When I showed up for our 10 mile run in Valley Forge Park I was disappointed to see dark rain clouds on the horizon. I would run in the rain no problem but these clouds looked mean, and full of lighting. The group was small so we all agreed to start out together and run one 5 mile loop, watch the clouds and if it stayed nice we would do a second loop. If we saw lighting it was show over. Rain jacket and baseball cap on I was ready and we headed out.
Thankfully, mother nature was on our side today and she pushed the clouds off somewhere else. It was pretty hot and humid but not a drop of rain, and the sun even poked it's head out at the very end. As usual, because the runner to mentor/coach ratio is something like 1:4 I felt like I was surrounded my my own little coaching entourage. About halfway through our second loop we begin chatting about weekly mileage and speed work and learned some interesting things about putting together a training schedule. In the past I have started from scratch before every race. I set my sights on finishing one race and nothing else. Building mileage and working on speed at the same time takes it's toll on a body though, and roughly two months before each race I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. By the time race day rolled around I felt burnt out. This would lead to taking of months after a race and starting from square one again.
It was Coach Jack's advice of building endurance at first and then adding speed work at the end that really made something click in my head. I know that I made it through two marathons so far, but how had I gotten to this point if I was doing so much wrong? Asthma, and unrealistic goals were already in the pot and now peaking too early was thrown into the equation. No wonder I quit running for a whole year. In the height of my training I was working my way up to 50 mile weeks all while doing mile and two mile repeats, tempo runs, and hills. Long runs on weekends. I thought I was being hard core, and intense. Now when I look back on it I think I was being a little bit crazy.
The more I run this year, the more I learn. It feels incredible to be able to run one race, recover, and come back strong and ready to run another in a month and a half. So what that I am not going out and giving my all for every run. At this point in my life I care more about not burning out that rushing my way to a delicious PR. There will always be another race as long as I run smart.