January '08

Looking back on the first month of the year, there is part of me that feels like it was a wasted month. But when I add up the miles and look at where I've came since taking a full week off running altogether, it wasn't too bad. It's also the first month I've logged how many miles I walked, so that helps me feel better about things, too.

All told, I ran 42.3 miles and walked 22.7. Starting the month off injured, I really didn't have any specific goals in mind, so finishing with more than 40 feels pretty good. Had I not been hurt, I would have loved to have started the year in the mid-60s to around 70.

Now that I finally feel like I'm over the post-marathon blues, the crazy December sickness and then my foot issues, I'm eager to build my mileage up between now and the half marathon. So it's time to have a plan and set myself up to peak at the right time. For February, my goal is to hit 70 miles. Seventy is a nice round number to shoot for as I continue to gradually build my mileage up.

It's time to put January behind me and get on with the rest of the year ...

No news is good news

I can't believe that I haven't posted in about a week - it's been one of my longest dry spells since I created this blog. Most of the time when people don't write it's because things aren't going so well. For me, though, things have been going great. I'm just taking things one small step at a time.

On Saturday I joined a training group for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k that's in April. I'm basically doing this group as a behind-the-scenes blogging for work, but I also like having a group to run with. Although that run was short, it was mainly down a long hill and back up the same hill. With my injury, I had stayed away from hills, so it was a good workout.

On Sunday I decided to let this week be a real starting over week. I took the day off from running and planned to get up and get on a normal schedule on Monday. Only problem is I forgot to set the alarm Sunday night and slept in. I still got a walk/jog in with my dog, only much shorter than I hoped. Tuesday was a solid 3.4-mile run, with a 4-minute half-mile burst thrown in. Today was by far the best mid-week run I've had all month, getting in 4.1 miles this morning.

My plan for the rest of the week is a rest day tomorrow, an easy 3 miles or so for Friday, the group run Saturday (likely 3 miles), then I hope 5 or more on Sunday. All told I should be close to 20 miles for the week. I am still keeping a close watch on my foot and will stop at any sign of pain, but things have felt great these past couple of weeks.

Despite running more and eating the same, I'm getting that mid-winter feeling of putting on a few pounds, so I'm determined to make February a very focused month on everything so I'm ready for my half marathon in March. This includes regular tempo runs, regular long runs, ab workouts, solid cross training and maybe the first race since November. It's time ...

The next step?

Today I got in 3.1 miles. So that's two 3-mile runs two days in a row. I'm pretty close to saying that all is well with my heel ... now it's just a matter of rebuilding my endurance. It'll happen ... slowly.

I also held my plank to a minute today. Now comes a challenge of seeing my max of doing it on the sides, and just seeing those max numbers get higher and higher. Eventually I'll be content with some sort of resemblance of decent abs. I just have to take it one minute at a time. I'm definitely feeling it this week with resuming an ab workout. A strong core will only make me a better runner ... now I just have to follow through with it.

So now for the next 50 days I'll be saying what's the next step or what will I do following March's half marathon. I did it last year privately and I'll be doing it again this year, only I have a way to discuss it publicly. As you know I'm planning to do the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k in April, and I'm looking forward to running with 30,000 people. I'm running that for many reasons ... setting a PR or worrying about time really isn't one of them. But after that? I'm looking at that marathon calendar just pondering if what it's what I want to do again ...

Excitement over 3 miles

In the past month, I haven't had much to be happy about with my running. In the past two weeks, it's been about getting my mileage up on my "long" run to 2 miles, then 3, then 4. My mid-week runs have been pretty sorry, with my longest being almost 3 miles last week. Well, this morning I finally hit 3 for a mid-week run and everything just felt "normal." While I'd like to be in the 4-5 mile range for a Wednesday run, I'll take 3 considering what I've done lately. This week is shaping up to be some somewhat normal in the mid-teens for mileage. If all goes well, I'd like to hit 20 by the end of next week and then gradually build up to close to 30 for my half-marathon training. I'm getting eager to set some goals for the rest of the year.

For now, I'm happy that I can run 3 miles and not have pain!

Abs ... or lack thereof

Since I first lost weight four years ago, I have done very little ab workout. Like most people, I'll do it for a couple of weeks and then it'll slack off. Perhaps its the lack of immediate reward that our society is used to. I could care less for that 6 pack of abs, but I'd certainly like to be closer than I've always been.

So I've been inspired by Non-running Nancy to time myself on the plank -- the simple act of getting on my elbows and holding my body up. It's far and away the best ab workout I've come across. I've been doing the plank every once in a while, but not enough. Before I moved to Richmond, I was doing it pretty regularly, but slacked off quickly. Now it's time to hold myself accountable to doing some ab workouts and timing myself on the plank. So ... today I was able to hold it for a measly 46 seconds. I guess that's not too bad, but I thought I could hold it for at least a minute. I guess I have my work cut out for me!

Four fantastic miles

These past two weeks have been all about hitting small goals. First it was 2 miles non-stop, then 3. Today it was 4. Things are feeling great and I really don't have anymore pain in my heel. I usually don't pay too close attention to my pace during easy runs, but I kept track of my mile times today and was very happy with what I did. My mile times were 8:48, 9:06, 9:24 and 9:19. For those to be "easy" miles, and considering I haven't ran that long in about a month, I am very happy with where things stand right now.

I will continue setting small goals for myself through my half marathon and the spring. I have eight weeks to go until the Shamrock Half Marathon and I like where I'm at right now. If things go as planned, I should be hitting a peak the week of that race with my training. Tapering will likely be very short, with still getting a solid long run in the week before. Then I hope to set my sights on another big race later this year.

For the first time in a while, I have confidence when I run. I just hope the rest of my body is ready to step it up and join me for the ride.

Random thoughts

As I slowly get back into the swing of things, I can't help but feel like I've fallen behind. In two months, I'm supposed to be running a half marathon. I have this lofty goal of beating my time from last year. It can be done, but right now it's a goal that seems so far away in my mind. Just when I feel like I'm alone, I read other running blogs. It seems these days everyone has an injury or the lack of daylight hours mess things up. Some people are struggling with the issues of eating too much after the holidays and just not feeling right. It seems we're all in this great funk together. The question is, how do we break out of it?

Let's be glad we don't have a prison sentence to serve. Let's complain about how Oprah is going to interview my least favorite runner tomorrow. That's enough to piss me off to get out there running again. My respect for Oprah for running a marathon is now gone.

And here's a question runners might ask themselves over the next few weeks or later this year: If I don't know who to vote for because I'm politically neutral, should I vote for Mike Huckabee just because he's a runner?

Apology not accepted, part II

Dear Marion Jones,
You have disgraced the sport of running, so please, stop trying to apologize. When I watched SportsCenter the other day, I changed the channel when your story came up because I didn't want to hear another sorry speech. Nobody is listening.

A runner who just uses Advil and Clif Bars as performance enhancers

P.S.: At least you apologized. Maybe some people in baseball could actually try doing that.

2 good miles

Today, I had the simplest of goals -- run 2 miles non-stop. Well, after a warm-up with my dog of 1.4 miles of walking and 0.6 running, I headed out and did 2 pain-free miles. I actually wanted to do more, but with 2 miles already on my legs, I didn't want to push it.

Today finally feels like a starting over point. Injuries just flat out suck. In addition to losing endurance, they take your confidence as well. I have a half-marathon to focus on and it's time for this injury to be over.

One more day

This abnormal warm January weather has been great, but unfortunately I haven't done much running. I'm giving things one more day to heal up before I attempt 2 or 3 miles. Of course by then I will have missed the 20-degree departure from normal. In the meantime, I'm getting some mile or so walks in with my dog every day, sometimes twice a day, with a little bit of jogging mixed in. I feel ready to roll, but at the same time I'm a bit scared to run. As with my knee in 2006, it's just something I have to take one day at a time.

Warm January weather, but no running

This record warmth is killing me. I'd love to be out there getting about 5 miles in, wearing shorts and short sleeves in early January. Instead, it's a mile walk with my dog and a little bit of jogging. The good news is today is the first day in a while that my foot didn't seem to bother me at all. I'll probably take another very easy day or two before I even attempt more than 2 miles. I ran a little more than a mile yesterday, but stopped at the first sign of pain.

I'm not really sure what's next except for waiting a few more days. It sucks, but I know it's the right thing to do. Getting ready for the half marathon is nowhere near like getting ready for a marathon, but I'm not going to do anything stupid either. I'm sure that it'll be nice and cold again when I resume my running.

The first mile of '08

To say this week has been frustrating is an understatement. I know I did the right thing by not running. I told myself after last Friday's run that I'd take a whole week off. So this morning I ended my one-week ban of running and got a mile in with my dog. I'd say it was successful because my foot didn't really bother me, but I wanted to go farther. I know, though, that if I want to avoid being hurt I have to take it slowly. I will very likely attempt 2 or 3 miles tomorrow and then analyze things from there.

Of note this week is the fact that I lifted weights on Thursday. I hadn't lifted in a while, but I plan to get back into a regular routine at least a couple of times a week.

Trying to stay patient

In the past few days since making the decision to completely take off from running for a few days, I've realized that the hardest part of running is not running. Over the past few years, I've taken some breaks and had some downtime, but this is the first time I told myself I simply wouldn't run. My foot is feeling better and I'm driving myself crazy by not running, but I want to be ready for the next big race. I don't want to remember 2008 as being the year I was stupid and stayed hurt! So, here's to waiting another couple of days before I pound on the pavement again, and here's to hoping Christmas boxes will be out of my way soon so I can lift weights and burn off the Christmas calories ...