Building Back Up

After CIM and the “2016: Year of PR Attempts”, I decided to approach 2017 with a more organic, laissez faire approach to running. My general goals were to keep running 3-4 times a week and to be able to pull off an easy 2 hour long run on a semi-regular basis, with the occasional half marathon here and there (for funsies). I told myself that I would wait for my next running goal to come to me and not the other way around. The result has been that, on average, I’ve been running 3 times a week, totaling about 15 miles/week. I’m just a tad over 500 miles for the year, which is way below average for me. But I’m OK with that – I’m in a generally happy place when it comes to running. It doesn’t stress me out too much and I feel pretty good when I’m doing it.

Honestly, if I had to choose one race distance to focus on for the rest of my life, it would be the half marathon. I like how it’s the right combination of endurance and speed, that you can train for it *and* have a life, and that even if you push yourself pretty hard, you’re not completely ruined for days after. However, one thing that’s both a pro and a con of a half marathon is that, with decent fitness, it’s almost always doable. So, the challenge is a little lacking compared to a full marathon.

Now that I’ve been sitting at (slow for me) half marathon shape for 8 months, I think I’m ready to try to tackle the next big thing. I’ve been eyeing a spring marathon; specifically, the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM). Why? It’s in early March, giving me enough time to build more base between now and then. Also, I’ve fared well on wine country courses previously, so that’s a draw. It’s relatively local – a short 2 hour drive away with familiar climate. I’ve heard great things about organization. The one thing that’s iffy is the weather. Since it’s early March in the Bay Area, it can be cold and rainy or hot and sunny.

Why a marathon? Well, as I alluded to above, it’s a bigger challenge than a half. I thought about doing a longer trail race, but as much as I love trails, it just requires *so much more* time for weekend long runs. Road marathons are logistically easier to train for. Anyway, I have this love/hate relationship with marathons. I feel like I’m still trying to figure out the distance. Every time I have a bad experience (which is 3.5 out of 6 times now), I swear it off… but eventually, I always come back to it. NVM, if I decide to do it, will be road marathon #7. Will I get closer to solving the mysterious ways of the marathon? Or will I be foiled again?

If I go for it, one thing I want to try this time around is coaching. I wonder if handing the reins over to someone else might help me reach my potential. I’m probably going to sign up for runcoach, since Angela, SP, and Cathryn have all raved about it. Plus, it’s pretty affordable.

Before I commit to NVM, I want to make sure I really want it. Marathon training is no joke. It can take over your life, and since I’ve been feeling stretched so thin, I want to be 100% in before I register. I’m giving myself the next few weeks to re-introduce structure into my running, aiming for 4 runs/week, working my way up to 25 miles a week. Last night, I signed up for the Race to the End of the Summer 10K, mostly as a social race with Angela, Erin, and bt. But the funny thing is that just in thinking about running a 10K, I started getting excited about doing intervals again. So maybe I am ready to start training after all??

It all starts with tomorrow – I’m aiming for a simple 4 x 400 m interval workout at the track. Let’s tackle this one run at a time.


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.

Posted in Goals, random
13 comments on “Building Back Up
  1. iampotassium says:

    Good luck! I’m excited to see what you decide! 🙂

  2. gracechua31 says:

    Good luck! There’s a reason the marathon is a big ‘bucket list’ goal for many people – for most ordinary runners, it’s a serious training commitment! I agree about the marathon being a tricky beast. I’m at #7 too (!) and I treat them as pieces of a great big marathon experiment…one variable at a time… And I’m with you on halfs – I enjoy half marathon training and racing, and feel like my half-marathon training, racing, and results still have room to improve. 🙂 I wonder also if you would have a better time base-building if you signed up for runcoach now with that as a specific goal, then transitioned into race-specific training?

    • Jen says:

      Woohoo, lucky #7! Perhaps we should get matching training shirts for #TeamGluteusMedius 😆
      If I sign up for runcoach, I’d sign up for the 6-month plan – basically starting early September. So there would be some base building before the actual training starts.

  3. Angela says:

    Sounds like a solid plan to me! And, I agree — you just can’t push yourself to get back to for-real training for something again before you’re really feeling it. I kept trying to do that this spring and it never worked. It sounds like you’ve been running enough to keep up some base fitness, so that when you get ready to start training again, it won’t be a nightmare. (Also, I really do love NVM and I think it’s a pretty decent course for a full. The crapshoot weather is the only down side I can think of.)

    Good luck!! I’ll be Boston training around the same time so let’s coordinate some long runs in novel places!!

  4. Layla says:

    This all sounds like me. Half marathons are definitely my favorite distance to race, but marathons just keep calling me — more so than ultras, too. I also had the same mental process before I signed up for CIM this year (despite swearing I was not going to run it again…). Sometimes the location and timing confirm the decision, and I suspect you’ll reach that decision soon. Here’s to trying to figure out that elusive marathon thing!

  5. ErinAMG says:

    It sounds like you’re coming in at this possibility of doing a spring marathon thing with the right attitude and mindset. I have friends who run marathons year after year, really out of “obligation,” and it boggles my mind. Do the distance that speaks to you, ya know? And I totally agree re trail races; I want to do more, but the training, as awesome as it is, becomes such a greater timesuck. Anyway, see you in a couple weeks!!!

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, it’s easy to lose sight of things when surrounded by marathoners and ultramarathoners, where the default is running 1-2 marathons a year. Everyone seems to be going from one race to the next, and I was definitely on that wavelength for a while too, so it’s been good for me to take a step back and really evaluate. Thanks for the support and see you in a couple of weeks!

  6. bt says:

    Sounds like a solid goal and good thinking to get you there. Looking forward to some runs together along the way.

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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