For the first time in a long time, I actually got a LOT of running in over the 3-day holiday weekend (three days of running, to be precise)!
With TWO half marathons planned in October and my “long” runs averaging 6 miles lately, I knew I needed to ramp up my mileage this weekend.
I met my cousin Becky (to whom I am eternally grateful for first introducing me to recreational running) at our local 5-mile trail early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I decided to have a little get-together with friends the night before, and I ended up only getting about 5 hours of sleep Friday night. Good for social relationships. Not good for long-run energy. I woke up at 6:15 a.m., drank a big cup of coffee, popped two tablets of spirulina, and ate my usual peanut butter toast before heading to the trailhead. Because of the humidity (and lack of sleep, for me), we both agreed we felt a little sluggish running our first four miles. We ran without stopping though. At the turnaround point, we came up on an acquaintance of Becky’s who was running as well. She was working on a 12-mile training run and asked if she could run our last four miles with us. Sure! I always love meeting and talking to new runners.
This lady, although she was a self-proclaimed “not fast” runner, totally kicked our butts the last four miles of our run. I’m not sure if it was because she was faster than us, or if she was just starting her run at our 4-mile point, or if the humidity was dragging us down, or if my lack of sleep was really taking a toll on me– but the last four miles of our run were a real challenge.
Although it was a tough run, I was really glad that we met up with her and she helped us keep our pace up. I felt GREAT afterwards! Better than I’ve felt after a run in a long time.
When I got home, I put on my CEP compression socks knowing I had another run planned for Sunday morning and hoping they would help with recovery. I’ve only worn my compression socks once– that was during a 10K race two years ago. Those socks, in my opinion, totally ruined that race for me. My legs felt heavy and my feet went numb while I was running. After that 10K, I put the socks in a drawer and haven’t touched them until this weekend. I’ve heard nothing but great things about compression socks and recovery, so I wanted to see if they helped with soreness after my tough run that morning.
Guess what– they did! After running further and harder than I have in a long time on Saturday morning, I had zero soreness. I had minor fatigue in my quads, but nothing major. I only have the socks to credit for that.
Then I took a much-needed nap.
On Sunday morning, I met my bestest running friend Emily at the same time at the same place to do the same run. My boyfriend and I had movie night at my house the night before, so I yet again ended up skimping on my sleep. I only got about 6 hours that night! A small improvement over my 5 hours the night before. I did my same morning routine– coffee + spirulina + peanut butter toast, and headed out the door. My little brother (who has really taken up running lately) came too, which was nice! The three of us ended up going a little further than our planned 8 miles– 8.41 miles to be exact. I was surprised at how great my legs felt despite my hard run the morning prior. Our average pace was much slower than the day before’s– not only were we running slower, but we ended up taking a lot of walking breaks to recover. I’m not a big fan of taking walking breaks; it’s always nice to have a small rest, but once my body cools down it’s really hard to get it going again. I don’t think that’s good for you, either. Because of this and the fact that I was running low on sleep, I was pretty exhausted by the time we finished. It still felt great to get the distance under my belt, though.
Since I didn’t have any running plans for Monday, I decided to forego my compression socks after Sunday’s long run. Although my legs weren’t terribly sore afterwards, they were noticeably more fatigued than after Saturday’s run. I’m not sure if this was because I didn’t wear my socks for recovery, or because I ran two long runs back-to-back, or a combination of both.
After two consecutive days of running, I was feeling on top of the world. For this reason, my brother was easily able to talk me into running a 5K race on Monday morning. I was curious to see how well I did after running two days in a row. We decided late Sunday night that we wanted to run the race for sure, so I once again set my alarm clock for bright and early Monday morning. I made sure to get enough sleep this time, though! I was exhausted from the late nights and long runs over the weekend. I actually felt recharged and refreshed when my alarm went off at 6 a.m. Monday morning. I had my coffee, spirulina, and peanut butter toast, then headed to the 8:30 a.m. race.
My brother and I did a little jogging warm-up before the race gun went off, which is something we don’t usually do. We thought it would be smart to actually warm up before charging full-steam-ahead for 3.1 miles.
The race itself was very enjoyable– the course was full of some challenging hills accompanied by subsequent downhills to recover. I’d take rolling hills over a flat course any day; that’s just my personal preference. I recently started running “naked” (i.e. sans my beloved heart rate monitor), so I let my body dictate my speed throughout the race. I think it’s amazing how we can learn to listen to our bodies with enough practice. I know when I can speed up and when I need to slow down just by tuning in.
At 24:30 and 26:30 respectively, my brother and I both finished 3rd in our age groups!! Wahoo!! I was pleased with my time (which is only 39 seconds behind my PR), especially considering the challenging course and the fact that I had run the two days prior).
My total milage for the weekend per above was 19.78. I was happy with that, especially considering it’s usually more around 0-6! A weekend full of running can only mean one thing– fall running has finally arrived!! Fall is my favorite season to run; the temperature is almost always perfect for running and my weekend activities always seem to slow down at that point.
Last week when I wrote about my spirulina purchase, I promised that I’d let you know whether or not I felt it affected my long runs this weekend. Well, after having two semi-successful long runs after two nights deprived of sleep, I feel like I’m not in the position to give an accurate review quite yet. The fact that I took spirulina before my near-PR 5K on Monday morning gives me hope that the superfood may be partially to blame, but I don’t feel confident in that determination just yet. I’ll be sure to keep taking spirulina and keep you updated on my endurance levels!!