You Only Get Out What You Put In..... Seem's so obvious, now.
Saturday May 1, 2010. The Bradleyville Scholarship 5k. Nothing like going back to where it all started. This annual 5k was my first ever race back in 2006. I showed up with about 4 months of running experience and very low expectations. I was familiar with the area and knew the course would be very hilly and was considered a “tough” 5k. With this knowledge I signed up and hoped to finish around 24 minutes and not embarrass myself.
I had been running a hilly 3 mile route by my house for the last few months but was still a newbie and had no idea how to approach a road race- nothing about pacing, breathing or actual “running” shoes. I just figured that an old pair of shorts, t-shirt and whatever Nike's I had in the closet would be fine. I showed up confused and it was obvious to all that this was my first 5k. So I was very surprised and happy when I crossed the line in 22:07, winning 2nd place in my age division. I think the trophy sealed the deal- I would be back.
I have returned every year since '06. Finishing '07 in 19:25 and 19:18 in '08, my times were getting faster. In '09 there was a pile up at the start because some little kids lined up in front and then, naturally, started falling down as the faster and bigger runners came through. I stopped 3 times to help move kids to the side so they didn't get hurt. This cost me a few seconds- well worth it though- and I finished in 19:48. Still not bad (for me) and would have been close to the previous two years otherwise.
Because my training has been focused more on longer, slower distances these past 6 months or so, I had no expectations of anything better than high 19's this year. You could say that I was just a little hyped crossing the line in 18:35, about 45 seconds faster than my best here and THAT is a giant difference in the world of 5k's. There was NO WAY that I should have been able to run that kind of time, given my history on this course and the slower training runs and zero speed work. NO WAY....Or was there?
True there has been absolutely no speed training or track sessions. True I have concentrated only on longer, slower paced running. But it is also true that I have been more consistent in my training, logging 45-50 miles per week for 6 months. And I have also added weights and core work to my training plan. These two small things have given BIG results. I used to laugh at the weights as a cross-training method because I thought that had nothing to do with running. DUMB.
The weights and core work- only 3 months thus far- have paid HUGE dividends. I know this is the difference here and on the 50 miler. My recovery time for the 50 was way faster than it should have been and there is only one explanation for that. I had the idea that things were paying off then but after this 5k, I KNOW for sure. Too bad it took me so long to figure out the obvious, that cross-training is necessary and an important tool for improvement and recovery. I know it is not a substitute for speed-work and I need to work on that but it's enough for me to continue the way too early, 4 AM work-outs. When I want to hit the snooze button, I am sure the VOICES will remind me why.....
-Nobody's a natural. You work hard to get good and work hard to get better. - Paul Coffey
This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........