Streak Day 638
YTD Mileage: 1532 / 2016
September arrived a few weeks ago, and finally the weather changed enough to offer a little hope that the coming months will bring real relief from the Hellish heat and humidity in which we’ve been running for the past few months. August was the absolute worse month, and the first weeks of September were nearly just as hot. Phillip and I actually took a little trip to Winter Park, CO, the first week of September just to get some relief from the heat. The weather up there was perfect, and the scenery amazing. We’re looking forward to our trip to Oregon, for the Oregon Coast 50k, next week. I’m looking forward to that race. Before I run that race on the 8th, however, I’m running the Run Free Texas 80s 8k in Cedar Park this coming Sunday (October 2nd). This race, short as it is, has me TERRIFIED.
I don’t usually race this early in the fall (in Texas, anyway); the weather is still too hot and humid for pushing out some fast miles. I decided to join the 2016-2017 Austin Distance Challenge this year, however, and the first race in the series is the 8k in Cedar Park. For years, I’ve run my shorter races (from 5k through 13.1)at a sub-9 pace. The end of 2015 and then most of 2016 have been disappointing for me, though. Although I did run this year’s 3M Half-Marathon in 1:57, I was sick when I ran a 2:08 Masquerade Half in San Antonio October 2015. I was sick during that race, so I have a reason for the slower pace, and therefore can better accept it. Additionally, I managed to place 2 / 25 in AG despite my over two hour finish, but just ten months earlier (and just 12 months before this year’s 3M Half) I ran a 1:53 Cocoa Women’s Half, placing 1 / 44 AG. But as the months of 2016 passed, I opted out of races as I continued to have slower and slower daily runs. I did run the Brazos Bend 50k in April, but other than that I have not raced. I’ve been using Strava since July of 2012, and checking all the data from my runs for the past four years, I see that I have indeed slowed down.
I have many reasons that explain the slow-down, but ultimately reasons don’t matter. What matters is that I want to improve to be the runner I used to be, and then perhaps become the best runner I’ve ever been. Toward that end, I’ve added regular speed work back into my training, and I started weight vest training. I’m up to fourteen pounds in the weight vest. I usually run in it twice a week but in the past weeks, since I added other speed work, I’ve been running in it once weekly. I wear it regularly when I work, and when I’m just doing things around the house. Depending upon which research one reads, or the coach’s work one reads, weight vest training either makes a runner stronger and faster, has no effect at all on running performance, or creates the opportunity for injury. I’ve been running in mine since late December 2015. It does not seem to have helped me run faster, but it has definitely strengthened my running muscles. I can run forever without fatigue and muscles soreness, now. Moreover, my glut and leg muscles are more defined.
Various methods of improving one’s running performance, of course, but I’ve opted for a high intensity method to improve my aerobic capacity and ability to maintain a faster pace. For speed work I’ve been using an interval work out: 6 x 1 minute all out, followed by 6 x 2 minutes slow (still running but at conversational pace). I also use the same drill for hill work every week. I now increase the reps by one each week so that I’m keeping my heart rate elevated for a longer time each week. I read about this work out in an article to which I linked in Twitter and I cannot remember now in which article I read about it! The person who wrote the article, however, noted that the rest intervals are as important as the fast intervals: information which is repeated in this article. Last week I also added track work: 8 x 200 all out, 8 x 200 rest. I usually run one interval work out, one hill interval workout, and one weight vest run a week, always with a day between the workouts, which gives me three days of shorter, but more difficult runs weekly. I have had a few faster runs in the past two weeks. Some of that speed may be due to the increased speed work, but some of it is probably due to the cooler weather we’ve had in the evenings.
Many different things can go wrong on a race day, only some of which is under a runner’s control. A five mile race leaves very little time for one to correct something within her power to correct. I’m SO not as worried about my 50k next week! Thirty-one miles allows much time for things to go wrong, but it also allows some time to correct things going wrong. Sunday morning, I just have to push hard from the start and keep pushing until I cross the finish line. This race really worries me. I’m both anticipating it (LOVE the race environment) and dreading it.