Base-Building/Maintaining/Attempting To Not Lose “It” In General

I still have more than two months until our official 16-week marathon training begins for Santa Rosa, so in the meantime, I’m in this Limbo Land (of the non-dancing kind) where I’m not required by Hal Higdon, or anyone else for that matter, to run at all much less any set distances or workouts.  Yet, to be able to start training for an aggressive PR marathon, you have to actually be in pretty good shape when you take that first 10-mile long run step. So I really should be running and covering some distance.

But, because I live in a state of paranoia, I believe that running more/harder than I’m supposed to is a recipe for injury and disaster, neither of which are useful. I’m scared to actively work at getting faster now because speed training seems to be the culprit of any weird aches and pains that I get.

I’m caught in this “why would I attempt to push the pace on a long run now if I don’t have to” vs. “I HATE that it is taking me 1 hour and 20 minutes to run 7 miles.”  I don’t like this place at all. It’s like I’m training, but I can’t actually train the way I want to.

I’m almost to enter into Year 3 of my runnerhood, and this is really the first time I’ve allowed a substantial break in between races, so figuring out the whole “downtime” thing is a pretty new area of study for me.

My last race distance was at the beginning of September.  We continued short bouts of running 3-4 miles until December, and then with the craziness of vacations, holidays, weddings, and sickness, I pretty much didn’t lace up my running shoes for about 6 weeks.  As I’m sure many of you can attest, you lose a lot in 6 weeks of inactivity.  We started running again in 3 mile spurts in mid-January, but it all felt so much harder.  Three miles seemed especially long, and the mere thought of ramping up to 5 miles just seemed like torture.

One Run for Boston is in about 4 weeks, and my leg is 12 miles, so we’ve been adding a mile to our run every weekend.  We ran 7 last weekend, and my feet hurt far worse by the end of it than they should have.

About a month after One Run is the Albuquerque Half Marathon, and about two weeks after that is the Run for the Zoo Half Marathon which happens to fall on the same weekend as our official marathon training kick-off.

As mentioned before, I want to do both of these races, not necessarily to gauge where I’m at speed wise, but more to get in the groove of racing again.

Downtime Dilemma.

I know that with the way I’m going, I’ll be probably hitting very substantial personal worsts in any race/relay that I do prior to official marathon training. I really (really, really) don’t like the thought of running personal worsts. At all.

On the other hand, any attempt to train for and “race” these events will likely interfere with my goal of entering marathon training uninjured and free from burnout.  Santa Rosa (even though it isn’t for another 26 weeks) is my priority, and I’m trying to make decisions over the next couple of months that support that, even if it means running practice races slower than my pride will let me.

I have two months to reconcile this in my head. I know this is way overdramatic, but I’m really not a “racing for fun” type of person.

Other efforts I’m taking during “downtime:”

1) Heavy weights to build leg muscles: Weak muscles result in overcompensation (resulting in injury) in other muscles. But, heavy weights result in tired and sore legs which do not make for great runs.  I’m trying to build muscle now so I don’t have to run 800’s with a sore bum.

2) Yoga: Being limber and stretched out is good. Being tight is bad. The more I can start training with un-tight muscles, the better.

3) Paying a ridiculous amount of attention to every little niggle, no matter how slight: Pulling in my calf? Lower back aches? If I notice it, I’m trying to address it immediately. I want to enter into marathon training feeling 100% because Lord knows it won’t last very long.

And, because it is Friday and Fridays are happy, here is my jam of the moment.  It makes me want to dance in the streets! But not too hard.  I don’t want to injure myself!

Have a fantastic weekend!

16 thoughts on “Base-Building/Maintaining/Attempting To Not Lose “It” In General

  1. Six weeks is definitely a long time. The longest I’ve gone without running in the last four years has been two weeks … and they were the last two. After Miami, I took what I considered “a break” and got back on the horse on Monday. I had a weird foot strain that I wanted to eradicate, and now, after just TWO weeks, formerly easy workouts are indeed a little draining.

    It does suck at first, and not just physically. You remember what your tempo pace was and wonder how you could ever sustain that speed for 6-10 miles. But what I have found is that muscle memory can be awesome, and once it kicks in, ramping up happens much more quickly than you’d expect. At least that’s my hope 🙂

    • Finally in the last week, I feel like my legs are remembering how to go about with this whole running thing, but I was doing a few sprints yesterday at a 7:30 pace, and that was a little disheartening. Hopefully the foot strain and the post-race recovery drain are distant memories!

  2. Is “niggle” really a word??????? I laughed real hard when I read that. Shoot, lord knows I have no expertise to share on this one. I am barely crossing the 6 mile range right now, not because I can’t but because I haven’t felt like it. That being said, I have 10 miles for One Run on tap so that means I should probably get an 8 miler in tomorrow. If I were to share a thought that may be somewhat rational…I say work into a routine that is very similar to a Hal Higdon program…Mon off. Tues-Thurs run, Fri off, Sat or Sunday (or both) run. Don’t stress the aggressive speed/hill work but still include it because they say the variance is good for your body and helps prevents injuries. Anyway, I am sure you guys will nail it down just fine! PS, that song obviously makes everyone want to dance.

    • Niggle is a word, albeit a silly (maybe almost inappropriate?) sounding one! I didn’t believe it either when I saw someone else post about it, but now I use it pretty often to describe all of the little issues that I seem to have constantly.

      Yesterday we did a short speed session, but for the most part we’ve just been doing long runs on the weekend with shorter runs throughout the week. So far so good as far as base-building and not hurting myself, but I am still a little bit sad that I won’t come anywhere near 1:41 (my PR) if I run a spring half just because I’m dead set against hitting those types of training paces until marathon training.

  3. Right there with you. My base building has been mostly spin bike & elliptical & now some short, easy intervals on the treadmill (yeah!), & while I do want to continue building my easy mileage & work on running for longer & longer, I have no wish to jump into speed / threshold training before maybe 4 months out. Oh, and also lifting / other strength work. Alllllll the strength work.

    • This is the first time I’ve really done strength work since I started running, and it’s like I’m discovering all of these leg muscles that have never been there before. Glad you are finally getting some short runs in! Yay, healing!

    • It was much easier when I was sticking to 3 milers. Now that I’m back up to 9 miles on the weekend, more and more things are starting to pop up!

  4. I’ve recently discovered strides at the end of easy runs as a way to work on leg turnover without killing myself (or my body). Plus it takes a meh easy run and turns it into a pseudo interval workout — endorphins without the pain. Brilliant!

    Smart of you to keep your perspective re: Santa Rosa. Getting to your goal race healthy is #1. Are there other goals you can work on during your half marathons to take your mind off of the time — negative splitting, fueling, etc.?

    • Good idea about thinking about other non-time related goals. I like that! Not sure what those goals might be, (maybe consistent pacing…I tend to be all over the place) but I will work on brainstorming! I know that your non-time related goals have worked really well for you.

      Adding in strides during break time is another good idea! You are on fire!

  5. Considering you’ve got some half marathons coming up soon, and before marathon training kicks off, could you not start half marathon training? And find a programme that is for 3 days a week? My programme was 3 days a week and I never felt stressed, burnt out or heavy-legged, and I ran a strong first 13.1.

    I use the link below for all my yoga-for-runners needs:

    There are 3 different routines, no more than 30 minutes long, that focus on different aspects required for running: core strength, glutes/hamstrings/hips to prevent injury, and overall flexibility. All are really good, and I do them at home, using my Samsung phone, simple! Good luck 🙂

    • Awesome! Thanks for the yoga link!

      I’ve actually made the decision NOT to do any speed training specifically for the half marathons. We are doing long runs every weekend and even throwing in some speed ladders/impromptu sprints here and there, but I know from experience (training for RnR Arizona and then jumping right into Boston) that even if I’m not injured or burnt out after the half, I will be during the 4 month aggressive marathon training. It’s just my ego not wanting to sabotage my half time average that’s the problem!

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