Don't like to Race? That Doesn't Make You Less of a Runner!

Hello!  I hope you are all having a wonderful, relaxing Memorial Day weekend.  Summer is almost here!

This week I was able to incorporate some faster running again in the form of four miles at marathon pace on Tuesday, and six cut down miles in the middle of a 14 miler yesterday, starting at 7:30 and working down to 7:10.  My actual splits are below.  Yep, first mile too fast. Thankfully I got ahold of the pacing as the run went on.  I'm still not back to my normal mileage post-Boston and to be perfectly honest I'm not loving it.  I feel like I'm losing my aerobic engine but am trying to focus on the fact I'll be starting to train for the Indy Monumental marathon soon enough, and I'll get back to my mileage happy place.

What I really wanted to talk about today was racing.  I have shared before that races can really mess with my head.  A few months ago, I decided the only way to get past it was to race more, so I went online and looked for some races to add to my calendar.  However, the idea of actually doing this didn't excite me.  Currently, I race two marathons per year, and if I can, I like to race a half marathon four to five weeks out from my marathons.  So that's a grand total of four races per year. Whenever I scroll through Instagram, I see the runners I like to follow racing left and right.  And they look really happy about it!  So this sets off a bout of worrying:  how can I build my blog/coaching business/get over being freaked out by races on my measly four races per year? Am I not a "real" runner because I don't race every other weekend?  

Recently an athlete that I coach said she currently had no goal race on the horizon and wasn't really wanting one right now, and she hoped that was "ok" with me.  My first thought was, "Heck yes, that is ok, because I am right there with you!"  She likes to train hard and work on getting fitter and faster.  She just likes to run.  What I love about training for a race is the training, not the actual race.  I like the work outs, the easy runs, the long runs.  The process.    At this point in my life, my children are 12 and 10 years old.  Our weekends are filled with their activities, and I love this.  Before I know it, this chapter will be over.  Right now, a weekend race is bit of a logistical battle in terms of finding one that doesn't conflict with the family calendar, and when I do find one of those rare races, I end up wishing I was hanging out with them.  I love getting up early every morning before anyone else is awake, getting in my run, and enjoying the rest of the day with my family.  When my kids are grown, I will have a lot of time to increase my racing frequency if I choose to do so.  And I'm perfectly happy to spend the money that is not going toward race fees on running shoes!

My point in all of this is:  being a runner is not synonymous with racing.  Running zero races or 30 races per year does not make you less or more of a runner.  If you like to race frequently and rack up that hardware and build a sweet race shirt collection, high five to you! Same goes with mileage:  running 80 miles per week does not get you a shinier badge than the person who runs ten miles per week.  We are runners because we get out on the pavement, the trails, or the treadmill to do what we love.  So no more pressure!  Do what you love and the way you love to do it.  I'll run the races that I am excited to race and that work with my schedule.  They'll probably still freak me out but hey, I'm a work in progress. 

Congrats to all of the Bayshore Marathon runners!  I really missed not being a part of the festivities this year.  Below is a picture from last year's race, an unbelievably warm and humid day in northern Michigan.  I was 12th overall woman last year and hope I can crack the top ten next year! 

My support crew!

My support crew!

A Few Things I'm Into Right Now . . .

I'm writing a different type of post today, something I'll probably do on the regular going forward. I love changing it up when it comes to my running, whether it's shoes, a new gadget, or reading things that could potentially make me better, faster, and/or stronger.  So here's a few new to me things I'm loving right now.

1.  Brooks Launch 4.  As you may have noticed from reading my blog, I have been a pretty hard core Hoka fan.  Lately, I have been straying (gasp!) from my beloved Hokas and introducing Saucony, Adidas, and Brooks shoes into my rotation.  I am really gravitating to these other shoes.  Who knows, maybe I'll swing back the other way in the future.  I picked up a pair of the Brooks Launch 4 about six weeks ago and am really liking this new update.  Lightweight but supportive.  I have about 100 miles on this pair and will definitely be getting another when these wear out.

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2.  The Orb.  I mentioned this new addition to my arsenal of DIY therapy tools in my last post.  I don't know what it is about this particular item, but it has been a game changer for my perpetually cranky right hamstring!  Great for the calves and glutes, too.  For me, it's a step up on the pain scale from my foam roller, but I'm really seeing a difference.  

3.  The Endurance Diet, by Matt Fitzgerald.  I have not finished this book yet but plan to review it when I do.  I have read several of Fitzgerald's books and really like his style of writing. Thought provoking, straightforward information.  This new book focuses on five core habits to implement into your diet that will help you run and feel your best.  My favorite part so far? Nothing is off the table in terms of food choices - eat everything (some things more than others, of course!).  

4.  Garmin Forerunner 935.  I just started using this beauty over the weekend so I can't deliver a full review just yet.  So far, I'm in love.  I still have aspirations of doing a triathlon this year and this watch will come in handy for that endeavor.

So these are my Fantastic Four of the moment.  Let me know what you're loving!

Back at it

Hello!  As I slowly resume training, I resume the blog posts I have missed writing.  Three weeks have passed since Boston, and in terms of training they've been very uneventful.  Short, easy runs. My coach has been really instrumental in helping me embrace a true recovery.  This is by far the least amount of miles I have logged post marathon.  I will confess in the past I have jumped right back into high mileage.  I worried that a slow comeback this time around might make me crazy but in fact it's been the opposite.  I haven't missed the long runs or hard workouts yet.  

With this extra time, I've been really focused on the things I like to neglect when I am running a lot of miles.  Stretching, strength training, and core work are things that keep me injury free and this year I have been far better about my consistency, and the results are showing in the fact that 2017 has been my most niggle-free year to date.  Below is a picture of the newest addition to my arsenal of pain-inflicting gadgets.  This little gem can get into my hamstrings in a way my foam roller does not!  

Love The Orb!  And my guy photobombing in the upper left corner.  <3 

Love The Orb!  And my guy photobombing in the upper left corner.  <3 

I've had a few weeks to get past my disappointment about the warm weather in Boston and how it affected the outcome of my race.  I was tempted to sign up for my favorite marathon, the Bayshore Marathon, which is held the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, to get some redemption but that urge has subsided.  I actually did this after I ran Boston in 2014, another warm day.  The good news:  I ran a substantial PR at Bayshore that year.  The bad news:  five weeks after that second marathon I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my pelvis. Coincidence?  I don't think so, and I don't want to find out.  Older and wiser!

I have a few races on the calendar, the first being a 10k in late July.  This is very intimidating for me, because I struggle in these shorter race distances.  I don't have another gear beyond marathon or half marathon pace.  If you look at my predicted race times for a 5k or 10k race based on my marathon time, I fall WAY short of the mark.  But facing my fears will only make me a better runner, so I'm ready to jump in.  You can't improve without challenging your weaknesses.   Next week I start back with some actual work outs, and it will be nice to get the rust out!