Friday, September 10, 2010
It all started with the decision to sleep in last Saturday morning and postpone my long run to Sunday. Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous decision would create a ripple effect that would affect my training for the next 5 days. The day after my 22-mile Sunday, I did a not-so-easy 10-mile workout that included hill bounds, one-legged hill hops, some short 3k repeats and finished with sprints. Tuesday, I was headed to the mountains for an overnight work trip. I had a double on tap for Tuesday: 15 miles including 10 x 800 @ <2:45 (<5:30 pace) w/3 min. recovery + 4 miles easy later in the day. The 800s are the famous Yasso 800s--not an easy workout.
I decided that doing three relatively long/hard workouts in a row was not smart, and I knew that I couldn't possibly do the 800s at 6,000 ft. elevation, so I ran Wednesday's 8 mile easy workout Tuesday morning and punted the Yasso's to Wednesday night when I got back home. I also needed to get in a strength workout early in the week since I had a race coming up on Sunday and didn't want to have sore legs on the starting line. So, Tuesday night after the day's meetings, I created a mini gym at the smoker's picnic table outside our resort hotel and propped up my iPad, which happily displayed my strength workout and blasted motivational music. This was a new strength routine for me and included lunges, one-legged squats, calf raises, step ups, squats with dumbbell presses, pull ups, push ups and squat thrusts all to fatigue. I think I took the to fatigue requirement a little too seriously and ended up doing 2 sets of at least 30 reps of most of these exercises with up to 50 of some.
I paid for my strength training exuberance in a major way the next day. I could barely move my tree-trunk-like legs when I got up early to do my 4-mile run Wednesday morning. I did enjoy my scenic run on the Legacy Trail that runs along the Truckee River despite the sore legs. I then sat in a meeting until noon and drove 2 hours to get home. I had to peel my legs off of the car seat when I arrived home. My hip/butt/hamstring pain and stiffness were monumental. I was so mad at myself for doing the strength workout and compromising my running workout, but there was nothing to be done at this point. I actually resolved to go out and attempt to run the workout that night. I gave up after one 800m repeat around the track, but I got in 9 painful easy miles that night.
The entire run home I was trying to figure out a way to get that workout in without compromising my race on Sunday, but there wasn't an option that made sense. If I had a relationship with the Lord like Ryan Hall, I might have asked for divine assistance, but I'm not tight with Jesus like that. I figured I had two choices: a) run the 800s on Thursday and not race the 10-miler Sunday or b) drop the Yasso 800s and do a workout that required less recovery so I could have a chance to race Sunday.
I emailed my coach and presented her with this dilemma along with my proposed solution: plan b. She agreed that this made sense and reassured me that missing one workout during an entire 15-week marathon program is outstanding. It made me realize that I am indeed lucky that I have never had to drop a hard workout in a training cycle (aside from dropping my Eugene training completely due to injury), which is why this is bugging me so much. I also rarely have to change a workout due to illness, injury or fatigue. Of course, this is all very rational, but I am still having a hard time letting this workout go. It made me realize that completing my workouts and doing them well is a huge part of making me feel prepared for a marathon.
I do believe I am growing as a runner in that I am better able to see where blind devotion to get in every workout and all of the mileage in a training plan might lead to excessive fatigue and eventual injury. I learned that lesson in my last marathon training cycle, and I have now applied it to my decision making in this one.
When I made the decision not to do the 800s, as I stood on the track Wednesday night, I knew that I would only hurt myself if I pushed to try to complete the workout given the state of my worked legs. After all, why follow a series of blunders with another? I did run 15 miles Thursday with 12 x 1 minute on/1 minute off @ 3k effort and felt okay. I should end up getting in all of my mileage for this week too, which makes me happy.
I have spent a fair amount of time this training cycle comparing my workouts with what I did last year in my build up to Twin Cities. In that program, I was running slightly higher mileage than I am now, but doing similar workouts. I realized this week that I was in a constant state of fatigue during that training cycle and very few if any of my workouts went exactly as planned. Most of them included generous "water breaks" even though they were run at the right paces. In fact, I did not have a single good goal-marathon-pace workout that whole cycle, yet I ran a 2:46 marathon.
I'll leave you with a nice read from running.competitor.com by Matt Fitzgerald that provides a good reminder of the importance of getting to know your body and how hard to push yourself.