Today I wanted to hop on the blog to expand a bit on Sunday's Denver race. Races are funny - I used to often shy away from races, and still do a bit I guess, because I always felt like I performed much better in workouts. I tend to get reallyyyy nervous before races - even if they're not a big deal - because I'm an anxious person by nature; so it's hard for me to eat the morning before races and fuel correctly, and then I find myself spending quite a bit of time in the bathroom lol & also talking myself off the ledge/forcing myself not to drop out. But by some miracle, this race was executed perfectly, and I wanted to recap & discuss a bit more.
So first of all, I have been working my ASS OFF. I have never, in 29 years of life and 17 years of running, trained this hard. Excuses have not been entertained this training cycle. That being said, I got a pretty bad cold two weeks ago and seriously debated not running this race. I was sure that taking 4 days off would derail my training to a degree and I wasn't sure I would feel 100% by race day. But after some deliberation, I reminded myself that this was NOT the goal race but simply a marker/tune-up for the goal race, so even if I didn't perform well it wasn't a big deal. Definitely a hard conversation to have with yourself when you take every competition way too seriously but it got me to that start line. Looking back on my performance, I've gleaned a couple major things that I wanted to share. The first is that consistency. is. key. Yes, I had a week that was sub-par due to being sick, but a) it was outside of my control, and b) it was 4 days out of several months of consistent training. A FEW DAYS WILL NOT DERAIL YOUR TRAINING, and it's literally pointless to get hung up on something you cannot control. I really really wanted to discuss and highlight this because I think as runners it's so easy to get down on ourselves. One of my teammates frequently says how it's so funny that as runners we will dwell on a bad workout, but when we have a good workout we kinda just pass it off as hey, well I had a good day. And it's so true! We rarely give ourselves the credit we deserve and we definitely tend to focus way too keenly on the days we don’t perform as well as we’d like.
The other major piece of training and training mentality that I’m attributing to my recent PR is SLOW RECOVERY RUNS. I cannot stress this enough. I see so many of y’all posting 7:15 minute miles for your “recovery” runs. Guys - that is NOT a recovery pace. In fact, you’re really not allowing your body to recover at all. Each time you do a speed workout, a strength workout, etc, you’re tearing muscle fibers. You need to truly allow your body to recover in order to rebuild those fibers to become faster & stronger, and easy runs allow oxygen-rich blood to cycle through your body, healing those micro-tears. Here’s another great way to look at it: let’s say you’re training for a half marathon and your goal race pace is, hypothetically, between 6:30 and 6:45 Min/mile. So your speed workouts are most likely tailored to those paces. What exactly is the point in running “recovery” miles at 7:15 or 7:30 pace? You’re not racing at that pace, right? So it’s a pace that’s kinda in limbo and really has no intention. You’re not getting any faster by running paces slower than your goal, so why would you derail your workout (and possibly promote injury) by running harder than you need to for literally no reason? I used to be that person. In fact, I was that person for most of my running career. I thought I needed to see a pace improvement in EVERY run and if I didn’t I was a failure. So you guys, I GET IT. I am so totally not making fun of anyone who trains this way or making any judgments because it is soooo easy to be tempted into running relatively hard every day. But I promise, as someone who has trained both ways, it is so much more beneficial to run your easy runs easy, and thus your hard days even harder. Because the days you actually make strides (pun intended 😉) in becoming faster are your speed days - NOT your easy days. Your easy days are there to increase volume, endurance and strength, NOT speed. One of my athletes actually said to me yesterday, as my chest swelled with pride 😆, that since taking her easy days much easier she’s been able to hit it harder in speed workouts and it doesn’t feel nearly so difficult to turn over that next gear. YES GIRL! If I can instill one thing in you through writing this blog, it is this! And like I said, I honestly attribute this recent PR partially to this switch in mindset and training. Anyway y’all, off my soap box. As always, thanks so much for reading. Running is such a big part of my life and I have so many thoughts about it every day - like literally my mind just cycles through running, running and more running 😂 - that sometimes it’s so overwhelming that to even compartmentalize enough to get some of it down on paper seems incredibly daunting. But I really was happy with my race performance Sunday which doesn’t happen often so I was excited to share and expand. I hope this made even a smidge of sense & I hope that at least one person can take something from it! And always, I’m happy to chat about any running, personal training and/or coaching questions you may have :) Happy running!