Running Thoughts

May 13, 2023

Today is totally packed and tomorrow is much more low key.

I am already lamenting the fact that there is no nap time available, but I will ‘sleep in’ (until the kids are up) tomorrow.

I did survive my long run (16 mi, set up as 5 easy / 6 marathon pace effort / 5 easy) this morning! I had kind of built it up in my head because it contained the longest faster segment I’ve attempted in a while.

5 mi warmup / 6 mi @ “desired marathon pace”. Then 5 more cooldown miles (16 total)

I recognize that desired marathon pace is not actually equal to reality right now but I did feel good for the first ~4 mi of those 6. I felt downright bouncy! THEN for the last two I felt like I was finishing a 10K.

I am definitely improving. I was filling in my 5 year journal this morning and noted that exactly one year ago, I remarked that I did a tempo run and that it was 62F. I looked back at my workout app, and that “tempo run” consisted of 2 x 1-mile segments at 9 minute pace. Also, today was definitely NOT 62F (it was 75-78F).

This is objectively reflected in the apple watch’s vo2 max measurement. From 34-40 is a big change!
That said, 40 isn’t that great for the amount I run and I am definitely working for every 0.1 point!

So yeah, tons of improvement since May of 2022. Tons! But I still find myself doubting myself (like thinking – at some point I will plateau, right? will it be soon?) or feeling impatient or fine, downright jealous of some people who are just naturally more gifted at running than I am. Including one I happen to be married to!!! (I stilll love him, don’t worry.)

AND YET at the same time I have enough perspective to realize that it doesn’t matter AT ALL how fast I can run or whether I meet some arbitrary standard or whatever. I have to make sure this hobby of mine remains a largely positive force in my life, and generally it is. I also have to remember that I am lucky to be able to run, both from a support/time availability standpoint as well as a health/injury one.

(PS: Someone asked about body composition before. Currently, I think I weigh about ~2-3 lb more and with LESS muscle than June 2022, when my VO2 max was 34. IE: I looked/felt objectively better about my appearance when I was much slower. All that said the differences are probably reasonably subtle and no one cares. I just wanted to note that running is not the way to sculpt your body. I am fully aware of this . . . and I still love it! The only thing that I sometimes struggle with is the question of whether dropping bit of weight would make me faster, but I also want to avoid a) making myself crazy and b) setting any bad example to any kid. Plus all the mileage makes me %#($# hangry.)


  • Reply Chelsea May 13, 2023 at 2:54 pm

    Just a gentle reminder that 2-3lbs is very likely glycogen/water weight. It will certainly make you look and feel a little puffy but it will only benefit you while you are running.

  • Reply Chelsea May 13, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    Also, I thought you did a great job on a tough workout!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 13, 2023 at 5:22 pm

      I was totally happy with the splits. I just wanted it to feel easier 🤣

  • Reply Jenny May 13, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Well, even if your marathon pace is a tad optimistic, that is a huge improvement from your tempo run in May 2022. HUGE, especially when you take the temperature difference into consideration. There’s always going to be people faster and slower than you- don’t let negative thoughts interfere with your joy of running. Easier said than done, I know- I’m going to do a 5k time trial tomorrow and it’ll be a humbling experience. But, your post is a reminder that speed work WORKS. I have to start it up again, and if I can just be consistent, I’ll see results.
    And, I’ve given up on the notion that ANYTHING will sculpt my body- even going to the gym. I’m going to keep running because I love it, and lifting weights because it’s good for me. If I think it’s going to change the way I look, I’ll end up disappointed.
    Nice job getting the 16 miler done in this heat! We have a long, hot summer ahead of us.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 13, 2023 at 5:25 pm

      Yes we do – not gonna get any cooler for a while!!! A year ago I was only running very casually, I was doing lots of strength work (at home w dumbbells, but still lifting relatively heavy). So yes makes sense I am fitter in a running sense! I’m closer to my “pre kids” running days but still not there yet. (But I’m also almost 43 not 29 so ….)

      Best of luck on your time trial! You will rock it with your post ultra fitness, as long as you’ve fully recovered!

  • Reply Lori C May 13, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    So impressive getting that done in the heat. And negative splits! The body comp is definitely a trade off… But something about running just scratches an itch and feels good despite not looking as toned (in my opinion!) I feel bada$# after a good run!! Can’t wait to see how running continues to evolve for you

  • Reply Miriam May 13, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    What an amazing run!! You are such a strong athlete! I’ve always wondered if there’s much of a negative impact on cortisol from endurance running? Is that also part of it, in addition to the inflammation, and the effects of fueling? My physique softens any time I train for distance and then changes again when I move gears to shorter speed work. I echo your desire to work on strength!

  • Reply Anna May 14, 2023 at 6:29 am

    amazing job!! As someone who is about to start marathon training (with a coach, for Chicago), I wonder why you have such consistently long runs now. Will you simply be running long for the many months until your marathon?

    • Reply coco May 14, 2023 at 7:45 am

      you are going to Chicago too? Me too!!!

      • Reply Anna May 15, 2023 at 7:24 am

        YES! I’m super excited and just praying I stay injury free. See you there! When do you start training?

        • Reply Coco May 20, 2023 at 8:14 pm

          I’ve started February with my coach with a speed segment now. Then we will start marathon training probably July

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 14, 2023 at 8:58 am

      I think it’s just part of my coach’s training philosophy- to make running long totally routine. I love these 15 mi+ runs so I have no complaints 🙂

  • Reply coco May 14, 2023 at 7:45 am

    you are definitely getting stronger and faster!!! isn’t that feeling so powerful? I love training and see progress. not all runs are fun but 90% are great. I love the feeling of being a bit afraid about the prescribed pace, and then conquer it!
    I used to hate speed work, now I love it. I’m doing 10k next weekend, let’s see if I can PR my younger self.

  • Reply Heather May 15, 2023 at 8:27 am

    I tried to post this comment times from my phone the other day and it kept refreshing. I DO think it is possible to be moderately fast and carry muscle. You just have to find the right hybrid split of running and strength. Recently, a former CrossFit games athlete ran a marathon in her best time of 3:09, all while still maintaining her lifts and muscle mass. Her name is Kristi Eramo O’Connell and she recently made a video about lifting and running on her YouTube. Obviously, you do whatever makes you happy in this moment in life, but you don’t have to completely sacrifice all your muscle for the running. Great job on your long run!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 15, 2023 at 12:54 pm

      Totally makes sense – I think perhaps I just lack the time/dedication to do enough strength to truly maintain it when I’m running more (6x/week, 50++ miles/week). But nice to know that balance is achievable at least for some!!

  • Reply Amber June 3, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    I personally think you look better with the extra pounds 😊

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 4, 2023 at 5:50 pm

      that makes one of us. lol.

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