Now What?

By: Laura Mitchell 

When I come off a break from training my body feels rested. My mind feels fresh and usually cleared out. This landscape is usually the perfect backdrop to welcome new ideas about training for the new season. Notice I said usually.

When I embark on a new season, I like to put together goals and list the ways I hope to meet them. Usually I start with broad goals like the “What” such as: What big races do I want to run?  What times do I want to break?  Then I work backward and jot down details on the “how” I can best prepare to get there.

Usually after reflecting on my previous season during my break it’s easy to see what worked well and what didn’t. But this time I couldn’t seem to decide on anything.

My mind was clear, but I wasn’t motivated to make any decisions. I had some rough goals in mind, but nothing really nailed down. I could tell I was having a problem, when I couldn’t come up with anything when people asked me, “What races are you training for?” I think I was physically enjoying not putting the strain on my body that running can sometimes do. Coupled with the outside responsibilities from running that I’m currently juggling, I was left with less desire to start brainstorming.

The good news is that having a great coach to give you a “gentle nudge” was just the wake-up call I needed. I made my decision to train like I will race a 10K and start with a longer more gradual build up into Spring where I will race 5K. Gradual doesn’t mean to be lax on intensity or drive but rather increase the length of time spent at each level.  This will give my body a chance to see if it can adapt to the training and gain strength. Increasing the length of time for each training level will hopefully help me hold faster paces for longer lengths of time. I want to see if this can help me progress to the next level.  One thing I have learned is that I have to be patient in order to see breakthroughs and part of that is having consistent injury-free seasons where my body also gets stronger. I can’t just throw myself into racing 2 minutes faster; I have to get my body prepared for it.

Every year I have seen improvement. Now that my body is strong enough to train for longer intervals of time, I’m anxious and committed to seeing what I can do in speed, weight training, and dropping my pace. I’ll still do some races in the fall and winter, but spring will be my focus. Spring will be the time when I taste the fruits of all my labors.

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