Today was my first long run since completing my 15K milestone race . I followed a taper for a couple of weeks preceding the race, and to be perfectly honest, I HATED the taper. I felt so restricted. But I knew it was necessary in order to allow my body to recover and build energy for the race.
Now that my first milestone race is out of the way, I've started training for my next milestone trail race . My training plan for today called for a six miles run. But to be honest, once I started running, I didn't want to stop.
Somewhere along the Northshore Trail.
Length: 13.1 Miles over 2 Hours and 35 Minutes (11:49 pace)
I started my run today from the MADD shelter shortly after sunrise. When I arrived I only saw one other car in the parking lot. My current training plan called for a six mile run. I decided I would head toward Rockledge Park for about three miles and then cut over to the return loop at the first opportunity. However, my run didn't quite go as planned.
When I reached the three mile mark I felt like I was just starting to get warmed up. The last thing I wanted to do was to turn around. So I decided to tag on another mile. And another. And another. Soon I realized that I was only about a mile away from Rockledge Park, the end of the trail in that direction. So I decided I would run to Rockledge and then head back from there.
A view of the Northshore Trail from the Rockledge Park trail head.
The run back was awesome. I loved every minute of it. When I arrived at the part of the trail that cuts back over to the MADD shelter I noticed that my watch was at about 12 miles. I knew that if I continued toward Far Gate for about a half mile that the trail would circle back to MADD, giving me around 13 miles total, a half marathon. So I blew past MADD and completed the additional one mile loop.
My legs were still a little stiff this morning from the strength training I had done on Friday. But as soon as I started running I realized that the stiffness was in a different part of my legs. This is good for a couple of reasons. First, my strength training didn't bother my running. Second, it proved to me that my strength training is working muscles that I don't normally use when running (which is what I am trying to accomplish). So that's a good thing.
I continued to work on my mid-foot strike, alternating back to my traditional heel-strike whenever I felt like my calf muscles were tired. I also slowed my pace when going up hills because I now realize that most of my calf injuries have come from going too fast, especially on inclines.
As a result, I ran injury free. My legs felt strong the entire time. I will say I was a little sore when I completed, but I felt like I could have continued running. I still had some gas in the tank.
The bamboo forest, near the end of my run today.
I am still impressed with the way my lungs have healed from quitting smoking . I am no longer coughing during my runs, at least not to a degree where I notice it. I still think the cooler weather is helping with my breathing. But I also realize losing the excess weight and just a general improvement in my fitness also helps. Although I did this run at a slightly faster pace than previous, I didn't feel like I was out of breath at any point during the run. It's all good.
As for the mental side, I am sooooo glad to be past my first milestone race--not because I wasn't looking forward to it or because it stressed my out or anything like that--but because I HATED THE TAPER! I felt so restricted during the couple of weeks leading up to the race. But today I didn't have any restrictions. I could run as long and as far as I wanted to. Well, almost no restrictions... I still needed to be home in time to watch the Cowboys game!
A small rocky incline along the Northshore Trail.
Learning: Slow running is better than no running.
I would say the most important thing that I've learned is to take my time on the trail. I mentioned in another post that I've adopted the motto: Slow running is better than no running! By this I mean that my brain and my heart are in better shape than my body. And based on my history, I get hurt when I push my pace too fast. And I hate sitting on the sideline waiting for injuries to heal. I would rather be out running. I need to keep my pace in check so that I don't get hurt. Hence, slow running is better than no running!