Hi there! I’m still here! And, by here, I mean the hospital, my apartment, SoulCycle or Flex Studios.
In the depths of the polar vortex, I had imagined the Miami Half would provide the kick in the butt to start training for May’s Brooklyn Half. And then after I didn’t run the Miami Half, I figured that the winter would turn around and I’d be doing long runs again in no time. Half marathon in May? No problem.
The weather sort of turned around, but my “training” didn’t. Of course, I will still exercising a fairly good bit, but long runs, tempos, even running in general? Well, it just didn’t quite pick up as the months went by.
Since November’s NYC Marathon, I’ve been on a huge spin kick. I love running and still do, but I just usually wasn’t feeling it. And spin? I was feeling it.
No good blog post would come without some analysis of largely unimportant details of a 20-something’s first world problems. Thus, I thought about why I was so spin crazy all winter/spring and not run drunk as usual. I think I spent what equates to a small wedding fund at SoulCycle this winter for three reasons: 1) indoor heating; 2) music; 3) community/people. In the throes of intern year, when you all you really want to do is drink some water and sleep, the thought of running in the cold alone is fairly bleak. Inside exercise? Check. Getting lost in music and forgetting about the labor floor? Check. Having some sort of unspoken peer pressure by those around to work hard? Check. Add more classes to that cart.
As May drew closer and closer, I did start to get slightly concerned that I might crash and burn in this half marathon, especially since I had told my co-resident, Meagan, that I would “pace” her through her first half, which would require me to be in some kind of shape.
Sure, I was exercising a lot. But, would it be enough? Since analysis is my middle name, I thought this through a little bit.
I estimated that my exercise/workouts were broken up as follows:
– 10% pilates (new obsession thanks to this power tool)
– 50% spin (including a lot of “doubles” and a few “triples”)
– 40% running (including a lot of run/spin or run/pilates combos)
I equate a 45 min spin class to be the cardiovascular equivalent of a 5 mile run. I also consider it like a “mini” track workout or tempo since its often high cadence against moderate resistance and potentially this evokes some sort of fast twitch neuromuscular stimulus or another equally fancy term.
If the above was true, then doing a double or triple spin was like a long run (double spins feel like a 12 miler to me and triples feel like a 16 miler in terms of my cardiovascular stimulus). Or doing a spin + 4-5 mile run was like getting in a 9 or 10 miler. Or so I hoped.
Pilates was a plus in the strength corner.
This left only one real variable, which was the one I was most worried about — time on your feet.
I learned from Steph that I lot of your long runs were just getting used to being on your feet and running for that long. It helps your muscles, tendons, and ligaments adapt to that stress and get stronger. And, that was the one very crucial thing that I was missing.
To sum up the analysis:
General cardiovascular endurance + moderate strength from pilates – time on feet aspect + the square root of 20 = Half Marathon?
Turns out, everything went well, as it usually does in these complicated first world problems for 20-somethings.
In fact, I had a lot of fun. Pacing someone in their first half was even better than running your own PR in a way.
To be fair, my legs did NOT feel used to running 13.1 miles and I started to feel a bit heavy legged by about 10 miles (pilates the night before also may have had something to do with this). But, I didn’t feel terrible either. Meagan and I finished in 1:53:43 (amazing first half marathon, right?!) which I thought was really great. Judging on how my legs felt at the end, I think that 1:53 was about the limit of my leg strength/power. They just weren’t quite used the pounding of 13 miles and the leg power needed for that, which I’m glad I now realize when I approach future races (NYC Marathon 2014!) with likely unconventional training plans.
After I wasted all that brain space analyzing whether I could physically run 13.1 miles (when my longest run since November’s NYC Marathon was 8 miles), I realize that what was really missing from the above equation and, perhaps, is the most important variable is this: your mind and attitude.
Over the 5 years I’ve been running and racing, I’ve gone from seeing running as a thing I “needed to do” or “have to do” to now something that I get to do. Running, going to spin, taking pilates – it really is a privilege. Not everyone gets to do it. And I do. And, I’m really thankful that my body is able to do it and that I have the time and resources to do so.
What I learned from the Brooklyn Half was this: When you run from a place of joy and appreciation,the result is so much sweeter, no matter the time on the clock.
This only took me about 5 years and half a billion races to learn.
On a final note, don’t underestimate your power. Even a lowly intern can convince her senior residents to run a half marathon.
TELL ME: WHAT YOUR SPORT HAS TAUGHT YOUR ABOUT ATTITUDE, MENTAL TOUGHNESS, OR SOMETHING RELATED TO THE BIG ORGAN BETWEEN YOUR EARS.
Until next time…