Once again, I have failed at making timely updates to my blog. Oh, the shame. Well, contrary to what overpaid actors tell us, we can’t win at everything. And I should know. I’ve been losing or failing at a lot of minor things. But fear not, readers, this blog is not the self-pitying black hole of despair and angst that you have come to expect from me. I’ve been doing well at some things, like running. But let us dwell on sadness first.
Take Tim Hortons’, for example. I love Tim Hortons’ but unfortunately Timmy’s is a cruel and spiteful romantic companion. I’ve purchased countless hot beverages from Timmy’s, and I still have yet to win a Roll up the Rim. I’m rather upset about this. And every new tea or coffee I buy brings another crushing failure. Then there was the OUA and CIS prediction contest. Steve and I each wrote out our top three picks for every distance event. We also had the heat sheets in the contest (we used the top three seeds as the heat sheets’ ‘picks’). The idea was that this would give us a baseline that we could hopefully both beat with our superior knowledge of OUA and CIS distance events. Unfortunately, I managed to lose both contests, finishing DLF to both Steve and the heat sheets. So instead of being excited about CIS track and the performances of friends and acquaintances, I got weighed down by my own self-absorbed pain and sadness.
Oh well, not all of us can be bi-winning. I’ll take singular winning over no wins at all. On that note, my running has been going very well. OK, I haven’t actually won anything, but my training is going well and my fitness is really coming around. I’ve just finished off a block of three high mileage weeks (170km/106 miles), and I’m feeling very confident. You might be thinking, “but Leslie, you used to do 130-mile weeks! Why the drop?” Well, friends, these recent 106-mile weeks have been just as tough as my 120 and 130-mile weeks from last year. When I was training last year, I was only doing easy runs (and maybe running a tempo for kicks once a month). I was doing a ton of easy running at the expense of other aspects of my training. Now I’m not saying that I should have been spending time pumping iron or pool running or, heaven forbid, doing yoga. But I was definitely missing more than a few pieces for the puzzle. I was able to get very fit by the end of my high mileage stretch, and it helped me get a lot of training in after being injured for a while.
This winter has been a little different. I am focusing on consistency and taking care of those other pieces of the puzzle. We’ve kept the mileage fairly high (though no more 120-130-mile weeks until I get into marathon training…someday), but I’m also doing “quality”* sessions like tempo runs, threshold work, track workouts at around 1500m pace once a week, steady runs, hills, etc. As a result, I’m running less in terms of pure mileage compared to last year, but I’m probably working a lot harder.
I’m also trying to be consistent about ancillary work. For the first time in five years, I am regularly doing core work. I’m doing plyometrics after workouts. And I’m trying to get better about stretches, I swear (that’s something I still need to work on). Though I still have a ways to go, I am making a much better effort than I ever have at becoming stronger and staying injury-free.
The hard work seems to be paying off. I’ve had some breakthrough workouts over the past few weeks. On Thursday, I ran a 1500m (indoor) time trial in 4:38. I realize I still have a lot of work to do, since I want to run about ten seconds faster during the summer. However, I was very pleased with my effort, since I felt awful and tired during the warm up and started thinking that I would be lucky if I could run 4:45. It was also nice to be under 4:40, since I just missed that barrier at the Hal Brown meet last month. The week before the time trial, we each wrote down goal times. I was about to write 4:40, but I changed it to 4:39 because I had unfinished business from Hal Brown. I definitely won the prediction contest on Thursday by coming within a second of my goal time. My other workouts have been going well recently, too. My tempo runs are approaching a pace that I’m happy with, and I am now able to give some of the junior boys a run for their money rather than simply hanging on for dear life like I was a month ago.
If The Clone Wars taught me anything, it’s the importance of patience. In distance running, nothing comes easily. You need to grind away for weeks, months, years in order to make a jump in fitness. While grinding along, improvements don’t always come right away. The key is staying the course and believing in your training. When a breakthrough eventually happens, it’s a great feeling. My fitness has really come around in the last few weeks, so I’m pretty happy (despite my inability to win at Roll up the Rim). I’m excited to get in a race and see what I can do. I’ll be running Harry’s Spring Run-Off on April 2nd in High Park and the Downtown 5k in London on April 22nd. The Downtown 5k is supposed to be a pretty fast course, so I’ll be looking to break 17. Fortunately, the club will most likely have some junior boys in the same ballpark, so hopefully we can get a little pace group together during the race.
To finish this rambling bit of drivel with no coherent theme, I would like to give my congratulations to Dylan Wykes and Reid Coolsaet for their great races at the New York City Half-Marathon. Watching the online feed and then going out for a long run made for the perfect Sunday morning. More importantly, you two (along with Gillis, Bairu, and Watson) continue to inspire me. It’s important for Canadian distance runners to have heroes on their home soil. Keep inspiring us and raising the bar for Canadian distance running! (Also, everyone should read Weiler’s blog on these guys. Well said, Steve.)
I promise my next blog entry will be timely and more interesting. Stay tuned for a post-Harry’s race report! Until next time, be patient, keep putting together all of the pieces of the puzzle, and keep your stick on the ice.
*I think I dislike using the term “quality” to describe faster stuff like workouts. Running a lot (ie. “quantity”) seems to get a negative connotation as a result. Both are important pieces of the puzzle (though we all know that easy mileage is clearly the more important of the two because the more important part of training is racking up miles (or killage…sidebar: this term is awesome because it does the seemingly impossible: it makes kilometers cool) and having a really badass number in your training log every week…haha.)