Monday, June 02, 2008

The Downward Spiral

OK, so I had this crazy idea that, after having such a good race at Ohlone, I could launch right back into a normal 60-mile training week. I've been wanting to "bulk up" my training leading up to the Bighorn 100. It will be the first 100-miler without a 50-miler within 3 weeks of the race. I will be doing the Mt. Diablo 50K as my last long run before I taper. I plan to run Saturday before Diablo and to keep a normal training week leading up to that. However, my idea (I can't really call it a plan) after recovering from Miwok was to maintain my weekly mileage in the 60+ range integrating both Ohlone and Diablo without missing a beat.

I took Monday off and then did an easy 3 miles with my wife on Tuesday night. On Wednesday I did my lunchtime run. Normally, I would wear my heart-rate monitor on my first "regular" run after a race to assure I kept things at recovery pace. I think that I figured with the Tuesday's run at such an easy pace I could skip the whole "recovery run" thing. This was probably not a great idea as I felt a bit more fatigued after my Thursday lunch run and certainly wasn't going to argue when my wife decided she needed to cut her evening run short. I'd make it up later in the week.

Getting out of work early on Friday before the long weekend was an opportunity to add a few extra miles before a busy weekend. Now that the Guadalupe River Trail is completely open north of the Airport, I decided to take it all the way past 237 and back. This trail offers some interesting long (though flat) run opportunities for me as it hooks up with the Highway 237 Bikeway which I can take all the way to Milpitas on the way to my house. It also ends close to the Alviso Marina which has some nice levee trails at the south tip of the bay. At any rate, I started this run off at a fairly easy pace for a medium distance run. However, by the middle of the return trip, I got that sensation where my legs just took on a mind of their own. Everything just kept slowing down and there didn't seem to be anything "there" to make them go any faster. I finished the run feeling wasted. But, with 32 miles for the week, I still figured that a good night's rest and I would be able to fit in 30 miles on the weekend.

The weekend miles were going to be a challenge as my son was playing basketball in a big memorial day tournament called "Rumble in The Bay." It was local and he had a big break in the Saturday schedule with a first game at 8:45am and a second game at night. That gave me some time, but there went the whole sleeping in idea. After his first game it was time to do my wife's long run. The plan was to do 6 miles, but she felt good and insisted that she be allowed to do more. OK, really she just ignored all my blathering about increasing mileage slowly and training schedules and blah, blah, blah... She simply turned left onto a path before we got to the car and kept going. It's not like I can really tell her what to do anyway. Besides, I knew that 7 miles was a big milestone for her as she used to do 7 mile runs often as a teenager. Unlike me, she is really quite good at pacing herself and never goes out too fast so I try not to worry about her adding miles if she feels it.

As the day wore on, I could tell that my body really wasn't recovered as well as I would have liked from the previous weekend's race. I kept thinking back to Wednesday's run and how I have felt as though my body had been in a slow, downward spiral since that run. I kept re-adjusting the math in my head from my planned 12-14 Sat. afternoon followed by 10 or so on Sun. If I only did 10 today, I could maybe do 12+ tomorrow...If I only did 6 today, perhaps I could find time for 15 tomorrow...if I just rest the rest of the day, can I fit it in tomorrow? Perhaps 2 runs tomorrow? Perhaps only 50 miles total?

During one of my brief lapses into sanity, I admitted that I really needed the rest and decided to just see how I felt the next morning. The morning brought my wife and I to the gym for some cross-training on the stationary cycle. I was reading an article in "Marathon and Beyond" by Joe Henderson talking about common training errors. When I arrived at the one titled "Don't be a slave to your running log", I just sort of stared at it for a while. It was clear what the right thing was for me to do. Even though my legs felt great after the time on the cycle, I decided that rest was what this weekend called for. I had Monday off and if I felt recovered enough I could at least start the next week off with a descent count.

It's funny, with all my worry and obsessing over my wife's miles, she was really the one listening to her body whereas I was the one locked into some arbitrary concept of a training plan. Her body was simply telling her to go further. Mine was saying "enough!"


miki said...

I totally understand the feeling of "having to get those miles in" from when I was running a lot. It becomes almost desperate, or at least it did for me. I am going to try a new approach once my body can take the miles. 3 cross training days and maybe 3 running days approach, and basically try to keep my miles down to a minimum while still doing the ultra distances. I figure in the long run it will be doing my body a favor. Plus, all those Chinese medicine people from a thousand years back keep on reminding me that I am using up all my "essence" by doing the ultras. I plan on still burning the life source up a little quicker than a normal person might, but keeping balance in mind as well. Long hiatuses. Makes you all thinky. :)

Have fun this weekend. Wishing I was there. I was even going to make some energy bars. Next time.

Scott said...

Good deal. Right decision. Sometimes your body is smarter than your mind...

Nathan said...

Steve, I know exactly how you feel. Although I'm not up to the ultra distances yet, as I've progressed I've had a hard time turning off that "must run" thought process that so easily can take over. Part of it is my addiction to running, the other is just habit, but regardless sometimes rest seems foreign.

Looks like you've done a good job interpreting and managing your body's needs. Keep up the good work, I enjoy your blog.

Victoria said...

I'm so there with you-- I finished Ohlone and got all inspired so I probably didn't rest enough and my left knee is lurking about in the background now. I'm trying to balance not overdoing the knee and at the same time getting in enough miles so that I can perhaps not be under-trained for a race for once in my life. Also, I wanted to tell you that I have been really trying to take your advice from the RW forum on downhill running technique. I think it's helping, and I think it's easier on my knee.

p.s. I think you should do 9 Trails...

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Thanks for the comment and the encouragement for my race tomorrow. Reading your post makes me feel a little better about my recent low mileage. I just wish I'd been able to reset my clock better.

Harald said...

remember how crapped out you felt during our extended Skyline 50k?

And how you then aced C2M?