've just not been feeling the running bug for quite a while, but I think that maybe it is back...

After the "100 miles in July" challenge, I slacked, again, big time. I was still working out a good bit, but only running 15-20 miles or so a week. That was perfectly fine with me. I learned a hard lesson about finding contentment in what kind of training you like to do. Long story short, but during this time when I wasn't feeling the running bug, I finally learned to be content! I think it is really what brought me back to enjoying it again. There was a time when I didn't think I would ever run another marathon. And well, what do you know, I am signed up to run one in May.

At the end of year, I started running a bit more, and I give a good friend credit for some of that. These weekend group long runs began being organized by this friend, and I really started enjoying them. Even though I'm slower now and couldn't always keep up, having the accountability and the social aspect of getting out there and getting started with the group was a lot of fun.

So, fast forward to New Year's Eve. I'm texting with a close friend in Nebraska who had said a while back that we should run a race together this year. She texted me that day and suggested the Lincoln Half Marathon/Marathon. I said, ok! She said, half or full? I said, you make the call! She called full! We both agreed to be on our computers when registration opened at midnight on January 1. Apparently this is a super popular race and fills up quickly! We both signed up, and just 11 hours and 35 minutes later, registration closed at 12,000 runners! I love Lincoln, Nebraska as much as the next guy, but I have no idea why this race is so popular! Maybe it's the 50 yard line finish in Memorial Stadium? Either way, it excites me because it must be a special race.

So, 100 miles in July?! Whatever, I ran 115 in January! I'm back in my comfort zone of running and running lots of miles. Well, maybe subtract one of those runnings as I'm not going to get up quite as high on the weekly stuff as I have before, but I am back to 30-40 mile weeks.

My friend and I are training together, but from afar. She is in Northwest Nebraska, and I am in South Mississippi. We text and email about our training and provide encouragement to each other when we need it. This will be her first full, and I couldn't be more excited for her! This will be my 13th. Lucky 13. I've been waiting a long time to be excited about lucky #13.

Keep reading for more on this experience for my friend and I!