During the month of December 2015, I tried to focus on some proper rest and strength training. It’s always a reflective time of year, when I think back to the things I did right with my running and the things I didn’t. I try to celebrate where I am in this moment, and recognize the room for improvement. As part of this reflection, the excitement of what the new year will bring seeps in, and I’m always overwhelmed with how amazing this running and racing journey truly is.
I’m trying to reign in my goals for 2016, and this year I have narrowed them down to two as primary. Last year, I fell in love with the Anthem StarK 10K, the shortest distance offered as part of the Blue Ridge Marathon (BRM) race options. You can read about my experience with that race here. For 2016, I’m aiming for a PR on this course, and would like to run around 45 minutes (does it scare anyone else to say these types of goals out loud???). I’m also an official BRM blogger, so many of my upcoming posts will focus on training for this race!
My second goal is to take on my first 50K at the Eastern Divide. This race will take place two months after the StarK 10K, and I’m currently strategizing how best to create a training plan that will allow me to effectively take on both goals: increase speed and also build up some fairly hefty mileage. My guiding lights for this approach are below, and I’ll try to get more granular with them in my future posts as I get deeper into the training.
- Use Mountain Junkies RNUTS as intense training runs and key checkpoints. I dearly love this series. The races are challenging enough when your legs are feeling fresh, and it’s tough for me to go into a race knowing I’m not in great race condition. For the Frozen Toe 10k, the first of this series, I was racing on legs that had run nearly 40 miles the week prior (a lot for me in general), much of which included good elevation training. I eeked out a 3rd place overall female finish, which I’m happy with, but I know I’m capable of a faster effort on that course (which makes it hard :)). I’m trying to be focused and true to the goals I’ve set, so I’m choosing to let these races be a part of my attempt to Cultivate Badassery (see last bullet point for more on this).
- Workouts that focus on: Endurance + course specific conditioning + speed. I’m a mama to a 2 and 5 year old, and I work full time. During the week, I usually end up squeezing runs in during lunch or at night after the kids go to bed (oh the logistics and motivation this takes, especially in January). On most of the nights when I don’t run, I do yoga and strength training. All this means that I usually end up Weekend Warrior-ing quite a bit. For the past few weeks I’ve been logging between 20-25 miles just on the weekends. My general approach will be to do a workout that combines speed+endurance on Saturday (a tempo or fartlek run), and then a long run that focuses on endurance that traverses course-like conditions on Sunday (i.e. a long run that includes the climb up to Mill Mountain, clearly on tired legs from the previous day’s run). I’m hoping that this combination will help condition my legs for the unique challenges of the StarK 10K and Eastern Divide. It’s not an ideal approach, I know, but you gotta work with what you got.
- Sleep! I know my body, and I need 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Even when I get this amount, I’ve been waking up a bit more tired lately due to increased training. After over five years of sleep deprivation from having babies and toddlers, I’m still relishing the fact that I get to sleep through the night on most nights without disturbance (though our littlest little has taken to waking up whenever he kicks his blanket off and yelling “mommy, blanket ON!” I know he knows how to put a blanket on himself!). Even with periodic disturbances, it’s a beautiful thing. I don’t know if it’s the novelty of good sleep after so long without it, or that it takes me a while to feel awake in the morning, but I ab-so-lute-ly hate early morning running. I wish I loved it, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t. So, I’ve decided to honor that and run when it feels good to run (hence the midday and night runs). When races loom, I usually try to do some time-of-day conditioning, but all-in-all, pre-dawn runs are a last resort for me.
- Fuel! I’m a big time believer in a whole-foods, mostly plant-based diet. With everything else on our collective plate, this takes some dedication and planning. It’s as much for my training as it is to normalize this type of approach to food for our littles. This is a big one, and I really try to stay focused here. I have a lot of go-to online resources like Running On Veggies (de facto personal chef to Kara Goucher? Yes, please!). We do eat meat occasionally, and dairy products, but in limited quantities. Though sometimes a delicious, juicy burger or some pie calls my name, and I oblige. Moderation, people.
- Accountability and Tribe-love. It can be hard for me to write about myself, and running, but I know it makes me more reflective and embeds a certain level of accountability into my goal-striving that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Part of my approach for 2016 is to write more here, and in my running journal; to find running tribe-love by training more with others locally, and sharing my stories and experiences. Stories connect us, and I learn a ton from those that are willing to share their’s. The pieces are all around us: chatting before and after races, reading other blogs (elite and non-elite alike), race results, the list goes on. My hope is that all of these things will help me Cultivate Badassery (thank you for introducing me to this phrase, Devon Yanko, you badass, you).
This is a long post, as I’m trying to outline my approach for 2016. It’ll change here and there, and I’ve learned to be flexible. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I hope to see you out there tearing up the roads and trails. Happy running!