Friday, March 23, 2012

The Cautious Advance

In the 8 weeks since returning from Africa I’ve engaged in what I refer to as a “Cautious Advance”. 

I ran only four times during my three weeks in Kenya and Uganda and I was in dismal shape. And, even before Africa my weekly mileage never really got above 60. In fact, my mileage sea sawed between mid-20s, to high 50s to 0, back to mid 30s. There was no consistency. There was no plan. There was no base. My reoccurring injury is mostly to blame and I never felt comfortable engaging in real mileage or workouts for fear of falling back into the abyss. Africa changed all that. I had a lot of time to think in Africa and I had time to formulate a plan. And, that plan was simple: start running 60 mpw lock, stock and barrel and forge ahead from there – cautiously. I was tired of running sub-par, inconsistent miles and wanted to train again so I’d get tough and disregard the minor aches and pains, run “medium mileage” and build up from there, if I could. Spring would come soon and spring is a time to race. The first couple of weeks were naturally tough, but my calves and quads soon strengthened underneath me and I found new resolve. Workouts were miserable and the cold air uneasily wreaked havoc on my lungs, but my legs found their old stride and I began to make gains. Each week my Wednesday workout was better than the last; maybe not always in terms of time and pace, but in terms of how I felt. 
Now my mileage hovers around 70 miles per week and it feels easy and effortless to run at this level. Though I am a firm believer in the “it’s not the mileage, it’s the training” mantra, historically 70 mpw is a comfortable platform for me and it’s also a base I can race off of, albeit not to my potential. I really haven’t gone much higher than 70 and why should I (for the time being at least)? Momentum exponentially seems to be building behind me. Each week I am getting faster and stronger. Each week I am getting more determined. And each week I am gaining more confidence. This, coupled with the dawn of spring, seems to set me up for a solid performance next week at Cherry Blossom. Having an advancing army of teammates in front of you, behind you and by your side, doesn’t hurt either. I’m not in PR shape, and to be honest, I’ll be ecstatic if I run within a minute of my PR, but I am excited to race my best race distance and eager to see what I’ve got. Usually my season peaks in early April, but not this year. The training (and racing) will continue, hopefully, into mid-June. 

One thing is for certain - the Cautious Advance has succeeded. Next week I’ll be standing down. Next weekend I’ll attack.

1 comment:

Michelle M said...

I am currently wandering aimlessly in my training trying to figure out what to do next. While I wasn't out quite as long as you, I am also trying to formulate a plan to get back at it. It's reassuring to hear that you were able to jump up to that kind of mileage and even race in a short period of time. It gives me hope to pull off my own "cautious advance."

Looking forward to seeing what you can pull off the rest of the season.