Today after work I start training in earnest for my January-through-April running and stair race seasons.
Commencing the moment I finished my most recent stair race, I went on a two-week “offseason,” per my running coach’s suggestion. The break was limited to my running — not my strength training in the gym or my stairwell training. I did, however, do only a couple gym workouts during the break; I also reduced the number of my stairwell training sessions, and took them easier when I did them. Much like how weekly rest days or getting adequate sleep at night is supposed to aid in recovery and recharge the body, the idea of an offseason is the same, but on a larger level: train hard for X amount of time, then rest to allow your body to absorb all the training.
In all, I went 18 straight days without running.
It was a little longer than two weeks because during the early part of the week of my mid-November stair race, I ended up scratching the runs I had scheduled for various reasons. It was a taper/easy week, so I didn’t feel too bad about not doing them. I made up for it at the end, though, because I did get an out-of-town 3.6 miles in on a treadmill Thanksgiving morning and another 1.89 in on Black Friday.
I think most runners would lose their minds if they were to go 18 days without running. It was my longest break since a 19-day break I endured in May due to neck problems. While I struggled with not running during that time (presumably because I didn’t have a choice in the matter), this voluntary break wasn’t too difficult. Considering that ever since I started running I haven’t been a high-mileage runner, maybe it’s not a surprise. After all, I was coming off of a four-month stretch that included the three highest-mileage months I’ve ever ran. That said, I welcomed the break.
Toward the end of the “offseason,” though, I started itching to get back to it.
For one thing, I have some unfinished business: a girl I’ve known since back in high school — and a sometimes-runner — posted on Facebook at the start of the year about how her goal was to run 500 miles in 2014, as well as how she’d check in every month with updates to stay accountable to all of the Facebook friends of hers to whom she’d now announced this goal. I was annoyed by this. Greatly annoyed, in fact. When it comes down to it, I was annoyed basically because my goals are different than hers. Which is silly. I shouldn’t have been annoyed. But I was. Obviously, my goal is to try to be faster (which I still don’t understand why everyone would want to try for). Hers is to just run. But something about this Facebook announcement of hers just got to me. So then my thought process went something like this: “She can run as much as she wants — she can run 2,000 miles this year, but she still won’t be faster than me! Y’know what? Maybe I’ll run 500 miles this year, too. Or maybe I won’t. But even if I don’t, I’m still faster than her.” Ever since then I’ve maintained an unspoken goal of hitting the 500-mile mark this year. Thanks to my Thanksgiving weekend runs, I’m now sitting at 451.39 for the year. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the remaining 48.61 miles I need in December are well within range, based on the initial look of things my running coach has planned for me this month.
Secondly, and more importantly, I have races to get ready for! Training isn’t all that exciting or fun, but racing is. And that’s why I train. That said, I’m pretty excited about my potential race schedule for the first part of 2015.
My tentative race schedule for January through April (bold indicates I’m already registered):
– Jan. 17: Bop To The Top; OneAmerica Building, Indianapolis, IN (stairs – 36 stories, 780 steps; four climbs)
– Jan. 24: IceBreaker Indoor Marathon Team Relay; Pettit National Ice Center, West Allis, WI (run – distance TBA)
– Feb. 8: Fight For Air Oakbrook Terrace; Oakbrook Terrace Tower, Oakbrook Terrace, IL (stairs – 31 stories, 680 steps; power hour)
– March 1: Scale The Strat; The Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV (stairs – 108 stories, 1,455 steps)
– March 8: Fight For Air Chicago; Presidential Towers, Chicago, IL (stairs – four buildings: 45 stories, 585 steps each)
– March 21: Fight For Air Milwaukee; US Bank Center, Milwaukee, WI (stairs – 47 stories, 985 steps; power hour)
– March 28: Fight For Air Pittsburgh; One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh, PA (stairs – 45 stories, 897 steps)
– April 26: Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K; Veteran’s Park, Milwaukee, WI (run – 5K)
I’m really hoping I’m able to do all of these races. I’m not sure I’ll be able to, but I’d definitely like to. I have a stair training strategy in place leading up to these “power hours” (as many climbs as possible in an hour). Additionally, the goal of my winter running is to build base for the Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K, which will then take me into 1-mile season training. I’m also confident a good three months of base building with my running leading into the March climbs will help with those climbs as well. Obviously not as much as stair-specific training, but if I stay healthy, it could shape up to be among the best aerobic base I’ve ever built.
At this point, I’m just hopefully my body absorbed the break so I can build some positive momentum heading into the new year.