It seems a little premature to write a “what’s next” post when my half marathon is still 12 days away yet. But I’ll be gone all next week, then running the race, and when I get back I’ll have vacation recaps, race recaps and probably some new house stuff to blog about…so now is as good a time as any to talk about the next chapter of my 2017 fitness life, I guess!
For someone who is such a planner, you’d think I would have put more thought – any thought – into how I’m going to spend the next three base-building months between now and the start of marathon training.
I’ve toyed with a lot of ideas. I thought about actually trying to train for my June half marathon – nothing serious, just something to give myself a bit of structure. Then I thought about doing a trial run of a RLRF plan, which I am still leaning toward for marathon training. Then I thought about just continuing as usual and focusing on upping my weekly mileage.
In the end, with all that’s happened, I decided that the best thing for me is probably to just chill out on “base building” and running stuff for a while. With a big life change happening in just a few short weeks (our closing date is April 3!), and all the work that our new house will demand, I think it will be easier for me to forget about “fitness maintenance” or training and just run when I feel like running.
Even lately, with life still going about as usual pre-move, I’ve found I’m happier with that strategy already. For the past month, I’ve been running only 3 times per week. Unfortunately my cross and strength training game has been lackluster (read: nonexistent), but I’ve really found my groove with this whole 3 runs per week thing. Take this with a grain of salt because I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase of it, but I’ve really enjoyed this cutback in running. I feel better on all of my runs and I look forward to them more. Cutting the junk miles out of my routine (I know I’ll catch flak for this but yes, I absolutely believe there is such thing as “junk miles”) and adding in some speed and hill workouts have helped me regain the pep in my step. Allowing myself to just take the day off instead of forcing myself to run when I feel tired or stressed or seriously unmotivated has helped me both mentally and physically.
The only downside is that I haven’t been supplementing my running with strength training. The whole point of cutting back mileage, in my view anyway, is to be able to balance the cardio with complementary strength work. I also feel like I need to get serious about toning up. I tried on my pairs of running shorts recently as I was trying to decide which outfits to pack for our Canyonlands vacation, and let’s just say they are a little on the…um…tight side. Ugh. To be clear, I don’t worry a ton about my weight and I think my body is overall just fine and healthy as is. I’ve always carried weight in my butt, hips and lower abdomen area, so it is what it is, but…I really don’t want to buy new running shorts. And I could probably afford to be a little stronger anyway.
However, I have learned recently that simply “do some strength training” isn’t really enough guidance for a structure-phile like me and – surprise! – I end up not doing it. So I’ve been working on creating some of my own strength training circuit workouts that I can throw into a regular rotation in the coming months. I suppose this goes against that whole “I don’t want to force anything!” philosophy I just spouted forth a couple paragraphs ago, but I do think it’s really important to get serious about strength training now because it’s only going to get harder to squeeze it in once June rolls around, and if I’m only going to run 3 times a week I need to make sure I’m still getting exercise a couple other days. The nice thing about the strength training workouts I’m planning is that they are short and “portable”. They are BBG-style circuit routines that are about 20-40 minutes in length and can all be done with just my body weight or with equipment I have at home (5lb weights, a jump rope and a resistance band), so they don’t feel like a burden on my time and can be done just about anywhere. I also hope the more challenging “circuit” format will prevent the workouts from getting boring and make them feel like they are actually workouts.
I haven’t finished creating my workouts yet but I promise I will share when I do. I poked around Google to get ideas on how to set up circuits (this article from Shape magazine was a great resource), and I found a lot of the moves I’m incorporating into my routines on the @muncher_cruncher Instagram account. I don’t follow a lot of fitness IGs, but MC has so many great strength training ideas! The other moves I’m incorporating are my favorite “classics”, such as glute bridges, push-ups, planks, clamshells, etc. I’m hoping to start my new workouts after we return from Canyonlands.
With all that said, I’m also trying to leave things more open-ended. While all the new house stuff will be taking priority until marathon training starts (and even still probably taking priority then), I can’t really say for sure whether I’ll want to run more or less. I’ll be more stressed, sure, but I often thrive with a healthy amount of stress and busyness. And with warmer weather and longer days right around the corner, I may find myself more motivated to lace up and get outside.
All of this to say, really, that I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing running-wise. I’ll want to keep doing a long run of 8-11 miles every week or every other week, but the rest I’ll play by ear. One thing I can say I won’t be doing is forcing myself to run a certain number of days per week or miles per week, or “build up” to anything in particular. All I want to do is just keep running, and right now for me the best way for me to do that is to stop putting expectations on myself and let the sport hang out in the background of life for a while.
Right now, I’m just hoping Canyonlands isn’t a total slog (I didn’t run much last week and I skipped this weekend’s long run, so naturally I’m in a slightly-less confident mindset at the moment), and that I can finally gain some momentum with strength training!