Its home is in the basket in our Reading Room. You know, the bathroom. C’mon everybody reads in there and you can admit it here, we’re all friends and this is a safe place.
This morning I picked it up and started reading. It opens with such promise with the words “Anyone can run a marathon.” This is exactly what I want to hear/read. I’m “anyone”! I can run a marathon! And I gleefully continued reading the Introduction, About the Runner’s World Challenge, About the Authors, then on to Training which also has a very promising start. “Running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is no small task, to be sure. But anyone who has done it will tell you that getting to the finish line isn’t the tough part – getting to the starting line is.” Having run that 13.1 I can attest to that. The race itself was really almost a denouement after the weeks and months of training and anticipation. But it was still one of the coolest freakin’ experiences of my life!
So I kept reading and everything is peachie groovy until I get to this: Build a base. As long as you’ve been running at least four times a week for about 6 months and you’re in the habit of exercising regularly, you should be able to complete a marathon or half-marathon training program without a problem. . . . If you’ve been running only sporadically and have to give your weekly routine an extreme makeover to start training, it’s going to be tough to stick with it. Plus, you’re bound to end up with any variety of overuse injuries that come from doing too much too soon, . . .”
And that, my friends, was not exactly what I wanted to read/hear. It wasn’t even in the same zip code as what I wanted to read/hear. I’m not 100% certain it was even on the same continent. Because let’s face facts: Being out of running for ten weeks doesn’t exactly qualify as “running at least four times a week for about six months” and was definitely much more akin to “running only sporadically and have to give your weekly routine an extreme makeover to start training”. So there I sat numb-butted and heartsunk.
Great! Just freakin’ great! I have told everyone I know and a fair number of complete strangers “I’m going to run my first full marathon this year!” And now I am presented with pretty irrefutable evidence that I’m not even ready to start training for said event, let alone successfully and without injury completing the training for said said event, let alone getting through said said said event without some part of my body being irrevocably damaged or falling off completely.
The next section was titled (ominiously at this point) Time it right. Awesome! Exactly what I have failed to do! I began reading. Okay I began skimming the words because really, who cares anymore? Clearly this isn’t in the cards for me. And as I flip to page 4 (doesn’t take much to dash my dreams now does it?) I glance at the bottom of the page and there’s a pen and ink drawing of none other than one of My Running Heroes, and author of my favorite book on Running Philosophy, Mr. Amby Burfoot staring at me from one of those little sidebar boxes you sometimes see on the sides or bottoms of pages of books. And what are the first words Amby has to contribute to this Marathon Training Bible? Let me share with you. Amby’s opening salvo was this: Most experts think you should work up to marathons and half-marathons slowly and gradually. Not helping me here Amby old buddy old pal . . . blah, blah a few 5Ks… blah, blah what I think you should do, too. Except for this difference: I’m willing to acknowledge the power of the marathon and half-marathon to “grab” runners and motivate them to jump into the unknown. So if it grabs you hard, I say: What the heck, go for it! But remember this: You have to be very realistic about your expectations. I’m realistic about my expectations! I am very realistic about my expectations! Unless you’re young and fit (I’m middle-aged and kinda fit!), you’ll have to do most of your training on a run-walk pattern. I do all my training – heck all my races – on a run-walk pattern! I am back in the game now baby! Thank you Amby Burfoot wherever you are!
So I’m not giving up the dream.
I have four months to get back in condition, and after today’s four miler I can safely say I am soooo not in condition, but I have four months to get back to there before we begin Hal Higdon’s thirty week training program that is based on a run-walk pattern.
Speaking of today’s four miler, it wasn’t the prettiest run ever, but it was definitely one of the most heartfelt. I felt my heart pounding in my chest nearly every running step I was taking. And I’m almost certain part of the 3.5 pounds the doctor removed might possibly have included one of my lungs because there was a definite loss in air capacity going on. I ended up finishing the four miles in 53:19 and maintained an average pace of 13:11 minutes per mile. Interestingly enough the first mile was my jackrabbit mile and we were running straight into a good 10 mph headwind. Which might be part of why it was my fastest mile. I get a little ‘deadset and bygod determined’ when going into a headwind.
And I had to keep reminding myself (during and after) that I haven’t run in ten weeks and in the middle of all that not running I had surgery and my body is still recovering from that surgery. Just because things are no longer shades of black and blue and feeling more bruised than they look doesn’t mean I’m back to 100%. I’m still healing. Healing requires energy and my body is going to appropriate energy for that before anything else.
But getting back to that marathon training thing. Thursday evening, with the input/advice of a couple of fitness trainer friends, I finalized our training program which we are following effective immediately.
Sunday: Rest Day
Monday: Short run & upper body strength training
Tuesday: Yoga (which will help with core strengthening)
Wednesday: Mid-length run
Thursday: Short run & upper body strength training
Friday: Yoga (again with the core thing)
Saturday: Long run
Yesterday my running mentor/buddy Tonia came up to my work and we did a 45 minute yoga session focusing on poses that target core strengthening. Can I just say two things about said Yoga workout?
#1 If you think Yoga “isn’t a real workout” you are doing it wrong!
#2 If you think Yoga has nothing to do with core strengthening you are really doing it wrong!
Yoga is about nothing but core work. That’s where the balance comes from.
You also have to breathe. If you hold your breath or forget to focus on pulling your navel towards your spine you will fall over. I promise!
Today every muscle that’s supposed to be around the middle of my body is letting me know that I was, in fact, doing it right. And I need to continue doing it right until it no longer hurts (as much).
I have a feeling that’s going to go for marathon training in general.
Last night HCRP was looking for a picture on his computer and came across some “Before” pictures he took of me in August 2011 about a month after I started running.
I got all cute and decided that I wanted to stage “After” pictures wearing the same shorts. So this evening we did.
I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed at the overall changes in my body. I’m nearly twenty pounds lighter, but other than the obvious pre- and post-op differences in my chest I just don’t see as much of a change as I know has taken place.
I’m down two full jeans sizes, my butt is (or was before my ‘sabbatical’) ‘higher and tighter’, my arms are a lot leaner and stronger. (Who knew you developed guns from running?) But I have to say I’m just not seeing all the differences.
I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth fifteen in my head about posting the pictures here or not, and I’ve finally decided “What the heck, go for it!” I mean if Amby can say that about training to run a marathon, what’s a couple less-than-flattering pictures between friends?
They say running is as much a mental sport as a physical one, so I’m going to adopt that same philosophy towards changes in one’s body. I know they took place so I’m to trust in that and know that the work I’m putting in now will result in even more – and more visible – changes in the coming months.
When you speak of this, and you will speak of this, be kind.