Note: In case you missed it, here’s where I explain Project 14Forty.

So I chased yesterday’s meh 20 miles with a very enjoyable 15 this morning.  For some reason, it ends up that way more often than not for me.  My course was virtually identical to what I did a day ago, with a slight tweak in mile 2 taking out a steep hill by adding an extra mile. I also changed the end of my out-and-back by cutting out an uphill section though what I ended up doing was probably about the same elevation gain.  Given the perceived difficulty of yesterday’s run, I dialed back the effort right from the beginning by walking some of the steeper hill sections.

When I set up my training plan, my thought was that I would run every step of every mile.  I had been walking too much and I think that cost me some “speed” during my ultras as my body wasn’t used to running 30+ miles straight anymore.  Well, I didn’t do that this weekend.  I walked a fair bit the last 5 miles yesterday and walked a little each mile today.  My pace didn’t slow too much (10:26/mile vs. 10:20/mile), however this is still more walking than I thought I should be doing.

I came to the point that we all reach somewhere in our training: cutting back load to manage/avoid injuries or pushing through to drive performance improvements.  Being conservative vs. being aggressive.  Being smart vs. being dumb.  OK, the last one isn’t exactly correct as you can aggressively push yourself in a smart manner.  But I think a lot of times, maybe more times than not, aggressively pushing yourself is non-optimal.  It’s not like I’m an elite level athlete or will ever become one.  So when I’m faced with this choice, I almost always choose the lower injury risk option.  What made the decision to dial back the effort even easier this weekend is that I’m still 100 days out from Umstead.  I have plenty of time to continue improving and an injury now could cripple any chance I have of breaking 24 hours.  I know I can do this, but I have to train sustainable and smart.  So I got my planned mileage done, but at a slightly slower pace.  No biggy.  I don’t have pace plans for each run, just distances.  So a 10 1/2 minute mile is just as good as a 10 minute mile.  These are both much quicker than the 14+ minute pace I’ll need next April.

Going back to this being a good run.  I think much of the difference between how I view yesterday’s run and today’s is due to expectations.  I went out yesterday expecting to run a decent amount of it in falling snow (always fun) and today’s expecting rain the entire time (not so much fun).  I ended up with not much snow, but quite a bit of sleet and rain, while today had very light rain at worst.  So disappointed vs. pleasantly surprised.  I’m sure this colored how I view the 2 runs.  Regardless of how I thought things were going to go, I ended up with a good weekend of training.

A blister from yesterday was extra raw this morning and a Band-Aid wasn’t doing too much to help matters so I McGyvered it with some packing tape. Worked perfectly!

How often do you let your expectations influence how you feel about a workout?

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