Running along the trail of life

It’s been a bit since I last posted! Lord knows, it isn’t because there is nothing of interest going on in my life rather quite the opposite. There is so much stuff going on most days that I am too busy processing it inside my wee brain to actually take the time to sit down and attempt to translate for anyone else. πŸ™‚

As you may or may not know, I began using heart rate training for my running endeavors about 8 weeks ago in order to get ready for my very first 100 mile ultra in mid-December! (Brazos Bend) At the time I thought, how hard can it possible be to go super slow??? I’ve done marathon training several times with decent results.

I did my research, utilized the Maffetone method of finding my specified zones and got out on the trails to train. Oh my goodness!! The first three weeks were horrid! It felt as though I was crawling with intermittent walking. Anything faster than a jog meant my heart rate went above the designated zone…Really?!! I’ve always been relatively active and had a lower resting heart rate than many of my peers yet I couldn’t jog for more than 100 yards or so without my heart trying to POP out of my chest. Hmph!

I will not bore you with the gritty details of those first 5 weeks or so of heart rate training. Suffice to say, I was not a happy camper. I’m sure my friend John got plenty of chuckles at my endless questions about how LONG this process was going to take! One reprieve I gave myself was allowing the legs to unwind for the last mile of my mid-week run and going as fast as I could go (until I could feel my heart in my throat!) What an exhilarating feeling!! LOVE IT! Guess that’s why I have, until now, considered myself a sprinter rather than an endurance runner.

Guess what?! Here we are, mid way through week 8 of training and the results are staring me in the face! I log EVERYthing. I am a bit of a data junkie….but this has been good because it means I can look back at the data I have gathered and see how far I have come. Well, I should say – how far WE have come. My ‘battle buddy’ Norma has been right there with me – every step of the way. Walking when we have to walk, drinking bottle after bottle of Tailwind and forcing down whatever food stuff I hand her at the halfway point on our long runs. Thank God for my RWB friends! They speak the same language and share many of the same frustrations…I’ve learned much from them.

This whole ‘heart rate training’ deal has taught me a lot about myself and not just about my physical training, but brain training as well. Yes, I said brain training! Sounds goofy…but let me tell you a little secret – going slow on the trail means there is much time for some inner reflection, inner dialogue as well as a whole lot of LISTENING. I’m not talking about listening with my ears to what is taking place outside of my little bubble, but listening to what is going on with my body….Well, that’s probably a different topic altogether so we’ll leave that lie…..

I did say, however, that I am a data junkie and the proof is in the pudding- so to speak. When we first began this journey, our slow miles were SUPER slow, much slower than they can be to successfully complete a 100 mile ‘race’ in under 30 hours (shhhh don’t tell anyone but slow often meant 17 min miles!!) Our average pace hovered around 15:50 a mile. Now, during our most recent run we had a 13:50 average pace per mile. This still isn’t great timing but my friends, I am a cool weather runner. This is the good news! With persistence, consistency and cooler temps, we should be looking at some very comfortable 12 minute miles by the time this event rolls around! I am EXCITED!! Are you?!

Happy feet Norma!! Happy feet!! Tell “jake” to stay off our trails πŸ˜‰
Ragnar Relay is right around the corner!!!!