First, I just had a great six mile run and boy, did I need it. I've been fighting a cold/sinus infection for about five or six days. I arrogantly talk flippantly about how I never get sick anymore. This week has taught me to learn some humility and remember the frailty of my immune system. I've felt lousy all week and of course on my first day off from Bull City in six days, when the body finally had the chance to rest, I felt perhaps the worst.
I'm stressed because I have a 5K on Saturday and I have pretty high hopes for putting up a good mid-season mark and this has not been a great confidence building week. It's amazing how fast confidence in my fitness can slip away as if I had never run before. So far this fall I've improved on all four of my races which I raced last year. I've run the mile in 4:40 which is a gear these legs have never seen. Then one measly little cold and I wonder if I should hang up the spikes, flats, trainers and burn all my running gear. It's pathetic. The mind requires so much stroking of it's fragile ego that the legs, lungs, and heart could care less about. The engine parts don't care about a few easy days. In fact, they probably were due an easy week. Last week I ran nine times in seven days, had two awesome speed workouts of 10 x 1,000 meters and 12 x 500 meters and ended the week with an 18 miler. It's like I can't even remember all the good work that happened so long ago. We are talking five days ago. Shameful.
Until this afternoon and the script was flipped just in time. Kristen got home at 5:45pm and I was ready to sneak out for a twilight run. I expected so little, thinking it would be another failed attempt to run and feel good, loose, free. I didn't wear a watch, but I knew I had to shake out the legs with the hopes that I might still run on Saturday. I rolled along for six miles up MLK and looped around Bojangles and it must have been around six minute pace.
Here's the little training secret. I sought grass wherever I could find it.
I used to think you would only do this if you were injured and needed to take it easy on the grass. I was even annoyed by a training partner who used to employ this technique on the same grass, but of course, he gave me the idea and now I am thanking him. I used to think, if the sidewalk is there why not run on the thing and give the legs a little pop. But I've learned that real power, flexibility, and just great XC (Cross Country) training comes from taking an urban run and finding every inch of grass. It builds power. It forces the technique issue. If you don't lean forward and clean up the arm and shoulder action you just kind of bounce around and almost roll your ankles in the grass. When you get into a powerful forward lean on the grass it doesn't matter if you hit a hole or a mound or a little uneven divot. You are already toeing off powerfully and into the next stride. It's not the fastest way down a stretch of land that offers concrete, asphalt, and grass, but the green stuff is the best for training. It just takes a little discipline in terms of terrain choice, and this is a good mental exercise for the disciplines needed all throughout the runner's life.
It was a great run. I don't really know if I was rolling six minute miles or not. I don't really know if I can roll low five minute miles on Saturday. But instead of staying holed up on the couch, depressed and more anxious about Saturday morning, I had a great Thursday afternoon run on a perfect October day. And to rip off Frost, that has made all the difference.
P.S. I actually really like this video on running uphill. Check it out. The Bull City Track Club will be doing a great hill workout next Wednesday!