It's a healthy thing both physically and mentally to just let your body absorb everything you did to it in months prior and you can reflect on what you did an plan for what's next.
Wednesday night I ran the unorthodox and oddly fun LP Run at the Rice University track in Houston, just like I did the year before. It was so humid you could see it in the air- just like the year before, and the track was still blue, just like the year before. Unlike the year before, I came in fit and in one piece and able to run well. I did review beforehand my last year's results and this was one of the first events I did after....ahem... of course another injury; this year it was basically the last one on my list after putting in a couple races prior. I had to smile when I saw my average pace and knew how much faster I was going to go that evening-not in an arrogant way, but I was pretty confident and relaxed-much different from the self-induced struggle bus ride at my last race.
The event was timed for distance around a track and I ended up 2+ laps further than last year and about 45-50 seconds per mile quicker. I won my AG and ended up 3rd overall to some very fast ladies out there. While talking about running 20 laps around a track would be boring, I will say that mentally this was one of my better runs of the year. I came in just focused on running strong, relaxed, and consistent, and I managed to make that happen. The first mile I smiled a lot until the humidity hit, but once it did I handled that much better too this time around. Obviously, I walked away encouraged and Coach Doug also seemed that way too! How sore my tired calves were after that long on a track is not very encouraging-but hey, that's running.
While I only raced 3 times this Spring-a XC 5k, a 10k, and LP, training was overall the best it has been in years. I was able to put consistent mileage in, and I could see that pay off in racing for the most part. I don't recall having to move or skip a workout, I don't recall worrying about anything being especially off.
As much good training that came out of Spring '16, there were some obstacles and times where I struggled considerably. At least once I wanted to walk off the track because I initially thought I "just couldn't do this anymore"; only to get right back on and battle through to the end. When you're training by yourself early in the morning in SE Texas, it's easy to just scrap and wait until a better day, but I think I got more resilient by pushing myself. This seemed to carry over into other areas beyond running-I gained some confidence back after it was all said and done. Trust me, guys- if you just try and go a little further than you think you can, the result is almost always worth it and creates an experience you can pull out of your 'back pocket' when needed.
Mentally, I found I was most successful when I was racing or training in the present-meaning not concerned about the next mile, how I am going to feel, the result, or anyone else around me. Honestly, this is a fairly difficult skill to adopt for a lot of us, but when you tap into the here and now, the results take care of themselves because you're operating within your ability and not sabotaging yourself along the way.
So, now the proverbial and sometimes irritating question of "what's next" for those who care...
It's a few more days of downtime/crosstraining when I feel like it and then working on a little speed for a possible open track meet in June. Very different than I'm used to but new things are good. After that, I plan on training like a college athlete over the summer and prepping for some fall XC. Of course things can change, but gotta put some goals out there.
In short, progress was the theme of this year's racing-focusing on simply what I'm doing and current improvement in this ongoing process that is distance running.
|Myself, Justin B., and Coach post-race.|