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Decisions

March 8, 2011
by

I’ve been really tired lately.

While I rationally know it’s because my quad-riffic effort was just over 2 weeks ago, I have a hard time accepting the equation quad + 2 weeks=no motivation and no energy.

As somebody whose self-description doesn’t include serial racer–I like a sizable break between my race efforts–I would be content to just settle into Thin Mint season and enjoy the view. But that isn’t an option, which is a good thing. SBS and I are lucky enough to head to Nashville in about 6 weeks to hang at the Sof Sole booth and rock and roll the half marathon, and well, my ego wants me to represent and make RLAM proud.

In my mind, representing means a sub-2 hour effort. (Let me say for the record: I hate discussing pace. My fast will never be really fast, but it might be faster than your fast, whereas it also might be your really slow. Takes all types, right?)

Here’s the problem: I’m running far from sub-2 hour paces right now. When I took on the quad, I paid no attention to speed, and just let my feet fall lightly and frequently, as Chi Running, my second-favorite running book, recommends. The good news about that? I ran mostly pain free—a huge first for me—especially when I left my Garmin behind. When I did feel the need to geek out, I was averaging 9:30-10:00 miles, which was, I will admit, mentally painful to me. As somebody who used to be able to rip off sub-9’s with few problems, running at capacity and barely eking out 9:45s isn’t mentally easy to take.

So last night, I pulled out my third-favorite running book, Run Less, Run Faster, and calculated how I’d need to train to hit a 1:58 half. That training plan, plus the drop to sea level, would guarantee a sub-2, even if I only followed it for 6 or so weeks (that’s what I told myself anyway). But I kind of winced when I looked at the half-marathon training plan

Too true. And dang it that it is. (From thisisindexed.com.)

because I’d done 15 weeks of it preparing for Austin last year, and the biggest thing I remember about it is that it sucked the life and fun out of my running. Yes, I nailed Austin for a PR, but I still missed by goal by a minute, which upset me more than it should’ve. In the end, I’m not sure thrashing myself–I was injured the entire time–was worth it.

I put aside my doubts, though, and set out this snowy morning to do my first tempo run. Two mile warm-up, 3 miles at an 8:30 pace, 1 mile cool-down. Never mind I hadn’t seen an 8 on my Garmin since last August. I gave it my best effort, and hit the 8:30, more or less, but threw in two or five catch-my-breath breaks which, I’m pretty sure, weren’t on the plan. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I went 2.75 miles at tempo, instead of 3.

Overall, it was a decent inaugural effort, but I’m just not sure I’m up for intense training right now. And my left leg, that Achilles heel of mine, wasn’t pleased after this morning’s run. Plus, these days, I’ve got a workload more demanding than my almost 8-year-old, who is wearing my out with her newest drama queen phase (all I have to say is, Thank goodness for school uniforms). I know right now I don’t need to tiptoe on that tightrope of physical and mental exhaustion.

Except that I still want sub-2.

Here’s what I’d tell anybody who gets too obsessed about their times:
1. I can say with 99% certainty that nobody cares about your finishing time but you. People care more that you’re fun to hang out with pre- and post-race, than they do about how fast you can cover a certain distance.
2. Not every race can feel great. Sometimes, the best victories are getting across the finish line when all the chips are down.
3. There will always be more races and more chances.

And here’s what I’d add to myself:
1. I ran with my left leg wracked with pain for almost 3 years. I’ve been running for four months with minimal pain and that, I know, is more priceless than any AmEx ad. I should not jeopardize a good thing simply because I have an ego.

So for the next six weeks, I will continue to train. I’m going to run long on the weekends, and I may try to pick things up a bit now and then on weekday runs, but nothing as regimented as Run Less, Run Faster. I’m also going to cross train at least twice a week on the bike, with a little intensity thrown in there too. And it’s time for me pick up those weights again.

In other words, I’m going on the Run Some, Be Fine plan. And I’m mostly fine with that.

55 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 5:01 am

    Regardless if you are Sub-2hr in your half you will be representing RLAM-ers all over marvelously! I hate to hear that you had been running in pain for 3 years…I can’t imagine. I just got over my first running injury and am now feeling like I want to take it easy all the time – like I’m afraid I’ll just be in pain again. I’d rather be running then R.I.C.E-ing and day of the week. I have been trying to mantra myself strong though and believe in myself and more importantly my body – that it will hang in there and considering I learned a lot from the injury I hope to never be back in the same position again.

    You should listen to your #1 for advice! You are the only one concerned with your finishing time! Take it easy on yourself – you ladies are amazing!

  2. Nancy permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:22 am

    I’m in about the same place, after a year of training for half ironman, and completing one and 2/3 half ironman races (with a broken bone each time, six months apart!) then going for an attainable sub 2 in a flat half marathon–which I didn’t get due to totally unexpected stomach woes. The lesson seemed to be that I needed to let those goals go!

    Now I’m only chasing the fun of it all, and easily downshifting to enjoy that was unexpected too. Goals are vaguely out there, but the biggest of all is to have fun, enjoy the bike rides as much as I love the swims and runs. It really is true that there is a season for everything: a season to learn, a season to compete, a season to savor, a season to recover.

    Good luck with Nashville!

  3. March 8, 2011 6:22 am

    I’m in week 6 of the Run Less, Run Faster plan. It’s tough! I like your Run Some, Be Fine plan!!

  4. March 8, 2011 6:27 am

    I am “training” for my very first race (a 5K) and while I do care about my time, most important to me is finishing with a smile on my face. And not being last!

    • March 8, 2011 6:26 pm

      Hey Mommy – if your goal is to finish with a smile, I predict high probability of success on ALL your race goals!!

  5. Mariale permalink
    March 8, 2011 7:01 am

    DImity you are the only one worried about time. Just go and have fun and please don’t get injured, hard to keep the sanity at home when you can’t run, right?
    And last, what’s the matter being the last one in a race?, I don’t think that means that person didn’t work hard just to finish… I think we, myself included, should stop worrying about the”being last” thing. I don’t think it’s a good message for our kids and ourselves either.

    • Sportsmama457 permalink
      March 8, 2011 10:44 am

      As someone who actually has finished last in a race (a 10K in front of family, friends, media, most of the known world – although I did get my picture in the paper!) your #1 rule is absolutely correct. No one remembers or cares how I finish except me. As long as I cross the finish line in an upright position, no matter what the time, I’ve done well.

    • March 8, 2011 6:22 pm

      I agree with both of you…and Mariale: you are *so* right. The biggest thing I need to preserve is my sanity, which goes out the door when I can’t run. Thanks for the reality check. And Sportsmama: love you got a pic in the paper! Nicely done.

  6. Carrie P permalink
    March 8, 2011 7:04 am

    Run Some, Be Fine…. I love it! I completely understand. I’m facing my own running dilemma right now. I’m pregnant and can’t run. I know, I know… lots of people run when they are pregnant. But apparently they don’t have the same competitive drive I have. I can’t run slow. Jogging is not an option. So when I take off for a run, I’m going full force. Well, Baby Parker is not up for that (at least, the muscles surrounding him aren’t). So when I jog, I get extremely sore… so sore sometimes, my husband grounds me from working out for a few days. But I’ve resigned myself to walking. Now, if jogging was bad before, walking was even worse. I didn’t walk. I didn’t see the benefit of walking. There’s not a lot of sweat and it takes forever to cover the same amount of ground. But now that I’ve gotten out there to do 3-4 mile walks, I’m ok. Yesterday, I had an amazing walk (4 miles). The weather was wonderful, I had lots of energy, and I felt gorgeous with my belly! So I’m ok with walking (for now). My motto: Be Active, Be Fine!

    • March 8, 2011 6:24 pm

      Hi Carrie: way to downshift and take care of yourself and your bambino. For what it’s worth, I didn’t run during pregnancy, but did a lot of hiking, which seemed to entertain me more than walking. Not sure if that’s an option, but just wanted to throw that out there…stay healthy and sane. 🙂

  7. Rebecca permalink
    March 8, 2011 7:08 am

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am feeling so blah with my training and feel that it has taken the fun out of running, for me. I have been excited to do my first half- a goal I’ve always wanted to achieve. But trying to get my training runs done on treadmill when my little one is napping has mentally drained me and I feel totally overwhelmed by it all after all the weeks I’ve put in 😦 I need to tell myself that I have 2 weeks left and whatever I get done it’s good enough. If I can’t finish it running, I can still finish it, but I feel like it will be such a defeat to have to walk any of it… when what I Gould be saying is “look how far you’ve come, 40# lighter, running for less than a year, so afraid to sign up for a 5k and here I am able to do 10 miles!”|

  8. March 8, 2011 7:23 am

    I’m learning that some races are about times/paces and some have very different meanings like totally taking in the experience (hard to do while your truly racing) and being in the moment. I think we get to a certain age where we know maybe we’ve peaked, and it can be humbling. Not saying that’s where you are, but I know it happens. You are so right; no one cares about our times but us, really. Not sure what I’m trying to say, but I appreciate your insights in this post!

  9. Laurie A. permalink
    March 8, 2011 7:32 am

    My favorite t-shirt slogan from last weeks Princess Half was :

    DLF>DNF>>DNS

    Dead Last Finish
    is greater than
    Did Not Finish
    which greatly trumps
    Did Not Start

    I am not a fast runner. But I did have a time goal for the half and did not make it. So when I saw that shirt after the race, I loved it. Finishing #9391 out of 13, 092 (or so) that finished when 16,000 started. Well, I can live with that.

    • Tryna permalink
      March 8, 2011 8:50 am

      Where did you see that shirt? I want one.

    • March 8, 2011 8:55 am

      Love that!

    • Andrea permalink
      March 8, 2011 10:22 am

      I want to get a shirt like that! Perfect!

    • Sportsmama457 permalink
      March 8, 2011 10:51 am

      Found the shirt! Go to http://www.cafepress.com/livinglively/1540894 – they’ve got them in several different styles and colors. I’m ordering one today!!

    • Rebecca permalink
      March 8, 2011 11:38 am

      Love that! THAT will be my new mantra.

      • Laurie A. permalink
        March 8, 2011 12:55 pm

        Hi, sorry it took me so long to respond-stupid work anyway 🙂 I saw themon someone and they looked like they had been made for a group, but I too found them on cafe press and have ordered one. I think they are WONDERFUL!

  10. Stacy permalink
    March 8, 2011 7:37 am

    I can’t tell you how many times since I started running that I have felt the same way. Thanks for the inspiration and “permission” to give ourselves a break. Running may not always be fun but it should never cause mental anguish. Keep running!

  11. Tryna permalink
    March 8, 2011 8:53 am

    All I can say is thanks. I have been obsessing about PR’ing at our local Shamrock run this Sunday and while I know it would be great to PR, I know it would be better to go and have fun and not worry about numbers. There will always be other races to PR at if it doesn’t happen Sunday, and life and family right now are more important. Thanks for the great post, you represented a lot of the thoughts and feelings I’ve been waffling about perfectly.

  12. March 8, 2011 9:02 am

    This is why I’m afraid to get a Garmin (I totally want one). I want to keep track of my pace and get faster, but I also fear that it might turn me into an addict and before you know it I’m sprinting a tight circle with my left wrist in front of my face the entire time.

  13. March 8, 2011 10:41 am

    Ok coming from one who will most likely never run a sub-2, awesome! I like the Run Some, Be Fine plan. Although I would like to run a sub-2:30 (is that correct lingo? haha)…and not feel like I’m dying at mile 10, 11, 12, or 13.

  14. Mary permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:22 am

    I’m running the Country Music 1/2 too–my first ever. My second daughter will be 5 months at the time. At first, I just wanted to finish the race. Now, I’m in to pace, times, etc…and I know why. I’d like to say it’s because I like to challenge myself, but really it’s the stupid Garmin 405! It creates competition against yourself! Boo! I’m seriously thinking about not wearing it on race day. I hope to stop by the booth to say hello and welcome you to the South! You can even make fun of my accent! Ha!

    • Stacy permalink
      March 8, 2011 12:34 pm

      I will be in Nashville too for my first 1/2! I just started getting a pain on the outside of my knee, so I am taking off this week and hopefully get back on my schedule next week.
      I definitely won’t be in the sub par 2 whatever pace group. Can’t wait to meet some RLAMer’s.

      • Teresa permalink
        March 8, 2011 7:02 pm

        I’ll also be doing my first half in Nashville! Can’t wait to meet some RLAMers and maybe see Sara and Dimity in person! Good luck, ladies!

    • KateL permalink
      March 8, 2011 2:10 pm

      For what it’s worth I had a Garmin fail last year when I didn’t charge the battery before a race. I wore a Timex Ironman watch and pressed the split button at each mile marker, just like I did pre-Garmin. It was just enough “data” to know if I came out to fast. If you think no watch will make you twitchy, you might try this.

  15. Atha permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:24 am

    I needed this today! I am also trying for a sub 2:00 hour half. Mine is April 10. Sometimes I get so obsessed with my times that I forget where I started and how far I’ve come. Thanks for posting this.

  16. sheryl permalink
    March 8, 2011 11:33 am

    I ran a half marathon on Sunday and thought I might break my PR of 1:58. Then in the last two miles realized it wasn’t going to happen, but still thought I would break two hours…. then just around the bend from the finish line I saw my daughter ringing her cow bell and running toward me with a twizzler (for energy 🙂 and I stopped and hugged her, took the twizzler and told her I loved her….. missed breaking 2 hours by a few seconds, but totally worth it!

    • March 8, 2011 6:32 pm

      Sheryl: perfect reality check. Especially because it involves Twizzlers.

  17. March 8, 2011 12:10 pm

    Great post, Dimity! I’m on board with your Run Some, Be Fine plan. After 4 weeks off running due to a calf strain, I have only 9 weeks to train for my half marathon. Even though I was logging lots of miles and fast (for me) tempo runs prior to the injury, I’ve decided to follow the Hal Higdon Novice Half Marathon plan for the upcoming Half. (I’ve had to scrap my 2:00 or Bust plan I had originally intended.) I think it’s good for us to go through different types of training cycles with our running…prevents burn out and keeps us healthy and injury free!

    • March 8, 2011 6:30 pm

      Too true, Slice: glad you made a modest decision and I hope you enjoy the 13.1 ride. 🙂

  18. March 8, 2011 12:55 pm

    I feel like you are me! I am going through the same mental/training process…and I run the same pace! Its not that slow lol! Keep up the hard work…any pace is a good pace!

  19. March 8, 2011 1:12 pm

    This really hits the nail on the head with the mental struggle of PRs, but taking care of yourself but not obsessing, but being challenged, but being injured, but but but….ugh!

    Work on the hip swivel and arm back swing parts of chirunning. That will bring you the little extra speed you want. I’ve been using it and it’s really picked up my pace. Made me sore in new places, but it worked without getting that “dead leg” feeling from powering the quads.

  20. March 8, 2011 1:32 pm

    I so totally understand about one part of you needing a goal and another part needing to rest.

    I’m in goal mode now, about to make my second assault on the elusive 2-hour mark (in my case, on that dreaded Boulder Half course again, this time on March 27–at least there shouldn’t be a fire to delay things!). I followed the Run Less Run Faster program this time and feel I am in better shape to meet my goal than I was last time. But I am already trying to talk myself off the Ledge of Disappointment, as I know that strong winds are frequent at this time of year and would almost certainly slow me from my goal pace. (I HATE wind.)

    I’m working on taking a chill pill as the day draws nearer. I’m going to try the old three levels of goals: a moonshot, a hard but realistic goal and a crappy-weather-I’m-sick goal. And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always the next race. Right?

    I hope you come to a peaceful resolution on this question! I think you should just have fun with this race. You never know–being relaxed might make for a better time than you would have gotten otherwise!

    • March 8, 2011 6:28 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Terzah: and good luck with your half. Hope that moon gets shot down! (And even if it doesn’t, life goes on, right?)

  21. Robin permalink
    March 8, 2011 3:20 pm

    Thanks for this Dimity! Especially the: “My fast will never be really fast, but it might be faster than your fast, whereas it also might be your really slow. Takes all types, right?” — Yes!!! I am at my fastest ever and am just hoping a sub-2 will be in the cards for me this year — I think I am hitting the numbers right. Anyway, I BRIEFLY get demoralized by comments of how “slow” someone is and they are really well above the average and faster than me. I am quite content to be average to above average, to know that a BQ would take a miracle, and to know that, honestly, even a “slow runner” is an awesome runner! We all need to be careful when we throw around fast and slow and the effect that might have on our fellow tribe members.

    • March 8, 2011 6:26 pm

      Hey Robin: I hear you sister. I really don’t like discussing pace because we’re all out there, getting it done, but I felt like this post warranted a few digits. One thing I do remember: Ryan Hall, blazing fast, being quoted in the NYT about how much respect he has for runner who are out there for 6+ hours. When it doesn’t come naturally, the effort is just–if not more–admirable than the speedsters.

  22. Julie B permalink
    March 8, 2011 3:34 pm

    Hey Dimity,
    You should come join the Columbines. We’ve started track workouts on Tuesday evenings. It’s always a good kick in the butt to run fast with lots of other women around. More encouragement, more support even when feeling slow, great camaraderie!

    • March 8, 2011 6:27 pm

      Julie B: I’d be there in a heartbeat if you guys weren’t a 40 minute drive away…I’ll check the site though and see if you have any workouts closer to me. It’s just too much of a time commitment with my workload/life right now. But I do love the suggestion. 🙂

  23. March 8, 2011 4:39 pm

    I start by saying whatever pace you run the 1/2 you will be awesome. But I would add in a dose of encouragement…. I ran a PR in a 8K (yes, I know it isn’t a half!) with no particular attention to training, coming off a horribly stressful week and a terrible night’s sleep. You might just surprise yourself.

  24. Judy permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:21 pm

    Amen!

  25. March 8, 2011 6:30 pm

    I started with Run Less Run Faster at the end of January. I ended up straining my soleus. I’m easing back into it…just really happy to Run At All Run Easy. Thanks for this post, very timely.

  26. March 8, 2011 6:38 pm

    I did that “plan” to finish a half a few weeks ago….was JUST FINE, especially after a full marathon in the fall and surgery in December. I was just happy to finish, although I won’t pretend my time didn’t sting a little bit. But I got to run on the beach with my best friend and we really did have a GREAT time! Enjoy!

  27. Iliana Zuniga permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:54 pm

    i’ve been running for 2 years and have never used a training device like a garmin or a polar. i do keep track of my speed by the time or the playlists that I hear when I run. Last October I did my first half marathon and almost did it in a sub 2 hrs (2:09) and I did 2 stops to see my kids along the way. Then the bug bit me to want to do a sub 2 half… I started putting pressure on myself and my running and each time I went out I enjoyed it less.
    I was very proud of myself for running in a much better time than I had predicted. i was expecting a 2:30 half, and I was amazed I did so good, but I never put the pressure on. I ran to complete it and I did. I gave up the monitor, the timing and the pace measuring. I run because I love it and because I need it and I plan to continue doing so, even if I do more time in my next race… I am happy running and I will continue down that path…. and continue to complete my races, no matter how long it takes.

  28. March 8, 2011 7:22 pm

    I have one race goal, regardless of length, location or stubborn PR hangup. Quick story: I trained somewhat half-heartedly for a marathon years ago. Dejected, tearful and sad at mile 10, I saw a guy in full head to toe Darth Vadar regalia running nearby. My new benchmark for race success: beat Darth Vadar. Every race since, I remember Darth, find my inner geek “dark side” and chug along with a smile!

  29. March 8, 2011 7:49 pm

    I completely get this post. Dimity, I followed the sub-2 hour plan after being totally inspired by your RW article about your own sub-2 half. And the PR was awesome! But the ITB issues not so much. Doing the chirunning thing now while training for a full and my attitude has been so relaxed that there are no tense (or hurt) muscles in my body. So yes, Run Some, Be Fine.

    So fine!

    (Remember, you represent no matter what you do, woman! Remember that!)

  30. March 8, 2011 8:55 pm

    I hear ya on the injury thing, Dimity! I’ve been struggling with ITB problems and my last 2 runs were pain-free but so slow that I felt discouraged afterward. Oh well, I figure the speed will come eventually. I can only improve! I would rather run slowly than not run at all.

  31. March 8, 2011 9:04 pm

    I have faith that you can do a sub 2 in Nashville. I’m running my first full their and I seriously hope to meet you at the expo! I’m focusing on the hills because they look killer at the beginning. Happy training!!!

    • March 9, 2011 6:54 am

      Thanks for the info…have not even looked at course profile yet. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you and all the other RLAM’ers too…we’ll be giving a presentation (time/day TBD) so stay tuned for that info…happy training to you too!

  32. Jackie permalink
    March 9, 2011 6:55 am

    You are totally right about who cares about pace. And I’ve actually found that most people who know I run automatically assume I’m much faster than I really am simply because I’m a runner at all!

  33. Jennifer permalink
    March 9, 2011 11:44 am

    Last fall when I was nearing the end of the training for my first Half, I did hear myself say to someone — “I will be glad when this is over because running on a prescribed plan to reach this goal is sucking the fun out of running for me.” There comes a point where we just have to “let go” and it sounds like you are there. Your approach, therefore, is perfect for this time. Wishing you all the best!

  34. Kathy R permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:40 pm

    Dimity, I too have a goal of a sub 2hr half. It is hard to gauge right now how well that is going to go. I am trying not to let the “time” focus take away from the “good time” of running the race. I am hoping that with good training and good conditions race day it all takes care of itself. It is so reassurring to have this forum to “hear” other women’s suggestions and inspiration to continue to empower running women!

  35. April 26, 2011 7:49 am

    I am so glad to have come across this entry. I love your points of advice. I suffer from IT band injury and am realizing that I am often fearful of the pain, so I don’t do as much as I should, including conditioning to prevent the injury. I need to get over the hump and just do it, as they say when selling shoes. I am trying to figure out if I want to be a fast short distance gal (5K/8K) or strive for the long run (13.1 +). I really want to do a half. Reading this blog is really inspiring me to take that next step. Thank you!

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