Monday, January 28, 2013

Ups & Downs of Endurance Running

Foothills of Mt. Lee.

The last couple weeks has been filled with ups and downs, but that is t normal with endurance running.  There are ups where you have a great run and you feel like you can go for miles and miles at a pace you had no idea you could run. And, when you’re down, they feel really down. You feel like you can barely complete this run and the pace is much slower than you’d like.  It’s after one of these down days that it’s difficult to get out for a run the following day. You’re convinced the run is going to be as terrible as your last run.

With the new flu strain being as aggressive as ever and working in the standard office Petri dish, I’ve been more anxious than normal about germs. (The anxiety is actually a result of my time spent in the ICU in 2010.) In the early parts of the month, I was stocking up on sleep. My need not to get the flu was an excuse to stay in bed. Last week, I looked at my kitchen calendar and I realized that my next half marathon was less than a month away. I wasn’t running consistently so I wasn’t accustomed to running on tired legs and I have little base. What I do have is the knowledge that I can run a half marathon and now that I have the taste of quitting in my mouth from my crash and burn from Long Beach half marathon in 2011, signing up and not completing a half is something I don’t want to repeat. I was a little concerned because my longest run in months is 6 miles. That’s less than half the distance and that 6 is no match for the hills of Pasadena!

I was running pretty consistently for the week of January 20th. I was feeling the high, especially after bonding with a friend over their sudden interest in running. A down came when I had to get to the office early and I slept in too much to get the run in I wanted. I nearly bagged it, but I threw on my running apparel & set out the door. I got in just over a mile, which included 3 hill repeats on a gentle hill. (And, doing just a little over a mile turned out to be an up.)  Looking at my kitchen calendar, I realized that I was not only going to have to be creative with the training, I was going to have to be aggressive.  With all my other halves, I had time to taper. With this one, I was going to have to train through, meaning each weekend long run would increase from 7 (this past weekend), to 8 following, 9 the week after that and then I have my half (13.1 miles)! Most training plans suggest that you increase your weekly mileage at 10%. It has been pointed out to me at some point if you don’t run and then start running, you are increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10%, so using that theory, while it may not be sound, I’m going for broke and going from 10 miles a week to 15 or more. 

Topographical Map of Pasadena-
The closer the lines get the more hilly
it becomes.
Watching the Rose Parade, one might think that Pasadena is flat. It’s not.  It’s chock full of hills, which is one reason why I’ve been doing hill repeats even if they are on gentle hills. My big training run was filled with ups and downs. This weekend, I hit the Burbank Reservoir, in the foothills of Mt. Lee for my aggressive training.  I parked my car. Hopped out and after a half mile of virtually flat packed dirt, the hills descended in front of me like a giant monolith. If I were driving, I wouldn’t take a standard shift car, but this is why I chose this area. I ran one hill and then some neighborhoods. Then, it was off to do hill repeats. My GPS watch tells me that the hill I picked was half-mile long. On my second ascent, I already made friends. On my third trip, I had a cheering section and my hip flexors were very sore. By the time I was on my fourth my water was nearly empty and my new friends were gone. I still had more miles to cover but knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going if I ran out of water. I descended the hill and found some flatter h area. I pushed to make sure I could get my 7, with only a mouthful of water when I got back. I promptly downed the extra water I had in my truck, vowing I would plan better for next weekend’s run. This week was nearly a 20% increase from the first week in January, but with 3 weeks remaining before my race, I need more hills and more miles if my ego is going to be able to tackle what lies ahead of me on February 17. 

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