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You can't go fast until you can go slow

My entire life, I have always been impatient. I want to be better than I am, faster than I was before, and, in general, the best at everything I do. Mostly, I have always wanted to do things quickly, whether that means being the first one done with dinner, the first one to finish a book, or the first one to finish a trail run. Especially when I was younger, not being able to complete tasks quickly without screwing them up would make me really upset.

Dave and I have favorite tv shows that we watch regularly. Neither of us is into dramas (sorry friends, I’m probably never going to get into House of Cards or Serial), but we can watch comedies over and over. Our favorites are How I Met Your Mother, The Goldbergs, The Real O’Neals, and Modern Family. I think I like the last three because they remind me of my family in many ways, especially Modern Family. My mom once told me that the show made her nervous because she hates Phil Dunphy, which I found incredibly ironic because he reminds me of a younger version of my dad.

There’s a Modern Family episode with which I can especially relate. Phil was making the family practice getting out of the house quickly (totally something my dad, Fire Marshall Bill, would do. In fact, anytime we ever go anywhere, to do this day, he makes an emergency plan for us), and he kept repeating “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” The number one thing I can remember my dad telling me growing up is that I can’t do anything fast until I have perfected doing it slowly first.

Right now, I’m using this as my mantra for getting back into shape.

As Jack Daniel’s said, staying in shape is easier than getting into shape. I’m sure Coach Daniels would especially agree that staying in shape is easier than getting into shape when your body conveniently decided to get healthy as soon as the weather turned crazy hot and humid.

My first instinct is to get annoyed with my body that these runs aren’t coming to me easier. Then, I remind myself that training is simply stress adaptation. period. It’s so important to remember that just because my mileage is lower than I would like and I’m running slower than makes me happy that it doesn’t mean I’m not getting anything out of the work I’m putting in. Right now, a slow 12 mile run is stressing my body in the same way as an 18 mile run. and that’s perfectly fine.

Today was my longest long run since the week before the Trials. I ran 12 miles. and I almost died. Granted, I think the run would have been much better had I not waited until 9 AM to get started, when it was already creeping into the mid-80′s with high humidity (when I finished, the thermometer said 90 and the “real feel” was 96), but I am grateful to be able to be on my feet for 90+ minutes again.

It was also the first long run I have done by myself in a while, which gave me a good opportunity to think and gain perspective. I have been too hard on myself lately in my road back to fitness. I was forced to take 3 entire months off of serious training and am expecting myself to be immediately back on track. Yes, I cross trained, and I only had a couple zero mile weeks in there, but for 3 months I ran far fewer total miles combined than I did during my peak week. I have never taken that much time away from running. However, knowing what I know now, and seeing the aftermath of what has happened to people who completed the Trials and started running immediately thereafter, I feel very fortunate that I was forced into taking time off.

Some perspective that I needed, and was somewhat unexpected, happened when I was thinking about the past few weeks. In retrospect, I’m really proud of my 5:24 mile. To be fair, I was never upset about it, but there was definitely a sense of, “eh, it could have gone better.” Today I added up the mileage of what I had run TOTAL leading into that race. In the 4 weeks leading up to the mile, I had run 93 miles total. Now, let’s compare that to the 3 months leading up to the trials, when I averaged 100+ miles per week. Okay, perspective gained. In hindsight, that mile went really freaking well.

I have some really big goals for the fall, which is also making me impatient. In general, I have always lost fitness really quickly. Then I tend to have 4 - 6 weeks of thinking, WTF, am I ever going to be in shape again? only to one day, out of the blue, have an amazing run and not look back.

I especially have to be patient with my upcoming races. I am very comfortable with the fact that I may run times that are not considered elite. By virtue of the type of training I do with my coach, this has almost always been the case. I run “meh” times early on, and then he sets me up for the perfect peak. It is a little bit different now that I have more attention on my performances, feeling comfortable with this tendency, but if there is anything I have learned in this past year it’s that I will not improve unless I respect my individual needs. The only times I have ever struggled is when I have tried to fit myself into someone else’s mold.

I’m racing a 4 miler next Saturday. My “A” goal is sub-23:00, which seems a little crazy considering I did a pyramid workout in January where I did 1 mile, 2 miles, 4 miles, 2 miles, and a final mile, with the 4 mile portion at 21:50. I would LOVE to say I am in shape to run that right now, but I’m also going to be realistic. My coach doesn’t have me doing any real workouts until the end of the month, so this is truly just another fitness check/longer race rust buster. I need lots of racing on my schedule for my happiness, even if I’m racing when I’m not necessarily “prepared.” I think this would have scared me a year or two ago, mostly because I would have been worried about what others would think if I ran slowly, and also what I would think about myself. But, one of the best lessons I have learned through working with Coach Dean is that I can only control the “controllables” i.e., I can control how I approach race day, I can control my race plan, and I can control how I feel about the race afterwards. I can’t control what people think or who beats me, so why bother wasting the energy?

I’m excited that I’m feeling (relatively) good and also feeling strong. I was a little bit bummed with today’s run because it was slower than I would have liked, but then when I came home, weighed myself (I track my sweat rate - I lost 5% of my body weight today :o ), and looked at the weather, I realized I was running much stronger than I realized. I ran 12 miles today averaging 7:50 in “real feel” 96 degrees with no shade and no wind, and high humidity. A year ago I did a similar run and averaged 8:30s. Strength training is paying off.

On another note, I’m not loving this weather right now. True story: Marquette was the southern most school I applied to because I’m NOT great at running in the heat. I don’t sweat much to begin with, and I overheat easily. I only chose northern schools (Western Michigan, Michigan State, Cornell, and Columbia) so that I could make sure I would never have to train in warm weather :)

Total mileage was 48 this week - progress!! I’m excited to keep climbing, and can’t wait to be above 70, which is where I feel my body is happiest. (seriously, for some reason my aches and pains seem to dissipate once I get into high mileage (knock on wood). it’s great). Next week will be 56 - 58, then 65ish, and then 70ish!

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