I do some of my best thinking in the shower. And during my shower this morning, I thought a lot about running — where I am with it right now, what my goals are for running this year, and how I’ve evolved as a runner since I started in 2008. (I’ve been a runner for almost 10 years now! I wonder how many sticks of Body Glide I’ve gone through in that amount of time…)
Now that I’m clean and dry, I’m here to share some of those thoughts with you.
I am feeling 92% healthy these days.
That’s a solid A-, or an A depending on your school. But at Hopkinton High School, a 92 would earn me an A-, and anything in the A-range is good enough for me.
While I was in Utah, I went for runs most days without really thinking much about my stomach. It was the first time that had happened in months and months and months. As someone with Crohn’s disease, I’m always super tuned in to my body — particularly my digestive system — and how it’s feeling on any given day. But since I’ve returned to running after my most recent flare, my mind is largely consumed with thoughts of, “How’s my stomach? How’s my stomach now? How’s it doing now? How might it feel in five minutes?” And so on.
I was able to enjoy a few bathroom-stop-free runs before I went on my trip, and those felt super victorious. Then, in Utah, I had a bunch of stop-free runs! Some days I ran and I didn’t even think about my stomach — I just ran! (And stopped to take pictures of the mountains.)
I think a lot of that is mental. Yes, of course it’s in part because I’m feeling better. But I know that when I’m home and I run along the waterfront, I know where every bathroom is along my route. I plan for it, I expect it, and sometimes I’ll even stop just because the bathroom is there. In Utah, though, I didn’t know where the bathrooms would be, and I was mostly on trails, so I wasn’t super concerned about having a mid-run emergency. Getting out of my routine, for once, seemed to really help me and do my body good.
I’m really loving running right now.
I run around four times per week. I did a track workout yesterday (8 x 400, my favorite) and went for an easy run today. I like the idea of sticking with Track Tuesdays (the best day of the week), easy runs on Wednesdays, and a longer run on Saturdays. The rest of the week is up for grabs — a yoga day, a spin day, a rest day, whatever.
Since I’m not officially training for anything — and I still very much see myself as in recovery / comeback mode — I’m keeping my mileage fairly low, or at least low compared to what I’ve done in the past. I haven’t gone over 30 miles per week since last year, and I’m not really tracking my mileage beyond just seeing it show up on Strava. I’m not concerned with my pace, and any efforts I put forth are based more on, well, effort than what my watch says. It’s still too early in the comeback (can I officially call it that?) to care about numbers.
So basically I run what I want, when I want, and I feel grateful every time I get out the door. Running is the best. And springtime running is definitely the best. I like being warm. And sweaty.
I registered for the Airbnb Brooklyn Half — again.
Every year I say I won’t run this race, and every year I get sucked back in. So I was just talking about not training for anything, and yet here I am, signed up for a half. Last year I had a great run at the Brooklyn Half, though, so hopefully I can train for it and race well again this year. (But without my superstar pacer Ed, I’m not sure how to make that happen. Teamwork makes my dreams work, so please join my team AKA volunteer to pace me, THANKS.)
I haven’t decided yet on what sort of training plan I’ll follow or what my goals will be. Last year I did all my training without using my GPS watch, and that worked out beautifully for me. It kept me sane and happy and focused on my effort, not however my watch decided to evaluate each run. I raced watchless, too, and I had an awesome race.
Training watchless last year was really good for me in that it taught me not to care about or obsess over all those numbers I used to analyze. Now, I have a much better relationship with my watch, with running, with my mental approach to exercise — all of it is in a good, healthy place. So I think I can probably train with my watch and a plan and not get all crazy and addicted like I have in the past. I want to keep my mileage below 40 miles per week (max) and don’t want to run more than four days per week. That seems to be where my body is happiest. That, and also in bed, sleeping.
There are a few other races I’m interested in for this year.
- The New Jersey Half Marathon: Now that I live in New Jersey, I basically just want to do everything New Jersey-related, like running all the races here and going to really big shopping malls. This race is April 29, so I could make this my goal race and then just enjoy Brooklyn, or take this one easy as a tune-up for Brooklyn.
- The Harlem Mile: My friend Alison Desir is the founder of Harlem Run. Listen to her episode of the Ali on the Run Show! And then sign up for the race, happening June 19.
- The Party With Purpose 5K: I ran a PR at this race last year, so I definitely want to do it again this time around. Also YAY NEW JERSEY! I don’t know when it is or when registration opens, but I know I want to be there for it.
- The Brooklyn Mile: I loved this race last year. The course is slightly different this year (like super slightly), and I’m sure the race fields and spectator crews will be grand. Registration opened today, so go sign up! The race is August 20.
I’m not running a marathon this year.
After getting sick last fall and having to sit on the sidelines for a while, I made a promise to myself that I’d take this year off from 26.2-mile races. That’s a bummer because I really do love training for marathons (and running them, even when they’re hard and terrible and painful), but I also really love being healthy. So no marathons. Just a half or two and a lot of taking care of myself. And Ellie.
TALK TO ME ABOUT RUNNING! What are you training for, what’s your goal race this year, and how are you feeling about it all? Also do you want to come run with me in New Jersey and then we can go get pancakes?