Over the past few weeks it's been nice to train without the looming presence of a race. It's allowed me to relax into a more natural rhythm and respond to my body's signals, rather than forcing it to hit certain numbers.
I've dropped my running volume, but have been able to maintain a good overall weekly volume of training. And this reminded me that despite constantly feeling inadequate, slow, and unfit, I really have come a long way in a year.
I've been absorbing 9-10 hour training weeks consistently now, and my body feels great. No pressure or stress to complete that workload. No injuries. Minimal fatigue. It feels right.
I think I hit a 10-hour training week only a few times last summer, and to say it was stressful would be an understatement.
I also looked back at the make-up of my training week 12-months ago, and noticed that it consisted of 10-15 workouts of 30-60 minutes in duration. Runs were 30-45 minutes. Rides were 60-90. My longest run was 2 hours and it left me shelled for a week (with a groin strain to add to it). My longest ride was 3 hours and I remember feeling like I was going to throw up from the nausea.
Now a 60-minute run is casual, it takes 2 hours to feel like effort. My easy rides are at least 2 hours now, with no ill effects.
Although my pace on the run is still quite slow, it has still improved by 3-4 minutes on the mile and do it at a heart rate 10 beats less that what I had. That's something.
I'm excited to take the next 6 months and keep moving forward. Mile by mile. Hour by hour. Ever so slightly--better.