Tuesday, November 27

Balancing act

Five weeks...
Five-weeks le-eft!
(Sung in the key of that horribly annoying Subway jingle. You're welcome.)

There are 5 weeks until the calendar rolls over to a new year, so it's 2012 goal crunch-time.

If you've been keeping score, you know that the goals I'm trying to juggle between now and year-end are:

Yes. I know that list sounds a tad overzealous for a five week timeline.

Until straining my calf and dealing with the Summer of Plantar Fasciitis, I was kicking half marathon butt and taking names. Then racing came to a screeching halt, as did my pace. After being sidelined for weeks, it took me nearly two months to rebuild my endurance. I even sat out a half marathon that was within a stones-throw of my house because I was still in recovery mode.
Image source

Now, in what might be an insane balancing act, I'm trying to tackle all four major - and sometimes competing - fitness goals in the remaining five weeks of the year.

Ramping up my mileage and trying to whittle down my pace at the same time is something I've never tried before. In my more-than-a-decade-long running history, I've spent whole years focusing on one or the other. Never both.

This will either be a beautiful experiment in balance or a spectacular failure.

Fortunately, if my latest 5k is any indication, the run-streak and speed goals are working nicely together. My one-mile days seem to be functioning as speedwork in disguise, since I tend to push the pace when I have "only" one mile to run.

The result: last week's 24:48 Turkey Trot is my fastest 5k of the year, and leaves me with only a 49 second gap to reach my goal. With another 5k on my calendar, I have one more shot. I might not break 24 minutes, but I'll end the year close!

What I'm more worried about is trying to also squeeze 2 half marathons into the final weeks of 2012.

To put it bluntly: my shorter distance goals are not playing nice with half marathon training.

Case in point: I planned one last long run this weekend before my first December half marathon, but my legs were sore and weak from Thursday morning's Turkey "trot." (Trying to break the 24 minute barrier hardly counts as a "trot" for me this year.) Rather than risk injury, I postponed my long run until Monday - which meant taking an extra long lunch break from work to get my miles in during daylight hours.

The result: This week's long run was a harried effort that was not properly fueled and didn't reach the distance I should have hit. (I had a conference call to get back to!) I'm going into my next half marathon with an adequate (barely), but not an excellent, base of training.

So... I'll shuffle my way through half marathon #4... but #5?

At this point, I'd be running another 13.1 just to run it. I certainly will be in no shape to race two halfs in December, at least not if I plan to really race another 5k. I'll be worn out for one or both.
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Is it worth it?
Isn't a goal just an arbitrary target?
Should I run if I can't race?

I've spent far too much time tweaking my training calendar, surfing for nearby races or virtual races, and trying to craft a delicate balance between all of these competing goals.

Maybe I should round out my New 2 U Cross Training Challenge with some sort of gymnastics / balancing workout to complete the metaphor?

(Full disclosure: In the final analysis, I'm strongly leaning toward just running 13.1 miles on my own on December 31st and calling that close enough. No race. Just a nice long half-marathon distance run.)

What would you do?
How are you doing on your 2012 goal list?

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