Low Risk, Low Reward

So, I’m going to start by talking about travel, but end with running. Feel free to stop/start reading wherever your interests lie (lay?).

Back in June, the Gypsy Runner and I went to Mexico. There was an amazing Travelzoo deal for 4 nights at an all-inclusive resort north of Puerto Vallarta, including roundtrip direct airfare from Oakland and airport transfers. I booked this in March, knowing that I’d need some serious R&R after a major work event in late May. I had my reservations, however, since I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before and never really had the inclination. To me, they’re similar to cruises — easy travel but not all that interesting. Sure, self-guided travel is more time consuming and has its risks, but it’s usually worth it. However, since I knew that I’d be super tired and stressed due to aforementioned work event, not to mention lacking any time to plan, I decided that an all-inclusive resort didn’t sound so terrible. And when the GR found out that all-inclusive meant all you can eat and drink, he was super stoked.

June rolled around and we were off to Mexico at last. I’ll start with the positive: the resort was stunning, set up in the hills above La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a small town 45 minutes north of downtown Puerto Vallarta. The pools were great – filled with salt water, not chlorine – it wasn’t very crowded, and the chairs were plentiful and comfy. The service was quite good as well. The negative: the food was terrible, the drinks were watered down, and did I mention that the food was terrible? Being up in the hills meant that we were a 10-minute shuttle ride from downtown/the beach, so we never really got to experience the cultural aspects of being in a foreign country. Both the GR and I kept making comparisons to our trip to Maui last year, which we both really enjoyed. This trip to Mexico was just meh.

By the end of the trip, I had come to the conclusion that this was a low risk, low reward vacation. By signing up for an all-inclusive resort, I had essentially handed over decision making to someone else, which is simultaneously what I wanted but didn’t want. I’m glad we went – it was a relaxing 4 days away – but I doubt I will ever sign up for such a trip again.

(I should note that I don’t mean to sound like a brat. I acknowledge that we’re extremely fortunate to be able to go on a vacation like this. I’m just saying that given the choice of vacations, I’d rather not go to an all-inclusive resort in the future.)

And this brings me to running. All year, I’ve been doing low risk, low reward training. Week by week, month by month, I’ve been doing whatever “felt right” to me at the time. As a result, I became really bored and unmotivated. The truth of the matter is that I’m a classic Type A person who likes to check boxes. In the past two weeks, having simple goals such as run X number of miles a week, 4 times a week, has been very motivating and fulfilling. I’ve even done a couple of short workouts, which has been hard but fun. I’ve also found that I’m a lot more intentional about my runs. For instance, these last two long runs, I’ve purposely started out very, very slowly. After 2-3 miles of warming up, I’ve inserted a 15-second pickup at the start of every mile to freshen up my form. I’ve also been much better about cooling down and stretching post-run, which I used to rush through or skip altogether. Not only is it beneficial for me to have a post-run routine physically, but it makes the mental transition smoother too.

Now, for some numbers:  I ran 20.2 miles last week, including one workout (4 x 400m; intervals at 7:30/mile pace) and one long run of 10.8 miles @ 11:16/mile. This past week, I completed 21.8 miles. I did a tempo run, which was TOUGH but doable, and helped me mentally prepare for next week’s Race to the End of the Summer 10K. I also did a long run today: 11 miles @ 10:55/mile. Despite the warmer temps today, I felt a lot stronger than I did last week. Hooray!

So the 10K is next Sunday. I know it’s going to hurt as 10Ks often do. In thinking about my race strategy, I’d like to run without GPS information (probably change the display to show time only) and try to run by feel. I want to start a bit conservatively and try to catch and pass people after the halfway point. This is generally a pretty good strategy for me — or, at least, I’m most satisfied with my race effort when I run this way.

As for whether I’ve decided on Napa Valley Marathon — I’m strongly leaning towards it, but I’m holding off an official decision for now. The price doesn’t go up until October 1st, so I’ve got some time.


Hot but happy miles at the San Leandro Marina/Bay Trail


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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Posted in random, Training, Travel
9 comments on “Low Risk, Low Reward
  1. Angela says:

    Sometimes you just have to jump in & see what you’re feeling ready for. I feel like signing up for a race when I’m not sure if I’m really ready to start training for something again often gives me good information–usually it’s either “Weeee that was fun when can do it again!!!” or “Oof, no.”

    Either way, BRUNCH!!

    • bt says:

      So excited to see you at the race and BRUNCH!

    • Jen says:

      Yay, brunch!!

      I’m testing the waters with some shorter races to see how I feel. There are some potential life changes that might impact whether I’ll want to train for a spring marathon (no, I’m not pregnant or trying!). I’m thinking it might be a better idea to train super hard for a spring half marathon. We’ll see!

  2. gracechua31 says:

    Good luck for the race; race well, and enjoy a well-deserved brunch!! Also, the short pickups at the start of every mile and the set post-run routine are good ideas – totally stealing ’em… #teamgluteusmedius

  3. Cathryn says:

    You and I have had a similar year for different reasons – eight months of happy, easy, comfortable running. I agree…it’s time to jump in, train hard and race!!!!

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On the docket…

4/28/19: London Marathon

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