I know I have written about consistency before but I have been thinking about the topic again. About a year ago I posted about the importance of consistency in my journey. Keeping up with my training, showing up and doing my workouts every day no matter what, doing drills to practice skills, keeping track of my food – all of these are important. I’ve tracked my training for over two years now. I started with a paper journal and continue to use that even though I have also gone back to using Training Peaks and I download information from my Garmin when I use it, mostly when I run. All of this information allows me to go back and review workouts, races, food logs and other information. I tend to also write notes to myself about how I felt or what went well or did not go well. I’ve kept a Google doc of races with notes after each race. I plug in things like vacations and work projects or travel as well so I don’t plan something too big in the midst of a big project that may need more attention. Of course, I don’t always follow my own advice since I have several events scheduled over the next few months in the midst of fiscal year end and beginning. At least I can plan my time better though.
My run times remain slow compared to many other runners I know. I have to remember that “whole foot rehabilitation thing,” as Sam reminded me last week and not be overly concerned. I am generally not and am happy with the progress that I have made since my doctor cleared me to run again.
On Saturday I ran the Decatur 4 Miler, an Atlanta Track Club race. This time I was prepared for hills, unlike my first Atlanta race in October 2010. Sure enough, the race began going up hill for the first mile and a half. Then there was a lovely mile long down hill followed by more up hills and part of the course running through a McDonald’s drive through (not to stop, by the way). This run, along with the sprints I did in the pool on Friday, really got me thinking about consistency more. My first mile was 12:17. It was humid and hot on Saturday, though not as bad as it has been. I ran more than a mile without stopping to walk. I did not walk long before running again and did run all that way on that downhill mile. Miles 2, 3, and 4 times were 14:20, 14:13, and 14:48. Fairly consistent. 2 for T-town on the 4th of July was 12:12 and 13:44 (and flatter than Decatur even though there were slight hills). I certainly want to improve these times but I am happy that I have been able to continue over a few weeks with being fairly consistent. I have been trying to run outside and acclimate to the heat, something I did not do last summer and I think it was a mistake when I had to run races outside.
My fastest 5k time last summer was 38:43 and I am getting closer to that time again. When I started running again this spring my mile time was around 18 minutes so I have made a fair amount of progress so far. Because of the Achilles surgery my run time will take some time to improve. I can live with that.
For comparison I am including a photo from my first Atlanta race in October 2010 and one with my cousin Jean and me from this past Saturday. A bit different.
Another angle on consistency that continued on Saturday was running with a group of women who were similar to me in time and trying to run just a little farther than they had before. These are not women I usually know but we seem to fall into together and encourage one another. On Saturday somewhere in mile 3 I began running beside a woman who eventually passed me in mile 4. I was working to get up a hill as she was. I suddenly heard her say, “pole” and I knew she meant we needed to run as far as the pole we could see ahead before walking and we did. We continued together for the next mile, alternating encouraging one another to make it to a pole or a mailbox or some other thing we could spot. Somewhere in there we also passed an elderly gentleman who was standing in his driveway clapping for every single runner who passed him.
This race was really well organized and had a great group of encouraging volunteers stationed along the way as well. I always try to remember to thank the volunteers and police officers along a race route. Without them, a race would not happen. Most of them are fellow runners or bikers or whatever the race is that I am participating in. I volunteer with the Tuscaloosa Track Club because that is also really part of the sport. We need to support the people who organize the events and support our fellow athletes in this way as well.
A few more words about consistency
I also mentioned the sprints in the pool last week. Sam had me do 8×100 sprints. My times were all fairly consistent except for the last 100 when I lost focus. Thus, I actually did 9×100 sprints and regained focus on number 9 for my fastest time by 2 seconds. I have also been trying to spend more time in the pool recently to build up distance. I have a 1500 open water swim in August and I want to make sure I can make it.
This morning I worked with John again and we focused on stroke. He told me the same exact things Sam has been telling me with different analogies. More consistency – both of them see the same things I need to work on. So I will keep working at getting my stroke and rotation right. It will all come with time and with continuing to show up, spend the time working on the skills, and remaining consistent.