In the middle of a regular training cycle, my little pains and niggles become normal, daily creaks. First steps on the cold wood floor shoot electricity up my calves. Hips are sucked-in tight knots.
Now that I am waiting to race, a week into my first part of a taper, I'm finding these new pains concerning. Tiring. I question whether it is normal delayed onset soreness or could it be that tiny micro-tears have split along the fault lines, becoming full fledged ruptures. One more week, that's all I need to get through, then I can take a little time off. A little time off sounds nice.
With my sore foot weighing on me, I decided to rest this weekend before my last two-week push into the race. I guess I should use the word "rest" lightly as it felt like I was doing burpies with 30lbs of kid on my back all day. No such thing as laziness with these two kids.
Now the foot feels good. Time to clear the webs make the final two weeks a good one.
While I wanted to run today, I was reminded by a random tweet out there from the interwebs that said you have to remember to respect the training plan. Nothing more will be made from anything within these last few weeks. Rest, heal, train mentally. Meditate. Eat well. Sleep when you can.
You can't fix the gaps in your training plan in the last few days leading up to your race. Your earlier failures can't be corrected. I wish I could go back and correct them.
I spent some time today planning a long run that wouldn’t have too much elevation change in preparation for the NYC Marathon in a few weeks. As I curved the course up and down local streets on the map, I thought to myself, “is the race two weeks away or three?” After reviewing the calendar and cross-checking it against my training plan, I realized that I was off by a week.
My 18 mile race last weekend was really my last all-out long effort. For this weekend, I could trend it down into a more taper-ish 10 to 12 mile long effort.
This revelation felt nice because it meant I did not have to go through all the gear/water planning. I didn’t have to timidly mention to my wife that I would need to disappear for three hours (or more), and then spend the rest of the day massaging my thighs while bouncing kids and eating everything in front of me.
Normally, I devote a significant amount of stress time to long-run planning and post-run guilt-ridden failure management. Usually, it’s plans for back-to-back efforts that turn into half-distances or dropped runs due to kids, errands, life. Now, I’m going into the weekend stressing about wanting to run (see planning above) while knowing that I should rest the pins and get ready for big things.
My foot has been a disaster in the build up to this race, so I should be happy with the recoup time to try to sort this out.
You would think.
But none of this is easy for me. The only time I’m truly at peace with myself as a “runner” is when I’m out there running. The before, the after. That’s the tough stuff.
I will eventually get around to completing a full race report for the running of the 41st Annual Long Beach Island 18 Mile Run. I have been putting thoughts together on this for the last few days. In the meantime, I thought I would try to capture one important lesson learned around mile 14 of this long, straight race.
I hear often that you should never experiment during a race; that it is not the time to try something new. This is what long training runs are for. Test your nutrition, break in your shoes, see that a pair of shorts holds up and does not chafe around your sensitive bits.
What I did not consider going into this one were the things (or one thing in particular) I do regularly on long runs that I left out of my race day plan.
I sweat when I run; a lot when it is hot and/or sunny. I also tend to lose a lot of salt, with dried residue on my face, clothes, etc. After suffering through a hot 50k last year, I learned to carry S!Caps to help replenish the salts I’m losing to ultimately assist my body in water absorption. When I start to feel sloshing in my gut, I know I have waited too long.
The LBI race was not hot, but it was straight and exposed to a constant sun. Around mile 10, I wiped my brow and felt a sandpaper-like grit across my face. By mile 14 I was getting electric shocks through my right hamstring. Everything else felt good and my nutrition and hydration was right on.
But I forgot the salt. As I staggered on I knew the cramping was going to get worse until it would force me to stop a few times and stretch the legs. For anyone who has not had this type of cramping before, it is an interesting experience. The pain I can take. It’s the locked, seized muscles that I find hard to maneuver.
I limped this one in having to slow down considerably over the last few miles.
Lesson learned the hard way. Carry salt. While I will always hope I do not have to use it, there will be comfort in knowing that it is there when I do.