This past week was full of ups and downs: I missed two lifting workouts, but had multiple breakthrough runs during the week. Looking back, I don’t know why I skipped lifting on Wednesday and Friday. Maybe I was stressed about work and wanted to put in an extra hour and a half, or maybe the workout just didn’t seem worth the time. I’ve been unhappy lately with the quality of the lifting workouts. Frankly, they’re just not challenging or engaging enough. I’ll change things up a bit this next week and see how I feel.
My running workouts, however, were fantastic. Fantastic for me, that is – which, really, is what it’s all about. Each running workout was a first in it’s own way.
Tuesday – my first trail run
Tuesday afternoon was beautiful. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low sixties. Adam was kind enough to join me for my run, which made it all the more enjoyable. My usual Tuesday distance is 5k, so I asked Adam if he knew of any 5k trails that head north so we could start the run uphill. What I meant by “trail” was, of course, some sidewalk path along the streets. We live in Baltimore, after all. He did and as we started off he said something like “I hope it isn’t too muddy.” Wait a second… I didn’t actually mean a trail. I wasn’t really opposed to the idea – I thought it was pretty cool – but I had no idea there would be a trail nearby. Lo and behold we found a little off-road path that is apparently used by the cross country team during their training. I ran a slow 5k (33 min) compared to what I run on the road, but that’s to be expected with roots and rocks to negotiate. During part of the run I felt like I was really flying – and it felt great. I’m definitely adding this “trail” to my list of favorite runs with Adam.
Thursday – a new 5k PR
On Thursday I was really stressed about work, and I knew I needed to blow off some steam. The weather was still not cooperating (read: it was cold) so I went to the gym to run on a treadmill. I jogged 8 minutes for my warm up, then started running at 6.5 mph. At 1.5 miles, I upped it to 6.6 mph. At 2 miles, up to 6.7 mp. At 2.5 miles, up to 6.8 mph. At 2.8 miles, up to 7.0 mph. With only 0.1 miles to go, I was up around 7.8 mph.
Final time: 28 minutes – a new PR.
I felt really awkward and uncomfortable for almost all of the run. It wasn’t until the last half mile that my stride felt good and strong. Maybe it was the stress. Or maybe it was the slower speeds. I’m still learning what works best for me.
Sunday – a new distance PR
On Sunday I decided to face a fear I’ve had for a long time: the fear of group runs. Emotions can trigger my asthma, and I tend to get stressed out when I can’t keep up with someone, so group runs with strangers naturally present a problem. Adam promised to run my speed no matter what others were doing, so I agreed to go with him. We drove down to Boston Street Running for the 8am run, and discovered we were the only ones who came out that cold morning. We spent some time chatting with the owners before embarking on a run around the harbor.
The past two weeks I’ve been thrilled to run five miles at a steady pace, so the plan was to attempt five or maybe even six miles. The weather was cool, but I was comfortable in my running tights, UnderArmour shirt, fleece, hat and gloves. After a quarter mile we were running along the water, enjoying the view. I felt good and after a couple miles I noticed my heart rate was sitting below 160 bpm. When I ran in the past, I’d be at 175+ bpm a half mile into my run, so the low reading was a surprise. Then I realized I was also keeping up a conversation. I felt good. I felt relaxed. I decided to take all the time I needed to enjoy that run. Plus, there was so much to see – a nice change from my runs around campus. I decided to keep an easy pace (heart rate below 165 bpm) and see how long I could last.
Long story short – I just didn’t feel like stopping. Before I knew it we passed through Fells Point and around the Inner Harbor, past the UnderArmour building, and all the way to the gates of Fort McHenry.
We were over six miles away from the shop (and the car) by the time we turned around. My right hip joint had started to bother me, so I took a few minutes to stretch it out. Mentally, muscularly, and cardiovascularly I felt strong. And even though I had a very small breakfast, my energy levels were high. It was an incredible feeling.
On the way back I had more trouble with my hip and my knee. I know now it was my IT band that was causing me pain – the stabilizing muscles around my hips just weren’t strong enough to support me on such a long run. It’s something I’ll have to focus on in the future.
We didn’t make it all the way back to the shop before I decided to give my legs a break, but at that point Adam and I had run 10.75 miles! The farthest I have ever run in my life before that day was five miles – I more than doubled my distance PR. In total it took us about an hour and fifty minutes. My fastest 10k of that run was 1:03 and my fastest 10 miles was 1:41. Not too shabby.
The run that morning far exceeded my expectations. It was an adventure. And I felt so well for the rest of the day – I felt so healthy. I felt great.