#JourneyWithSteph: Left My Lungs and Ego on the Track

Steph found that sometimes embarrassing race results are necessary parts of progress in training.


The last few weeks have been an interesting mix of consistently inconsistent training. What is that? February got off to a great start of training. I was in a routine of two workouts per week, a semi long run and a weekly average of between 45-60 miles. I was optimistic that I set myself up for a solid month of training. But I’m learning my optimism may not be the driving force in my running at the moment. We all want our training to go according to plan and do our best to hold it together when we stray from the course.

At the end of January, I ran an impromptu indoor 3k up here in Flagstaff. I had a workout on the schedule, so I figured why not just jump into a low key race and make it a glorified workout? I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t do that: 7,000ft, not very fit, and it was a shorter distance than I’m used to racing. So I left my lungs and ego out on the track that Saturday and ran a 10:35 3k, with my first mile around 5:25. If you can do the math, my 2nd mile was not another 5:25. After the initial embarrassment of my very “positive split” (where you slow down the 2nd half of the race), I realized I needed to do this race. Sometimes when we’re in a training cycle coming off an injury— childbirth in my case or a layoff from running— we are not sure where our fitness is at. It can be scary and daunting to put a race on the schedule but it is a necessary part of the process. Say you have a marathon planned for June and you just started training 4 weeks ago. There’s a local 5k next week but there’s no way you can be ready for it right? Who cares. Take the leap and see where you’re at.

The week after the 3k we travelled to Boulder to watch the US Cross Country Champs. I had a solid workout of 3 x tempo miles with 90 sec rest + 2 x 2 min hard. We found a dirt loop at a local park. Aside from some icy parts and dodging dogs, I found my groove. 5:54, 5:48, 5:49. The idea behind tempo miles with short recovery is to teach my body to run that pace and effort. But since my strength isn’t quite there, I get 90 secs recovery to let my heart rate come down before starting the next mile. After, I jogged to the nearby road and ran 2 x 2 mins hard to get my legs turning over. I came off the workout feeling pretty excited about the next few weeks. Then I got the flu and didn’t run for the next 7 days. Optimism laughed in my face.

Once I recovered from the bug, I gradually got back into training. On my first run, I took Riley in the stroller and planned on 10 mins. If I wasn’t feeling it I could blame the stroller. The next few days I ran easy runs of 4-6 miles and then tested the body with a workout this week. I was nervous going in, as my body was pretty stale from not running for a week, and not working out in over 10 days. Coach prescribed another broken tempo but with a little more volume and a more aggressive recovery. I would do 3 x 1.5 miles with an 800 float at a pretty decent pace for a recovery. I had some moments of doubt mid-workout. However knew I could complete it and would be much happier if I didn’t cut the workout short. I finished with a hard 800, 10 miles for the day, the sun beaming off the Flagstaff peaks and feeling like the groove isn’t too far gone.