Monday, April 1, 2024

What is it about 9 miles?

Training for the Vancouver half has been going much better than the training-that-wasn't for my birthday race. Is it the better weather? The burden of the holiday season being a thing of the past? Matt's official swearing-in lifting the crushing anxiety from my shoulders? 
Oh yeah, that happened!
Who knows. Whatever the cause, training finally feels like it's going according to plan.

(Knock on wood.)

After my 10k in February, I sort of took two weeks off. I say "sort of" because there was some fitness happening, but I just wasn't feeling the training bug. I think I needed the break mentally because having to switch from a planned half to a 10k and feeling like my training just wasn't clicking was weighing on me.
Kind of funny how optimistic I was about continuing training after the race. To be fair, we did a lot of walking in Victoria!
But after February ended and we officially signed up for Vancouver, I finally felt some excitement around training again. I knew I was finally in a place where it made sense to build up to a half, and that my foundation was finally back in place.

So, I mapped out my training plan and have been sticking to it. I had my first "long" long run on the 24th and felt great. There is just something about 9 miles.
Just my runs from March.
It feels like the perfect distance to me, even when the it feels like a challenge. This time, Sarah ran the first 10k with me, and then I finished the end of the run myself. By that time, I'd fallen into a steady (albeit slow) pace and felt confident about finishing. I didn't even need many walk breaks. The major key has been purposefully slowing down on my runs, which has helped a lot.

I also feel like 9 miles is kind of a benchmark distance. If you can run it, you can manage a half; it's often the first long run in training that feels like real mental work and I always finish with a major sense of accomplishment and capability. 
The wrench in my training this month has been continued lower leg pain. I dealt with it all fall and winter and it's not going away. While it's getting better–the new shoes have helped, as has strength training, stretching, and foam rolling–it's still plaguing me on runs. I can run through the pain, but it's distracting. And when I finished my last run, which was only 3 miles, my ankles almost felt like they were going to give out.

The pain is identifiably different than CECS in a few different ways, but I worry I've got bilateral hairline fractures or something going on. I have a lower leg massage booked for April 2 so hopefully that helps. After Vancouver, I'm going to need to seriously rest and look into the cause if I have any hope of running Loch Ness in September.

My training plan for April is under construction, mostly because I can't decide the best taper strategy. The race is the first Sunday in May, so I have four weekends in April to get long runs in. I could stack the beginning of the month and do my two double-digit runs early on, or I could sandwich shorter runs in between, or I could do my highest mileage smack in the middle of the month. I can't decide which option sounds best.
I think my decision will rely heavily on how my legs feel, so I may have to be flexible in April and keep the goal of running a good, solid race in May at the forefront of my mind. I may have to taper more than anticipated. 

I'm actually feeling excited for this race! It's going to be a logistically stressful but it will be fun. And while training continues, I hope we keep getting this beautiful false-spring weather through April so my training can continue in the sun. The change has really been lovely.


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