My boyfriend, Michael, hates going into a meeting at work unprepared and is known to hole himself up in a conference room in the days leading up to a presentation to practice his speech over and over. I doubt anyone enjoys going into anything they care about feeling under prepared. I am the same way when I get on the track.
Usually, pro runners have a year-long build-up to their spring and summer racing seasons. The year starts in the fall, hopefully after a nice break from running; 2 to 4 weeks is typical. Runners slowly build up their mileage, and I usually begin to do workouts a couple weeks after returning to running. Depending on if I’m racing cross country or indoor track in the winter, workouts start to be tailored to the distance I’m focusing on. In February or March, many professional athletes will spend some time at altitude and change their focus to outdoor track. By spring they have had a long base-building period, and bodies have slowly been sharpened for outdoor track during workouts in the winter and early spring.
My year has been atypical – to say the least. After getting surgery in late August, I spent the next three months cross-training. In November, I transitioned from the elliptical and swimming to running on the anti-gravity treadmill. December was spent transitioning from the anti-gravity treadmill to running on the ground. January, February, and March were spent trying to get back in shape and losing my extra surgery weight. Beginning of April I did my first steeple workout, and at the end of April, my first steeple race at Payton Jordan.
My goal at Payton Jordan was to run sub-10:00, and I snuck under in 9:59. I was pleased with the performance. It’s not anywhere close to my PR, but my coaches have done an excellent job getting me in as good of shape as possible, without injuring me, in the short time-frame.
But, I was exhausted after Payton Jordan. The steeplechase is a grueling race, and it usually takes me a few days to recover, but a week out I was still feeling lethargic. I felt more rested after taking Sunday completely off, but I had to get going again quicker than I wanted to for the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic, which is tomorrow and 12 days after Payton Jordan.
This season will continue to be an adventure and a test in keeping my perspective. With not being fully in shape, I have to continue to balance doing the races I need in order to take the next step in the season (right now I need to qualify for Outdoor Track Nationals by running under 9:53) with giving my body the rest it needs, knowing that I’m asking it to do a lot after a very short build-up.
Even if I don’t achieve all my goals this season, I know it’s a building year. The long term goal is to be healthy and ready for Olympic Trials next June.