Cage the animal. It’s a concept James introduced me to a while back but it took me some time to fully understand.
I’ll be racing an indoor track 5k next weekend. And an 800 for fun, too. But my primary focus is the 5k. Having ended 2012 on a low note with an under performing 5k, I did not make any plans to be racing again. But when I started the year off trying to be more relaxed and in control with my running, I began to notice myself feeling a lot stronger. I have now put in 5 weeks of solid training, running between 40-50 miles each week. Testing my fitness seems inevitable.
I know my fitness is there. It was even there on New Year’s Eve. I just haven’t been able to grasp the concept of running through discomfort. It’s taken me 10 years to realize that when the going gets tough, I usually get going. So the last 5 weeks have focused on learning how to battle with confidence. As a result, I have never (EVER!) felt this fit. On an easy run this week, I finished with an uphill stride, proudly telling James, “the animal is caged.” I understood it then. 5 solid weeks of training on top of solid base from the fall racing season. It was time to lock it all up and be ready to release it on February 16th.
Since then, the remainder of my runs have been confident, relaxed, and strong. I am ready to go, ready to take some risks. More importantly, I’m ready to deal with heartbreak again because if I try and still fail, I will have learned another lesson, maybe one that brings me even closer to learning how to push through pain.
The book Running Within says it best: “You must be willing to lose before you can win. You never want to look back with regret over your competitive days and wish you had taken the risk to go all-out and find out how good you really were. If you just do, you’ll continue to improve.” (pg. 67)
Monday: 7 miles easy, felt quite snappy.
Tuesday: 6.5 miles with track workout. 4 x 1 mile repeats with 2:30 rest. The first goal was to be relaxed and in control, the second goal was to be around 7 flat. When I ran the first one in 7:16, I treated it as a warm up, as it felt too easy. Afraid to dip into some pain, I continued to focus on being relaxed on the second one and ran 7:16 again! It was time to bite the bullet. Instead of thinking I was out of shape, I told myself I was strong and could get stronger. I ran the third one in 7:03. On the last one, I focused on telling myself I could do it again. I ran 6:58, working harder than the first two, but still feeling strong. This workout taught me what it means to run in control: even when there is some discomfort, if you are strong (fit) enough, you will be able to push through.
Wednesday: 6 miles easy at night with James and the uphill stride at the end.
Thursday: 8.2 miles with 7 minutes, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute tempo workout. Went way better than last week’s treadmill tempo. Started around 7:53 pace and got down to 7:25 pace.
Friday: 5 miles easy at night with James.
Saturday: 6 miles easy in the morning solo with two uphill strides and a minute and half stride home. I know I’m in good shape when one of Akron’s biggest hills doesn’t burn as badly as it used to!
Sunday: 13 mile long, slow distance run. This was very slow, at least to start, but I tried focusing on finishing the last two miles feeling decent and not broken down. In the next couple of weeks, I will start increasing the distance of my long runs to begin building up marathon strength. Excited for that!