by Anne Jones
Fall training this year has been going really well! A total 180° turn from last year, in fact. I began to associate cold weather and grass workouts with feeling like death after my iron-deficient stint of training last winter, but have been so pleasantly surprised lately with my fitness. Particularly because I am taking 21 hours of school and feel completely overwhelmed about 99% of the time. I have only been able to do one quality session per week and can only go to about half of the RogueAC practices due to class conflicts. But I have found that this may be what my body responds to best and is exactly what I need, both mentally and physically. I have always been afraid to back off from training, believing that I will get behind, but this semester has forced me to take two steps back in my approach and intensity. I am able to really focus on my one weekly workout and get more out of it than had I been trying to split my energy between two tough days, and can focus on school and recovery for the remainder of the week. In fact, I ran a low-key 5k in Houston two weeks ago (my first race since June) and ran 25 seconds faster than last year on the same course despite training only about half as much this year. Although this more relaxed approach obviously won’t and can’t last through track season, I think that coming out of this Fall fit, motivated, and healthy will really do a lot to help my track season.
En route to the aforementioned PR
In other news, pharmacy school has been pushing me to my breaking point this semester, but, all things considered, is still going pretty well. I’m counting down the class days left, though (13!). Next semester I will have a much lighter class load, which is going to be great for traveling to meets and for focusing more on track. I will move to Houston next summer for one year of rotations then will graduate the following summer in 2016 (finally!). My fiancé Daniel is in medical school at UT Houston, so I am really excited to finally be with him and start our wedding planning (eee!).
I have one more race planned for the Fall (the Dallas Turkey Trot) and am so excited to get another good 5k effort in before I transition my training for track. I have never felt so strong coming out of Fall training and am more optimistic for this track season than I have been in years.
by Anne Jones
While my teammates were crushing old PRs this past weekend at the Stanford Invitational, I spent a long weekend at home in Houston. Although the weekend was filled mostly with studying, I returned to my old stomping grounds and enjoyed two of the best runs I have ever had. My long run on Sunday night along Buffalo Bayou and into Downtown, though a little drizzly, was beautiful. It was the first time I had run there since Houston began its renovations and I took many detours to explore all the new paths offered. I ran Monday through Hermann Park, which is my favorite place in the whole city, and the beautiful weather coupled with my love for Hermann were ideal for a magnificent run. The amount of enjoyment I got out of all three of my runs this weekend was actually astonishing to me and made me realize what I had let running become to me as of late. It had become just another checkbox on my daily to-do lists. I squeeze runs and lifts and physical therapy and core exercises into my schedule whenever I find time, and I have viewed them all as chores for several years now as a result. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed training as its own process instead of just enjoying the endpoint. It took a weekend back to my roots to make me see this. So my cliché lesson for the month is to stop and smell the roses, literally, while running and training. Or, more appropriately for running in the spring in Houston, stop and smell the azaleas (which are honestly much more worth stopping for anyway.)
Nothing like your roots to revitalize your running
A rare humid day in Houston
Often mistaken for the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, actually just a nice park in Houston.
Otherwise training has been going infinitely better since I last wrote. Although I missed out on reaping the benefits of a lot of our base work this winter, my body feels back to normal now. I have been able to finish a couple of workouts that I know I never would have been able to do in the past and I feel motivated and hungry again. I raced a 1500 m at the Victor Lopez Classic a couple of weeks ago, which was my first race in just under a year. I would say I was a little disappointed with my efforts (there was much more rust to be busted than I expected) but it was my fastest opener ever so I know I am in a good spot regardless. Unfortunately my pharmacy school class schedule is preventing me from traveling to any of the big meets during the semester, so I plan on racing mostly local meets until potentially flying out to Nashville for a race in June. Next weekend I will race the 800 m at the Texas Invitational, and I am sure it will be bittersweet to race on my old track but without my old Texas uniform. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to stop and smell some azaleas before then.
by Anne Jones
With the indoor season coming to a close, I have been asked a lot lately, “When are you racing?” and “Why didn’t you race indoors?” Consequently, I want to tell everyone the story of my running as of late and why I haven’t really raced since joining Rogue, but more importantly to share a very important lesson I have learned.
Even the newest to the sport hear the mantra “Listen to your body” repeatedly, but I lost sight of this in the transition to my new team last fall. Training started off great- I PRed in a 5k in Houston in early November and was more fit than I had ever been; however, training began to take a bad turn in early December, which both Steve and I had attributed to the brutal weather and the lack of motivation I was experiencing without racing a cross-country season. I was shocked at how awful I felt during every workout, but knew that if I began to believe something was wrong that I could create a fitness issue when one may not actually exist. I believe this is a constant battle that runners fight. Running is such a mental sport that a mental chink in your armor can easily induce a physical chink as well. I thought that I was avoiding this by naively continuing to work hard, despite the increasing signs that something may be wrong.
I continued to fruitlessly train through mid January when I finally had a mental breakdown. The effort I was exerting never seemed to pay off and, after two particularly bad workouts, I had had it. I knew something was wrong. It felt as though I went off a cliff; I could feel my body shift from feeling smooth and comfortable to completely exhausted like the flip of a coin. We had blood work done in November, but the chaos of Thanksgiving break, pharmacy school final exams, winter break, and my stubborn efforts to refuse acknowledgment of any physical issues had distracted me from going to get the results. But not anymore! I drove to the lab and found out that back in November I had a low ferritin level, high mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and high mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH). I was relieved yet heartbroken. I had done nothing to diagnose, much less treat, my problems for months. Immediately I was in agony; my pigheaded attitude that my mind could overcome my body led to months of despair, hopelessness, and an enormous loss of confidence. But relief was overwhelming as well; I was not delusional and I knew that I would be back to training normally with my newly prescribed and purchased supplements.
I had hoped to be able to race before now, but am planning on racing my rust busting, season opener on March 14th at the Rogue Track Festival at Cedar Park High School. Although I am thankful to be back to training normally again, I am even more thankful for the lesson I have learned. No matter how much I may think I understand the sport and my body, I still easily lost sight of the fundamental principle of running: Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body, learn how to respond, and learn what it needs to be successful. I became arrogant and ignored my body, but know that I will not let it happen again. As painful as the lesson was to learn, I know that this experience will help me be successful in my future running career, and have set my sights again on the upcoming track season.
By Anne Jones
I recently watched a short film made by Aeon Film titled “The Runners” which began spattering many runners’ social media sites soon after its release. The film was simple, beautiful, and struck a chord with me, as I think it did with most other runners. It inspired me to think beyond the 12-minute video. It made me cognizant of one of many intrinsic aspects of running of which I almost never recognize as an independent phenomenon—that of just how I forge such close bonds with my training partners.
I have always recognized running as my social outlet as well as my exercise outlet, but had not thought about just how unique of a social outlet it really is. Running brings together people who otherwise often have very little in common and pressures them into having very long conversations with no guidance or purpose. There are miles that must be run, and you will make and continue conversation, or be forced to endure the awkward and painful consequences. This almost always results in runners getting to know each other very quickly and on a very personal level. This idea has come up periodically in conversations with teammates at Texas and Rogue, and it has always been acknowledged as the glue that fills the cracks in our dedication to one another and to our team.
“The Runners” tapped into a more subtle aspect of runners’ conversations that I had experienced but never acknowledged–the depth. Unlike meeting friends for coffee or dessert, there is no where else we could be; no speeding up conversations by finishing your coffee, no option to leave at convenient lulls in the conversation, nothing else we could be doing. As previously stated, there are miles to be run—and this is exactly where we need to be. We just let the conversation take us where it will as it continues to distract us from the run at hand. Only runners really know how soul bearing and openhearted a conversation can delve in a mere hour or two of running. The combination of freedom from outside responsibilities and joy in working muscles creates an atmosphere of reflection and introspection that I rarely find outside of running. We all know that feeling in the middle of a run when you find yourself confiding things you don’t even tell your best friends to whomever you happen to be running with. It is the reason runners say things like “we went on a run together” to try to describe an indescribable relationship. It is the reason that my running friends inevitably become my best friends, even if I do not see them outside of practice.
After watching “The Runners,” it dawned on me that running is the reason I am happy and feel socially fulfilled, even though many days I hardly have enough time to shower or put on makeup. The majority of my friends and I are working tirelessly, trying to balance running with success in school or the beginning of a career, and don’t have much time yet for long and ambling conversations over coffee. But running provides me with the meaningful words and profound relationships that sustain me. The variety of personalities, stories, perspectives, dreams, ideas, experiences, and beliefs that I have known as a result of running is more than I could have imagined. But what inspires me most is the level on which I know these people, and the amount I have learned about the world and myself as a result. For it is truly as the video states, “when we rely on our legs to move us through the world, our minds can drift to the things that really matter.”