Ultra Training Week 2

Ultra Training Week 2

I’m feeling overdue for a blog post so I figured it would be appropriate to blog about this past week of training.  Life has been hectic.  Life has been great.  Life has been overwhelming and crazy.  But most of all, life has been life.  Ups, downs, highs, lows, good days, bad days, stress, and love.  Some bad days turned into good days. Some days even seemed to merge together with unknown separation.

The only thing that has seemed to stay consistent is the training plan I made myself two weeks ago.  This plan has guided me through the last fourteen days. I haven’t been stressed about deciding how far to run because this plan pinpoints what I should be running.  Despite having a training calendar that will guide me through the next two months, I’ve become aware that I also need to be flexible with my training plan. Even if the plan says 5 miles but I only run 4, I don’t freak out or stress about it.  There are some things in life you can’t control.  The plan is not set in stone – it’s there as a tool for me to stay focused on the goal.

Monday I ran an easy 3 mile recovery run after completing my 10 mile long run the day before.  I also decided to bike 4 miles because it was a warm(er) day out and I wanted to spend as much time as possible outside before going to work.

Tuesday was my rest day.  It was cold and rainy outside so this was perfect timing for a day to recover.

Wednesday I went to my internship site an hour early to lift.  I lack upper body strength and since I’m an intern at a fitness facility, I’m trying to use the resources I have to become a better runner.  I also ran 5 miles.  I ran two miles with my dog.  She can run up to 8 miles without any issues, BUT it was raining during this run and she was miserable.  So I opted to turn around after running one mile to return her to our warm and dry house.  I completed the remaining 3 miles solo.  The rain stopped which was exciting!

Thursday is the night I attend group runs at my dad’s local bike/running store. One of my best friends was home from Florida and I was able to convince him to join the group run even though he hasn’t ran in over a month.  This group run was also an Altra demo day with one of the tech reps from Altra.  I LOVE Altras so this was a very exciting group run for me. She brought a variety of Altra shoes for us to take out and test on our run.  I decided to try out the Altra Ones. These are their “racing flats”.  At first I couldn’t decide if I liked them, but after completing the run I knew that they would be a great racing shoe.  I ran three easy miles with my best friend (I missed running and chatting with him!) and then went out for another 1.2 miles by myself.  I picked up the pace and ran a sub-8 for my last mile – this is when I realized I liked the Altra Ones!  They’re for fast feet!

On Friday I ran 5.7 easy miles with my dog.  It wasn’t raining so she had a great time running with me.

On Saturday I ran three easy miles with my dad and my dog.  I was scheduled to run four but I knew that Sunday’s run would be extra long so I took an easy day to prepare my body for Sunday.

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Altra LonePeaks remind me that I have #zerolimits

Which leads us to Sunday, today, and my longest run of 2016.  My dad, mom, and I travelled to a state forest that’s about an hour’s drive away.  My mom accompanied us riding a Rocky Mountain fat bike.  My dad picked the 19 mile loop as he is preparing for his 50k in April.  We averaged 10:26 pace which included walking to eat, refuel, and get some video/photo footage of our run. The soft terrain of the pine barrens was welcoming to my feet and legs.  And of course I wore my Altra LonePeaks (my favorite trail shoe) and I didn’t get a single blister.  Although I only had 10-12 miles on my training plan, I couldn’t resist the trails on such a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Trail running is my favorite because you focus all your energy on the trail ahead of you.  You forget your worries, stressors, and emotions.  You just get out on the trail and run.  That’s my favorite.

Weekly total:  39.9 miles.

Here I sit now typing up this blog post with a glass of water to my right.  My legs are a tad bit stiff and I know that I will be sleeping with my Zensah compression socks on tonight.  Because of today’s long run and another great week of training, I feel happy and stress free.  Most of all, I feel alive.

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Stride for stride with my dad
Trick your brain and run.

Trick your brain and run.

It’s 8 degrees outside and we’re ready to go run.

We wear four shirts, gloves, mittens, hats, and our warmest socks and start our Garmins.

We trick ourselves into thinking it’s warm.

And the miles start to pass by.

We trudge up hills that are still snow-covered from a week of spontaneous snow showers.

We carefully place our feet on the downhills to avoid falling.

We check our Garmin to see how far we’ve gone and assume we’re about half way done.

We trick ourselves into thinking that we don’t have that much farther to go.

But the miles continue to pass by.

Six, seven, eight miles done and we sip on icy water and try to defrost our energy chews while still moving forward.

We cautiously cross a frozen stream and try not to get out toes wet.

We question whether we’re lost but trick ourselves into believing we’re going the right way.

And the miles continue to pass by.

We list 20 things that could be worse than running in 8 degree weather.

We become stronger runners from choosing to run on the trails rather than the treadmill.

We acknowledge our bravery for making the choice to run outside.

We have been tricking ourselves into thinking that what we’re doing is ok.

And the miles are almost done.

13 miles later we’re back where we started.

We quickly change into drier and warmer clothes.

We trick ourselves once again into believing its warm out.

The miles are done.

We’re done tricking our brains.

We’re done….

Until next weekend when we’re back for another long run and another adventure.

But for now, this one goes down in the record books.

Realizations

Realizations

In the past two weeks, I’ve worked back-to-back 50 hour weeks between my internship and my new job.  I am no longer physically attending Bloomsburg University since the only thing left to do before I can graduate is my internship. Despite the stress brought on by a 50-hour work week, I am the happiest I’ve been in the last year and a half.

I am no longer confined by the walls of a classroom.  I no longer have to sit at a desk listening to a professor lecture about the benefits of exercise.  Instead, I am teaching others the benefit of exercise.  The fitness center I am completing my internship at has become my classroom.  I have met people who have never exercised ever before in their life and it has become my responsibility to teach them how to exercise safely and effectively.  I am finally putting my knowledge to good use and it has been extremely rewarding.  Several fitness center clients have noticed my patience with teaching others and have complimented me on my knowledge.  It feels good to be appreciated.

Yesterday I came to realize many things.  First of all, I’ve spent 5 of my 8 semesters of college at home.  Four semesters were spent at home as I attended a community college before transferring to Bloomsburg University. Now, I’m back at home and doing my internship locally; therefore, I am once again spending another semester at home.  These five semesters, although separated by three semesters living in the middle of Pennsylvania, have been the semesters that I’ve been happiest with my life.  My two years at community college were by far the most memorable two years of my college experience. And now I get to spend my last semester of college completing my internship which has been far more enjoyable than being stuck in a classroom.  My level of happiness has been significantly, and more consistently, higher being at home than away at college.

My second realization is that I’ve had a part-time job every semester of college. During my two years at community college I had a part-time job at a craft store. In Bloomsburg, I was a student note-taker for two semesters, and I was a private tutor last fall.  Now, as an intern, I also have a new part-time job.  I feel like these part-time jobs have made me learn the importance of time-management and have also provided me with a source of income that can offset some of my college debt.

So here I am now.  Every weekend I see pictures of people on Facebook with wine glasses in their hands or drunken smiles.  I hear stories about the ridiculousness of a professor.  But here I am, a thousand times happier than any wine glass or college party could ever provide to me.  I’m loving my internship and my new job.  I love spending time with my family on the weekend.  I love having people to run with.  My dog is my favorite roommate.  I’m happy.  I’m enjoying life.  And every night I go to bed knowing I’m following the path that’s meant for me – and this path makes me happiest.