The first lesson I have learned most literally on foot is to never buy running shoes anywhere else than a running shoe specialty store. Sports Authority is great for basic apparel, cute sports bras, basic weights, and even various fuels by the singles (I bought two GU gels instead of having to buy a whole pack, just to test them), but not for shoe-fitting. I got fitted for my old Brooks Ghosts at Potomac River Running Store in Arlington and experienced absolutely no pain after the first week of getting over my shin splints gained from the pair I wore previously. My Ghosts wore out after about 300 miles in them, so I looked into some new pairs. I’d heard amazing things about the Glycerins, but with no trusted shoe fitter available (*I* was offered a job at Sports Authority, and I have no idea what to look for when fitting a runner for the right shoe), and no pair of Ghosts in my size to stick with just for safety, I tried on a pair of Glycerins and when they felt good, I went with them.

plus they were super sweet looking!

But I really should have been patient and tried another store the next day for Ghosts, or at least for a more qualified professional to help me choose the right new shoe. After just a couple of miles in the Glycerins, my left middle toes go numb. I was sidelined for a week from training because of some left side hip pain. There’s definitely something going on with my left side – probably because I’m right-handed/right-footed and my left side just is physically weaker – that is causing some imbalance and more pain on that side. But I do feel like, as much as the Glycerins are pumped up to be super comfy, my Ghosts had way more cushion.

And I miss them. Lesson learned on foot: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I am, however, without receipt, tags, even the box they came in, so would be hard-pressed to convince the store to let me return them. And my Ghosts are long gone; I donated them to Run It Forward through Mud Factor and gave them a last hurrah on that course.

O, woe are my feet, how they pine for my Ghosts!

my first time taking my old Ghosts out. they are now but a memory 😦

Next lesson learned on foot: No run is ever the same.

I have a pretty tried and true course. It has some rolling hills in it – nothing major, but enough to make the calves feel it. The first half of my run is entirely uphill with some short flat stretches between hills, but at about 1.5 miles it flattens out for the most part. That takes me about another 2.5 miles (another 1.25 out and 1.25 back) before I hit the part that was previously uphill and I get to go mostly downhill for the last ~1.5 miles for about a 5.3 to 5.5 mile run. Like I plateaued between 2.5-3 in my training for my first few 5K’s, I inch up about only .2 miles a week, depending on how fast I’m going and how fresh my legs feel. It takes me a little over an hour – I follow zenLabs 10K Trainer plan so it has me, for example, run for 18 minutes rather than run a certain distance. I’m not sure whether the latter would be more helpful – I think I would stop to walk more often?

In any case, the longer I’m supposed to run for, the slower I run. I mean I’m talking I am huffing it. There are times I think I’m in running motion and I check my pace and it’s at like 15:15. Of course, other times I’ll check my pace and I’ll be at 9-10 minutes.

And of course there’s always the huge factor of where my head is. Sometimes I’m in the best mood and I’ve been itching to run all day and the weather is beautiful and I want to stay outside hot footing around forever. Those days, when I’m just enjoying the moment, enjoying my music, enjoying the sky and the trees and the pavement under my feet, not caring about my pace, just enjoying feeling the miles rack up and appreciating what my body is capable of, I see my best times and feel the distance the least.

Then there are the days I feel totally lonely running alone, not having a running buddy, hating what’s in store for me on my 10K Training plan, wondering if I should scrap it and “run happy,” or if sticking with it is what will make me mentally stronger, and my mind is everywhere, doubting myself, changing my route to avoid hills just so I can keep running, again therefore doubting whether this “just run for x amount of minutes” plan is really a good idea, knowing I need to train with hill repeats but concurrently wanting to puke at the idea… just no bueno.

Every run has to be a reinvestment. No run, even if it’s the same route, same time of day, even if it’s the same weather, is going to be the same. Find the joy – I didn’t start this to become an elite runner. I didn’t even start this to run a marathon one day. My goals are to do it. So whatever way it gets done, it gets done.

That being said, I really need to make a structured plan for myself for this fall.

this trail: i want to go to there

My classes start up again in a week and a half, and on top of working full time now (YAY FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT!) I need to come up with some sort of structure to ensure I don’t slack off on training, that I start eating better (if it’ll get my miles over with faster and with less “I want to die” thoughts, fine, I’ll switch the chocolate pastry for some asparagus… occasionally…), cross train (swimming lessons? force myself to a specific yoga class? join a running group? make a specific day all about speed intervals at the track?), and all at the same time make sure I keep up with my school work, work work, and sleep.

More on that next post. I get way too sidetracked when I try to blog these days.

Random questions: Has anyone ever participated in a “race series”? Like the Florida Storm Series or California Half and Full Marathon Series? Was it because you were local or did you travel specifically to complete the series? 

What is/waswhenyouwereanewbie your weekly training plan, incorporating cross training? How did you get faster and build endurance?

What is your favorite December distance race? It can be a half, a full, a 10 miler, basically anything over a 10K. 

I’m just curious 🙂