The fact that I won't be as fast as I would like to be is okay for this Saturday's race. It is a trail run on a hilly course, where I will be running for the pleasure of the experience and the beauty of the trail, not for time. Since I left my Garmin charger at work, it is unclear if I will even wear a watch during the "race". My family will be there to cheer for me, whether I come in first or last, both of which are highly-unlikely scenarios. That is not really the point.
I guess what is frustrating me a little right now is that I am not sure how I could have arrived at the eve of this race feeling any more prepared than I currently am not. I mentally ran down a checklist of the things that I should have been doing (tried to do) to better prepare for this race and the reasons/ways they have all failed.
1. Follow a Training Plan. I love running, but tend to do very unstructured, based on how I feel, runs rather than specific goal-orientated tempo runs, speed work, etc. For that reason, and because of time constraints, I have never been very good at following a training plan. I did notice a notable difference in my race performance when I loosely followed one last year though, so thought that I would try that again for the races I wanted to do this spring. I came across a great training plan in Competitor magazine and began adding more structure and speed into my runs. Just as I was starting to fill fitter and faster, I got knocked flat by a terrible cold that kept me barely able to do even maintenance runs for two weeks. Since then I have been too scared of getting sick again to do much beyond shorter or slower runs...and there went that plan.
2. Get Sufficient Recovery. By this I suppose they mean build in rest days and easy days. I get that. However, by recovery I also think they probably mean get sufficient sleep. I wish that someone would communicate that blessed point to my adorable 19-month old son who still prefers to wake up 2 to 3 times per night to get cuddled and fed. Oh yeah, and then wake up at 6 AM to start his day. Its no issue for him - if he is tired, then he just takes a little longer nap during the day. Mommy and Daddy Zombie, on the other hand, are left feeling completely exhausted and at the ragged edge of survival every single day.
3. Eat Healthy, Balanced Meals. Of all the things, I think I did this one best, although lately I have been forgetting to pack a lunch for work and have been living on office bagels and leftovers. Even though most of the food I cook is pretty kid friendly, we eat tons of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and as a vegetarian that is the staple of my diet. I probably could stand to add some more protein into my diet to assist with muscle building and recovery and to bolster my overall system though. Note to self - eat more protein.
4. Don't Get Sick. Hah! Please refer to items 1 and 2, above. Please also note that I live with two germ-infested children who spend the day trading snot with their fellow germ-infested brethen and then come home to completely obfuscate my personal space.
I am not trying to complain or make excuses, I simply am awed that people who are working and raising young kids are still managing to fit in enough workouts, recovery and sleep to improve and excel at running or anything else. One of my mommy friends, who is a very talented runner, just PRed for a half-marathon on a running diet of one long, one fast, and one just fitting it in per week. Another one just completed her 7th marathon, despite having two kids under the age of 6 and a BIG job. These ladies are Getting.It.Done. I salute them and I will be thinking of them as I push past any walls I encounter, mental or physical, during Saturday's run. It is not always about being the fittest or the fastest - sometimes it is simply about showing up. Knowing they are out there inspires me to do the same. Perhaps knowing I am out there will do the same for you.
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