I ran my hilly Gardens Run again today. It was hands down the best run I've had in years. When Scott asked how it went and I told him, he said "Running is so finicky". His point was that it seems, to him, that whether or not I have a good run or a crap run is completely random. Maybe sometimes it is, but I did some things today to set myself up to have a good one, so I don't think it was a complete random fluke today. Anyway, here's what I did.
~I ran stupidly easy yesterday.
~I massaged my quad like 3x throughout the day yesterday, in hopes that my knee would feel solid today (it did). The management stuff I'm doing for my knee is clearly working! It's not 100% perfect, but I'd say it's 90% and I'm able to run. As long as I stay on it, I feel at least somewhat confident that it won't stop me.
~I ate oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I am not on the anti-carb bandwagon. At all.
~I took Maia for a 20' walk this morning. I think that really easy movement like that is a great way to start the day!
~I spent at least 20 minutes working my key mobility hot spots- ankles, hips, t-spine. I used the voodoo band on my knee and ankle. I used a resistance band to do some 'Monster Walks' around our house. I activated my core with some plank movements and a few perfect form push-ups. I did 200 jumps with the jumprope (barefoot, including some single leg jumps). I guess you'd call this my version of a dynamic warm up. For sure it works for me- I felt super from the first step of my run today!
~I chose light shoes (Brooks Pure Flow) that tend to make my running stride feel smooth.
~I wore a cute running outfit (Pink Tartan by Coeur). Somehow when I'm wearing a cute outfit, I just feel better about everything and that leads to a better run. It's all in my head, but that's what fast running is, no?
~(Possibly most importantly) Before I started, I decided I was going to run fast today. "Fast" is relative, of course, but I think when we make this decision ahead of time, we are somehow more willing to put up with the discomfort that harder running brings.
On this route I rarely wear a garmin, but I know the distance b/c the route is a staple for me. I do start my stopwatch though, and I know my splits at several different check points along the way. I knew I felt good to start, and my goal today was to go ahead and push a little right from the beginning, with the thought that I wanted to whole run to be more of a tempo effort (vs just the back half, which I more commonly do). Mostly I wanted to see how I would feel if I wasn't so conservative to start. I admit I freaked out a bit when my first checkpoint (gate to the gardens, ~2 miles from my house) was over a minute faster than I did it last time (last time I completely blew up at the end!) so, um, yikes... I knew it could turn ugly at any moment but that was a risk I felt willing to take today. At the half, I was almost 2' faster than last time, and I had enough fatigue that it seemed plausible that I might not negative split today... but I tried anyway, and sure enough, neg split by more than 2 minutes, which shocked me for sure! I didn't blow up at all today which was awesome and confidence boosting and damn I needed that after some crappy runs the last few days/weeks. After my failed long run attempt on Thursday, I sort of thought maybe I wouldn't run again for quite some time... so knocking this out 4+ minutes faster than I've gone in years (over a 9.3 mile very hilly route) and not feeling like death at the end- winning! :)
These are the kind of run days that make you feel like all that slow crappy (but consistent!) running you did just might have been worth something after all. I still don't have a ton of confidence that I'm ready for a full marathon, but I do think that in a big picture way, I'm on the right track!