Quick update to bring you back up to speed—keeping your heart rate under 140, of course. I—Dimity—am training for the Superior Spring 50K with heart-rate training. I laid out the basics here; did an update on my fitness here, and am now about to give you my next chapter.
There are very few running accomplishments that make me crazy happy, but this one had me grinning for over a day. Two weeks ago, I ran for five days and covered over forty miles.
I could've cruised on that crazy happy, but then—whoops!—I did it again. (Call me Britney!) This past week, when we had over a foot of snow in Denver and my kids had not one, but two days off of school. (Let it be noted: The snow days fell the week before spring break. Way to throw salt in that wound, Ma Nature.) Anyway, another week, another 40+ miles.
I am not one to crow over my accomplishments, but I can't help but do it here. Why? Because I never, ever thought I'd run 40 miles in a week. Even when I pictured my ultra training, I pictured lots of my training in the pool and on the bike. I am not sure I have ever run 40 miles in a week—and if I did, it was when I was 25.
So these two 40+ mile weeks? My "after" picture.
My "before" pic? Regularly injured with serious, in-the-boot or out-of-running situations. Unable to run more than three days a week. Scared of training for a half-marathon for fear it would be the final nail in my #motherrunner coffin. A lower back that tightened like a vice whenever I spent an hour on the pavement. A head that loved the post-running feel, but was weary from constantly convincing myself to run harder, keep striving, not wish away the run.
By slowing down and keeping my heart rate under 140 for most of the miles, I have changed everything about my running: my perspective, my goals, my perceived ceiling, my confidence in my body.
To be sure, it's not all Espresso Love GU Cake as I bop along at an easy pace. Off the road, I have been more dedicated than I've ever been. I have been spending some quality time on the BOSU to build up glute and one-legged strength, doing short strength circuits, and foam rolling at least three times a week. Once a week, I do hill repeats, and I also do a weekly set of four 800s. I do not love 800s.
And even the long, slow easy runs can be mentally challenging. To wit: I was supposed to run 3 hours, 50 minutes this past weekend. (All my runs are by time, not miles, which also greatly helps me deemphasize splits and tune into myself.) Long runs should be on trails, but that's not a a possibility 48 hours after a blizzard. The sidewalks weren't even shoveled yet, so I went to Cherry Creek State Park, where the roads were clear and the traffic, minimal.
The loop around Cherry Creek is about 10 miles, and I wasn't sure if I could cover 20 miles in 3:50. So I just decided I'd head out and see how things went; there are multiple options for routes and I figured I'd work it out on the run.
It all started well: sun shining, calm air. Around five miles in, I encountered a small river on the path that veered off the road and made the circle around the park.
I had a choice: forge through, or turn around? Turning around meant I'd have to run back and forth on the same route about four times. Really not interested. The sides were more sloppy than the middle so I just went for it, getting my feet quite wet. The wind was kicking up, the sun was disappearing behind the clouds, and my feet were soaked.
But hey: my heart rate was low, and my legs felt fresh. And I had run for about 1 hour and five minutes. Just, oh, a mere 2:45 to go.
Another mile or so, and I came across this.
I knew that if I could Shackleton my way through that patch, the path up to the left would be clear.
I went for it--walking through it would keep my heart rate under 140, right? I made it through, and ran about 2 more miles to get to 9.5 miles, and about 1:50 down. Then I had a choice: I could run past my car, and do the exact same loop again— wasn't sure I could mentally tackle that—but I wasn't really interested in the river/Arctic passages again. Then again, I wasn't interested in having to repeat this 3:50 run. I turned around to retrace my steps, figuring I'd get the hardest parts over first.
And as the wind picked up, the clouds covered the sky, the jelly beans I packed weren't the pick-me-up I wanted them to be, the seas parted. Because somewhere in the four out-and-back miles, somebody had plowed!
That surprise gave me such a boost. It's the little things, right? The final six miles weren't easy—my feet got sopped again in a river deeper than it was on the way out—and I had a few woe-is-me moments, but I pulled out my new secret weapons—Ginger Chews—got over myself and ran for 3:45. I rounded that puppy up to 3:50 for a #BAMNR run—and my second 40-mile week.
Nineteen miles on pavement isn't 31 on trails, and 40-mile weeks don't guarantee I'll have a great race in mid-May, but that doesn't really matter right now. At the risk of sounding like a cultish zealot, I'm running beyond any expectations I've had, and I'm just going to be crazy happy and appreciate it.
If you're interested in getting a new perspective on your running—and giving heart rate-based training a whirl—we are going to have our first-ever heart rate-based challenges in the Train Like a Mother Club. Registration for 20-week plans for fall half- and full marathons will open on April 18, so stay tuned!