Life of a College Runner: Persistence

Mileage is high, morale is low. As I sit down to write about this past week, I struggle to find the positives. This “golden summer” of training is not going the way I thought it would. I don’t see myself becoming any stronger, I see no improvement, and I feel worse while running than I have for a long time. Still, I’m pushing through it, which is why I’ve called this week “Persistence”. I have to keep believing that the work I’m doing now will help me this fall, even if I’m not in the shape I expected myself to be in. Also, I’m kind of all over the place this week in my writing, so forgive me if my thoughts seem a little disorganized. Anyway, on with the week!

Monday

I took a rest day. It seemed like the right thing to do, after a tough week of training last week. My legs were sore and I decided to have a lazy day, since I wasn’t working either.

Tuesday

I got right back to it with a double. I did three in the morning at around 8:30. My dog, Pippa, had surgery this morning so my mom had to take her in while I looked after the kids. I had a nice time playing with the kids before my run. The run itself was nice and easy. I got to watch the crop duster zoom over my head while passing by the corn fields. I ran just over 24 minutes, 8:03 per mile, and did a core workout afterwards.

Tonight was difficult. I was inexplicably hungry this afternoon and had a ton of snacks, therefore I didn’t want to run right away. I decided to go later at night, which ended up being at around 9:00. But I felt awful on the run. I barely got in 5 miles without throwing up. I stopped after 3 but my mom picked me up at the house and ran the last 2 with me. I ended up being 8:24 per mile for a time of 42:01. Not my best, but certainly not the worst it could have been.

Wednesday

Tonight was a really nice redeeming run, which felt especially good after last night’s. I know that my two goals for the end of the summer are to strengthen myself in two ways: core and confidence. I need to do more core exercises because that will help me be a better runner but I need my confidence to be the best person, teammate, and competitor I can be. And I only have 3 weeks to do it, so I’d better get to work. However, I felt really great tonight for 7 miles and ended up running them in 55:31 (7:55 pace) without looking at my watch at all. Progress is all I need right now. Just some sign that what I’m doing is actually getting me somewhere. Otherwise it’s like driving down an endless road with no landmarks or signs to show how far I’ve driven.

Thursday

I did 3 miles in the morning as a nice little shakeout run. I didn’t look at my watch at all. I’ve noticed it getting easier to do that with each run. Sometimes I completely forget about the watch and lose myself in the miles, which feels great and relaxing. It reminds me of how running used to feel (and how it should feel on easy days) when I first started running and it was just a fun thing to do. I really want to be able to have that and still run good times, which I guess is what I’m working on here. I ended up with a time of 24:33, 8:11 per mile. I also did two sets of leg circuit afterwards.

Tonight my parents and I ran at Garrison and I did a workout. 2 minutes easy 2 minutes hard for 4 miles with one warm-up and one cool-down mile. So a total of 6 tonight. Because of recent happenings in Iowa, my parents want me to carry a small container of pepper spray while running. I understand their concern; a number of people have expressed concern at me running on my own. It just feels odd. It seems like I should be able to go out for a run without having to worry about being kidnapped or attacked, but I guess that’s not how the world works right now.

Anyway, so the workout was good. I ended up being 7:52 per mile even with the slower parts for a time of 47:10. Things may be looking up.

Friday

So I slept in today on accident. I really need to get better at waking up on time to go run, especially since I’m going to be doing it every day in a few weeks. And I wasn’t feeling great this morning so I split my run into two. I did 4 miles in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. So me and my pepper spray went on a 4 mile jog this morning, and it was beautiful outside. It was so nice and cool that it almost felt like fall! This morning I was 8:24 per mile, 33:33 for the whole thing.

I did core after running in the morning and then rested for a few hours. At around 4:00 I went out for my second run. This one I felt compelled to hurry and finish up because I had a date tonight and I was super excited. Fueled by my desire to shower and get ready before he showed up, I ran the four miles in 31:35, 7:53 per mile. It was still cool this afternoon so it felt nice. And I got back with plenty of time to spare!

Saturday

I didn’t feel so great. Exhausted, sluggish, and slightly dizzy was how I felt throughout the run. I turned around early because I felt lightheaded. I don’t really know what is wrong, whether it’s iron deficiency, some sort of mental barrier, or something else altogether, but I want to overcome it. I have to. All I want this year is to have an amazing season, the best of my life so far.

Anyway, I was trying to do a tempo run this morning, as that was on my schedule, but I couldn’t even hold the pace for three miles. I had to slow way down. I feel so weak and tired of this. A few months ago, I was at the top of my game. Even back in June I was doing really well, but now it seems I’m in a slump. I’m still doing all the mileage, I just can’t find the speed. It’s unbelievably frustrating. I ended up being 57:56, 8:17 per mile.

Sunday

Today felt so much better. I don’t know if it was the fact that I ran later, at 11:30, or if it was mental fortitude, or the power of God, but I did it! I ran a semi-successful tempo run. I ran consistently under 8:00 pace for 5 out of 7 miles. I’m calling that a tempo. It’s the best I’ve been able to do in a while. The guilt and disappointment still runs deep in my chest, but I will take what I can. Most of my tempo run was between 7:40–7:50 pace, which is not at all where my normal tempo speed is (usually it’s around 7:15–7:25) but I have to think positively about this. Otherwise I’ll just break down.

I had to split up my long run today for two reasons; I went to church with my family this morning; I had to work at 2:00. If you’ll pardon the intrusion, I’d like to take a moment to talk about church actually. I haven’t attended church since last summer, which I sort of regret. Also, during this past year I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out my beliefs and how I want to live according to those beliefs. For a while I questioned why I believed in God at all. But I don’t see that as a bad thing at all; if anything it solidified my beliefs and made them more concrete.

Anyway, we have a new pastor at our church, and he’s this little old man named Doc who is so sweet and funny. I enjoyed every minute of his sermon, and I found myself relaxing and lightening up. I think that was just what I needed. Sorry about that rant, but I felt like I had to include it. It made my run better too.

So I worked from 2–8, came home, and ran 4 miles with my mom. I didn’t really care how fast it was because it was late and I just wanted to get my mileage in. And I felt exhausted from work. I ran 33:41, 8:25 per mile.

The things I need to take away from this week are:

— I stuck to it and did the mileage

— I did the best I could on the workouts

— Each day I get stronger, whether I realize it or not

— If I stick to the training and do things to make me stronger, it will pay off

Something to look forward to is the Atkins Watermelon Days 5k this Friday. I’m excited to run that old course, as it’s the same one I’ve run for the past four years or so, and it’s at the same place where we did our mile repeat workouts in high school. So a lot of fond memories there. Also I think it will really give me the confidence boost I need going into the last few weeks of training. After that I have the Mines of Spain 4 mile race next Saturday, the 11th. Those two races will give me a chance to actually test my speed and see where I’m at, especially because the latter is a tough trail race.

Thank you so much for reading, as always it means a lot!

— Morgan