Last Saturday I had scheduled to run just 12 miles (because I’m cool enough to say just now). The twelve would be ran out in a random trail that I had never been to on a warm and windy day. I arrived thirty minutes late because…sleep. I swear I will never be the 60 year old that has breakfast at 4:30 in the morning and dinner at 4:30 PM. Due to of my tardiness the rest of the crew had already taken off into the woods for a day of mystery running.
I picked a random route*, fascinated by the color blue (and every other shiny thing out there…but not the murderous fox I encountered), I started trotting through the woods. My mind was clear; knowing that since I had already entered into the world of ultra-marathon a month prior, twelve miles really should not be that difficult of a task; relatively speaking. Strength training classes on Wednesday were wearing me out on Thursday’s, but I was getting stronger on the longer runs also.
Realistically, Honey Stinger in hand, the day was marked with early stages of success.
…so why in God’s green earth did each step feel as if I was trying to run through a swamp?
The adventures of Texas was last month; the swamp sensation of humidity, alligators, and potential death should not be a part of my life until at least May in this section of flyover land.
I tried to shake the sensation. Instead, I tried to focus on the reality that the ‘potential brush’ I had been advised about was ripping my shins to shred with each step I took. Perhaps a little physical pain would ease my mind from the fact that I was struggling to move forward. Sadly, after being involved in trails for a while now, the pain threshold (and realm of allowed stupidity) has increased. I’m sad to report that my bone could have been showing from the gashes, and I would still be hell-bent on ensuring my Garmin was accurate with my pace.
Eight miles in and the trip was turning into a disaster. I struggled through the final four miles, walking the final mile of the four.
I went home knowing that a new week would give me new potentials and this would be shaken out of my system.
Monday night: Aside from dodging another collapsing tree due to an incoming…oh you know…tornado; I was still running through sludge.
Wednesday night: I had a horrible strength training session. Nothing was working correctly between my body and brain (mouth and brain issues are to be expected though). I left defeated and frustrated. I still owe an apology to the course instructor.
Thursday night: I was able to last for 2.5 miles before I called it, and just went home and cried in the basement (due to a sappy rom-com anime series…NOT because my love of running was betraying me in the dirt)
Friday night: I staggered into my house from work. I didn’t make it back out that night. Instead, I contacted two very, very trustworthy, knowledgeable, 100 miler (that still sounds abnormal) runners and asked them what was going on with me.
I need a reset.
Nothing is broken. There are no injuries. My diet, overall, isn’t that scary in comparison to past months. All the usual signs of issues weren’t there, but my body just wasn’t able to move. Between the two of them problem solving; we discovered a few interesting pieces of information:
- I had strength training classes once a week, plus running four days a week, including a long run…Every. Single. Week.
- In June of 2016 I was able to complete 2.5 miles (barely), July I finished a 10 mile race, October I finished a 25K and a 20 mile race, December was another 20 mile race, January was another 25K, and February was my first 50K. Meaning, in 9 months I had increased my racing distance by nearly 12 percent. Considering prior to June of 2016 I was running a 5K race on a flat surface at max, this realization was startling.
The truth was, factoring in teaching
hell-spawn middle school students full time, and other things out of my control (some call these issues life), I had been pushing my body to its limits nearly every week for 3/4 of a year. Sure, I dabbled in the dark magic referred to as ‘tapering’ leading up to races, or even a week off after my first 50K, but that has been it.
Because of my unstable, barely functioning cognitive condition (I now understand why peers use to call me the scarecrow), I absolutely adore running. I have to move my legs, I have to travel by foot, I love the ability to continue to try and fly.
I state this because some people I’ve met get into this sensation that they grow to hate the sensation of running, the activity, the process, the cycle, whichever they call it; I call it “learning to hate oxygen”. Knowing this is key to understanding that this is not a burnout issue with myself.
So; if it isn’t burn out, injury, sickness, or diet…what is causing this sensation? Plain and simple; spelled out to me in very easy terms, I’m tired. My body is absolutely wrecked from the past several months. I’m doing things that I have never done before, and my body is trying to tell my brain that we have to slow down the process. Especially as the mileage increases, and times hopefully decrease.
To make it easy; we only become stronger and faster when we allow ourselves rest.
This is my lesson to learn. To get faster, to go further, to grow stronger; at times we have to stop.
Without guilt (and possibly with ice cream) I’m following advice and taking a week to reset myself. Ensuring that enough rest is had, which is ironic considering the time of night and the curse of daylight savings time as I type this, and that I’m physically ready to go again.
*Later that week they found a burned up car with a body inside at the same parking spot; I knew that route was evil…