Monday, January 25, 2010

A Fine Balance

It's an all to familiar feeling the ache of a quad muscle, the days later reminder of too much, too fast, too steep. This weekend's long run featured a punishing hill which I knew would be a challenge, somehow when you are are out doing a run anything seems possible. It's not until the next day when over-doing-it comes home to roost.

I often feel this way after a race so the feeling is not foreign to me but during training it's a signal of doing too much. Over extending during training taxes the body and makes it harder to hit the next week's workouts. I strive to do just enough to increase my fitness without crossing the line to wearing myself out. The balancing act is one of the hardest things about marathon training. Still, I do the best that I can with a moving target the shifting terrain, my fitness level, even chemical differences in my body from day to day.

So, I took a complete rest day yesterday and plan to a short recovery run this evening. I usually do speed work on Monday but have decided to hold off until my muscles feel 100%. As with other aspects of life intensity must be interspersed with relaxation or burnout follows. I am listening to my body and healing so that I can run another day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inflow and Outflow

I am not sure how much I've chronicled this on the blog, but I have taken up hooping. Much like when I started to run it's an activity that just feels right to me, a discovery of a passion that has been untapped for a long, long time. I used to spend hours twirling the hoop around my waist when I was a kid, loving it's rhythm, the circularity of it all, the blend of concentration and mindlessness.

In hooping, around the waist there is a way that feels more comfortable, a favored direction which is the inflow and a more awkward direction which is outflow. Cultivating both is important in hooping -- to achieve balance and strength.

I like the concept of inflow and outflow, as it expands to include many things from the concrete breathing in and out to the broader theory of an essential self and a shadow self. Inflow feels right and natural and it's a satisfying place to rest, while outflow feels different, precarious, it takes more concentration, more exaggerated movements, more risks.

In terms of running, keeping this idea in mind helps me with balance. Believe it or not it is more difficult for my to reign in my distance and/or speed then to expand on it, it's hard for me to take it easy. I feel my prospects of success overall are demonstrated on each run, so I tend to go for the gusto and find myself sorely disappointed when I don't measure up -- this is one of the psychological issues I hope to ease this go round. Inflow and outflow, surrendering to ease and embracing challenge, this will help me to maintain balance in my journey to the finish line and beyond.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Last night over some seriously delicious takeout from Piccolo Forno (pizza with a fresh egg in the middle, yes please) my running partner and I plotted out our training for the Pittsburgh marathon. It made me realize just how easy I've been taking it, and that's a good thing because I believe this training will take a good portion of what I have physically and mentally. Well rested and healthy I have more resources to draw from.

Keeping in mind that we never follow a training plan 100% it is stil quitel daunting. I have been running about 4 times a week, no serious distance, and doing cross training another two days a week. I had it in my mind that marathon training entailed just a simple amp up of a long weekend run, perhaps a bit of speed. I hadn't considered that what I consider 'long' now is 8 miles, not the significant two hour run slated for next weekend.

I know this is not an easy endeavor, after all this will be my 3rd marathon, so I'm a bit past the novice phase when it comes to training. Still, I feel as though I blocked out how difficult it would be, vaguely remembering long run fatigue and sore muscles and little else.

I am anxious and a bit scared, and I plan to use that energy to propel myself forward. Work it out week by week, run by run, mile by mile. Tackling the plan one day at a time, and playing close attention to the signals my body sends, making sure to balance my efforts with good quality rest and nourishment. I'm ready to do this, shaky as I may feel, next week starts the journey.