Peaks, valleys and plateaus
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll know I've been stuck in an awful running plateau. If you're new here, welcome to the flatlands!
I've been stuck here for over a year now. I had a few brief glimpses of improvement - first in early 2015 when I PR'd in both the half and the 5K unexpectedly and it brought me to slightly faster than where I was pre-baby (at 6-7 months post-baby). Then humidity, asthma, and sleep deprivation happened. And happened and happened and happened. Even my sole PR of fall 2015 at the Myrtle Beach Mini wasn't a great race for me and I know I'm capable of much more than that.
Just when the sleep deprivation started to improve and my body began to recover from that, life took a dive into pretty deep valley. I don't get into it much on the blog but let's just leave it as some really awful people did some really awful things to me that led to some really unpleasant circumstances, some of which I'm still dealing with. And it took its toll on me. I started losing sleep again and I was constantly sick.
And so, I continued on this running plateau. Life has started to improve, although I wouldn't say it's where I'd like it to be, it's not as dark as it was back in February. And my running hasn't budged much, either.
I had another brief glimmer of hope in late spring 2016 when a doctor finally listened to me about my asthma, switched my meds and got me off and running fast(ish) again. And that glimpse of improvement came back. This time with easy runs in the high 7s and low 8s despite the climbing temps and humidity, plus a 5K time of 24:10 where I spent most of the race chatting with the person I was running with. Although, far from my 5K PR and more along the lines of my normal 5K pace at this point, the fact that I was talking and not gasping for air at that pace was clearly progress.
But just as soon as it came, it was snatched away. My son was cutting teeth, then had an ear infection (poor little guy!), and we went through a few more weeks of sleep deprivation that kicked my butt and resulted in full body aches and my inability to even move off the couch last Friday.
Along with all of that, summer and all of its sticky, sloggy, humid glory arrived which means there's no such thing as "fast" right now. It's basically survival mode until the weather cools down. Since I'm running later in the day this year than I have in previous summers, it's even hotter and I'm having dehydration issues and I think that was one of the reasons for the headaches last week. This week has been a little better since I've been drinking more water than I ever thought was humanly possible in a 24 hour period.
Four years ago, I started off with my very first 5K at a time of 26:51 after just two months of running and my first 10K in 54:22 after just 4 months, and that was with just logging about 10 miles a week. Two months later, I ran a marathon in 4.5 hours with training an average of 15-18 miles per week. I realize 4.5 hours is not fast, but I think if I tried to attempt that now on such little training, I might die. In less than a year of running, I ran a sub-2 hour half and a sub-24 minute 5K and then a sub-50 minute 10K at just over a year of running (that 10K is still probably one of my best races ever).
All of that to say, there is no way that I should still be running even close to the times I ran when I was a new runner, and while my PRs (and most races that don't involve illness or asthma) are faster, it's been a while since I've seen a PR. Based on my starting point, I would certainly think my times would be much faster than they currently are in general and that my PRs would have improved. Yes, yes, I had a pregnancy in there (right after that sub-50 minute 10K), which I did run for most of, followed by nearly a year of newborn/infant-related sleep deprivation plus asthma problems, but seriously, can this stop soon please?
I'm tired of this story. Really, really, really tired of it. I'm tired of living it. I'm tired of running it. I'm tired of blogging it.
I want to start seeing the work I'm putting in pay off. I know I keep harping on this, but it is so frustrating. I'm so tired of these tiny sightings of improvement, these brief glimpses of the runner I know I am, but then getting completely derailed after such short spurts. I also know I'm doing the right thing by continuing to train and run through this plateau, which lately has been bearing a much stronger resemblance to a valley.
I know that the the only way out is the way through. I know I have to keep running and push past this plateau if I want to see the other side and that the only way to see the view from the top is to start at the bottom. But I'd really, really like to see that view soon. I'm okay with slogging it through summer, but I'm holding out hope that fall 2016 will be kind to me and I'll see the PRs that I know I deserve and that I'm truly capable of.
Anyone else ever experience such a long plateau or other type of ongoing running frustration? How did you deal with it? Are you currently in a plateau right now? If so, hey there friend!