Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Build Challenge

            I have been writing workouts for my high school distance and mid-distance runners. With having our spring season canceled and hopefully getting July to compete locally instead, we focused on building mileage for the past four weeks and I did it along with them. Prior to the build, I was typically running 24-26 miles per week. That mileage was manageable to juggle with home-schooling and little kids so I was a bit nervous about the undertaking of trying to fit in 40 miles in a week for the final week. I have not run that many miles since 2013! 
            Taking things one week at a time was definitely helpful. Even thinking two weeks ahead was overwhelming. I tried to keep lifting 3 times per week, and I also added in one short, hard bike ride per week. On Mondays, I did an aerobic run, followed by two recovery runs, and then on Thursdays I kept doing my threshold run, though it dropped in distance from 4 miles to 3 miles during the build. Friday was another recovery run and Saturday I would do a long, easy pace run. Some days, I felt fatigued, and other days I felt really strong. My body adapted REALLY well to the build though! My last run was 10.4 miles and I was able to comfortably pick up the pace at the end. I never anticipated that I would feel that good!
A peak at my training log!
            I was also nervous about how my hip would fare. Over the winter, I had been dealing with pain in my left hip that would prevent me from running some days, and at its worst, I could even feel it when I walked. I am always nervous about getting a career-ending injury and I was even concerned this may have been arthritis already! I tried multiple methods that did not seem to help it improve. Then I started focusing on stabilizing that hip by strengthening the muscles around it. I was diligently doing single leg exercises for it every time I lifted. My self-diagnosis is that I had a weak left glute. It was even affecting my squat form when I was doing heavier weights. My form has since corrected as well now and the week I hit 40 miles, I experienced zero complaints from my hip!
            In my last post, I also mentioned the yard project I have been doing. I cleared all the trees and the land was excavated. Then the most recent aspect of the project has been building a sand pit/box. I missed two of my lifting days as a result during my 40-mile week, but I still did more than enough digging, lifting, and hauling! I record these extra, strenuous tasks in my training log so when I look back, I can understand why I didn’t get something done, or maybe my performance in a workout was affected.
            Perhaps this year I will not get to compete at all. That would be a huge letdown, but I would not regret the time that I have put into training. I will not regret that I got myself into really good shape, and I really appreciate these challenges (workouts and projects) that I have gone through that keep me sane and make myself better.

How have you challenged yourself?

Monday, May 4, 2020

Moving Forward

            I have been slow to write during this time because the last thing I want to do is write something related to COVID-19. I hate to even mention it. Yes, life has changed. That’s not news. Andy and I are high school track coaches who lost the spring season, and our very real chance at having a shot at winning a State Title as a team. There have been all the emotions in our house. There’s the question of when things will be “normal” again. Spring races have been canceled. Early summer races have been canceled. Will I be able to compete this year even? There’s been a lot of speculation but nobody really knows. Triathlon Nationals aren’t until August, but as it draws thousands of people from all over the country – what are the chances of that happening? I’ve had a hard time getting on my bike yet as a result.
My wave of triathletes after finishing.
            As far as summer track meets, I am guessing that the 2 competitions I was planning on won’t happen. Right now, WIAA is now allowing us the month of July for track practice and competition. I can’t even pull out a pit prior to that since school facilities have been closed until the end of June. One month. Much better than nothing, which I have been afraid of, so I am trying to keep my hopes up. We are designing it to be a cross between an abbreviated, rough version of a high school season, and summer Club season, so the meets would be open to all ages. We are also well aware that we could end up losing that as well, but for the time being, it gives us hope, and we could all use more of that.
            I did get in two indoor meets (without practices) and an indoor triathlon, so if all else, fails, I am glad I got that little bit in during 2020. My goal the last several years was to hit 11-6 (and 12 last year), and while I would be left short of that for this year, I at least broke 11 feet both times and went 1 and 2 at the college meets (almost made 11-10 in the video below!). The indoor triathlon was a fun challenge and maybe we could even get another one scheduled before the close of the year.

            I am thankful for the things we do have during this time – the extra time with the kids when I would normally have been gone a lot with the season. I’ve still been running (got a treadmill for Christmas!) and lifting weights. We have a big house to move in and space outside. Homeschooling started when it was still winter here and we got in extra skating, tubing, and exploring. Spring came and I resumed a project I had started at the end of volleyball season – clearing an area of our land of trees (So. Many. Trees!) to be turned into a large open yard. I just finished cutting and cleaning up the area and now we wait for excavation to start! The boys liked to come out and “cut” down trees with their chainsaws too. For the time being, it gave me something to focus on when everything else was being taken away. It gave me purpose and at the end of the day, I could feel like I accomplished something (like my farming days).
            There’s the struggle with identity as being coaches and athletes without our sports. While I take comfort of knowing my identity truly lies in Christ, there’s still much sadness with all that has been lost. Athletes of all levels, all the way up to Olympians, are feeling it. All you can do is try to stay positive, make the best of things, and remember that this too shall pass. When all hope feels lost, there’s still hope in our Risen Lord. Praise. Jesus.