Remembering Who I Am

Sometimes I get caught up in everything I read and I forget. I forget that I am a forty seven year old mother of two. I forget that my husband works six days a week almost every week. I forget that I work full time at a demanding job that I love, but still requires a lot of mental and emotional energy. I forget that I have a passion for working towards equality and justice, and a deeper understanding of what that means for my children and for myself.  I forget all of this and try to fit in all of the pieces that are recommended to become a stronger and faster runner and cyclist.  Which is crazy. Because it is not my full time job, it is something that I can devote maybe an hour a day to, with another hour thrown in – if I am lucky – to read and learn.

As I gear up to run as far as I can, maybe ten miles, maybe thirteen point one, I have become incredibly tired and crabby. I have been battling myself to get out of bed, working against a constant sour stomach and an ever present feeling of tired. And, no, it isn’t the exercise. I think it might just be January and the constant stress of every day life. In addition I have watched my weight creep up the scale and though I try to pretend it doesn’t bother me, the truth is it does.

I think what worries me the most is the constant recommendations that I can’t seem to get to. Work ten to fifteen minutes twice a week to build hip strength, cross train twice a week, try to strength train the same day you run but after you run so as not to affect your stamina for running, but never the same day you do your long run, take the day off after your long run, take the day off after tough workouts (really??? for me they are all tough!), don’t forget to stretch, add in core work two or three times a week, give your body time to heal, run three or four times a week, blah! blah! WAAAAAAAH!!!!! And let’s not even talk about eating. That is just another mine field.

So, seriously, I can’t do all of this. I would need to devote way more time than I have. I am already late for work almost every day. And I am constantly tired. I think my stomach always rebels at this time of the year, so I will just work through it. And eventually, I think, it will be easier to get out of bed again. I don’t know why it is so much harder in the last couple of weeks. Maybe the cold? Anyway, I am devising my own plan. Which I say with confidence now, but will worry over endlessly and wonder if I will ever be able to run as far as six miles let alone ten or thirteen. And even though May and June seem pretty far away, they aren’t. And it seems like a lot of running for somebody who doesn’t have the summer to really work on it as I did last year. But then, I guess, if this is going to become a way of life, I have to remember that it needs to work at my busiest and hardest times and not just during the easier months.

So I have been researching beginner half marathon plans. As I said before, I don’t like that they never really make it to thirteen miles. Additionally, some don’t seem to have days for strength training. I’m not willing to give that up. And I really want to get back out on my bike again. There simply aren’t enough days in the week for all of the necessary training days and rest days. So, I think I will back the rest days down to one a week as I did when I was working out last summer. I want to include one day a week of biking, which can account for an easier day, three days of running and two days of strength training. I have been working out a plan that melds together the high intensity interval training I was using last year with recommended exercises for runners. The one consistent piece is to change up the strength training every four to six weeks, and even within the same week. Training the same muscles in different ways, using different moves.  I have been upping my longer outside run each week by five minutes. It occurred to me that I was going to have to be able to run for about two plus hours straight. Somehow this is easier for me to work towards then thirteen miles. And also, in some ways, a little scarier. And although I tell myself I can always walk if I need to, I really don’t want to.

3, 6, 10! 13?

It is January! Okay, so it is really very far into January. And in a sort of offhanded attempt to follow the twelve months of running blog I came across awhile ago, I decided to sign up for some races this year. Naturally, I posted this to Facebook, because either I am highly social or one of those losers who needs to compulsively share. Doesn’t matter. It felt good to be working towards something. It felt great to announce goals and then feel accountable.

Last fall my goal was to run The Broad Street and do a duathlon at the end of the season with some 5 or 6K’s mixed in. Over the the course of October through December my energy and inspiration flagged. I was bombarded with the reality of my life as both a full time mom, teacher and wife, when we can fit that one in. My work outs have become shorter and shorter. Waking at four became harder and harder and went from four to four twenty  to four thirty to now I am lucky to be out of the house by five, let alone at the gym. By the time Christmas came around I decided I needed a break. I dropped back to eight workouts in a fourteen day period. I was tired and feeling worn. And maybe that was just what I needed.

So I post to Facebook that I am going to sign up for some 5K’s and a friend whom I respect and admire posted that she was planning on running thirteen miles in June. THIRTEEN MILES? What the hell was she smoking? And another friend, whom I respect and admire, is actively working towards her first triathlon. She thinks I can do that too. They are obviously copping from the same source. Both of these women have been strong supporters of me since I first started walking/ running. Cheering on every mile and constantly telling me I can do it. Their advice and support has meant more than either could ever know. They are seasoned athletes so when they comment on a post, not just the hoorays but the insights, I take it to heart.

Okay, enough words from the heart, I’m going to need some insulin. Focus!!! Thirteen miles? The course runs through the Belmont Plateau. Crazy. The woman is crazy. I have already decided to wait on the tri. I need a lot of work to build up endurance in my swimming and right now I have no place to practice. Originally, I wanted to take a class for adult swimmers. The goal of the class was to improve both your breathing and your stroke, to increase your endurance. But the class is held on one of the few times I know my whole family will be home, Sunday mornings. Had it been earlier or even Saturdays I definitely would have done it. But I am trying to maintain some family balance. There has to be time that I can count on just for us. So, for now, I am sticking to running and biking events.

I began to Google half marathon training plans for beginners. What I discovered was that the plans have you increase your milage by one mile a week on your long runs. Also, you never actually run thirteen miles during training. Both of these things worry me. Not that I don’t think the people who write the articles know what they are talking about, but it seems like such a huge increase. Especially since I have read over and over that a person should only increase their milage by like a tenth of what they are doing. And I need to be able to run the thirteen miles, first, I think. I mean is that the point, to add the extra three at the end to see if you can do it? Another third? Holy Shit!!!! I know it is suppose to be a challenge, but seriously, the training is a challenge.

Okay, so a mile a week on the twelve week plans. But, if I start slowly increasing my milage now, then maybe when I get to the twelve weeks before the race I wont’ have as far to go. And I’m thinking that if I do this right, I can also sign up for the Broad Street Run and do it as part of my training. Then I don’t have to worry about tapering if it is just part of the plan. And I do think the Broad Street is like a month before the Oddessy Half.  Aaaand, my plan to enter the Seaside Heights Duathlon again at the end of the season also fits into this plan, since the major running events will be past and I can focus on increasing my biking.

So here is my tentative calendar for the upcoming racing season. I have only signed up for the first so far. I know it may not happen. Hell, financially it might be too much, let alone from a physical standpoint. But I am going to try as hard as I can to stick to this.:

March 8: 5K Shock Race

May 3: Broad Street Run

May 8: Short Peace Valley Duathlon

June 14: Oddyssey Half Marathon

September 27: Seaside Heights Duathlon

Sometime in July or August I want to do a Vineyard 5K as well. And I definitely want to do the Covered Bridge Ride again. I know it is an ambitious schedule, especially in May. But the Peace Valley Short consists of two miles running, eight miles biking and two miles running and if I am using the Broad Street as part of the training plan, then I shouldn’t need to rest for a full week after. Even if I do, the Peace Valley is a good re-entry into training.

Training! Don’t you just love that word!