"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once"- Unknown
You know, sometimes you can train and things are just going great, then wham! out of the blue, you lose the zip on your fastball and your legs just don't want to produce like you expect them to. I have been slowly nurturing my gimpy ankles along and gradually adding mileage, but nothing to write to Grandma about. This past Saturday, it was a beautiful pre-dawn morning, and I set out from home. Surprisingly, ankles felt good, breathing was smooth, and I wound up doing a hilly 14 miler. No big deal for most of you guys, but for me, other than a 15 miler I did in February, it was my longest run in 11 months!! I still view myself as a long distance runner, but my running has been a long, long way from being able to put the rubber to the road for long distances as I self-rehab my wheels. Other than being stiff and slightly achy, I was feeling pretty full of myself on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, another beautiful morning, I wound up doing another 11 miles with my usual Sunday running group. A little stiffer than Saturday, but "Hey, I'm coming back!!". Monday was Labor Day - for my out-of-the-country readers, Labor Day is a USA holiday where we celebrate our Work Force by NOT working!!! Anyway, I took the day off from running and actually slept till almost 8:00 (practically midday for me). Tuesday, I got up at 4:30 to run before work, and from the first step, it was cement-in-the-legs city. Holy Crow! I mean, never mind being as slow as mollasses, I could have been passed by mollasses, cold mollasses at that! Now, with over thirty years of long distance running behind me, I've been down this rocky road many times before, and I know it's no big deal. I knew what the problem was - ME!! I just went over the edge with a little too much exuberance. And I should know better. I'm a Physical Therapist. I'm a marathon coach. My area of interest is Exercise Physiology. BUT, above all, I'm a runner. My friend Danny had knee surgery this week and he said "I love to run, but more than that, I love to run pain free". Well, I think most of us turn it around much of the time..."I love to run pain-free, but more than that, I love to run". So, if we're not limping TOO much, off we go. Stupid? Yes. Changable behavior? Possible, at best!
There are several reasons that you can have a not so stellar run, but when you have a run like I had, you don't need to spend a whole lot of time to think about it. If you're coming back from a hard race, a lingering injury, or an overloaded training program, I think when you do these hard runs or activities back-to-back is when you start to teeter on the fence. Now, that other side of the fence can range from just "no gas in the tank", which is what I'm hoping I suffer from, to falling back onto the injury wagon. Physiologically, there is a two-day rule: the 2nd day after a hard session will be more stressful on your legs than the day after. Glycogen hasn't replenished, injured muscle fibers are beginning to heal and thus you're pulling on semi-hardened glue, and inflammation is causing tissues to swell and be irritated. None of these will help you feel better.
OK, so now I have to sit down and figure this out. Our Mercedes Marathon Training group begins in a week, so that will take care of Sundays. My initial thoughts are to NOT go over 20 miles for two days combined, so if the MM group is doing 13 on a Sunday, I'll limit my Saturday run to no more than 7. Yeah, that's the ticket. I have been improving over the past many months, but one good run throws me into that "cake and eat it too" mode. I want to train smart AND I want to get back to long mileage. That ain't gonna work! Back about 10 months ago, I made a deal with God that all I was asking was to be able to run...I didn't care about distance or speed. Guess she's calling me on that one. Ok, I'll try to be good
Training for a marathon is a long road (literally) that has 4-6 months of goal-oriented runs attached to it, so that's well over 100 training runs and your body will learn something from EVERY run you do, some of it good, some not so good, but it will learn. So, when I do something not so smart and my body says "hey Al, let's review who's boss here", it would pay to listen. Three decades and I haven't completely learned that lesson yet, but I'm working on it. By the way, I went out Thursday morning, ran the same course, and it was 100% better! This morning I hit the trails, and I do love running in the woods. Man, I wish I could figure this out and bottle it...maybe in another 30 years! Yep, the highs are usually never as high as you think and the lows are usually never as low as you think. Have a good week and I'll see you on the roads - AL
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