A Shift in Perspective

An isolated data point can be a funny thing.  It can tell so much in a flash, but it's just that—a snapshot—and can thus be equally deceptive or open for misinterpretation.  I think I'm guilty of the latter recently.  

It is well-trodden territory on this blog that I was injured and essentially not running for the the majority of last year.  Yet in coming back in 2013, I've run some pretty decent results pretty quickly.  In particular, the 2:25:39 marathon I ran in Napa Valley three weeks ago.  The problem is that I was equating this singular data point to my fitness, thinking: 'If I can run 2:25, I must be fit, since there are times when I've been plenty fit and ran slower than that.'  But I didn't run 2:25 because of my fitness or training, but rather in spite of it.  Which is of course encouraging!—it means there is a lot of room for improvement.  Yet I found myself thinking, again and again, if I can run 2:25, I should be able to do x or y in training.  But I'm realizing there are just many holes and weak spots in my current level of fitness, and that despite running an objectively "good" marathon (for me, anyway), it's still going to be quite the long road back.   And the real takeaway is that I need to take that road SLOWLY.  

I need to forget about doubling, forget about crushing some workout, doing overly hard long runs, etc.  For quite a while.  I need to just get very consistent right now, staying very on top of functional strength work and recovery, and taking my sweet time easing back into challenging workouts and long runs.  And I need to adjust my race goals and expectations.  I'm a competitive person, and that is generally advantageous in racing, but I need to stop thinking like I'm on top of my game.  I should be happy for the next several months just to get the best out of myself on any given race day, realizing that I may not race particularly well until September or October.  I want to be up there with the best, competing to win every race I'm in, but that's not my level right now.  And thinking as much has been detrimental recently.  

More specifically, for my training, I'm thinking of switching to a longer 10-day cycle (as opposed to the standard 7-day), as I really have no particular need to do long runs on weekends.  It will allow me to more easily schedule easy days, but also to include more moderate aerobic running without feeling like I'm cramming it into the schedule.  

Nothing is wrong physically (apart from being out of shape, ha).  I'm finally healthy, and for that I am grateful.  But mentally, I've been getting too down recently, and putting too much pressure on myself.  I'm starting to study for some exams now, and I'm starting to think a little more seriously about my next steps in my non-running profession.  As I feel that I just need to back off of things a bit, I may stop blogging my weekly training (and as I'm not planning on a weekly schedule, the training won't really lend itself to weekly updates anyway).  I'll still follow up with race reports and likely the other odd post now and then as well.