Ups and Downs

Time is growing short — just 47 days to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Race (and only 12 until the Reston Ten Miler). The week saw signs of Spring, Summer, and then back to Winter before wrapping up. In a first, I managed to complete all of my planned training runs. But circumstances interfered with yoga and my strength training, for which I paid a bit of a price. Here’s a recap of my week, and a look forward — and don’t miss the linkup to fellow runner’s musings on their training for the week.

On the whole, it was a week of ups and downs. I’d finished last week with a respectable six-mile long run, so I was motivated to keep up progress. Here’s how it went.


As scheduled, a rest day.


I’d hoped to wake early and get my run completed first thing — and once again, I didn’t make it. When I first started running, my schedule allowed me to get runs in during the late afternoon, at least during the week. Weekend runs were early, although not overly so — starting around 7:00 or 8:00 am. But, a couple of years ago, my schedule changed, and most of that was out the window.

Since I tend to wake early, I’ve been trying to shift to a run or workout first thing. I can probably count on a couple hands the times I’ve been able to make it work. I’ve mentally beat myself up about it, but I’ve come to the conclusion it doesn’t seem meant to be. And Tuesday was the day I decided it was time to listen to my body, stop chastising myself, and accept the fact that mornings — for me at least — are for contemplation and lots of coffee.

The training schedule called for a tempo run, with a slowish 12 minute warm up, then five minutes at a race pace of 10:05, followed by another slow ten minute cool down. A late meeting for work meant it was quarter of six before I got out and the weather wasn’t welcoming. Just 34º, damp and cloudy, and a light breeze to reinforce the chill. Despite all that, the run went well — I averaged 10:18 over a total of 2.46 miles. The tempo section was well into the nine’s, and I even hit a maximum pace of 7:59 a couple of times (once downhill, and again going up).

What with the meeting and the later run, I missed my yoga session. That turned out to be a mistake on multiple fronts, as I’d learn Sunday.


Was out the door right after wrapping up work (I often work from home, a huge advantage in many ways). The schedule called for a rather short easy run, and I clocked 1.83 miles in 19:45 for an overall pace of 10:46. The weather had improved — still a bit damp, but temperature was up to 54º and virtually no wind.


It was close to six pm by the time I laced up, and I made the decision to try and slow down for this run, another short and easy outing. I’ve been trying to push my pace, given the short time I have before the Reston Ten Miler. But the weather was a delight, an almost unheard of 73º in the middle of February, so I tried to enjoy. Clocked an average pace of 11:24, which was good for 1.73 miles in 19:44.


Fridays are meant to be a break from running, with the time spent in the gym. Didn’t happen, the second mistake of the week. No good excuse, other than being tired from a hectic work week and needing a little down time.


I’ve mentioned in the past my training plan has been a mix of a program I began back in December and the Potomac River Running training program, which began a few weeks ago. “My” plan, which was created using Under Armor’s Map My Run application, called for intervals — a 12 minute slow warmup, with just two very fast (8:48) one-minute sprints with a recovery in between, all followed by a ten minute cool down.

In hindsight, it wasn’t the best plan.

Snow sticking to the trees made for a pretty, but a little sloppy, run.

By the time I started, it was 4 pm and the weather had completely changed — it was down to 32º and a heavy, wet snow had started to accumulate. Given the snow, and the ice underneath, I’d slipped on a pair of YakTrax. For the unfamiliar, YakTrax are essential wintertime training gear. They strap on over your shoes and combine small cleats and spring-like metal bands to provide traction in slippery conditions. To my dismay, I found the wet snow was actually sticking to the straps, making running a little more difficult. (Although, having taken some bad falls on ice in the past, I was happy to have the sure footing.)

I started out on the fast side, and the extra exertion from the snow left me a bit tired when it came time for the intervals. While I was able to get some speed — my max pace was, very briefly, 7:09 — you can see from my stats that my pace was all over the place. I finished, completely soaked and very tired, having covered 2.36 miles in 25:40, for an average pace of 10:53.


Having covered six miles the week before, I wanted to move up to eight this week. I did, but the accumulated mistakes of the week caught up with me and made for a very unsatisfying workout. The drive to Reston was quite pretty — the sun was just rising, and the wet snow had stuck to the tress, so the world was white and lovely. The weather wasn’t overly bad — clouds had moved in, but the temperature was 34º by the time our group headed out, pleasant enough for a run.

Looking at my splits, things started out well enough. I did the first couple of miles at a bit over 11:00, then — unaccountably — sped up to the mid-tens. But around mile five, everything caught up with me. Missing yoga and skipping the strength workout had left me stiff, and my lower back began to ache. Running intervals in the snow the afternoon before had sapped my energy. Things started to fall apart, physically and emotionally. I was tired and lacking energy. And I was mentally kicking myself for my mistakes.

I ended up alternating walking and running for much of miles five through seven. I recovered a bit, and was able to run the remaining mile, although slowly. I ended the day having covered 8.01 miles in 1:32:25, for an average pace of 11:32.

Lessons Learned

So, with a race coming up in just a couple weeks, I’m not really where I hoped to be. The Reston course has several hills, so it will be a challenge, but it will also serve as a good workout in advance of the Cherry Blossom, which is the ultimate goal. For this week, I’ll be looking carefully at my training plan to make sure I’m not exerting myself quite so much before my long run. And yoga and strength training have been shown to be important, so will make sure those don’t fall from the schedule. Despite the disappointment of Sunday’s run, it was actually a fairly good week — so will try to keep a balanced perspective, and refocus on this week’s work.

Follow the link below to read about this week’s experiences from the rest of the social ambassadors — and be sure to add a link to your own blog with your report. It’s more fun, and educational, to hear about other’s experiences.

Have a great week.

1 comments On Ups and Downs

  • You are so good at learning the lessons from your training and making adjustments. It’s not a skill that everyone has! This upcoming week will be better (and no more afternoon exertion runs before your next morning’s long run!)

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