i never wrote a race report for last weekend’s tobacco road half. and i don’t even think i have a picture of myself before/after/during the event [although it’s always humorous to see the perpetually unflattering professional shots after the fact].
i do, however, have a picture of annabel playing with her non-day-care BFF griffin from after the race:
and that pretty much sums up how i feel about running these days.
i am sad in some ways to admit it to myself, but my relationship with running has changed. before, running to me was mostly a sport that came with side benefits. back in 2009, i ran for the following reasons [in order of importance]
1) to race: improve on my previous race times, and try to get faster. i was competing with myself first, but i’ll admit i always had some running idols i wanted to try to catch up to!
2) mental health: a distant second. yes, running always affected my moods, but a relaxed 4-miler can have that effect. this wasn’t enough for goal #1!
back then, i trained 40+ miles/week when i was in ‘serious’ mode. i didn’t always keep track on a yearly basis, but i remember logging over 2000 miles in 2006, which is an average of 5.4/day. i really wanted to qualify for the boston marathon. though i did inch closer with each of my 4 marathons, the closest i got was a 3:48 in 2009.
and then, as you all know, things changed.
i had fertility issues, and i continue to believe that running was a major part of that — and so i eventually cut down, big time. i let go of some of my running goals to pursue a much bigger one. and ~20 months ago, i was finally successful.
post-annabel, priorities have shifted. many things in my life are still the same, and i’m thankful for that [and also aware that perhaps it’s just a matter of time!]. but 40 mile weeks are just not right for me right now. COULD i run that much? sure, if i were willing to give up sleep [and therefore probably my sanity] and some of my time with annabel. but those are not tradeoffs i am currently willing to make.
and i’m okay with that. a little wistful, but not at all sad.
but when i ran last week’s half at exactly 10 seconds slower than the ramblin rose in october [6 months postpartum at the time] and approximately 10 minutes slower than the same race in 2010, i had an odd mix of feelings.
at a different pace
the truth is, the training i’ve been putting in is not up to my previous standards. in fact, the old me [circa 2005 – 2010?] would probably laugh at even calling it training. a review of my mapmyrun log reveals that i run an average of about 4x/week, with a mileage total of between 20-30. in february, there was also a week with 0 mileage [day care virus]. these runs are a combo of treadmill runs, outdoor long runs, and stroller runs. and for the most part, i haven’t been doing very many purposeful runs with intervals or truly challenging tempo.
somehow, i thought maybe i’d improve over my ramblin’ rose time just because i’m farther out from having annabel. but in retrospect, that doesn’t make much sense — if anything, i’ve probably have LOST some of the benefits that the postpartum state is said to have.
i haven’t been running terribly fast, or a lot of mileage. and therefore, no improvement. it shouldn’t be a shocker — and for the most part, it isn’t.
but it is a reminder to me that running is different for me now. i don’t have time to run enough mileage to allow me to compete the way i had previously. but the activity itself is still just as important — the list of ‘whys’ is just different. the new top 3:
1) mental health: endorphins. a sense of accomplishment. some subtle shift in brain chemistry. whatever it is, i need my fix and running is the best [and most efficient] way to get it.
2) vanity: yes – still on the list. but i am realizing now that high [or even high-ish] mileage running isn’t necessary to stay in good physical shape. in reaiity, i’m probably better off mixing things up and doing more strength work.
3) identity: a lot of things change when a new baby is added to the family, and i do feel like there’s been a gradual shift from me as ME to me as MOM. when out for a long run, i get almost an almost nostalgic feeling — like i’m reconnecting with my pre-mom identity. i have no desire to return to those days, but it’s a nice reminder that really i’m still the same.
[that might not have made much sense, but maybe someone knows what i mean].
the next step
i think i’m done with long races for a while. right now, i don’t want to use too many of my precious 168 weekly hours training, and i think i’d rather just focus on shorter runs. i would like to add in some more strength training / yoga — for the mental health benefits as well as #2, above.
but all that said, there’s still a part of me that would like to get faster.
so: i’m going to spend the summer focusing on SHORT runs, fairly low mileage, other activities, and speed. a sample weekly training plan might look like:
M – 4 mi with 4 x 800m intervals on TM
T – jillian michaels DVD
W – 2-3 fast miles on TM
R – stroller run in afternoon w/ annabel
F – off
S – yoga [will have to be at home, most of the time] + faster stroller run
S – longer run of 5-6 miles
almost every workout will be under 40 minutes and i think this will fulfill all of my wishes, above. and maybe — just maybe — running faster on a regular basis will make me faster. we’ll see. i don’t have a race targeted now, but maybe i’ll think about a 5K.
the long haul
do i see myself running longer races — including marathons — again? yes.
i definitely want to do more halves, and i would still love to qualify for boston some day, and i know josh would too [he missed by 1 minute, running a 3:11 in 2006.]. but i’ll have to see if it will fit into my life once annabel [and hopefully her future brother/sister] are older.
i have also accepted that i will likely have to slow down my running again when we are ready to start trying for the aforementioned #2. however, i am much more at peace about it this time around — both because i’m more convinced that it’s actually true, and because now i’ve seen how easy it is to pick it back up again.