Sunday, September 18, 2011

Running with the ugly stepsister

Once upon a time, I ran by feel.

I didn't need no stinkin' Garmin.

When we moved to Arizona in 2009, I decided that I wanted to get back into running. As soon as the weather broke, that is. It was July, and I was in no way, shape, or form interested in running in the kind of oppressive heat we have here during the summer. No thanks.

In fall '09, I jumped right into half marathon training. Being an overachiever, I naturally chose Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half training program. No was way I going to do the *gasp* "Beginner" program. Of course, I had no idea how far or fast I was ever running since at that time, I had no Garmin to keep track of my distance and pace. I pretty much winged it. I assumed that I was running around 9 minute miles, so I just went with that. If the plan called for a 3 mile run, I ran for 27 minutes. For longer runs, I assumed that I was running a little slower, so I adjusted my time accordingly.

At the end of January 2010, I made it to the starting line of the Carlsbad Half Marathon. My goal was to finish in just under 2 hours. As the race progressed, I distinctly remember reaching the mile markers way above goal pace. Every couple of miles I'd do the mental math until it became readily apparent that, "Holy cow. If I push it, I can do sub-1:50."

Of course, part of pushing it meant foregoing a pit stop and peeing in my running tights. Oh well!!!

Crossing the finish line of that race is one of the most meaningful moments I've experienced in my running life (career? hobby? whatever). I really did get choked up. I couldn't believe that after running only a handful of times in the previous 4 years, I managed--in 12 weeks--to run my second fastest time for a half marathon EVER. I was so proud! 1:48:54 never felt so good. That time was way above where I thought I'd finish. Truth be told, I was hoping for a 1:58.

What is my point? I'm getting there.

As of today, I've been rehabbing for 6 weeks. On August 7th, I went outside for a 14 miler, took about 7 steps and then turned around and walked back home--pouting. It's been 6 weeks of Alter G Treadmill, elliptical machine and pool running.

Over the past 6 weeks, this has happened...

I spy a dead Garmin in a make-up drawer full of crap.

I'm happy to announce that my rehabbing (somewhat) is coming to an end! Today will be my third attempt at a combo treadmill run/elliptical training workout. The previous two have been totally pain free! I am hoping that in another week, I'll be back outside actually GOING SOMEWHERE on my runs.

Today also marks exactly 5 weeks until the Temecula Half Marathon. I have decided that for the next 5 weeks, I will train with the "ugly stepsister."

Maybe ugly is too harsh. She's the no-frills, functional stepsister.

On any given day, I read through running blogs and it's all about the numbers.

"I ran a new PR mile today! With a stroller too! 5:56!"

"I was off on my splits for my Yasso 800s: 3:14. 3:17, 3:20, 3:18."

"My long run went really well. I finished with a 9:05 overall pace!"

Numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers.

Numbers, however, aren't really something a runner should worry about too, too much after coming off of an injury. And I know that if I jump back into training with my Garmin, I'll be worrying. I'll be looking down at that bad boy every 35 seconds checking my pace.

I don't want that kind of pressure. I don't want to compare myself to everyone else right now.

My goal for the Temecula Half Marathon is to run it at a 9-minute mile pace. I feel pretty confident that if I continue to remain injury-free and consistent with my training, I'll be able to do it.

And like I did for the Carlsbad Half, I'm going to do it all by feel.


  1. I am so glad to have found you! I might need to talk to you about the aqua jogging. I am injured now and in a walking cast for 4-6 more weeks and trying the aqua jogging but man its boring :) LOVE reading that it really worked for you and cant wait to see how you do on the road after the recovery. Looking forward to seeing you train and run! :) Have a great rest of your Sunday!

  2. HI Michelle, I actually got a lot of information from "Dash's Bites" blog. You may want to google it or see if you can find in on my information page under the blogs that I follow. She's is a pool running goddess.

    The thing that helped me with pool running is doing either a sprint interval style workout or a tempo pool run. Each workout, I would do something different. I might do a stair-step style workout (1 minute fast, 30 seconds rest, 2 minutes fast, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes fast, 1:30 rest... and then work my way back down). Other times, I might sprint 3 laps, then do a lap of recovery. Whatever I felt like. I tried to change it up. I also wrapped my iPod around my visor. No way I could do it without music. Good luck!!

  3. I'm so glad that the rehabbing has got you back to the point where you might be out on the pavement soon. I am going to try to get over my fear of the pool and do some aqua jogging as I rehab my hip in the next few weeks. I don't swim and the pools kind of gross me out. But I need to deal.

    I definitely get the numbers obsession. My garmin died a mile into my run this morning and I still caught myself looking at it's dead screen out of habit.

  4. good for you, allison!! i love that you are going to do it 'by feel'. I think we all need to get back to the basics sometimes...just putting one foot in front of the other with out the analytics. So glad that you are able to get back out there. Your patience and cross training definitely deserves to pay off!!

  5. So great that you can start putting this injury behind you! Awesome. And YES--not paying attention to numbers right now is exactly how to do it. You'll be back to your regular paces before you know it, but in the mean time, just enjoy running, plain and simple.

  6. this is such a great post - and you are so right that we can really get caught up in the numbers and it works against us. especially when we're recovering or climbing back from an injury.
    i'm so happy that you're rehab is working so well and that you're on your way to being ready for your half marathon! it is so encouraging.
    my hamstring is hurting me and i'm not really sure what's going on. i'm trying not to have anxiety about it and am going to my chiro tomorrow to have it checked out. i'm hoping it's nothing serious but don't want to run until i see him. it's driving me crazy! but reading about how you have been so dedicated to your recovery and your cross training has been so inspiring and encouraging and i know whatever this is, i will overcome it if i make the right decisions like you have.