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Athlete Moms: Sarah Shares her Big, Big Goal

Going For It

You know those big, big goals…the kind you’re afraid to share or even say out loud because they’re such a stretch that you aren’t even sure you’ll come anywhere close to making them happen? Maybe it’s finishing an Ironman or nabbing a BQ in the marathon. Or running your first 5K or winning your age-group in a tri. Well, I’ve got a huge goal, and as much as I’d like to keep it bottled up inside my brain, I’m just going to put it out there: I want to break 19:00 in the 5K.

I’ve been chasing this time since I was in high school, people. I’ve gotten so close and then….an injury…a loss of motivation…a pregnancy (or three)…Just when I really ramp up my speed, something seems to crops up and throws me off track. These days, I have plenty of reasons to kiss that dream goodbye. I’m weeks away from a major birthday (the one that rhymes with “dirty dive”). I have three kids under five, and they’re pretty much with me 24/7, meaning I’m in a constant state of distraction. And I also have a fun, but at times complex job that typically entails working into the wee hours (which is why I’m writing this at 1 a.m.). I’m tired. 

Yet there it is, that goal. Refusing to let me settle or to forget it’s still out there…a lone hurdle left standing on the track. 

So, 2014 is the year. And as inspired as I am, I’m also practical. This isn’t going to happen in a few weeks. It may not even happen until next fall. My mind may be in sub-19 mode, but my body needs to catch up.   I need to find my speed. And to do this, I’m following the 5K plan in Furman University’s Run Less, Run Faster program. This plan is tailor-made for a runner like me who prefers quantity over quality since high mileage almost inevitably leads to injury for me.  Each week, you do one speed workout (all done at a significantly faster pace than your current 5K), one tempo run (20-30 seconds above 5K pace) and one long run (about 50 seconds above 5K pace). That means you only have to run three days a week, plus two cross-training workouts, and two easy days. Brilliant.

This plan works. I followed the half-marathon program back in 2007 and wound up knocking close to 10-minutes off my PR. In 2012, I completed it again for another half and en route ran a bunch of sub-20 5Ks—my fastest in years. (The half, on the other hand, wound up to be a bust…little did I know I was pregnant with #3 at the time, which later explained the mysterious exhaustion I’d been experiencing for weeks. Whoops…).

Granted, the art of running a fast 5K—or a fast anything for that matter—does not come from training alone. So much of it is lies in the ability to silence those voices inside your head screaming to slow down…you’re tired…you’re not ready…you’re just not that fast.  Although my mental strength has improved so much in the past five years (having kids makes you tougher!), I’m still vulnerable to self-doubt. Aren’t we all?  But these workouts are helping me bust out of my safety zones and force me into a space where I need to stay focused and driven in order to get through them. 

So, let’s hope I do get through them. I’m about seven weeks out from my next race, a 5k in Reston, VA, and I’m actually excited about what’s to come. ‘Til then, I’ll be posting all of my workouts on Instagram (@athletemoms), so follow along (if you’re into that sorta thing). 

Feel free to share your BIG goals with us here! We’d love to hear what you have in mind. 

 --Sarah  

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