Even though I've done this before, it's a whole new experience because 1) I'm now leading a group, and 2) I'm training for a race in November instead of February or March. This is a huge difference in Florida because it means doing long runs in the brutal heat and humidity of summer. I thought I had everything figured out from last time, but it's a new challenge, and I have to rethink everything again.
For example ...
- I never brought my own water unless we were running super long since our routes have water stops every 2-3 miles, but now I bring a 10 oz bottle even for our short 3-4 mile runs. This way I can sip it when I need it and eat on my own schedule. I run with my fuel belt because of my phone anyway, so I might as well carry the small bottle in case I need it.
- I learned this morning that chaffing is a bigger issue when you are drenched by mile 1. My running skirt that worked great for a half marathon last November now needs extra body glide for a 10 mile run.
- Waking up at 4 am, 3 times a week, is suddenly the best idea ever! I tried doing a track workout at 6 pm one week and just about died. I didn't even have enough energy to run back home and had to walk there. So now I meet my group at 5 am on Tuesdays for tempo/hill runs and Thursdays for speed work. I'm loving it because I'm motivated to push myself more when I'm leading a group, and it's a great way to start the day.
- There are advantages too:
- having to start earlier to beat the heat, I'm done running before most people are even awake.
- pushing through while it's hot, even if my pace is a little slower, will mean I'll be able to run that much faster on race day when the temps are a lot cooler.
Another thing that is different this time around is that I have a time to beat, and I now have the confidence to work towards that goal. I'm in much better shape than last time, both physically and mentally, because I already know I can do this, I saw my pace improve a lot at shorter distances last year, and I've maintained my base during the Spring. I'm really excited to be doing track work again, and I have no doubt that PRs are in my future :)