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.
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
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!
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.