Legs, books, snot and racing

First of all, thank you all for your thoughts on my last post about how I’ve become slower and slower as a runner. Please excuse the radio silence this week – I promise I didn’t say ‘ooh I’m so slow these days’ and then flounce off the internet! I do try not to post just for the sake of it – I try to post when I have something to say…and I’ve not had much to say this week. I do have a few things I wanted to talk about today though.

NB: Hopefully this goes without saying but when I talk about running fast or slow, I’m taking about running fast or slow FOR ME. I’m faster than some people, slower than many. Aren’t we all? 

1) I have well and truly fried my legs.

Over the past month or so, I’ve tried to run every training-run fast. My logic was that if I want to run fast, I need to practise running fast. So I ran ‘fast’ every time I ran. I would throw fast miles into easy runs. I did loads of tempos. I alternated fast and slow miles on my long runs. For a while, that was working and suddenly it wasn’t. And last week it stopped working completely.

On Monday I went for what turned out to be my only run this week…4 miles. I decided just to let my tired legs run at whatever speed they wanted. It turned out that the speed they wanted to run at was 10.18. I can’t remember the last time I ran 4 miles at that speed so it was a little humbling and brought home to me that my ‘training plan’ wasn’t doing me any good.

2) I bought a book that is bringing that fact home to me.

80/20 running by Matt Fitzgerald

80/20 running by Matt Fitzgerald

This week, I bought – and am reading – Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 running. This is the first running book of this type that I’ve ever read. I’m reassured that Angela, whose running-science brain I really respect, is a big fan of Matt Fitzgerald.  I’m not a scientific runner at all but I’m working through the book. From what I can tell so far, the idea is that runners do 80% of their training at a very slow pace and then 20% is speed work. He hasn’t completely sold it to me so far but there’s a lot that is ringing true.

3) I also read this book

What I think about when I think about running Haruki Murakami

What I talk about when I talk about running
Haruki Murakami

I’m a BIG Murakami fan – I’m a big Japan fan really. I ‘read’ this on audiobook last week whilst running and rather liked it. The thing that struck me was the quiet sense of discipline that Murakami has. Discipline about diet, about training, about writing, about his priorities. I loved how he expresses the reality for most runners – that we’re not trying to beat other people or win a race but generally trying to beat the runner we were yesterday.

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

I also loved how he faced up to aging. With my 40th birthday looming just after the New Year, it felt pretty apt.

“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”

“I am struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.

4) I signed up for a race

I signed up for the Summit Rock trail half-marathon in December with Jen and a load of other local runners. I’m hoping my legs will be better by December but I’ll be doing this for fun and for happiness in any case!

This looks nice doesn't it! Source

This looks nice doesn’t it!
Source

5) I’ve been struggling to find international runners to interview

Remember Running The World? I LOVE doing this series but recently have failed to find international runners to interview. I’m particularly struggling with Central and South America. So if you know any runners across the world who might be willing to speak to me, please put us in touch!

6) I have a cold

I rarely get sick but I have a stinking cold this week which has stopped me running since Monday. I suspect this is a good thing!  I’m going to be running with Brianna tomorrow morning so we’ll see how everything feels.

7) I’m supposed to be running the Rock n Roll San Jose Half-Marathon on Sunday

I’m being given a bib by the friend of a friend and I’ve been really looking forward to it. With my fried legs, I’ve got my head around the fact that it won’t be a PR attempt or anything like it, but my cold is nasty enough to make me wonder quite how slow I’ll be. The fact that the temperatures will be in the 90s is also quite fun. Part of me is considering not running, but I really want to.

So that’s where we are this week. Full of snot, tired legs, reading some books and running a half-marathon on Sunday! Awesome.

About Cathryn

I'm from Wiltshire, a beautiful rural county in the south of England. My husband, son and I moved to California in August 2010 with my husband's job, whilst I stay at home with The Dude, our gorgeous five year old son. I love running and cycling. I'm a Christian. I am finally learning to cook (about time too). I'm loving exploring this new part of the world and meeting its wonderful people.
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19 Responses to Legs, books, snot and racing

  1. Jen says:

    Let me just put it out there that I’m also a Matt Fitzgerald fan. Hope to hear more about what you think of 80/20!

    Get well soon! If you run on Sunday – have a great race!

  2. Angela says:

    I’m really curious to hear your thoughts about 80/20 since that’s one I haven’t read!

    I have really been enjoying my “down time” lately & have been embracing running at a super easy effort level without thinking about or looking at my pace–it’s been exactly what I needed after months of reasonably hard marathon training–so let me just put forward the idea that everything is cyclic & sometimes we benefit from letting both mind & body relax & take it easy for a while. (I know I definitely can’t jump from training cycle to training cycle without eventually just feeling fried both physically & mentally, anyway.)

    If you do end up running Sunday I hope you have fun with it & I will see you next Saturday!!

    • Cathryn says:

      I’ll def let you know what I think about 80/20. And I agree that a period of easy running would be good for me. I just feel like the second half of the year-so-far has been so aimless, I need some focus. Maybe trying an actual training plan would be good for me.

      See you next Saturday anyway!

  3. I never read that kind of “scientific” books about running. Actually, I am quite scared of them. I am scared numbers and studies and things like that will affect my love for running. I don’t want it to become “scientific”. That’s why I always avoided the VO2 max and heart rate percentages based trainings. I don’t want to know because I know I am disciplined and I would be stuck in the numbers. So, I may try to read such a book (because, YES, I am interested in knowing better and understanding the science of running) or not… I don’t know.

    As for the other book you mention, I am intrigued. I have to remember it to try to find it at my local library or buying it online. I prefer that kind of books about running 🙂

    I hope you’ll feel better soon. And for Sunday half marathon, don’t go if you don’t feel like it. Running and racing should remain a pleasure.

    • Cathryn says:

      I think you make a good point – part of the reason I never read these scientific books is because I like the simplicity of running and I’m never going to be elite so do I really need them? However my latest ‘training’ debacle has just showed me that I may not be as good as putting plans together as I thought and I’m kind of intrigued to see what I could do if I actually followed a plan.

  4. bt says:

    LOVE MURAKAMI! Just bought Colorless Tukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and hope to finish it before the trail half, so please remind me to loan it to you if you are interested.

    I definitely love taking a good chunk of my runs *super* easy. I think it helps me stave off injury and maintain my pure joy of running. I, too, am interested in the 80/20 rule book. Perhaps we can swap in December?

  5. Nic J says:

    Get well and get strong soon! Will PM you about the Red Rock Canyon plan over the weekend as I want to get this booked!!

  6. Hang in there. I hope your cold is better. I will be running a half on Sunday too but mine will be a lot cooler weather. My attitude about my run is just for fun. Enjoy the running or walking or combo or whatever it turns out to be. You can do it!

  7. Maggie Robinson says:

    Hi! I am have been reading your blog since Erica Lay emailed us about the Oakland race earlier this year. I love hearing about your racing adventures 🙂

    I have a couple thoughts on your running/training plan in case you are still in the market for advice 🙂 I am no coach, but I did run competitively in college (track and cross-country) and have some experience with formal training plans. I think if you want to get faster, you might want to focus on 5K and 10K races for the next 6-12 months. My personal opinion is that getting faster at the shorter distances is going to set you up nicely for a PR in the half marathon. This might entail cutting back slightly on your mileage and incorporating weekly speed sessions. I believe that focusing on creating a base of consistent speed work (and strength) will translate into a more efficient running style and ultimately a speedier half marathon.

    Hope you feel better soon and that you achieve all your running goals! I would be happy to help in any way.

    • Cathryn says:

      Hey, how lovely to hear from you. I didn’t know you read the blog – thank you!

      Thanks also for the coaching thoughts, I welcome any advice!! It’s an interesting point. I’ve been considering following a plan for a 10k in January but maybe you’re right I should concentrate on 10ks for a bit longer. The only thing that puts me off doing so is that because of my heart I can’t ‘sprint’ really. The beauty of half-marathons is that I can push the pace steadily as opposed to pushing it too hard.

      Hmm…lots to think about. I’d love to chat – when are you down seeing Ez next?

      • Maggie Robinson says:

        I am not sure you need to sprint for 10K training. You could focus on shorter repeats (800s, miles…etc) at a pace faster than your current tempo (is this allowed?). But I would obviously clear everything in terms of pacing with your doctor first! I know the running trend is towards longer races (for everyone including beginners), but I think there is a lot to be gained in terms of fitness and building a solid base by training for shorter races. I really don’t know much about the new running plans – only what I learned in college, 15 years ago!!

        It would be fun to catch up at E’s sometime. Maybe later this fall?

        Good luck with your race this weekend!!

      • Cathryn says:

        Thank you! At the moment I think Rich will be running it, I’m coughing a lot and quite short of breath…but I hate to miss a race 🙂

  8. Grace says:

    It sounds like you could do with a few weeks of running well and truly easy! I’ve been doing that for a bit and I’m reminded why I like running, without all the trappings of coaching/ needing to get faster/ thinking about training plans/ sticking to training plans – no, for the past few weeks I’ve been going out and just RUNNING. Or, well, trundling.

    I love Murakami, but after a while you sense patterns (aimless young man, slightly mysterious female love interest, cats, jazz, beer, Manchuria, slightly unorthodox sex scene) and I am still recovering from 1Q84 before I start in on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki! Anyway – get well soon and enjoy your half marathons! 🙂

    • Cathryn says:

      1Q84 did take some recovery time – it started so well. Try Banana Yoshimoto for another Japanese author who rocks.

      Looks like everyone is running slowly at the moment. Slow is the new fast, baby!

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