in my head

thank you for all the awesome comments yesterday and thank you to all the new commenters!  i hope to be catching up with you soon :)

sometimes i have things going on in my head that i don’t really want to blog about just because my ideas seem a little crazy.  then every time i do, or i reach out to another runner, i am always surprised that they know exactly how i feel.  it may not be the exact same circumstance, but somehow runners just seem to relate to each other.   

i feel like i have been having almost an identity crisis when it comes to running lately.  i have all these goals overlapping each other, but not really working completely together.  for the first time in a while, i don’t have a straight forward hard goal like a 3:40 marathon and i just feel like i have been running around a little lost.

don’t get me wrong, i am REALLY glad i have had december and january to just run and not worry about my paces or miles or any of that.  it was really good for me after a year of constant training, but it’s just not really who i am, i need a goal and a schedule.  discovering trail running has been great for me, when i get out on the trails i don’t really care about my time, pace, miles… i can just run when i am out there. 

so where i am finding the conflicts?

being a marathoner, and now discovering trail running, immediately the idea of an ultra-marathon popped into my head.  well, it has actually been there for a long time, but i was never sure if i would like the trails or not.  i have spend countless hours searching every running website for a race in california that would fit in to what i already had planned.  a couple stood out to me, and i was very close to signing up.  one was march 20th (very soon) and one was april 18th (the weekend before big sur) and i know i COULD do either of them, but the SHOULD i is the bigger question.  i had started to stress myself out, making training schedules for these races, trying to plan out how i would get out on the trails enough hours to make it happen, and really it was just making me crazy.

at the same time i was looking at my road racing calendar, i have a half marathon coming up that holds my PR, plus i have road marathons i don’t want to suck at.  i also just want to get faster in general.  i do still love running on the roads.  after CIM the pain of racing a hard marathon was a little too fresh, but now that it has died down some, i am craving the need to get faster and race hard again.  i want to start working hard and doing speed work and get out there to push myself.

then i have my next marathon coming up which is a hard marathon and i definitely won’t be PRing at.  so how do i train for this thing?  how do i just go out and train without specifics?  i have never trained for a marathon not trying to be faster.

so how do you balance fast road racing and trail ultra-marathoning?  i have NO idea – does anyone?  i have heard this happens also to triathletes with triathlons and road racing, you kind of have to give up one or the other and decide which one is the main goal and put the other one on hold for a little while.

so what i have decided?

after talking with chris and some friends (even though most of them said i could do both a very soon 50k and the marathon) i was able to come to some decisions that i am very happy with.

first, i decided to shelf the 50k for a little while.  march 20th is just too soon, and i don’t want to risk hurting myself by running my first 50k april 18th and then running a marathon the next weekend, let alone the other things i have planned in may. one will be out there, and it will work out, but there is no need to force it right now and hurt myself.  i am so new to trail running, i still want to enjoy it and i want to see it as my outlet when i get sick of the roads and just want to go running.  i don’t want to stress about getting the miles in and i need to get out there and be more comfortable with it first anyways.

i also had an epiphany when it comes to training for my marathons this year.  sure i don’t expect to PR at big sur marathon, i will most likely be running that one with my camera and just soaking up the experience, but it doesn’t mean i don’t have to train like i am trying to PR.  if i want to run a faster marathon in december at CIM, why not start training at those paces now?  or at least start working towards them.  it won’t happen overnight, so might as well get going on it now.

so here i am in the 2nd week of my standard 12 week training schedule.  again it’s based off of the pfitz 12/55 schedule, but i have tweaked it to make it my own.  i added another day of running and have changed up a couple things, but it feels REALLY good to have a schedule up on the fridge again.  i am happy, i feel content and i am excited for what is coming up.


don’t worry, i am still going to be on the lookout for that perfect first 50k,  i know it’s out there and i know i will find it.  i still plan on other trail races, and doing trail running whenever i can, i just have to figure out the balance for me before moving on from there.  i love running, i love training and i want to have fun with it without getting in over my head and burning myself out.   

do you find conflicts in your goals and training?  how do you figure out how to balance it all?

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44 Responses to in my head

  1. Allie February 10, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Glad you figured out what works for you. I always want to do so many races that end up conflicting with other races or my husband's schedule and sometimes you just have to hold off. There is nothing wrong with waiting for the right time.

  2. Marlene February 10, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks for sharing, Aron! You're so right about runners seeming to find a way to relate.

    I'm having some conflicts of my own right now, trying to juggle long distance training while also hoping to bust out some speedy short races. Trying to work out my priorities…

    EXCITING stuff that you are planning for an ultra. That is NOT on my horizon. :)

  3. Keri February 10, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    I am all of the place with what I want to do. I want to try a half ironman in June, but do not want to interfere with marathon training that is going on now. It is always such a difficult decision. I am such a planner to a fault. I have all of our vacations planned out for the next two years in my head (my husband's job keeps me from really planning them) and I stress myself out over it all of the time!

  4. Staci Dombroski February 10, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    I have the hardest time because I have two young kids at home. I just want to be the best mom, teacher, and runner I can be. Sometimes I just get really worn out!!

  5. Lacey Nicole February 10, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    i think shelving things is always a smart strategy. it's easy to think about doing everything but in practice it may be more effective to have a smaller focus. i'm so excited you are doing big sur!!!!!!!

  6. Katie A. February 10, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    So glad you came to a decision…you are a smart runner and that has served you well. I just hope I can hold on to you in Big Sur and follow you again like a lost puppy :) Yay for training!!

  7. ShutUpandRun February 10, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Sounds like a good plan. When I've got tons I want to do I always remind myself that I can do it all, just not all at the same time. Big Sur will be amazing and the 50K will always be there. No need to stress yourself. I have gotten myself into kind of a bind with too many racing plans on the calendar. I decided to be a mentor with Team in Training which has addded a new marathon into the mix. Not sure how I will work all this out, but I will. Good luck with your training!

  8. X-Country2 February 10, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Sounds like you're on the right track to stay happy and injury free. Good luck with smashing all your goals.

  9. marathonmaiden February 10, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    wow i feel like you took the ideas right out of my head in this post regarding the 50k and balancing everything

    you totally are smart and your decision definitely reflects that :)

  10. Tea Time February 10, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I have conflicts with weight training and long distance running. I know that the long distance running will undo all the work I put into my weight training program. So I divide my two activities in half during the year. I think you just have to decide what is more important to you at the moment. I think it is very difficult to be a sprinter and marathoner at the same time. Plus I think it is good to switch it up every now and then to prevent injuries and see running in a whole new light.

  11. Amber (Girl with the red hair) February 10, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Great post, Aron. I feel kind of the same way right now because ULTIMATELY my big race this year will be my first full marathon in October. That's what I'm focused on. But it's a long ways away still so I'm just building up a base right now and I do feel a little lost sometimes. I was giong to do a half at the end of March but now that's not going to workout since I'm moving so I'm not really sure WHERE to set my sights! I definitely like to have a TRAINING schedule on my fridge!!

    I can't wait to read about you training for an Ultra. I think it's a great idea and you'd rock it!!

  12. Vava February 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Man, I'm too much of a newbie to really know what you are going through, but I still feel like I have conflicts in my training. Other than recurring injuries, which conflict no matter what the goal, I've been finding it difficult to fit races into what I've come up with as a training plan that will keep me honest as far as slowly adding mileage goes. Too much too soon and I get injured. The races seem to fall on weekends when my plan calls for recovery.

    Anyway, your post is very interesting in that I don't feel like I am alone in looking ahead a full year and making compromises.

    All the best in 2010!

  13. Jess February 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    I think you found the right balance. You have to make sure you enjoy the running, and planning too many things at once, and feeling like you're constanting training can take away from the pleasure of it.

  14. Roisin February 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Good for you…I think that plan sounds legit :)

    Most of my conflicts have been sidelined by my injury, so it'll be back to square 1ish when I'm able to start training again.

  15. jillwillrun February 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    If you wanted to do a 50K later in the year, might I suggest Rio Del Lago or the Helen Klein Ultra Classic? The reason I suggest these is that my friends are the new race directors for the races and I'm helping them with the web sites!

    Just an idea! ;-)

  16. Morgan February 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    I'm glad you decided to hold off on the 50k, I agree the one was too soon and the other would have you exhausted for Big Sur!

    I love having my schedule out and ready to "X" :)

  17. Alisa February 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    You should talk to my husband. This is exactly his dilemma right now. He still wants to get faster but is discovering trails and thinking ahead to his 50k in August. Why not that one? Skyline 50k in Castro Valley—totally in your hood and in between all your marathons. I'll be there.

  18. Stephanie Nichole February 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    If you're looking for a trail ultra the "Dances with Dirt" trail ultras are absolutely amazing!!! They really a true trail races and there is a great spirit about all the races. People there will inspire and awe you with what they can do! I did the one in Baraboo, WI and it was beautiful!!! I have a few blog posts and a video on my blog if you're interested in checking itout.

  19. Running and living February 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    I had the same dillemma 2 years ago. I love both trail running and road running, but, as you know, training is different for the 2. I decided that I am going to stick with road racing for now, and see how fast I can get. For most, speed improves in the first 4 years of racing. So I have 3 more years to go (at least). Also, trail running is slower and easier on the body. So, my plan is to save that for when I get older and my body starts to struggle with road running. Honestly, now that I am so focused on getting faster, I don't miss trail running. My mind is focused on the goal.
    As far as your marathon is concerned, I say train for a 3:35. You CAN do it, no matter the course. Set your training for that goal. I think it is hard to get up and put so much time in training for a "fun marathon", but that may be me. I need goals and structure and something to strive for! Good luck!

  20. Alissa February 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    I have the exact same types of swirly thoughts about running and training goals. I'm having them at this very moment actually! I love making training schedules and tweaking them over and over again LOL. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Good idea on putting the 50k away for a little while. There will be plenty of time for that. BTW wanted you to know that seeing your PRs gave me hope. We have the same half PR but my marathon PR is 3:58. I'd really like to qualify for Boston. Maybe it is possible! I may need to get a look at the training plan you used!

  21. Laura February 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    I've found lots of conflicts training both for boxing and a half marathon – it's just tough to fit it all in and to make it all work together and for the running to not end up making the boxing work less effective.. I'll get the balance right soon I hope haha! Hope you find the right 50k soon!

  22. J February 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    I think you made a good choice! You definitely don't want to get hurt over training! I am having trouble wanting to get faster and build up endurance! Its hard to choose what to train for! I guess I try to just go with what my body wants to do and what makes me happy! So you should do what makes you happy!

  23. Amy February 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    You are going to do great no matter what. And when it's time for Mr. 50k, you'll know and it'll work out. And now phew I don't have to get in trail shape, lol .

  24. Heather February 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Sounds like you made the right choice – I'm sure you'll get that ultra in someday! I sometimes have to adjust my goals and expectations for what's going on in my life – I try to remember that the number one goal is to make sure I still love running at the end of the day. Everything else is flexible.

  25. February 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Planning and racing is in your blood sista! No since & denying or hiding from it! You get your schedule all planned out and race till your hearts content!! I'm so proud of your motivation! Your amazing!!!!

  26. lindsay February 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    i have had the same goal-conflict 'issue'! there are many things i want to do, although not quite on the trails and not necessarily for an ultra :) i know that training for a 5k pr is a LOT different than a marathon pr, so that's what i am always flip-flopping on. not quite as tough as yours, but i do understand the struggles with conflicting goals.

    i think you are making a good decision. the trails are still new, you can continue to enjoy the shorter races and train on them while working towards your road-pr's. an ultra will be cool in the future, maybe summer/fall 2011? :) (/post boston)

  27. That Pink Girl February 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    It's hard to be realistic when you have big dreams (trust me, I KNOW!) You are smart to make the right decision for your body. There will be other races and you'll be in the right place in your training program to do them!!!

  28. ShirleyPerly February 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    For sure, I have had many conflicting training goals as I have been wanting to run a minimum of 5-7 marathons/yr in addition to teaching fitness classes, training in karate, triathlons, you name it. I did my best to balance things on my own but now just do what my coach says. SO MUCH EASIER and not surprisingly, I don't need to do nearly as much as I thought. I am my own worst enemy!!!

  29. Meggles February 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    It's really hard not to do all the races you want. Every time I find another one I get super excited and want to sign up for it lol.

  30. Rio February 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    my goal races seem to keep changing: race sold out, no nearby or affordable hotel rooms, conflicts with family events, etc. I just try to take it all in stride and stay flexible. It all seems to work out in the end.

  31. Britt February 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    I want to do an ultra too, but nothing seems to fit my schedule well right now…. but eventually I'll do one. I also want to do a tri and think that might be my next big goal. It will allow me to spend more time with the hubby as he is a big biker. So after Boston I think that will be my next focus. It is hard when you don't have a huge goal to push for, but I keep shooting for new PR's when I'm not marathon training (5K or 10K).

  32. Sarah Woulfin February 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    Yes, there are definitely conflicts in goals and training, including figuring out how much faster I can get or how many miles i can add without injury. Also, I'll bet that you could run a solid 50K on your excellent marathon training :> I ran a 50K a couple summers ago, if you're interested in any ideas/advice. Also, I've heard that runners improve over time (and female runners don't peak till mid-late 30s). So I think that you're gonna improve lots and lots as a cumulative result of your training cycles.

  33. Meg February 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    I love that comment, you're going to train as if you will pr. Nice plan! I also had huge conflicts between running an ultra and/or doing a marathon. I did do the ultra and loved it but I miss the speed of road racing. I think I'll try another ultra this year sometime, just to make sure!!

  34. Adam February 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    I still haven't figured it out. I honestly can only have one "type" of goal that I am going towards at one time. Right now it is marathon, soon it will be 5K etc. I have no idea!! :(

  35. Petraruns February 10, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I recently decided to not do a tri this year because I just love running too much – I couldn't bear to take time away from running to do something else. So I know exactly what you mean. I too am considering an ultra – I really want to do one in 2011 (when I turn 40 – eek!).

  36. Tara February 11, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    My life is a conflict! haha I definitely can sympathize with you! It's hard when you have lots of goals you want to accomplish, but the good thing is we have many years of running ahead of us so sometimes you just have to pick a goal and set some others aside for a little bit :) glad you got it all figured out and have a schedule that works for you!

  37. Mel -Tall Mom on the Run February 11, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    NO 50K trail races in my future :) I think I will talk about overlapping goals once I get my BQ, until then I am focussed.

    You are adding another day of running? Does that mean 6 days a week?? Wow girl!! Wish my legs could take the miles you put on yours. But alas I have already used them for miles and miles, hours and hours on the basketball court… Not sure how much they have left :)

  38. Carolina John February 11, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    balance is the key allright. I did my first oly triathlon just a week before my first marathon. so yes i know it can be done. i find balance in cross training and scheduling.

  39. runwritetherapylife February 11, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    MY conflicts in training mostly stem from not wanting to overdo it OR underdo it. I don't wanna end up injured, but I also know that I need to be hitting 40-50 miles a week during my more serious training segments…
    I have done one ultra. It was a little longer than a 50k (it was 33.4 miles). I was in great shape before it, but it exacerbated a minor injury and I took the whole next month off. An ultra is serious business; you will need plenty of time (at least a month) afterwards for easy runs and gentle cross-training. But pushing yourself that much further than a marathon is soooo worth it!

  40. teacherwoman February 11, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    I am sorry but I have NO advice when it comes to juggling marathon training and trail running or ultramarathon training. Wow.

    I sometimes find it hard to get in all I want to get in… like keeping up with my swimming and biking while trying to build for half marathon distance. I don't know how the Ironmen do it! LOL

  41. Chic Runner February 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    You are a running FREAK! I love it ha ha. Well you can run an ultra for me. I'll be content just being a little weirdo and running marathons with my camera. Glad you figured it out and can fit everything in and I can't wait to see how you get to be so fast because I know you have it in you!

  42. RunningLaur February 12, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    You're doing the smart thing!! I have the same quandary almost all the time. I see ultras listed and I really want to do them, and I want to do them right now, but I know that I need to follow my plan and try to 'do no harm.'

    That said, Winter 2011, all things going well, I'm so do an ultra.

  43. Glenn Jones February 12, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    Ah. The old goal congruence problem. I'm from the camp that believes that if you want to excel at something, you need to focus. Do one thing amazingly well, and don't try to do a bunch of things at a mediocre lvel. Sounds like that is your mindset as well – training for CIM already? Love it.

    Nothing wrong with those ultras – they can be part of your tactical plan. Just make sure they don't get in the way of your goal.

  44. RoadBunner February 18, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    Hey, Lady!

    Do you read Scott Dunlap's blog ( He's an ultra runner who is also killer fast on road races. You might get a feel for his schedule there.

    I agree you can train hard for Big Sur. The faster you are and the better shape you're in, the easier the hills will feel. I sort of did that for San Francisco. I trained well and hard for a course I wasn't planning or expecting to PR on. I think it might be a little disappointing if you have a really great training cycle and don't see a great result at Big Sur, but it will definitely get you stronger and ready for whatever comes next.

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