Training - It's Not Just a Theory

I wrote last time about my lack of motivation and my pitiful training. I've reset my goals and hope that by requiring less of myself, I'll be able to deliver. And then, I can gradually ramp things up. For too long, I've been running so many races that I didn't really NEED to train in between them in order to maintain my endurance. I could go out and finish a marathon any day you asked me. The problem was that I couldn't do it fast, certainly not anywhere near my best, and my general fitness also suffered from lack of training.

But I made it out to Alexandria VA's Bell Haven Park & Marina last Saturday to run 9 miles on the Mount Vernon Trail with my training group (Friends & Fitness). Amy picked me up and we carpooled together. It was an overcast day with little sun, and a decent temperature, but quite a bit of humidity. At the beginning of the season, I was trying to do these training runs at a 10:00/mile pace, but my body was so used to a slower marathon pace that I was having trouble maintaining 10:00 for very long. I will get there (and I will get even faster), but not until I am running fewer marathons and I improve my overall fitness. So, on this day I was expecting to run with Kathy's 11:00 pace group. However, they were planning to take it a little slower and run 11:30. That was fine with me, as just finishing the 9 miles was my primary goal after not running in a couple weeks. There was a small turnout of runners this week anyway, so my only other options were 9:00 (too fast) or 12:00 (too much in my comfort zone), or to run alone.

Some of the Friends & Fitness runners at the almost halfway mark; time to raid the cooler for cold water and Gatorade back at Belle Haven

Starting at Belle Haven, we ran north for 2 miles, then back to start, then south for 2.5 miles, then back to start

We set out along the Potomac doing 6:1 run:walk intervals. I felt really good at the start of the run and enjoyed seeing some new scenery. I've run many parts of the Mount Vernon Trail, but had never run the bit that goes under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which connects Virginia and Maryland across the Potomac River. Who knew there was a park area (Jones Point Park), complete with bathrooms and basketball courts, under the bridge? Well, obviously some people knew…but I didn't. We ran under the bridge twice on our out & back route.

There was a WWI shipyard at Jones Point, and this is a rudder from that time period
I was still feeling strong early in the second leg of our run, where we went through the marshlands and over several wooden bridges. But then we encountered some hills. One of them was fairly long and steep, and I had to walk part of it. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. The 11:30 and 12:00 pace groups didn't stay intact through this hilly portion. The good news is that my 4-person pack got back in sync after the hills.

Cloudy day looking across the Potomac; that's the Wilson Bridge on the left and National Harbor on the right
We were all happy to be finished. It was not the most difficult course, and it was not the hottest day, but the humidity made it really tough to cool down. Amy's air conditioning on the drive home felt great. I was proud of myself for not missing this training run. Then on Wednesday, I showed up for the evening track workout. We had to stop early due to lightning, but every day that I don't make an excuse is a success lately. When I got home, I did my BodyBlade workout and ate a healthy salad. Another success. Let's see if I can keep it up!

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