I was sitting at lunch with some girlfriends backin November when one of them casually said to me, “I’m going for a 1:30 at the 3M Half Marathon in January. Will you pace me?”
After I laughed out loud and choked on my water, I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Dude (chicks can call each other dudes), that’s a 6:52 pace. No, I cannot pace you. That’s insane.”
“Why not?” she asked. “If I can do it, why can’t you?”
“Why not?” I mulled over in my brain as the post-lunch Chuy’s food coma started to take effect. Why couldn’t I train myself to do that? More importantly, why was I so quick to dismiss the possibility that I could? I had run a 1:32 before. What’s two more minutes? (That was the food coma talking.)
We adults are so prone to discount our abilities and spew myriad excuses or reasons why we can’t achieve a certain goal: “I don’t have the right body type” or “I don’t have the time” or “everyone is so much stronger than me.” Whether you’re thinking about joining a CrossFit Box or signing up for an Ironman, you inevitably think of all the reasons why you could never possibly succeed. I ask my athletes this question all of the time: Are you coming up with legitimate reasons or excuses disguised as reasons? While every person and every situation is different, that lunchtime conversation certainly made me question whether I had valid reasons or lame excuses for poo-pooing the idea of this daunting new challenge.
It also forced me to look ahead to 2013 and think about my realistic goals and resolutions. With that in mind, I’d like to share my resolutions with you and ask that you hold me accountable—at least until the next issue.
I could spend 24/7 giving pep talks to the people I coach. All of the advice and wisdom means nothing, however, unless you have unwavering doubt in your own abilities to succeed. Rest assured, at any given event, there will be 10,000 different people on the start line and 10,000 different training plans that got them there. The key difference? A winning mindset and unshakable belief in yourself, your abilities, and your training.
My husband and I called 2012 our “bucket list” year for races. We threw time goals out the window in favor of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We drove nine hours to run in the Big Bend 25K Trail Race, we (sort of) ran the Big Sur Marathon with several of our friends, we Escaped from Alcatraz in one of the toughest and most scenic triathlons, we biked in Spain, and we almost ran the ING New York City Marathon. This truly was one of the most memorable and exhilarating race years ever. In case you were wondering, I’m billing 2013 as my “I’m too old for this sh*t” year.” Who’s in?
Athletes are some of the healthiest sick people on the planet. Many of you are picking up this January issue having already planned your event calendar for the next two years. Planning ahead is wonderful and definitely necessary in some cases. However, be resolute in listening to your body’s signals of exhaustion, injury, burnout, and overtraining. Incorporate strength, movement, and relaxation into your routines. Throw in a regular dose of mental health days and Sunday “Fundays” and don’t be fearful of giving your mind and body the break that it needs.
That, my friends, is my biggest promise to you.
Cheers and Happy New Year!
FYI: I’m still not planning to pace that chick to a sub-1:30 at the 3M Half Marathon. (See Resolution #4: Be Honest and Realistic)
Long runs = develop and strengthen your aerobic endurance. Start slow and remain steady throughout the run. Your pace should be about 1:00 min/mile slower than your actual race pace goal. Think about a 5-6 on a scale of 1-10 of perceived effort. Advanced runners may also progressively pick up their pace for the last few miles to incorporate race pace training. Most importantly, do not start too fast.
Tempo runs = prepare your body to run fast. Warm up for at least 10 minutes before starting the tempo run. Cool down for at least 5 min. It should feel like a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10 effort and should ideally be faster than race pace effort. I like to call this “comfortably uncomfortable.” Beginners should include their warm-ups and cool-downs within the time. Advanced runners should make their warm-ups and cool-downs separate from the tempo time.
X-train = cross-training days. Give your legs a rest and enjoy other activities such as swimming, yoga, or cycling.
Easy runs = whether done by distance or time, your easy runs are just that—easy. Focus on form over speed. Work on increasing your run cadence to an efficient 90 foot strikes per minute per foot.
I’m thrilled and honored to be kicking off this inaugural “Coach Carrie” column here at Austin Fit Magazine. Ten years ago, I got off the couch and started running with a local marathon training group as an overweight and out-of-shape young lady who was looking for a fresh start in a new city. Back then, I wouldn’t even walk into RunTex because I was too afraid they’d tell me I didn’t belong there. My reasoning? I didn’t look the part. That certainly was no reason; it was an excuse.
Like you, I’ve been at the starting lines full of nerves and overwhelming thoughts: “How did I get here and how can I get out of this?!” I’ve been at the bottom while befriending and cursing post-surgery crutches and physical therapy. I’ve sat on the side of a racecourse wondering how I could possibly sweat and have chills at the same time. I’ve volunteered at races and I’ve directed races. I’ve crossed the finish line last and I’ve crossed the finish line first.
It is my hope that this column provides practical tips, training wisdom, and a little dose of self-deprecating humor along the way because, through it all, I’ve learned that if you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else surely will.
On the adjacent page, you’ll see the first segment of my 12-week training plan for the Austin-American Statesman Cap 10K taking place on April 7, 2013. I chose to write a plan for this race because its hilly course provides a challenge for veterans, a fun time for beginners, and a snapshot of the unique personality that is Austin. Throughout the next few months, I’ll be sharing more training tips on our Twitter and Facebook pages. I’ll discuss how to build strength, how to run hills, how to improve your previous time, and more. I’ll also be available to answer any of your questions.
In 2013, I resolve to be your coach, your mentor, your comic relief, and your friend as you dare to achieve your own goals.