Fall training update, New Hope Week 1

I love this quote, because it stands behind a truth that I have often struggled with – sometimes you just have to accept that the only way to move forward is to go back to the beginning…a truth which applies in running just as it does in life. Sometimes it comes because you made bad assumptions going in (like trying to start a training plan with a project at work approaching a critical milestone, knowing that the demands of the job were likely to be overwhelming, but thinking I would find a way somehow); sometimes it comes because you realize that the price of the choices you would have to make is higher than you are willing to pay (like sacrificing my already scant family time or compromising my health just to keep a “schedule”); and sometimes it’s just the harsh light of reality that dispels an unrealistic image we are trying desperately to hang on to (like wanting to believe that I can string together 20-hour days indefinitely, and “catch up later”, but when exactly is “later” supposed to come?) Whatever the reason, for each of us there may come a time when we have to take a step back, heave a deep breath, and admit that we can’t get there from here, so we had better find a better way.

This week, I went back to the beginning; I ran slow and easy, with the sole goal of spending time on my feet consistently. I talked with my trainer at the gym, and restructured my workouts to accommodate my current fitness level, instead of where I wish I was at this point 🙂 . I spent some of the overtime money I made on some new shoes and other gear, so I am not adding unnecessary stress on my body (much as I did last year, when too many miles on my shoes nearly undid me completely). And, it appears like all of this is working, because I hit every workout, and while I may have missed my targets on mileage and duration, I did so for valid reasons which were smart choices based on facts, not feelings. Let’s see how it went –

Monday: Rest – I took this seriously, for a change, and instead of using the day to run a ton of errands or chores, I spent a quiet evening at home with The Wife, with my legs up and my mind at ease. Of course, having all the crazyness at work behind me was a big part of that, too!

Tuesday:  1 hr weight training + 3 mi easy run (37:14, 12:12/mi) – I made the all-out plunge to return to serious training by hitting up my trainer for a thorough thrashing (while he fussed at me for my eating and sleeping habits – or, more accurately, the lack of eating and sleeping); and then heading out for a leisurely 3-mle run…this being the first time I have laced up in over a week, I was not out to set any records 🙂

Wednesday: Rest – For now, I will keep this mid-week rest day on the schedule, but soon I will change it to another easy run day…this is the perfect place to add weekly mileage.

Thursday: 45 min weight training + 3 mi easy run (35:44, 11:47/mi) – My trainer had personal issues to attend to, so I went with my default circuit training on the machines; it’s not as intense, but there are benefits to low weight/high reps just as much as crashing the heavy stuff. My run wasn’t really as slow as it seems; I went out after dark, and on the way home I got ambushed by a fairly large pack of stray dogs…I had to spend several minutes standing still and walking slowly backwards to get away from them. Good thing I run at night with a Petzl Tikka-RXP headlamp, one of the brightest on the market – shining a strong light into a dog’s eyes will just about always cause it to stop dead, and confuse it enough to keep it from chasing you! (A flashlight works just as well, if you don’t have a headlamp.)

Friday: 3 mi easy run (30:46, 10:10/mi) – This is much more like what I expect my “easy” runs to be; the days of 12:00/mi on the roads as a rule are long behind me! It was also my first chance to run in the brand new Brooks Ghost 6’s I just bought on sale; I don’t mind running in “last year’s” shoe, if I can get it for less than half price!

Saturday: 1 hr Trail running (3.2 mi, 45 min moving time, 13:52/mi) + 45 min weight training – I had hoped to meet up with the HATR Nation early in the morning, but my body clock had other ideas; I slept right through three alarms and woke up about the time they were getting done 😦 But the trails won’t run themselves, and the results won’t come unless the work is put in, so I headed out on my own around mid-morning. I also took this opportunity to break in the other new shoes I just bought (because what good is piling up overtime cash if you aren’t going to enjoy it?) so I hit the ground running in my spanking new Altra Olympus. Now, zero-drop footwear is new for me, and so after the first 3-mile loop, when I felt my Achilles tendons beginning to complain a bit, I decided to call it good for the morning – there will be many more chances to work these bad boys out!

Sunday: 3 mi easy (31:43, 10:34/mi) – My plan for this fall includes one hallmark feature of ultra running: back-to-back runs (B2B’s for the fans of running lingo). I ran trails yesterday, so today was a matching turn on the roads. In weeks to come, I will be swapping this around, as I just joined up with Runner’s High Club, a running and training group here in Houston, because while I may have a pretty plan on paper, I know myself well enough that accountability is what will make or break me this season. So I will submit myself to some coaching, at least for track workouts and long runs, much as I have for weight training…and the results will tell whether it was a good choice or not, won’t they?

Summary: Planned – 5 runs, 20-ish miles, 3 strength training days; actual – 5 runs,  miles, 3 strength training days

I know it’s only one week, but it was a great week, and I am encouraged by how it went. I know that it is within my power to make another week like this one, or even better – up, up, and away!!

Train with a coach or a team, or train alone…

Which do you prefer, and why?

I’d love to hear from you!!


  1. Ben

    I train on my own. I wouldn’t know how to even begin finding a coach… Also, it costs money. But I want to do a group run with our local running store soon!

    • Nick

      I was fortunate to find this group through knowing a member, Heather Foley, from being a Chevron Houston Marathon Ambassador with her last year. Coaching is included with the annual club dues (around $100) which is far less than I spend on my personal trainer at the gym!

      • Ben

        Ha! Thanks for that perspective! I’ve been thinking about doing some personal training–but now I’ll see what the local running club has to offer first!

  2. Melissa

    I train with a group/coach. Left to my own devices I default to lazy, but I follow directions well. So having a coach tell me what to do keeps me on-track!

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