One of my good friends is a photographer, and she wanted to get some shots of me running (and do an interview for a project, which makes me feel special). So we went to the Arb, a hotspot for hill repeats and – let’s be honest, it’s a college town – ingesting various illegal substances. Needless to say, we were there for the former reason.
The morning had been overcast and a little chilly, but because we both slept in, we weren’t out until after one. By then, the clouds had cleared and the sun was beaming warmly down on us. Which was good, because there was a strongly-gusting October wind for several hours. There were plenty of people out and about, which was nice to see but was also a little inconvenient since we were trying to get nature-filled shots of me and the leaves, not a gaggle of sorority girls venturing off the sidewalk for the first time. (Forgive me, I shouldn’t judge.)
Anyway. We were just out a few hours ago so I don’t have any media to share yet, but it really got me thinking about what a huge undertaking it would be to try to get good enough to get sponsored. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Have someone give you race money and shoes and food, allowing you to just train and run, and to hopefully run well… sigh. I’ve been focusing on just building up mileage, but recently, I’ve also been thinking about the quality of my training as well. Seems like a no-brainer, but upon reflection, I’m pretty sure – no, I know – I could be running better, harder. It’s just so easy to plan 10 miles after class, then have an easy 10 instead of a good, moderate effort. I get stuck in the long slow distance mindset; I think I mentioned that in a previous post. So I need to make a real effort to work harder on my middle-distance runs, and that should help with my long runs. I just need to go out with a specific goal in mind on each run – a pace to hit, faster middle miles, something like that.
Let’s sidestep into the speedwork debate. It seems like the distance community will never come to an agreement on whether or not doing 800 repeats will help in a 50-miler. Personally, speedwork feels good, but I don’t really do it much, and I tend to think that more moderately-paced but longer runs, like 10-13 miles, are more beneficial for someone whose goal is more ultra-based, especially trail versus road. Hill repeats seem like a much more practical workout, since you rarely encounter a 400-meter oval in the middle of a trail ultra (other than the Western States finish, of course). Hills, though, you do run into. (That being said, there’s just something so fun and satisfying about ripping off a few sets of fast repeats. Like… bam. Still got it.)
I wish I could afford a coach. That would be so great. I’ve read so many ultrarunning books and blogs and listened to podcasts and watched videos, but there’s such a mass of knowledge out there (and so many conflicting viewpoints) that it would be nice to have someone to help me sort through it all and to develop a training plan for my goals. Which, other than getting back into better ultra shape than I was in 2012 and, more eventually, UTMB, are essentially nonexistent.
In short, I need a plan – but a plan for what?
I’m pretty pumped right now because tomorrow morning, I’m going back out to Pinckney Rec to run 26 or, if I’m feeling it, another 5 for a practice 50k. So depending on how tomorrow goes, I may or may not race a 50k in November. I’m torn – do I enter a race (pay for it, get there, etc.) if I’m in suboptimal shape? That result will be out there, good or bad. We’ll see after tomorrow, but I’m guessing it won’t be stellar. But on the other hand, races are fun no matter what, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t totally suck since I’m feeling good about where I am with my running right now. I feel solid, but still improving. And there’s always the need to be aware of how my shins are doing – can’t overdo it.
Ah well. These are just thoughts. The real decision-making will have to happen tomorrow. (And don’t even ask about my post-graduation plans. Right now, it’s “Move back in with my parents until I can bear to face reality. I’ll be hiding in my room if you need me.” Plus I have field camp in July-August, which complicates internship hunting.)
So if anyone is reading this and wants to give me free shoes or a sweet tricked-out van for traveling the country and training out of, email me. Until then… *desperately thinks of things to do other than study* I’ll be doing dishes.
peace love and grand aspirations,