A different path
by on Wednesday, June 12, 2013  (5 comments)

I wrote up a super long post. Preview post ate it.

I admit that it was a long self pity party of a post. About how my little pile of dreams and goals for racing has met their end. It is hard and emotional to let go but emotionally and physically I am tapped out. It is just not worth it to train for months and months without a niggle to just get injured or sick right before a race. It is also not fulfilling to me to train conservatively and safe just to run endless half marathons with no improvement. Or to just run more miles and harder workouts to hit the same plateau I have been at for years now. I really enjoy training but am so very weary of the failure at the end. This year I had high hopes that everything would come back together as I was finally able to train like I needed to to make a breakthrough. But things did not work out and my return to running after my last injury has been really horrible. Every run is like a horrible recovery run and I hate it. It is clear that I will not be able to return to normal training and mileage anytime soon and this summer is over as far as any racing goals. This is a final blow that really broke me.

I will still run but I am not really sure where I am going anymore. For this summer and perhaps for good it will just be for fitness. I will still do workouts but not to get ready for a race but to just gain some sense of fulfilment over little victories where I can somewhat control the conditions. I need some new goals in my life. It is really hard to give up racing as I used to love it so much.

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Sorry to hear that Charlene!! but just dont give up racing, you are a very good runner and your times are solid so you should be proud of that!! I hope that its just temporary!!

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Charlene, I'm sorry to hear this. I know the struggles have been going on for some time and I can't blame you for wanting to change path. Personally, i will hold out hope that some time away from focusing on competition will leave you rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to get back into it because I know how much you love competing. That said, in the end, you have to find your own path forward. If it doesn't involve competition, then I hope you can find something else that you will find just as fulfilling.

Also, sorry about the preview eating your post. I'll try to dig through logs and see if I can figure out what happened.

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Charlene, I have been in your position and understand how you feel. You have to run for your own reasons. It used to be about running fast and winning races for me. Then I turned 40 and began to slow down. I still tried to run fast and managed a sub 16 5k on the track at age 41. Six months after that I was diagnosed with my thyroid disease and it is a never ending struggle. It took three years to feel "normal" and that is not all the time. I ran one race last year and that was only because my son was running it with his buddies and I figured since I had to drive him there I may as well run it. I still go to the track and run a workout once a week but you know what I have no agenda. It could be 400's, 1200's, miles or a six mile tempo run. My suggestion to you is have no time goals or race goals just run how you feel. Enjoy being able to run. If you feel crappy just run four. Stop and walk for a bit if you need to. Do things that are important to you. I just ran 46 laps on the track on my birthday last week (turned 46) I was not worried about my pace and did not look at my watch until 5 miles and ended up running ten miles in 63:12 (I know 16K) and it felt easy. Then slowly ran 6 more. Stuff like that is what I think is fun. I am pretty much done running races. I like doing what I want on my terms. If I get to the track and it is really windy...screw it I'm not running a workout because I don't need to for a race or anything else. You will get your groove back just relax and enjoy that you can run no matter how it feels right now. It will get better just be patient. Good luck!!

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Charlene have you considered setting a weekly mileage number you can maintain and skewing the workouts to your preference?
This is what I do and it works well. I try and run at least 6 days a week. For me this works well for all distances and
I alter the workouts to the season. In May is the 50 miler and in September is Al's run. By maintaining a weekly maintenance
number one can go up or down 10 miles a week easily. For me the number is 50 miles, so in March-April I might get close to 60
on average and in the Summer I am more like 40-50. I run 6 miles M thru F and a combined total of 18-24 on weekends.

Typical Ice Age training starting on Monday is 6-6-10-6-6-long-10. Pretty much just run as I feel pace wise.
Typical Al's training starting on Monday is 6-6 (8x2:00 w/1:00 jog)-6-6-6-8 (6x3:00 w/2:00 jog)- 2 hours.

The goal is sub 8 at Ice Age (last 2 years 7:55/7:56) and sub 30 at Al's (last 2 years 29:52/29:58).

Of course I alter a workout or two here and there and miss a day during the week fairly often. Sometimes I get in the groove
and won't miss a day for 3 weeks, but it is no biggie.

One can stay amazingly fit on 40 miles a week and still race well. For me it is the consistency and rarely over doing it. If
one can ramp up for 4-6 weeks for a particular race it is not cumbersome.

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Double Your approach is what I always have attempted as I averaged over 50 mpw all of last year. I used to race 5ks really well on 30 miles a week and only one speed workout and stayed injury free. I added miles to try to improve and add in some longer races. I have ran higher mileage for over the past two or 3 years and have finally decided that my body just cannot handle it and unlike others the increased mileage does not seem to bring improvement. I agree that 40 miles a week can be a sweet spot for me.

Ceasar Thanks for the vote of confidence. I do hope to get back into racing eventually.

Ryan You are very aware of my struggles and I knew you would understand.

runner1 I sometimes wonder if some of my running problems could be a larger undetected health problem. I sometimes think that after an injury some muscles are not responding neurologically like they should. I will take all of your advice and run on my own terms.

I have came up with a few ideas the last few days. I am going to drop my mileage into the low 40s. I am going to replace recovery runs with recovery walks. I am going to work back into the workouts I really like and hopefully get my speed back. I am going to be like runner1 and just train on my own terms. I am so self critical of myself after every injury and bad race that I just have to back away and enjoy all the good things in my life.

I also thought about one thing that I did before I got PF and before this last calf injury. Each time the injury happened when I was handling a big training load and responding well and in the weeks leading up to a big race. What I did each time was clean my diet up. Not that I eat that bad to begin with but I thought that if I put as much effort into my race weight and diet as I did into training that I would be faster. But I think each time I limited my calories too much and hurt my body. I never lost any weight during these healthy than normal eating experiments but I do think that I did not fuel enough for my workload and my body could not repair itself. I have been at my current weight range of 125 to 130 since I was 18 and have never been able to maintain a lower weight and rarely fall under 125. I just don't think I am meant to be long, lanky, and pin thin. I do not have a small frame and I can prove anyone wrong that says that a woman cannot put on substantial muscle mass when running high mileage. Back when I lifted more regularly I had shoulders like a man. I look at some of my lighter tiny framed runner friends and know that there is no way for me to be like that.

This last time I was reading a lot of runner blogs and thought that if I ate like them then I would improve like them. Some of those running bloggers with all their pictures of toned skinny bodies and fast race times can be pretty convincing. I stocked the fridge with tons of veggies and ate almost no processed carbs or sugar and instead ate huge salads instead of meals. I think this would have been fine for someone not running 50 to 60 miles per week and I noticed no ill effects til I got injured. One problem with this approach to eating is that the chopped salads were so filling that I skimped on protein at first. I think that I can find the right balance at 40 miles per week. I have actually found in the past that it is much easier to get to race weight at 40 pw instead of 60 plus.

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