So it’s about halfway through the training cycle for Italy and I’m doing a bit of stock-taking.

Overall, I am stronger. My muscles have never been sore from the running, whether I’m doing doubles on days with long interval workouts or back-to-back long runs on the weekends. That is unprecedented for me. The worse muscular aches have come from massage (thanks Tiger Ellen) and one bootcamp-style class back in January.

The streak got completed. I ran every day for a month, sometimes twice a day. And yeah, I know February is a really short month, so I bookended it with running on January 31 and March 1 for good measure. 30 days, done.

I’m not sure it was the best idea for my body, which really wanted a break during the last week, but I was stubborn and determined to finish what I started. That’s a little issue I have with my training: once a goal gets put in my mind I’m gonna reach it- whether it’s minutes or miles or months. For example, yesterday I had 10×1-minute hill repeats scheduled at the end of my run. After the first one I felt godawful and thought I should just call it a day. But I did the second one and it wasn’t as bad, so I kept going. It was worth it just for this moment: heading back down after the last repeat, and older gentlemen who’d been walking his dog stopped by the side of the road to applaud my effort. Literally clapping.

But I’m at the point where training advice gets challenging. You have to listen to your body, but you also have to push through its pain to make it stronger. There’s the fixed training schedule and  there’s how I feel. The highs and lows come in every training run and before and after- mental preparation for what to expect during the run itself.

I ran long intervals on the treadmill with an upset tummy. I spent what felt like half of last weekend on the damned machine, and I am by no means a treadmill-hater. It’s just that enough is enough already.

There are other small sacrifices along the way. I was feeling pre-cold symptoms coming on so I cut back on my outdoor running time when it was very cold, missing out on social runs. I set aside my minor dream of running a sub-4 50K until next year. I cut back on my carb intake. I don’t go to parties and limit myself to a few sips of beer at occasional dinners. I don’t even go on runs that promise to end with hot chocolate and pastries (well more because it was too cold that day). These are minor things. I rely on plenty of hot coffee and hot baths to get me through each day, each workout. And I’m fortunate I get to do this.

My brain is a bit tired of all the speed work and parts of my legs have been crying out at me on a daily basis, which makes it harder to do the speed work as I have to channel more mental energy into it, thus tiring the brain even more- a bad cycle. So this next week is a bit of a cutback week following the last 2 intense weeks, which includes letting go of one of my short speed sessions because I have some calf pain that is aggravated by very fast running. And hopefully this week is also the last of the real winter weeks- snow, cold, ice, freezing rain, more cold- we’re really packing it in!

 Week in Review 2/23

Monday: 4 miles easy, about 150 pushups and light core work

Tuesday: AM: 11 miles with intervals and strength workout. PM: 3 miles easy and acupuncture

Wednesday: AM: 5 mile tempo. PM: 2 mile walk

Thursday: 13 miles with intervals on the treadmill and strength workout

Friday: 5.5 miles easy to moderate

Saturday: AM: 6 miles moderate pace outside. PM: 12 miles long intervals on the treadmill and strength workout

Sunday: 2 miles outside and 19 miles on the treadmill with some hills mixed in, easy to moderate pace