Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Summer of Stupidity & A Work in Progress

I've alluded to it a few times (particularly when I discussed hiring a coach)- but I can openly admit that last summer I was on a destructive path with my running{which also affects life....}. It's something I think about often, in hopes that I don't go back to that again. You guys, it wasn't worth it.

This time last year was the turning point where things went from okay to seriously not okay in a hot second. It's hard to look back but at the same time it's good to see what I have learned and how far I have come in a year. A lot of these are going to seem like common sense- but you'd be amazed at how EASY it is to fall into these traps.

1. I wasn't taking the time to recover. I was working insane hours, combined with heavier training  I'd done before- and I simply wasn't resting. Add in the fact that I never recovered from Boston properly because I was vulnerable and thought diving back into things would help me get through life. Sometimes I would be so busy I would use my 17 hour double work days as my 'rest days' from running- nope, that really isn't resting or recovery. I'd be good with it for a few weeks, and then crash hard and spend a day in bed sleeping. Not a good cycle.
Everything is great! Then it wasn't.
2. I let my nerdiness get the best of me. I LOVE numbers, particularly running numbers. I was so focused on numbers I needed to hit- whether it was daily/weekly/monthly mileage, or paces. I ran more off of feel than specific miles/paces for years- and it served me very well. But all of the sudden I believed that I couldn't get better without the numbers. Which- I do partially believe is true, but when you go about it the smart way. I believe one of the best things is pace RANGES, some days your easier pace might be slower than others- and not being tied to a set number is important.

3. I was running too fast on my easy runs. ALL. THE. TIME. This is something I was always a bit guilty of- but last summer took it to an extreme. I was dealing with a lot of peaks and valleys with my emotions which manifested itself in my running. Once in a while going a little faster on an easy day is one thing, but this was EVERY day. That accumulated over the course of a few months and it came to the point where I couldn't even hold 'easy pace' in a race. My body didn't know how to push at races anymore, because I had pushed it every other day of the week. When I finally started working with my coach (August), I questioned my ability to hit paces in the long tempos he gave me. Oddly enough I found slowing down on my easy days like he said, meant I had way more energy on workout days and was able to get it done- imagine that!

4. I was taking advice from the wrong people. I'm a nerd, not only do I love numbers but I also love learning about things. I read mountains of books and articles each year about running, training, racing, nutrition and general fitness. I ask questions to those people who know more than me, or know about something that I may not be familiar with. This is a good thing, I do think my willingness to learn has helped make me the runner that I am. BUT, in this day and age. It's easy to get caught up in- he/she is fast so they must know the best information! He/she is a certified coach so there is NO WAY they would give me bad advice. Pardon me, but I once read a blog post by a "certified coach" who classified 800m intervals as a tempo run....because it was Tuesday- TEMPO Tuesday y'all! {NOTE: This is not a person I was taking advice from, just an example}. I was listening to advice that wasn't right for me, and some of it just not right in general.

5. I stopped practicing what I believed in (and what had worked for me). I was always good about backing off when I felt I needed to, taking an extra rest day (or cross training) when warranted, and other such things. I stayed pretty damn healthy and injury free for a long time because of that. Last summer, not so much. I felt like backing off was a sign of weakness. That you gain through pushing when you can't anymore, in some cases it's true but not always. I was trying to be a completely different runner than I was before, changing everything about the way I ran and trained- instead of focusing on one thing at a time. Change isn't a bad thing; but I basically tried taking an entire engine apart at once while it was still in the car going 100 miles an hour down the highway- and I don't exactly have Fast & Furious type skills.
Any excuse I can to use a Paul Walker GIF.
6. I fell into the "eat/drink what's convenient trap". Because I was working so much, it didn't always leave a lot of time for making healthy meals. I knew better, I knew I should be prepping my food, packing lunches, and not making excuses. I was eating out of convenience, and admittedly was indulging far too often. A few drinks after work, became more of a normal occurrence. Granted this was less about convenience, and more about washing away the pain and helping me sleep. Some days I ate little to nothing and others I rivaled the diet of an NFL linebacker. The lack of proper fueling on my part, definitely played a part in lack of recovery and lack of energy when I needed it.

7. I played the blame game. So and so made me feel this way so I need to do this. The weather was so bad that's why I bonked. I was told I need to do this or won't get faster, it ran me into the ground. I'm hurting so I'm allowed to do what I want.

Fact of the matter: I wasn't making smart decisions and that's my own fault- but at the time I was doing what I needed to in order to get by. I can't change it, I don't regret it- but I can learn from it.

Looking back it all makes me laugh, and cringe. Yeah, I do a lot of cringing. I thought that looking back certain events last year would be tough- and it was. But it's far tougher to see look back and see the things that I was doing wrong that I was actually in control of.

This year things are far different, and I am grateful to have a good support system that helped me get there. I say all the time, running may be individual but I certainly always feel like I have a team. I rest when I need to, I run easier paces on my easy days but I also run harder on workout days- it's been a good balance. While I sometimes still struggle with the nerdiness and wanting to see all of the numbers- it's gotten easier because this time around I'm actually trained and ready for more.

I've taken a lot of time to really reflect, and adjust my attitude about things. I've become a much more positive person in the last year or so- and it has had an impact on all aspects of my life. Taking responsibility, and taking control of the things that I can. I'm far from perfect, and I know I have some bad habits still- but it's okay to be a work in progress, that means you're living your life.


  1. Love this so much, Laura. Growth--even painful growth--is fabulous, and you've clearly done a ton of it. The fact that you've learned from your mistakes and moved forward from them is what's important. Kudos to you!

  2. Laura, this was a great blog post. I too am a "numbers nerd" (not just in running but also occupation, interests, what I studied in college, life in general) and it that part definitely spoke to me. I have fallen into the traps of comparing myself to others or myself to myself- this was especially bad just after my injury. Knowing when to recover and what advice to take is always tough. Ultimately we know our bodies and our running and how we really feel better than anyone else, sometimes even a coach. I do think having a coach or someone to keep you accountable is important, sometimes to tell you when you need to step back not necessarily step up your game.

    The best thing is that in the past year... your running has improved by recovering, taking easy days easy, and not focusing on numbers. Sounds like you're definitely doing the right things!

  3. isn't it crazy how sometimes the best way to learn is by F'ing up? recently i worked myself into the ground and ended up getting rhabdo--something that can be so serious. all because i felt the NEED to train, train, train. now i know to listen to the body. so happy for the changes you've made in the past year-its admirable <3

  4. What a great post. And I am so glad you caught the cycle broke it and can now look back and learn from last summer. We all get trapped in those cycles weather its working to many days hours or working out to the extreme or dieting to the extreme. I have been on each one of those cycles before. Can't wait to see what the rest of this year holds for you.

  5. Love your honesty. We are never perfect, but I love that you realized what you were doing and are working to fix it. So smart.

  6. I've been down that road before, too. It happens! The good news is that you are smart enough that you learned from it. I'm glad i found your blog. Good stuff here.

  7. I needed to read this. Hard.

    It's clear how much you have grown and what positive changes you have made. I'm really happy for you Laura.

  8. So glad I clicked over from Hollie's blog post today. I look forward to learning more about you and following your blog now!

  9. So, so proud of your running and to be part of #teamloo! Your wisdom and guidance got me to my BQ. I was going through the same thing. We definitely needed each other and David as our coach! Love you!

  10. I love this post. I've been feeling the same way and I've been reflecting a lot on my past marathon. These are definitely some of the reasons I did not succeed and why I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.


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