Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner


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Learning to run slow

One of the most important caveats that I’ve had to learn at altitude so far is the importance of running slow.

Wait, what?

I know, I ultimately moved here to run faster, not slower. Hear me out. 

Changing thought

I love my aerobic runs. I love running a decently fast pace on my aerobic runs. However, since moving to 5,000 ft. I heard the necessity of running easy on aerobic/recovery days echoed again and again.

Run your easy runs easy, so you can run your hard runs hard. 

Fair enough.

Recovering from hard efforts is not something to be taken lightly, especially when you’re operating in altitude. Even when you’re acclimated, you’re still depleting your body more than you would at sea level.

I understood, but still had a tough time breaking the habit. I’d wear my GPS watch on aerobic runs purely to keep my pace in check, routinely swearing at myself when I would inevitably see mile splits that dipped too low. There was a constant game of tug-of-war going down between my mental and physical capacities. Highly obnoxious.

The “aha” moment

The tug-of-war game continued until I had what I’ll call my running slow “aha” moment several weeks ago. I finished a decent workout, started my three mile cool-down, and realized that I genuinely didn’t want to run one damn bit faster than I absolutely had to. It was more of a glorified shuffle, if you will.

It. Was. Fantastic. I got it. Running slow…is pretty awesome.

Solo to supported

I could be completely delusional, but the partial neurosis that a year of solitary training propagated in me was difficult to let go of. I didn’t fully comprehend the amount of mental energy I was expending before and during workouts alone until now.

Conversely, I also had a difficult time summoning that amount of intensity explicitly for workout days without allowing it seep into my regular runs as well.

Having a group to run with out here has already changed my training for the better in so many ways. Group runs let me enjoy the recovery that aerobic days should be without getting impatient. It’s more than just a run; it’s a much needed social outlet as well.

rollinsville_run

One of the many Sunday long run group pictures, courtesy of Brad Hudson. 

It’s only been two months here, but I just fall more and more in love with this place.

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Return to racing and the day-to-day

I kicked off spring racing (and the first race after my marathon in December) with a 15k in Jacksonville, FL this past weekend. It attracted a ridiculously deep field, the deities of road racing yielded perfect weather, and I experienced possibly the most complete athlete-hospitality ever leading up to a race.

The elite women were ushered to the start area in front of an antsy crowd of other road-racers, and lined up for the equalizer timing.

The gun for the women’s start went off, and…meh.

Not my day. I’d by lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed, but I ran a decent effort, and chalked it up to a good workout in the very least. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, but not every race can feel like rainbows and sunshine and fireworks.

…because that is, in fact, what the good ones feel like. Obviously.

On the bright side, I got to spend a weekend in Florida, meet a couple of gals that also run for SRA, and chat it up with other runners. The camaraderie was refreshing, and something that I often feel starved of in my solo training. Having the opportunity to connect with these other amazing elite runners was an amazing opportunity in itself, and inspiring to boot.

I’m turning my focus to getting in consistent work, listening to my body, and smoothing out some of the bumps that I’ve been encountering of late.

I want to keep evolving as a runner and overall athlete, and that requires patience and the ability to see yourself through the patches of training that aren’t so perfect.

I’m workin’ on it.

A New Old

On the “evolving” note, I’m adapting back to Santa Rosa, aka home.

Home is familiar.

Ok, duh Alia. That’s why it’s called home.

However, familiarity isn’t always synonymous to comfort. In my move home, I failed to recognize that the transition back is, in fact, still a transition. In a lot of ways it feels backward to be here, which in itself is something that I wrestling with.

Overall, I’m lucky to have the welcoming home situation that I do. My main quandary is striking a balance between accepting support without using it as a complete crutch.

As I figure life out in my own sporadic, chaotic way, I’ve been lucky to come across some work with a really rad lady by the name of Whitni Rader, who started pea.brain. She is a web designer goddess, works from her home in beautiful Petaluma, and wants my help! Whowouldathunk. I am soaking up whatever I can from her, and am excited to get moving on more projects.

She also makes really delicious stir-fry, and keeps me well caffeinated (new requirement of potential workplaces). What’s not to love?

Day by Day

A lot in my life right now is on a day-to-day basis. I’m not completely locked into a routine, for better or worse. On one hand, just thinking about the wrong kind of routine already feels suffocating. On the other, I’m still ironing out how to structure life myself. Work is helping, and will become more and more natural as time continues on.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Right.

Doing my best to embrace the transition, ride the bumps, and enjoy the day-to-day life that I’m in.