I'm a big runner, and planning on a couple marathons this year. I need to get that leg strength up, but don't want to miss days running because I'm sore. Is once a week leg day enough to keep up strength?
If you need to run a marathon you don’t need to build a big amount strength in your legs. You need to build endurance.
My legs have been hungover from Sundays race for a full week now. They are more sore than they’ve ever been. It’s just today that I’m starting to be able to feel someone normal and by that I mean I don’t have to hold the hand rail for dear life when walking down a flight of stairs. With that in mind and seeing robert-cal's “hyper-active recovery run” yesterday, I decided I was going to push myself a little harder today.
All negative splits was a pleasant surprise but the 7:09/mi in the 6th mile really surprised me. Clearly my legs are just being stubborn and have the capability to at least move quickly when needed.
Tossing around thoughts while doing a 9 mile easy recovery in 10 degrees:
10 degrees didn’t feel so bad. Geez, just when I’m getting used to the cold, winter will soon be over…
Running anywhere near the park, I almost always go in and add on the 2 mile Ring Road loop, it is the moist red velvet cake temptation that I simply can’t resist.
The bright golden ‘mini’ full moon was out this evening, the smallest full moon of the year, which will grow up to be full harvest moon in the fall.
Had some bounce in the legs, something I haven’t felt in a while. A nice feeling leading up to Saturday’s Shamrock 8k. I think the off-day last Monday rejuvenated these legs, often it’s the seemingly insignificant rest or run that provides major effects…
I started running when I was 11. I was a kid who wanted to go out for every sport, so when I was old enough to, it was a given that I would join the middle school track team. But it was more than that. Running felt natural, it felt right to me. It felt like something I was meant to do.
After school, I would hurriedly change into shorts and a tee shirt, lace up my Nikes, and headed out on a mile long loop that circled my house, the nearby elementary school, and community gardens. It was my time. For awhile, there was no pressure. No one made me run but myself. I was a latch-key kid; I could have just as easily sat on the floor in front of the TV and inhaled all the sugary cereal (which I did on occasion). It was my choice to head out the door every day.
When it came time to pick our events for track, I knew the mile was mine. I was little and quick, and reveled in running suicides during basketball practice, but sprinting races intimidated me. The sprinters were bigger than me. More confident. It seemed like everyone wanted to be a sprinter. Everyone but me.
The crowd was decidedly thinned for the mile. At the time, it seemed like a long distance. Having traumatized so many kids after years of dreaded gym class fitness tests, only the seemingly insane willingly chose it as their number one event. I was one of them.
Roughly 1600 meters make up a mile. Four laps around a standard sized track. When the gun went off, I shuddered, shocked, then cautiously took off. Even as time went on, my reaction remained the same. Surprised by something I was expecting, then nervously bolting.
Here’s the thing about racing. Like life, there are leaders and there are followers. There are those who sprint at the sound of the gun and those who hang back with the crowd. For a long time, I was in the second group.
For the first two laps, I would hold my own, watching the girls who flew wildly at the start fade away. One by one, I passed them until it was just another girl on my team, Molly, and I stretching away from the rest.
The distance between the two of us ebbed and flowed. Sometimes I was right on her shoulder. Most times, she had a solid 200 meters on me and I focused on her back like a target, imagined myself catching up and blowing by her. When we rounded the track into the final 200 meters, I would pull out my not-so-secret secret weapon: a kick. A burst of energy where I sprinted as hard as I could, felt my legs go numb and just flew.
Still. A late burst couldn’t make up for a hesitant start. I was second place, always. Often, mere seconds separated us. But still. Second place burned. It wasn’t first. I wasn’t the best. I forgot about all the other girls behind me, instead focused on the race as existing solely between Molly and myself, and I lost.
“Where do you get that kick?” my coaches would ask, bewildered. Who was that girl I became in the final showdown, and where was she for the rest of the race?
The sprinter was confident. The slow starter was not. She was overly cautious and afraid to fail. What if’s plagued her mind. What if she started too fast, couldn’t hold it, and failed spectacularly? Cautious Carrie hated second place, but she far preferred it to last.
I didn’t win my first race until the day before my 21st birthday, nearly ten years after my second place streak. I set my personal best, running a 5K in less than 20 minutes. That morning, on the way there, I didn’t think I could do it. I knew it was in me somewhere, but I was afraid. “Go out strong,” my dad said sternly. “Have some guts.”
Have some guts. Don’t be afraid. Lead, don’t follow. All lessons that apply to both running and life. All lessons I have come to embrace. But here’s another lesson that I’m just now learning: have guts, but pace yourself.
Months before that middle distance win, I ran the New York City Marathon. I finished faster than my goal time — fast for a first timer, period — and still, within hours after it was over, regrets plagued my mind. I could have done better had I pushed myself more. If only I had started with my actual pace instead of underestimating myself. If only I hadn’t stopped to pee at mile 18. If only I hadn’t walked through that one water stop. If only, if only, if only.
Looking back, even with all those nagging questions still in my mind, I won that day. I had guts. I was fearless because I finished. Sometimes being cautious is a good thing. What if I had gone out hard? Maybe I could have finished faster, but when you’re running a 26 mile race, is that a chance you’re willing to take?
This is why people make that “life is a marathon, not a sprint” analogy. It’s long. The pace changes. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s not finished in one fell swoop. You’re in it for the long haul.
“You’re only on mile six of your marathon,” my dad told me recently, when I was in the throes of a quarter life I am not accomplishing my dreams and goals yet crisis. “You’ve still got a long way to go.”
Whenever I feel impatient or dissatisfied with things, I remind myself of that. Think of how I felt at mile six, still in Brooklyn with three more boroughs and twenty more miles ahead of me. It seemed mammoth. Possibly insurmountable. So far away. And yet, so close, and so achievable. I could picture myself crossing the finish line, just as I can begin to picture my future now. Have faith in the long distance winner.
Remember how last year I was mildly sad that I planned a VM marathon for my birthday and most of my friends bailed? This was the end result (granted, I should’ve taken more pics!) Snickerdoodles, pirate punch, marshmallows, lasagna, maraschino cherries ;) - you name it, I had it! There was a vase of lilies on the table, a summer boardwalk candle from B&B (that I bought online,) my oz comic-con pics etc. Plus I drew the insignias on the napkins. Had I had more time, I would’ve made the labels prettier though. We watched it outside on a projector screen. All in all, I was happy. 😄
I meant to post these photos forever ago, but here they are!
Yesterday was pretty miserable. Maybe my bad mood sabotaged me. Or maybe it was lack of sleep. But about 4 steps into my run I knew I wanted no part of exercise. But I dragged myself through a 10 miler and forced myself to do my push-ups and sit-ups afterwards. Then late in the afternoon my left shoulder started really bothering me. Enough to actually take advil before bed.
9 miles on trails was on the agenda for today. I still didn’t feel very good but I felt a little better than yesterday. I actually managed to tune out for a couple of miles instead of mindfully hating my life every step like yesterday. I skipped the push-ups.
I think I’m skating on the edge of burnout. It’s been a continuous cycle of races and recovery for almost 2 months, with maybe a week or so in the middle where I actually felt good and could train at full intensity. The plan was to take tomorrow off then run 20 on Saturday. But I’m going to change it up and only do 5 or 6 on Saturday. And depending on how I feel, do 15 or less on Sunday. If I feel like shit on Saturday, I’ll take Sunday off and glide into my taper week. Asheville Marathon a week from Sunday.