Still running…barely

It’s strange. I have a lot I want to write about, yet no desire to actually put my thoughts into words. Part of the hurdle for me is that I usually have a pretty good idea of the structure of a post in my head before I start writing, but lately, I’ve just had bits and pieces floating around and no urgency to write. So, I apologize in advance for the randomness of this post, but I thought I’d update you on my recent adventures in running (or lack thereof).

Group Run @ Rancho San Antonio (end of September)
Cathryn, Paulette, Danielle, and I did a nice 9-10 miler at this lovely park in San Jose (with horrendous parking), meeting up with bt and Layla at the end. I was definitely not in great form that day, but the company and new scenery bolstered my mood tremendously. Afterwards, we had brunch, which is always my favorite part of these group runs. (For a more complete recap and photos, see Cathryn and Paulette‘s blogs!)

Running through the Zen garden at Rancho San Antonio (PC: Cathryn)

Birthday hike @ Diablo Foothills (October 10th)
This started off as a birthday trail run, but evolved into a group hike, which was just as well since I wasn’t in super running shape anyway. A group of 9 of us, ranging from an 8-month pregnant lady to a 5-year old, and including special guest Kate from SoCal, did a 5-mile hike around this gorgeous park. We finished with – you guessed it – brunch, featuring scones made by Cathryn and refreshing mimosas. It was a really lovely morning and a great way to celebrate.

Exploring the Diablo Foothills.

Exploring the Diablo Foothills.

Inside Trail Racing’s Oakland Hills 10K (October 17th)
I’m too lazy to write a full recap of this race, and also it seems like too short of a race to recap? I signed up with the intention of running with bt, but she had an unfortunate incident involving her toe and a sharp rock in Alaska and had to pull out. So that was a bummer and made me significantly less excited about this race. Adding to my lack of excitement was that it was held in Redwood Regional, a park I’ve run in dozens of times. However, it was logistically very easy and I found the course to be really well-thought out. I like courses where the big climb is at the beginning followed by a gradual, runnable downhill, and that’s how this 10K course was designed. Also, it helped that the trails selected were among my favorites in the park, including the French Trail. I successfully executed my race plan: don’t go out too fast, keep effort constant up the big climb, race the back end, and don’t let anyone pass in the last few miles. The downhill section through the beautiful, calm redwoods also let me reflect on marking another birthday. I felt an enormous sense of gratitude to be healthier and more fit than I was a decade ago.

#runhappy

#runhappy (PC: Let’s Wander Photography/Inside Trail Racing)

The nice thing about a 10K is that it’s short enough where I still had enough steam to push myself at the very end. For the first time in a while, I sprinted across the finish line at a trail race. My time was not super awesome (1:20), but it was a tough course with over 1100′ of climbing, and I finished right in the middle of the pack. With as little running as I’ve been doing, I was very pleased with my performance.

Serious dip in motivation
Since the Santa Rosa Marathon, I’ve been very unmotivated to run consistently. Initially, I thought it would be a good idea to take 1-2 weeks off, since I had been in training mode for about 6 months and needed the physical and psychological break. However, that 1-2 weeks turned into 3… then 4, etc. Ever since 2012, when I started to run more seriously/regularly, I’ve never struggled with motivation. I’ve consistently logged 15-20 miles/week, regardless of whether I was training for a race. I took off a month in 2014 to recover from a hip injury, but even then I was very motivated to cross-train. So my laziness in the past 2 months is a new thing, and it’s been a little confounding. On one hand – and in a very positive sense – I simply felt at peace after SRM. After years of trying to break my marathon PR, I finally did so at SRM and I was satisfied. That, in combination with completing my first 50K at Big Basin, checked two major running goals off my list.

To add to my lack of mojo, I didn’t have a big race on the calendar until March 2016. It’s the most empty my race calendar has looked in years. I got stuck in a cycle of wanting to take a break from racing, but then not being motivated to run because I didn’t have a race imminent. I also didn’t want to be *that person* who needs a race to motivate them. It’s silly, I know, but I wanted to take pride in being intrinsically, not extrinsically, motivated.

Weekly training mileage, courtesy of Dailymile.

Weekly training mileage, courtesy of Dailymile. Week 30 (red arrow) was Big Basin, Week 34ย  (green arrow) was Santa Rosa.

This is how bad it got: a couple of weeks ago, I packed a bag of running clothes to run at work on Tuesday. I found some reason to skip it, deciding to postpone the run to Wednesday. Wednesday rolled around, and I found some other excuse to put off the run. Same thing on Thursday. I lugged the bag of clean clothes home on Friday. Sad face. After weeks of struggling to run regularly, I finally sucked it up yesterday and signed up for the Walnut Creek Half Marathon (WCHM). Even though it’s an expensive race and only 7 weeks away, Cathryn is running it and Roserunner is intending to sign up too. We’ve got tentative plans for brunch afterwards — and you already know my feelings about brunch. Moreover, I decided at some point this year that racing is fun, but racing with friends is a million times better. So now, when the chance comes up to race with friends, I’ll more than likely take that opportunity.

Today, I went on my first “long” run of the WCHM cycle. The goal was to run for 75 minutes; 60 minutes of easy running, followed by 15 minutes at faster/tempo pace. Not surprisingly, that last 15 minutes was a bit of a struggle. I clocked 9:00/mile pace and was struggling mightily, so the chances of a PR seem pretty slim at this point. However, I know with some hard work, I can make significant strides. I also feel that my experience at SRM gave me a huge boost mentally; hopefully, some of that confidence and good pacing will make a positive impact at WCHM. We shall see!

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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11 comments on “Still running…barely
  1. heatherihn says:

    Sometimes I think that constant nagging that you “SHOULD” be doing more, makes your time off not really time off since it’s just as stressful. If you need more time, give it more time. We put our bodies through a lot! Maybe take up a different sport like paddle boarding, backpacking, or rock climbing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You always have a climbing partner down here! haha

    • Jen says:

      Yes, good point about not *truly* relaxing, but I actually did a pretty good job of that for the first 2 weeks after Santa Rosa. And then I got super lazy where I didn’t want to do any kind of physical activity. That’s what bugged me, I guess – the lack of motivation not just for running, but for being active in general.

  2. BT says:

    No worries. Sometimes you just need some down time. I’m sure you’ll do great in Walnut Creek!

  3. Paulette says:

    I agree that running with friends is so much better, especially the post-race/run brunch part. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not terrible to take some down time, I bet you’ll be excited again soon and with WCHM. Good luck!

  4. Grace says:

    Happy birthday! You know what, you’ve had an amazing year running-wise! If I were you I would just race with friends and do fun things for a while – rock climbing, cycling, go exploring on weekends, have some short getaways! It’s ok to not be motivated all the time.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Grace! Yeah, I have been hiking more, but in general, I haven’t been motivated to do any kind of physical activity…or anything at all, actually. I think I would be less bothered if I just switched my focus to something else, but I’ve been a bit aimless. Hopefully that will change soon!

  5. Mike says:

    Barely running? You’d have a hard time convincing anyone based on that sweet “airborne on the downhill with both feet off the ground” photo!

    Motivation ebbs and flows, and I’d agree it’s definitely tougher to stay disciplined with no race on the calendar โ€“ I haven’t raced since May, though I still run regularly because it’s such great stress relief and because running next to the ocean never sucks. But the best motivation is always what gets you on your feet and out of the house, and the Bay Area never lacks for outdoor inspiration of all sorts.

    Have you considered signing up for all (or at least many) of Brazen’s trail races, to give yourself a regular fun activity that also lets you run great trails all over the East & South Bay? I have a friend who’s running all their races (i.e. streaking) this year, and he has a great time seeing his core group of Brazen buddies at every event. Just a thought, since Brazen is one of the things I miss most about the Bay Area!

    • Mike says:

      (By the way, no race is too short to recap if it comes with an interesting story!)

      • Jen says:

        Thanks, Mike. I’ve considered the Brazen streaking before, so thanks for the suggestion – I’ll look into it. I think it’s a great way to meet new people and see new parks. The hefty price tag is the main thing holding me back, though I suppose you can volunteer at a few races to offset the entries.

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