I ran another race on Saturday that supported the cross country and track programs for the school where I coach. Normally I would dedicate a post to a race recap, but really, it was pretty much like every other race I’ve ran lately. I started out slow, passed people as I went, and found a comfortable pace I could keep for the entire race. Plus, I took absolutely no pictures since I try to keep where I work and coach private for the most part since I work with kids and want to respect their privacy as much as possible.
I was actually pretty nervous about the race and didn’t really know what to expect. There were only 65 people running since it was a small, local race, but several of the people running were actually the high school cross country runners, 2 of which went to state a few weeks ago. I knew both of them were faster than me, so I was pretty sure they would blow me out of the water with their time, but to my surprise, I ended up passing them in the first mile and winning the race by a good 2 minutes. I not only surprised myself with another great 5K time (20:16 – not a PR, but certainly a time to be proud of) but I had a few people come up to me afterward telling me that I had impressed them. It left me beaming with pride and happy with all the hard work I’ve been putting in to my training.
I’m feeling really great about my running lately. I am in better shape now than I think I even have been, even before I had MacKenna. I’m not PRing every race, but my times are improving and I’m running faster than I ever have been, both in training and at races. I would love to say that it’s just hitting my times during 400 repeats and tempo runs, but it comes down to more than that.
1. I’ve increased my endurance. A few months back, I was doing some long training runs with a running group. We met every Saturday for about 2 months and run anywhere from 4 to 11 miles. I pushed MacKenna at every single one of these runs which really helped me improve my strength and power, but what really helped was running slower. I never thought running slow would actually make me a faster runner, but I really feel like it has. Instead of running 11 miles in less than 90 minutes, it took me almost 2 hours, meaning I was on my feet for a much longer time. Building up that endurance has helped me feel comfortable running faster for a longer period of time. I no longer feel like I’m going to die at the end of a race and actually have some energy to push myself at the finish.
2. Running more often. This sort of ties into the endurance thing as well. I am absolutely NOT an endurance runner, and I am starting to realize that more and more. My least favorite runs are long runs – I HATE them. If I never train for a marathon again, I honestly don’t think I’ll care. But, I know some of the keys to being successful with running is weekly mileage. I simply do not have the time to run more than a few miles every day during the week and I refuse to run more than 8 miles for a long run. So, in order to build up my weekly mileage total, I’ve added an extra day to my weekly running, from 5 days a week to 6. Most of my runs are between 3 and 5 miles, but the extra day has helped me average between 25 and 30 miles a week, which I feel is perfect for my busy schedule and for my running.
3. Regular visits to the chiropractor. I used to work for a physical therapy company and was always anti-chiropractor. But after Matt started going a little over a year ago and was actually able to start running again after chronic injuries, I decided I would give it a try. In the year that I’ve been going to them, they’ve “healed” minor injuries I’ve had in a week’s time and have helped me feel more “comfortable” with running. I don’t really know how to explain in, except that my body just feels better when I run. It’s amazing what a little adjustment to get your body back in alignment will do for you! Now, I know when it’s been almost a week since I’ve seen them because I start feeling those little nagging aches and pains again!
I don’t really feel like these are secrets at all, just things that I’ve started doing that I think have helped me improve as an athlete. I am also seeking to understand what is going to make me a better runner, and lately, these have worked for me. Makes me wonder what would happen if I ever get my eating back on track!