Hi All! Man, it feels good to be back on track and actually have some blogging energy in my brain!
I’ve mentioned previously that I’m running the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on August 17th. It’s a 7 mile course on Cape Cod, and although I’ve never run it before, I’ve heard that it’s an absolutely gorgeous, yet difficult, course. When New Balance first approached me about entering this race, I was hesitant, to say the least. After all, it’s pretty well known around here that I don’t consider myself a runner in any sense of the word. I took about a week and a half to think about it, and went for some runs during that time to gauge how I felt. First and foremost, I wanted to be sure that if I did decide to do this, that I would be able to safely train for 7 (hilly) miles.
If it were a 5k, I wouldn’t have thought twice, but 7 miles is a stretch for me. I’ve run a full 7 miles exactly once in my life, on a treadmill. And I’ve run a 10k exactly once in my life (well, before I started training this time around), about 5 years ago. So to say that 7 miles scares me is a gigantic understatement.
But I think ultimately, that’s what let me to say yes. It scares the crap out of me, but after mapping out a training plan for myself, I realized that I could train for this safely if I really dedicate myself to it. In fact, I think when I responded to my contact with New Balance, my exact words were “That’s way outside my comfort zone, so I’m pretty sure that means I have to do it!”. I’m all about challenging yourself, and this would be a huge challenge for me. Yes, it would mean some time away from the weight room, and yes, it would definitely mean losing some of my strength because of that (distance running is a muscle wasting activity), but that’s ok. This is a new challenge, and I knew that just 8 weeks of run-training would not completely undo what I’ve done in the weight room. Once I get back in there after the race, I’ll just have to work hard to get back the little bit that I’ve lost. For the time being, I’m ok with that — it’s worth it to challenge myself in other ways.
I mean… motivation…
Like I said, I did have to stop and really figure out if I could train for this distance safely and smartly in 8 weeks. While I’m not a runner, I do weekly stadium runs, and for the few months prior to being invited to participate in this race, had really increased my conditioning workouts by adding in a lot of hill sprints, KB work, and bootcamp classes. Because of this, I wasn’t necessarily in “running” shape, but was at a pretty good cardiovascular starting point compared to just heavy lifting all the time. This is what really helped me out, I think. Yet I also knew that repeats of 15-30s hill sprints with recovery time in between would never compare to running 7 straight miles of a hilly course, so some serious training was (and still is) needed.
**Please note: This is NOT a training plan meant for anyone else. I am not a running coach, and frankly, don’t know the first thing about training for a race or coaching others to do so. I do have enough awareness of my body and sports medicine knowledge to get myself through this, but for a longer distance, I’d definitely follow a defined plan.
I decided to start out slow and steady, because as an athletic trainer I’d say the majority of running injuries I see come from overuse over time, or simply just from doing too much too quickly. I mapped out a general plan for myself with 3 weekly runs, plus 1 stadium running day and 1-2 strength training sessions per week.
My weeks have generally looked like the following:
Monday – Moderate distance run
Tuesday – Strength training (mostly KB, rings, and bodyweight exercises at home)
Wednesday – Stadium runs – generally about 45 minutes, high intensity
Thursday – Rest or easy pace/short distance run
Friday – Short-Moderate distance run, occasional light strength training session
Saturday – Longer distance, easy pace run
Sunday – Rest
There have been some variations of this, but I’d say that this pretty much captures what my weeks have looked like. When I started, my Monday and Friday runs were 2 miles, and my “longer” run was 3. At this point, my Monday and Friday runs are anywhere from 3-4.5 miles, and my longer run has gotten up to 6 miles last weekend.
Views from my 6 mile loop last weekend… and my new compression socks!
How I’ve Been Feeling
When I first started out, I’m not going to lie, it was rough. Back in June, 2 miles was doable, 3 was hard, 4 was unthinkable. At this point though, 3-4 is easy, 5 is doable, and 6 is pushing it. Progress, no? I haven’t really been having any pain, but have had some nagging in my left plantar fascia (underneath my foot) and was having some chronic right calf tightness/soreness that magically disappeared once I got my new compression socks and tried them on my six miler. Yay for compression! The PF soreness I don’t love, but I’ve been faithfully rolling it out and it hasn’t gotten any worse, so that’s a good thing.
I will admit that the 10k that I did on Saturday (6.2 miles) was struggle city. Granted, I was coming down with a cold, and knew within the first mile that it wasn’t going to be a good day. In hindsight, I probably should have just scrapped that run and maybe would have recovered quicker from this virus, but I pushed through and finished — much to the chagrin of my immune system. Needless to say, the past few days since then haven’t been up to par for training. I did a very short run on Tuesday, but realized within 20 min that I still felt lethargic and dizzy, so that one ended quickly. I’ve been trying to rest up and hydrate a good amount, and am finally feeling back to normal, so an easy 3-4 miles is on the schedule for today with a 6-7 mile run on the docket for this weekend. I think after the struggle of last weekend, now that I’m actually feeling better, this weekend will be a better gauge of where I’m at in terms of being ready for this race.
I also just want to make it clear that I am not intending on “racing” this race — I’m smarter than that, especially with my inexperience and lack of long term training! My main goal is just to do it, finish it, and enjoy it. I think that’s doable, right?
Readers: Have you run the Falmouth Road Race before? Are you running this year? Have you ever taken on a new physical challenge that totally scared the crap out of you?