Three weeks ago, I started my training for a 10K race I signed up for in May. The first week, I hit the ground running, literally, and completed each day of training exactly as the plan specified.
As a way to keep me motivated, I have the training plan taped to my refrigerator and I check off each workout as I complete it. Look at how nice and neat that first week looks with all the check marks.
By the second week, however, I realized that fitting in each workout wasn’t always going to be easy. I have to coordinate my runs with Tim’s irregular work schedule, Luke’s feeding schedule, and our family meals. I learned that I might not fit in every single run each week and sometimes I have to modify the plan.
I have to be honest, the last three weeks have really kicked my butt. It isn’t the training itself that’s been especially hard, it’s life in general and trying to fit everything in. Managing to run five days and cross train one day a week on top of all of my other responsibilities has been a challenge. Some days I feel like I have to put “breathe in, breathe out” on my t0-do list as a reminder to take the time to breathe.
Last Saturday, I had my longest run to date of six miles. I felt great running it and the run itself went well. That evening, however, I hit a wall. Extreme exhaustion took over my body and I felt like I don’t remember feeling ever before. That night I developed another clogged milk duct, a sure sign that I was running myself ragged.
As much as I hated to do it, I took the next three days completely off from running and exercising. I knew something had to give, and my body needed some rest. It’s interesting, but the complete exhaustion was not from training too hard or even the running itself, I think it was just a cumulation of everything I’ve been trying to do. I felt like I was spending everyday trying to squeeze two days worth of tasks into one day. It just finally took its toll, emotionally and physically.
I’ve come to accept that I don’t have to run this race super fast. It’s okay if I just run it. Not following the training plan to a T is not the end of the world. It’s hard for me not to put pressure on myself to perform at a level that I think I should. I’m competitive and I know what I’m capable of, yet I have to remember the stage of life I’m in will only allow me to do so much.
After saying all of that, I can tell you that I’ve loved training for a race again. Even though I wish I had more time and energy to devote to it, the time I’ve spent running has been great. My pace is gradually getting faster (I’m averaging between 9:15 and 9:30 miles whereas when I started I was running around 10:15 miles) and feeling easier.
I’ve done some tempo runs, where you gradually build to near 5K race pace and hold that pace for a few minutes. I have no idea what my 5K pace is right now, so I’ve just gone with what felt challenging, but not so hard that it was going to kill me. On these runs I’ve been able to build to a 7:45-8:00 minute mile pace. I did one speed workout of repeat 400s, which was hard. I did it on the road and realized that doing speed work is much better in a group. One day maybe I’ll have the time and freedom to join a running club so I’ll have some training partners.
I have another four weeks until the race, and my goal is to maintain the training I’ve been doing and complete the race. Maybe next year at this time I’ll be in a better position to worry about times. For now, just running has to be enough.