Monday, February 27, 2012

Not Everybody's Working for the Weekend

I work down there.  I run up here. I dream of over yonder.

For as long as I've been distance training, I've basically lived for the weekend.  I pretty much suffered through my weekdays, trying to shove as many workouts I could into my little free time, and then hit the weekends hard.  Sometimes I'd run TWICE as many miles and climb THREE TIMES as much vert in two days as I had in the previous five.  I'd write it in my log, stare at it and say, this makes no sense.  And then the next week, I'd do the same thing.  Buy why?


 Sunrise - a great opportunity to nerd out over forefoot 
strike patterns.
Tired and sore from  a long weekend in the mountains; I'd stare down the week ahead with fearful eyes.  Working a full-time job, freelance work, managing a long- distance traffic relationship, paperwork, errands, cooking, cleaning and other such life stuff really takes up a lot of time.  So even if I spend the remainder of my waking minutes running, I'm going to be tired.  I guess my mileage will just be low during the week and all my runs will kind of suck.


Last Wednesday morning, as I headed out for my 5:30am soft sand run, something clicked.  I realized I had already run 30 miles this week in just two days and I was none the worse for wear.  Furthermore, I did this on two 10+hour workdays, cross-trained AND put in quality workouts that I was proud of.  I felt energized.  I felt powerful.  I felt kind of stupid.

All this time, I'd been wanting running to be more important and more of a priority during my week; but all I seemed to come up with was excuses as to why it couldn't be.  Yet somehow now it was.  As I compared my training log to last year's notes, I realized I'm actually putting in a lot more hours, time and vertical feet during my weekdays - even though I'm technically "busier" in all other areas of life.  It's not at all hard to put down 20 miles and at least 2-3k of vert on a weekday, especially when it's broken up into two workouts.  But how?


My job is not a hindrance to my running.  It is a training tool.
Getting out for some hill repeats after sitting, staring at a screen for 4-5 hours - letting my body stiffen up from the morning's workout isn't easy.  Hell, it's not at all unlike trying to throw down 9 minute pace up a hill at mile 80.  This, my friends, is what you call simulation.

Probably the best thing about my job as a copywriter at a busy ad agency is the fact that it completely fries my brain every day.  I'm talking total mental exhaustion.  It takes some serious panache to get my shit together for a hard, calculated effort, just like it does when the sun is going down and I'm trying to stay in the race.  I remember this when I'd rather go take a nap in my car than lace up and get my ass on the hill at lunch. This brings me to my next truth…

Who even files anymore?  This is 2012, people.
Even if it's dark before work and dark after, you can still run in sunlight.
The next best thing about my job is that there is a 500 foot hill/playground behind my office.  It has a winding trail that goes to the top; it has a mean set of stairs; it has steep, rocky drainage ditches. In short, it is awesome for hill repeats when you're stuck in the middle of the city.  I used to hit it up after work sometimes and created some mean little workouts.  Then it hit me?  Why not run it at lunch - when it's sunny and hot and you can get an extra K in on your day?  WHY THE HELL NOT?

There really was no good reason, so accordingly, I've added a few lunchtime trips to the hill every week and always look forward to them.  The best part is hitting the top and looking out to my weekend playground - the snowcapped San Gabriels off in the distance - and spending the rest of my repeats infinitely inspired.  This work I'm doing during the week is only aiding my enjoyment of the work I do on the weekend.  Because enjoyment to me is running fast, strong and slightly out of control.

The steps up "Work Hill" - Culver City, CA

There is absolutely no time at which it is unreasonable to run.
While nursing my knee back to health, I didn't run every day.  I definitely didn't run twice a day.  I began taking my hot ballet/yoga classes three mornings a week for cross-training.  The only problem was, even once I was back to hitting the miles, I didn't want to give up those classes.  I've seen and felt dramatic results in my strength as a direct result of these workouts, so obviously I should keep it up.  But they are at 6:30 am, so that takes up THREE mornings to run.  That was, until I realized I could run beforehand.  Furthermore, I'd been wanting to incorporate more soft sand runs, but heading to the beach after work was a bitch with traffic and parking.  At 5 in the morning, none of these things are a problem.  It's funny that it never occurred to me to run before class, just because I thought it was too early. Is it too early to be running at 2 am when I'm in a 100 mile race?  Well, maybe… but you see my point.

Tuesday Morning Big Loop - Thank you Michael for joining me!
photo:  Michael Chamoun

Sitting in traffic isn't a waste of time.  It's a fucking break.
I ask for one at least 5 times a day; only one of which I'm procuring a piece of your Kit-Kat Bar.  Sitting on my butt, letting my mind wander or listening to music, comedy, podcasts, etc. could be seen as a waste of time, but if I'm multi-tasking by getting said butt from Point A to Point B, it suddenly becomes entirely legitimate.  I wouldn't give myself this break otherwise, so doing it a couple times a week to visit Dom suddenly becomes an added benefit to my life.  Boom.  That just happened.

"Marshall Mondays" at Westridge - a new staple & much
appreciated group run.  Thank you Marshall!
photo:  Chan Chan
Spending all my free time running isn't work.  It's a privilege.
Relatively speaking, I don't have  whole lot of responsibilities.  I've gotta work, I've gotta eat and I've gotta pay my taxes.  That's about it.  My boyfriend gets excited if I say I'm going to be late because I need to run.  My work is cool with me coming in dirty and sweaty. My life is awesome.

That said, someday I do want a family; and I don't want to just pop the little suckers out.  I want to raise them; I want to go to their soccer games; I want to make them delicious meals; I want to KNOW them - all the things my parents did for me.  I will run, but I won't have the freedom to do it like I do now.  The older I get, the more and more real this becomes.  So instead of moping out the door when I'm tired and sore and it's cold and dark - I focus on how lucky I am to have the freedom to run after work instead of a whole host of activities which I will someday enjoy.


All it takes is a little shift in perspective to be the runner you want to be.  Be creative with your training.  Check out all of the things in your life that are "getting in" the way, and consider that they might actually be paving it.

I did.  And now I love my weeks just as almost as much as my weekend adventures.

Ahhh.... weekend....
photo:  Dominic Grossman, Holy Jim Canyon