Running in Circles
After running a sub-standard mile (5:10) last Wednesday at the 'Longboat Mile on the Track' and then coming almost a minute short of my goal of a sub-sixty (minute) 10-miler on Sunday, I feel that I'm firmly stuck in a bit of a running rut. Workouts have been feeling harder, I've been more anxious and fatigued than normal, I am sleeping either too much or too little, and my legs just don't seem to want to move as fast as I know they should. It’s a classic case of burnout or ‘staleness’ caused primarily by a high training load and volume with additional pressure to perform.
I believe that part of this 'problem' is simply that marathon training has beaten up my body and the high mileage (120+kms per week) combined with limited rest and recovery is taking a new toll of which my body has never felt before. Moreover, it is foolish to expect that faster running times should come 'easy' in the midst of ‘base-building’ and marathon training in which speed work and tempo running is generally less intense and frequent. It's frustrating to feel I'm not getting any faster (and thus fitter), but important to remember that running the marathon is not about speed (per se) but about endurance. There are also other factors such as novelty and lack of experience which made way for complacency and a lack of confidence (regarding the mile). The 10-miler should have been better considering I felt really good and have run a number of races where my pace was actually much faster (Mississauga Half in 3:42/k) than my Sunday effort and thus I know I am capable of running the distance in the time I had expected. The day was rather humid and I went out far too fast, but I am still unsure why my legs just wouldn't move any faster and how I felt so bad so early into the race. I guess I faired “better” than both Megan Brown, a favourite among the female contenders who dropped out at about 4k; as well as Rob Watson, a speedriver guy whose blog I find thoroughly enjoyable and would highly recommend (http://leblogdurob.blogspot.com/), who also dropped out around 6k. A huge congrats to the top three guys, Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Matt Loiselle, who all ran under 50min and are looking good heading towards the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
I have since taken two full days to recover and it will essentially be 3 days since my last run (Sunday evening) when I lace up to run with the group this evening. During this time I have at times felt a strong compulsive urge to get out there and run, but am also concerned with my absolute acceptance and compliance of not running and lack of desire to hit the pavement. After retiring my Orange Asics on Sunday, I’ll be looking forward to testing out my new Asics (Gel-Blur 33's, which are also partly orange) training shoes and hope to break them. I also purchased a pair of Puma Faas 400's which are a performance shoes (and also orange!) which I intend to use specifically for speed work and racing. While it's mostly me that's broken; new shoes can't hurt. New shoes, new attitude!
The old, the new and the speedy (from top to bottom)!
This weekend will be another opportunity to test my racing legs, when Longboat heads north to compete in the Simcoe Shores Relay, a 245km relay from Barrie to Collingwood. Our strong team of 8 Longboaters (Captain Cambell, Coach Moss, Metz, Gerardo, Tom Hesch, the Belgian, Doyle and myself) will start late Saturday morning and should finish mid Sunday morning. We'll each run 3 legs of the race at approximately 10km per leg. It should prove to be a great deal of fun and will be a unique opportunity to compete and perform in a friendly team environment. Due to the nature of running 3 legs within a short period of time, the strategy used to do each leg will vary but I will certainly hope to hammer each leg in approximately 3:45/k pace. If I don’t manage that, I’ll be officially in panic mode...