I’m desperately trying to embrace the new training regime.
You may be asking yourself: what new training regime? To which I say: don’t you follow my every utterance on this very website? I mean. Really.
To make a long story short: I decided to work with a coach — Sara Dimmick, in case you wondered — for the first few months of 2015 just to see if she can help me run the fastest Pittsburgh Half in May that I possibly can. After that race, I’ll revaluate.
For now, however, I’ve given myself over to letting someone who knows what they are doing plan what I do, running-wise. I’m also interested in hiring someone more qualified than I am to take over dressing me for work every day, by the way. Just putting it out there.
Sara D. has been posting my workouts on Training Peaks for two weeks so far. While I like having direction, what I’m struggling with is what we’re focussing on until the end of the month: base building and strength training.
It makes total sense, mind you, to back off a little on the intense running work in order to give all of my over-worked bits and pieces time to heal. It also makes total sense to build up my much neglected upper body and core by lifting heavy things in order to put them down again. I get it. I’m on board, intellectually.
The problem is that I find the lifting and the crunches so blessedly boring. It’s not even that Zen-type of boredom where you can find bliss in the monotony. Strength training requires just enough of my attention that I can’t completely check out and that makes for a long hour at the gym.
I am running, mind, but Sara has made me strap on a heart rate monitor — and it’s my first experience running with one. For the record, I’m not a fan. It’s one more bit of gear to keep track of and to obsessively check Herr Garmin for. Plus, I can’t find a way to get the buckle-y part to not dig into my right underboob. First world problems, I know.
And then there’s what the whole heart rate monitoring tango has done to my pace. Runs have been all about a pace that keeps my HR in zone 2, with the occasional hedonistic leap into zone 3. For me, zone 2 is about a 14-minute mile, which feels so much more glacial than my already pokey 12-minute miles. While I know I shouldn’t compare my pace to other’s and listen to my own body and yadda yadda yadda. Turns out, these HR specific runs make it hard for me to keep my eyes on my own mat.
What also isn’t helping is the weather. The extreme cold has forced me to do these slow runs on the treadmill, the place where time stops moving. My husband and I have a long running joke about Ohio, a state we’ve often driven through diagonally to get to points South. You never feel like you’re making any progress when you’re driving through Ohio. The treadmill is my Ohio — and I can’t even run fast so that I can just get it over with already.
Yeah, I know my attitude could be better. For what it’s worth, I did manage to get through Sunday’s six-mile long run with relative grace.
My relatively sanguine attitude came more from finding a window between the bitter cold front and an oncoming snow storm to actually run outside. Twenty degrees feels downright tropical when you are used to single digits. The sky stayed low and gray for the entire 90 minutes but didn’t really bring me down. There’s a lot to be said for how simply being outside, even if one is merely running around the local high school, can boost one’s mood.
By the time I made it home after my run, I noticed two things. Thing number one is that an iPhone-sized chunk of my upper left thigh was cold enough to store meat on because I hadn’t noticed my water bottle leaking through my jacket and soaking that part of my pants.
Thing number two is that these long, slow runs make me kinda sad. My goal is to run faster so it feels all kinds of wrong to focus on running slower. I get the thinking behind it but its just emotionally fraught. I feel like a loser because my heart won’t do what I want it to do, which reminds me of all of the worst parts of junior high, when I had a huge crush on a boy who would never, ever crush back.
Which makes me want to know: who else has trained using their heart rate as a guide? How did it make you feel?