I just finished my sixth week of steady, continuous training. I haven't been able to say that for a very long time. Being able to run at all is a gift, but I don't run if I'm not training for something. The challenge has been to find something to train for - what can I still do, that I enjoy, that I want to do? Time off has let me remember what I tell others: what you do best, do most often and enjoy most is usually the same thing; for me, that's hilly 8-10K races. Ultramarathons are interesting - as a puzzle to solve - but I don't enjoy running 100 milers (and I don't enjoy them for a LOOONG time). 1500-5000m are probably my "best" distances, but they don't seem worth the trouble, somehow. I have a few races I still enjoy doing, small challenging (and relatively cheap) races, and that's what I should aim for... next year.
I'm waiting for the plateau. There's always rapid improvement early in training (well, sometimes there's a lag first) and then a leveling off, where I have to decide how to tweak the training. For now, I'm improving, though the improvements are not coming where I expect; the things I've always done well are troublesome, the sprints are hampered by a sore hamstring, the long intervals are made tough by breathing issues, the all-out short intervals just fall apart, but my average training pace has dropped by 90 seconds per mile.
I was wondering how fast I ran hill repeats back when I was last in shape (2007) and pulled out my training calendar for that year. I'm almost as fast now! The difference was that then I did more intervals with less recovery and it didn't feel as hard. The surprise was in the notes I'd made in the margins - "sore rt ham,""stiffness in rt. glute," etc. - I had the same issues then as now! The injuries I thought had come on recently have been around for the better part of a decade, but I'd ignored them because I could get away with ignoring them.
I hope I've learned something.
Lost in Space
2 days ago