Counting Laps

Suddenly I awoke, frenzied that I had overslept, and looked at the clock. 5:10. In the morning.

A few earlier interruptions had set me on edge. Part of me wanted the sleep, to let tired muscles rest, take a day off. But I knew guilt would eat away at my conscience all day. And I really wasn’t that tired.

Gathering my gear, I prepared to head out the door, and drive 10 minutes to the Bemidji State track where I’ve become a regular in the morning. This time of year is difficult to take my running partner, Riley, out and about. The salt and sand and slush make a mess of his long red coat.

With some trepidation, I started my run, heading counterclockwise in seemingly mind-numbing fashion. Each revolution of the track brought another click of the lap counter on my watch. Today I would push it 57 times as I logged just more than 8 miles during my workout.

As I made the rounds, I thought about my training. My legs are a little worn out. Perhaps from the training load. My memories flashback to the last desert trail run, where one of the runners provided me with Ironman training advice: be consistent but don’t start training hard too early. You’ll burn out. In turn, I’ve backed off on training, which is still more than what my program spells out in its 30-week plan.

I’ve also decided that perhaps running less frequently, but with high quality workouts, might be really good. The variety and balanced approach will be good: fewer days running, but better and longer workouts spent swimming and cycling. It was just yesterday that I put in my longest swim workout yet – and managed not to sink to the bottom of the pool.

Swimming has been a difficult lesson, but I’m getting better. Cycling had been going well but after falling out of my routine, I have struggled to get back into the spin of things. Soon, though, the days will be longer, and the streets free of snow and winter debris, so riding outdoors will be possible again.

As February winds down, I’m warmed by the thought of spring. I’ve already signed up for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth – far earlier than usual – and I’m looking forward to returning for one of the best marathons in the country. My sights are still set on Ironman Wisconsin, but I must run Grandma’s again, as I have for the past 5 years. I am ready for March.