January 10, 2014

Forgetting the numbers

Today was my long run day, and I had 12 miles on my schedule. The schedule I've been following is the one that I wrote for winter training, based on the running I did last winter. I felt good last winter, doing 12-mile long runs pretty much every week, but lately, I have been dreading every run over about eight miles--which is the main reason I reevaluated my goals for 2014.

As I mentioned on my New Year's post, my main running goal for 2014 is to enjoy running, and not set time goals--basically, to relieve the pressure that I'd put on myself. This morning, when I was thinking about doing another 12-miler on the treadmill (the kids' school was canceled, so they were home today), I stopped and thought, "WHY am I doing a 12-miler? My next race is the Ragnar Relay SoCal, which is in April. My longest run will be about 8 miles, so there is no reason whatsoever that I should "have" to run 12 today..."

When I changed my running goal, I should have also changed my training plan. After doing the Hansons' Marathon Method for Chicago, I felt really burnt out on the mileage. I ran SO much while training for Chicago, and I only took eight days off after the marathon before running six days a week again. I've since dropped down to five days, but I think I need to drop the mileage a bit.

I went to my trusty old pal, Hal Higdon's website, and chose to do a slightly-modified version of his intermediate half-marathon training plan. It's five days a week, and the long run starts at just five miles (building to 12 over 11 weeks). It made me feel nostalgic, because I followed his plans when I first started running. I would print them out, and check off each run as I did it. I liked looking at the schedule hanging on the kitchen bulletin board, and feeling good about it.

Somewhere along the way, I started to feel like my long runs had to be a certain mileage, and I'd feel guilty about not reaching it... even if there was no reason to run that far. Numbers can be a bad influence sometimes. Like pacing, for instance. The first time I ran a 10:00/mi pace, I was THRILLED. It was so exciting! Now, if I hit that pace, I feel disappointed, because I've gotten used to running miles in the 8:00's.

Jerry and I were watching The Biggest Loser this week, and something sparked a memory of when I first reached the 140's (the summer of 2010). I was SO SO SO excited to reach 149 pounds, because I had never in my adult life been lower than 152. And eventually, I saw the 130's, and even the 120's (briefly). After seeing the 130's, seeing my weight dip into the 140's is disappointing. Seeing the lower numbers changed my perception of the 140's from ecstatic to disappointed. (I hope this makes sense... it's hard to explain!)

Anyway, the whole point of all of this is that I'm going to try my best to do what feels right NOW, in the moment, rather than compare myself to where I was before. Right now, I'm happy with my weight, even though I'm not at "goal weight". As for my running schedule, I'm going to follow the Higdon plan and be happy with it, not thinking about the fact that I know I'm capable of running longer distances or more miles. Just because I can run 12 miles (or 16, or 20!) doesn't mean that running less than that makes me less of a runner. Likewise, just because I can run an 8:00/mi pace doesn't mean that running a 9:00 or 10:00 pace is a disappointment.

So today, I ran a long run of five miles. I really think my body needed this break in mileage, too. I mentioned yesterday that my heart rate was high, even at a slower pace; today, my goal was to keep my heart rate in the middle of Zone 3. I started at about a 9:30 pace, but my heart rate kept creeping up to Zone 3.9, so I would lower the speed of the treadmill to lower my heart rate. Each mile, I was going slower and slower, but my heart rate was continuing to climb.

Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could have finished out 12 miles today. I'm not sure what the problem was, but I think my body may feel overtrained or just fatigued. Usually when I finish an easy run (for example, 4 miles at a 9:15 pace), the "recovery advisor" on my Garmin reads about 20 hours. After today's run?

This was after a 5 mile run at a 10:07 average pace! Tomorrow is a rest day, and I'm definitely going to do just that.

We went to my parents' house for dinner today to meet Nathan's girlfriend, Sara (Nathan is my younger brother). I think he's pretty smitten with her, because he was the one who requested that we all get together, and he wanted her to meet the family ;)  My mom cooked dinner, and my aunt and uncle went over there, too.

Sara is super nice, and I think she seems like a great fit for Nathan! I'm really happy for him. They met in the Army (he was her driver in Iraq, but they weren't allowed to date then), so they've known each other for 10 years. She lives in Indiana, and seems pretty well-established there. It's about a four hour drive, and this was the first time she's come here. She leaves Monday, so I hope I'll get to see her again before she goes home.

Usually, eating dinner at my parents' house is really hard for me not to overeat (or binge when I get home). But today, I kept in mind everything I'd read in the Brain Over Binge book, and I enjoyed the meal without eating too much. I even ate a piece of cake for dessert, and savored every bite. I felt really good about it, and didn't even have an urge to binge when I got home.

A lot of the snow melted today (woo hoo!) and it's actually raining right now. Tomorrow, I'm going to go visit Mark for sure, now that the roads have to be cleared up. Other than the two-thirds of a mile drive to my parents' house, I haven't driven anywhere in a week! I'm excited to go to the post office and get Mark's mail, and then go visit him.


  1. What a GREAT post! I love how you work so hard to not only be very real in your writings, but how you take the time to explain your true inner feelings to help your readers understand the thought processes you go through. It really, really helps to know that someone else goes through the ups, downs and frustrations, too. Thank you for writing this!

    Ironically, I have a 12-miler today for MY long run this week. ;) Planning to do it after an early hockey game...ugh!

  2. Excellent post today, Katie. It's so hard when all you do is focus on numbers. Sometimes it's just a good idea to take a step back for a while and just focus on what feels right.
    Safe travels visiting with Mark!

  3. I know EXACTLY what you mean about being disappointed when you get into a different decade of numbers of the scale now, compared to how you felt when you originally got there. I remember just getting below 200 lbs. I was elated and took pictures! Momentarily, back in 2011, I got down to the 130's (139.8). When I see pictures from that time I tell myself I was TOO thin. But it's hard to get that number out of my head. I remember when I got into the 130's, I thought "Maybe I could get into the 120's?!" It's like I was never satisfied with where I was. I wish I liked what I weighed today. I'm 18 lbs. over my "magic 150." I stayed around 150 lbs. for so long, and all that time just wanted to weigh less than 145 to get to that "normal BMI." Today....I would kill for 150 on the scale. It's very very frustrating to never ever be satisfied with the numbers isn't it?

  4. It totally makes sense to me. I was just talking about that the other day. How I would give anything to get into the 150s again but when I was gaining weight and I hit 150 just after my wedding I thought it was the worst ting in the world.....perception is a crazy thing.

  5. Your body might be extra tired from all the new strength training you've been doing. It can have a big effect on you when you first start doing more strength activities!

  6. ^^ I agree with Ali. And I agree with Stephanie, too. Your sweet nature is always so present in your blog. :)

  7. I had a similar issue years ago, when all I wanted to do was race to beat my time and get a t-shirt. I started to hate my daily runs. Finally, I woke up and just put the watch down and ran with a smile.

  8. It's so easy to get caught up in the numbers and I totally know what you are talking about.

  9. Sorry for the delayed comment, but I love this post! What good is all that hard work, if you don't take time to enjoy where you are in life, and where all that hard work got you! There's always going to be something else we want, or another goal to work towards, but we must enjoy each day of the journey, too!


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