The Runs.

Okay, so a running update.

Last September, I ran a half marathon with one of my best friends. Two weeks before said half marathon, I turned my ankle in the dark on a training run, and thought it was sore, I didn’t really think much of it.

And then. Literally 15 seconds after we started the race, I turned to say something to her… and turned the very same ankle in a small groove in the middle of the road. Badly this time.

Probably it wasn’t the best decision to run the race anyway, but that’s what I did. Honestly, after mile 4, I felt very little – some twinges here and there when we walked through the water stops, but nothing awful. We finished 2 hours and 17-some odd minutes after I turned my ankle, and within minutes of stopping I found I couldn’t really, well, WALK at all. My ankle swelled to massive proportions on the drive home that day, and for three weeks I hobbled around and couldn’t run.

During that time, I had a lot of time to think. About what I was doing with my running, how I was approaching it, and my goals.

So I did what any person who couldn’t run does: I decided that I’d run a marathon in 2013. 🙂

Except THIS time, I was going to do whatever it took to make sure I wasn’t injured this year. I talked with my PT, who helped me rehab from my ITBS. I hired a running coach to help me get my running form back, who would keep me honest over the winter. I did PT exercises on my ankle and my IT band and strengthwork at the gym. I ran when my coach told me to, didn’t run when he told me not to.

And the biggest thing: after looking at my spring half pictures, the day I broke two hours in a half marathon, I looked heavier than I had in 2010, when I finished the Smuttynose half marathon. I had put on muscle, yes, but I also had put on fat. So I also started counting calories on myfitnesspal.com so that I could shed some weight.

Since then, I’ve lost 15lbs, and am at my lowest adult weight ever. And I am back logging regular, consistent mileage, peppered with speedwork sessions, strength training, and long runs.

A month ago, I ran a half marathon in Central Park in 1:56:31, a personal best from my last half marathon of more than 3 minutes.

And couple of weeks ago, I ran a local 5k and ran a personal best by a full minute and forty seconds – my official time was 23:15.

So running, right now, is going really well. Even the hard runs give me something to take away. Like last week: in one run I gained confidence that I can keep running a number of miles when my legs are really fatigued without losing pace. In another, I figured out that I’m really bad at tempo pace and I need to focus some workouts on that.

Every run I do is leading towards a goal race.

My goal race this training cycle? Boston’s Run to Remember on Memorial Day weekend.

My ideal time goal is to break 1:45:00. Realistically, I’ll be happy with anything under 1:50:00. And if it’s hot, I’ll aim at 1:55:00, which is still a PB for me.

And honestly, it’s kind of insane that I’m looking at these numbers.

Because I remember the days where I’d need a gel at mile 4.5 because I had been running an hour – where I had to walk a hill I regularly use as my warmup. I remember the days where running my 6 mile loop around town felt like a really far run. I remember my first 5k, where I walked multiple times and finished at 32:48. The day where I ran my farthest distance – 6 miles – and realized, holy shit, you can run as far as you want. It’s actually possible!

It’s not been that long since my first race – 4 years ago this August.

So really, I kind of have no idea what I’m capable of as a runner. I’m just going on faith and working hard and making sure that I put all the pieces in place in the hopes that I can do something awesome.

Which is kinda how life works.

So here’s hoping. 🙂

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5 comments on “The Runs.

  1. runbumsteve says:

    Right on, Karen…good stuff. You have grown immensely as a runner. Once you can start taking the good stuff out of your “bad” runs, you have definitely turned a corner in your running. Sounds like your change in diet is working out for you too. I am reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, right now and he is a huge proponent of diet affecting your abilities as a runner. He is a vegan but even if you aren’t, it is an interesting read and he throws in lots of tips and recipes. Best of luck in the Run to Remember.

  2. Turia says:

    I read this the day you posted it, but haven’t had time until now to comment. I am just SO impressed with your goal times. 1:45 would be freaking amazing! You’ve come so far. Kudos to you as well for the diet changes.

    I do have a question for you- when I was running seriously before I got pregnant with E. I was also at my lowest ever adult weight. And right now I’m hovering a few pounds above that- somewhere between three to five (I fluctuate). And I am having a really, really hard time with not hitting that number again.

    I don’t think I can hit that number without a lot of running (or breastfeeding). I don’t think it’s a weight I sit at naturally. But because I used to be there, I feel like I should be again, and it causes me a lot of stress and self-criticism. So I’m curious to know how you feel about your new weight, and whether you think it will be maintainable if/when you’re not running with an eye to a PB or a full marathon or what-not. Because that’s the other problem I have- I can’t just run for the sake of running. I do best when I have a goal in mind and something to focus my training. And I know we’re a lot alike, so I’d love an insight in your brain. 🙂

    xoxo
    T.

    • Karen says:

      T- For me, the weight came off as a result of counting calories. I’ve been consistently running 25- 30 miles per week since February, and though my times have gotten faster for sure, I really can only credit the weight loss to calorie counting, rather than exercising, if that makes sense. Reason I believe this to be true is that I maintained my weight within 3 or 4lbs for 2 years without really focusing on my eating habits, and it was only when I started tracking calories that I lost again.

      Time will only tell for me, though. I’m running my half next week, then I’m hoping to take it easy a couple of weeks – though keeping my mileage consistent (just slower) – before I start to focus on the marathon in the fall. For me, I think consistency in running volume is tantamount for me to avoid injury again. I don’t think I could wax and wane on distance and feel confident that in October I can do the full 26.2, you know?

      It’s possible that you won’t be that light again unless you’re in the thick of training. I expect that if I were to lose the last 5lbs I’d LIKE to, it would creep back on when I wasn’t training with a focus, you know? I am hoping that this weight I’m at now, though, is my new baseline. We’ll have to see. 🙂

      • Turia says:

        I agree that consistency in running volume is really important. I am hoping to get back there in the fall unless we are pregnant. I don’t see running this summer happening, but I am making the most of the cycling commute.

        That’s awesome you think your current weight could be your new baseline. I definitely think my lowest weight needs training or nursing to be maintainable. Trying right now to love my baseline (which has been the same since mid-2007), but I find it hard when I know the scale once showed a lower number.

  3. I was reading blogs in my reader this morning and previewed and read this one:
    http://twoadultsonechild.com/why-i-run/. However, I thought YOU wrote it but saw that it wasn’t you when I opened it in a new tab to post a comment. Parts of it could have…

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