I'll get right down to it: I'm waffling about whether to sign up for the Valley Harvest half. Last week was...tough. Apart from the fact that a minor wrench was thrown into my training when hubby and I went away for a mini vacay (which was lovely), my legs felt tired, and I just felt burnt out overall.
Add to that the fact that I started going over my training times from my last half marathon, and realizing that I was running on average 30 seconds to a minute slower per kilometre now than I was a year ago, and you could say last week was a challenge -- mentally, and physically.
I know, it's only been just over two months since my surgery, and I haven't been training or eating like I used to (even though I have been watching what I eat a little more and going to the gym more). But this phase of getting back into shape is just feeling like a long slow haul. And there's a little niggling doubt inside of me wondering whether jumping into half marathon training in week eight of an 18-week program, just six weeks after surgery, was entirely the right way to get back into it.
Then I realize just what a challenge it must be to get into shape if you've never been active before, and I've got to give mad props to all the people who decide to get active for the first time ever. Let's face it: being healthy and active takes time, and determination.
Last week's training kind of looked like this:
- Monday: 16k LSD...a toughie, but I did it!
- Tuesday: Zumba + abs, biceps & triceps
- Wednesday: Zumba + abs, legs & back
- Thursday: mini vacationing with hubby (walking on the beach, ping pong & swimming)
- Friday: mini vacationing with hubby
- Saturday: 6k steady run...also a toughie
- Sunday: 15.5k LSD...a little better than last time (this time, I remembered to bring my GU, Shot Bloks and water/Gatorade, which made a difference, though it was super humid and icky due to Hurricane Irene being on her way)
On Sunday, I stopped by the Running Room to pick up some gels, and Bruce was there. He asked me how I'd been doing, and whether I'd been taking it easy. I admitted that I'd been trying to get back into it slowly, but finding it tough.
Even though he was busy with other customers, I really appreciated how Bruce took the time to ask me how I was doing, then think and give me some honest advice.
I asked him what he thought about me jumping into the half marathon program almost halfway in, and he thought about it some more. His suggestion: maybe to only do a 10k race in the fall, then train for a winter or spring half, and a fall full.
"I'm no psychologist," he said, "But I know that if you're not feeling well about it mentally, you just won't feel well overall," he said. Basically, suggesting that the more I stressed out about these runs, the harder they would feel.
And he was right - Saturday's 6k steady run did feel like agony. I didn't want to do it, and I didn't believe I could do it. By km 4 or 5, I realized that my entire body was stressed and tense, which only made the experience more distressing.
After meeting Bruce, I had planned to meet a friend for a quick interview that I thought would only take 30 minutes, then head out for my 16k. But the interview ended up taking two hours. By the time I stepped outside onto Spring Garden Road, it was hot and sticky outside - Irene was on her way. I called Steve to tell him I was headed home and was going to skip the run.
"You know what you need to do," he said.
Goshdarnit does he ever know his reverse psychology, because no sooner did I hang up the phone than I felt guilty and thought "I'll show him."...and headed out for my 16k LSD.
I'll be honest - it wasn't easy. About 2k in, just after my first walk break, I actually unvelcroed my water belt, turned around, and started walking back to the gym. But then I thought, "You know what, let's just run 10 minutes, and then another 10 minutes, and see how far I get." At the worst, I knew I could call a taxi if I ended up exhausted, or if Irene decided to start blowing through.
In the end, I made it back to the gym, 15.5kms later. Once again, it wasn't easy, and my average pace was about 20-30 seconds slower than usual. But I did it, drawing on all of my previous marathon mental training, putting my head down, and trying to be in the minute. It's easy to get discouraged when you think about the entire distance that needs to be run. But if you just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, running till the end of the block, the end of the 10 minute interval, the next walk break, then you'll be amazed at how far you can get.
The run complete, I drove home, exhausted and sweaty. Steve was surprised that I'd completed the run. He admitted he hadn't thought think I was going to do it, because I sounded like I didn't want to. I admitted that I just felt so slow and sluggish lately, and he hugged me to him. "Who cares about your speed?" he said, pointing out that I was training almost manically before.
Maybe he had a point. Maybe the point here is just that I'm getting healthy again, and there's something to be said for balance. Who cares if I don't run the next half in sub two hours? In the end, it'll have been the journey that matters, and the difference it makes on my overall health.
I'm still waffling over whether to sign up for the Valley Harvest half, but I still have five weeks to make up my mind. In the meantime, I'll keep building up my strength and my distances, gradually, and see where that takes me.