Regaining the running groove

To state that this winter has been a pile of poop for my running training would be an understatement. Since the start of the new year I haven’t had a week over 17 miles of running, and my last double digit run was December 10th. Not the best way to go into the season with a couple 50Ks coming up. However, this morning showed me that all hope is not lost, and that I’ve been in this situation before and rallied. Today was the start of that rally.

I hit the Elm Creek horse trails for 2 loops today, and with temps approaching 40 at 8am, I was able to shed most of my winter running gear and go light. The trails were in adequate shape, not ideal, but I was able to navigate around most of the icy spots easy enough. For times when I couldn’t get around the ice I did my best penguin impression to avoid slipping and falling.

The sun was already up when I started, and I could tell that I would soon be able to lose my hat. As I approached 2 miles I ran into Mark, who was doing a final gear check before Actif. We chatted for a bit before we move off in our different direction. I kept my pace going as best I could for the rest of the first 7 mile loop. Around 5 miles I started to feel the groove, and before I knew it I was back at the parking lot. I felt myself cross a threshold, and suddenly everything clicked like it has in years past.

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I chatted with Mark again in the parking lot as I geared back up for the next loop. My wife also happened to call me, and the first thing she asked is if I was done running? A week or two ago I probably would have heard that question and decided it was more of a statement than a query, and opted to call it early. However, today I was feeling great, and I was excited to hit another loop.

I decided to bring along my trekking poles for the second loop, in case I wanted to hike some, but also to keep in practice of using them while running. After a bit of adjustment I was on my way and miles 8 and 9 felt awesome. I had a great pace, my form felt solid, and my attitude was upbeat. I had also been eating consistently, which helped my energy level.

A little after mile 9 I ran into Gary, another trail buddy, and I stopped and chatted for a bit with him as well. We talked about the upcoming race season, and marveled at how amazing the weather was this morning. Soon enough we parted ways and I began the final 5 mile push to bring it home. Unfortunately, as the weather warmed the thin layer of snow that was covering much of the ice was melting fast, and so even more icy spots were exposed. It was an inconvenience, but I probably used it as an excuse to hike a bit more than I needed to. Even when I ran I needed to make sure I knew where my feet were, as what may look like rough ice can actually be quite slick.

My pace dropped a bit during those last five miles, but I managed to keep it at 15/mile and under the whole way back. In fact my overall pace was 14/mile, which I was more than pleased with. I arrived back at my car and felt great. I felt like I could have attempted another loop, however, I knew better and my body needed me to stop. I stripped off my vest and gear and started looking for a little lunch.

I went home feeling amazing and hopeful that my old running self is still in here somewhere. I know I still need to lose some pounds, but today I felt like I still could regain the great shape I was in last winter. I’m thankful that Zumro is just a 17 miler for me this year, but soon enough Spring Superior 50K will be upon me. I’m more hopeful today that I’ll be successful this year than I was yesterday. I’m excited to get everything back into gear again!

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