Instant Gratification

“Everyone wants instant gratification”, Jen Bigham recently said on the Ali on the Run podcast. People don’t want to work for years and years to get that BQ or OTQ, she says, they want it now. Initially I was all “heck yeah, I worked for 6 years to get my BQ so I totally get this!” And then I realized that a big part of why I’ve been having a rough time lately with running is because I’ve been subconsciously expecting that things should be going well and I should be feeling good; I’ve been subconsciously expecting instant gratification. I’ve expected to feel the same way I felt while training for Boston last cycle when the build-up was challenging coming back from an injury but where I felt strong nailing workout after workout. I didn’t expect to be feeling sore all the time, to be sucking air for weeks as my body adapts to the hotter temperatures, and to be feeling so worn out throughout the day. I also didn’t expect that I would feel like crap on nearly every run that I do. Subconsciously, I think I had been telling myself all along that 5K training and strength work would be challenging, but that it would be nothing like the demands of marathon training and it was foolish of me to even consider comparing the two.

While it’s true that my weekends have quite a bit more time without a long run, during the week I’m putting in just as many hours between all of the added strength work and keeping up with runs. Speedwork intervals are generally short, but they’re fast, which means they can be just as hard if not harder than a tempo run.

Intervals on the track

I wrote a couple months ago that I knew a summer of speed and strength was going to be challenging, but internally I thought I’d struggle for maybe a few weeks, adapt, be pushed on speedwork days, but generally feel comfortable on an aerobic-paced run. After running a PR in the 5K at the end of May without any formal speedwork and coming off of marathon legs (talk about instant gratification), I was feeling pretty confident that things were going to trend in the right direction. And then the fatigue set in and I was served a nice slice of humble pie. 5Ks have never been my strong suit. I can run tempos at 6:45 pace but as soon as I try to dip below that I struggle. But I thought maybe because I had gotten fitter in the half marathon and marathon that it would translate to the shorter distance events. It did a little as evidenced by the 5K PR, but any fitness gains in the distance beyond that was going to require more training tailored specifically to shorter distance racing.

5K road PR set in May – 20:15

So here we are, about a month into this summer of speed and strength, and the only light at the end of the tunnel I see is marathon training ironically enough. I know it takes time to adapt to any new workout routine and I am enjoying pushing myself with strength training, but I’m struggling mentally with how much it’s affecting my running while I still haven’t adapted. I’ve made the mental decision though to stick with it and to give myself a real chance before calling it quits. However, if this awful sluggish feeling continues throughout July, I’m pulling back on the reins in August because I don’t want to dig myself a hole that I can’t get out of prior to CIM training. I don’t think the fatigue is solely workout related, I’m busy in nearly every facet of my life right now, but it’s all by choice so I’m not complaining. However, I need to figure out a schedule that works for me and can’t expect that everything is going to run smoothly instantly.

I want to work hard, I want to improve, and I want to see the fruits of my labor. I didn’t enter this phase of training thinking that it was going to be easy, but deep down I think I probably thought I wouldn’t be struggling as much as I have. I expected to repeat my winter training cycle’s success, and it’s too early to say this cycle won’t be, but it’s a totally new ballgame and I have to treat it as such. My strength has always been putting my head down and going to work consistently so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m approaching this expecting to struggle sometimes, to fail occasionally, but to come out on the other side stronger. It’s not supposed to feel comfortable all the time – if it did, I wouldn’t be growing. Speedwork is tough, but if there’s anything I’ve learned before from past training cycles, I am tougher.