Most days, running has been going very, very well. I’m hitting paces I dared not to dream possible in some of my workouts and I’m enjoying seeing all the puzzle pieces come together.
Had it not been for the injury, I think I would have just expected things to always be linear and smooth in the next phase of buildup. But having that time off really makes me appreciate seeing the ins and outs of a training block.
For instance, yesterday (Sunday) was complete garbage on my body. My legs actually felt reasonably good after 4 hours and 3500’ of gain on Saturday. But I just felt ragged yesterday. Out of breath. Heart rate jumping. Just slogging through the run. The crazy puppies and fun humans made it tolerable.
And then I think about what I am asking my body to do and it’s pretty miraculous. I asked it to do 2 hard track workouts this week. My 4-minute speed sessions were sub-6 and my 8 minute speed sessions were 6:26 & 6:12. Plus, I ran for 4 hours in the freezing rain on Saturday. So yeah, it’s okay to be tired. That’s what I’m training for.
I look back on my very detailed notes and am glad I kept honest throughout the process. Because this past week, I had a flare up of shin soreness and started to panic. Did I re-injure myself? Is this the old injury that hasn’t quite healed? Is this a new injury and I’m doomed?
I read and re-read my notes. I see I still had random foot pain almost 10 months after the initial problem. Knocks-on-wood, I haven’t felt ANY foot pain since October. Not a peep. I try to remember the wisdom of the doctor and explaining that it was likely I could feel pain upwards of a year at various intervals and while, yes, it could point to something bad, it often is the bone going through various healing points. Add that to the fact that cold weather and lower barometric pressure causes actual physiological changes, and well, here we are folks.
It was after the 2 speed sessions that I felt the most soreness. I did a little bit of rolling with the stick and some self-massage with neuropathy salve. I’m not sure if it did much of anything.
But I woke up Saturday raring to go on the trails and it didn’t seem to bother me one bit on Saturday afternoon or evening. Same thing Sunday?
It seems odd to me that the force of a combined 32 total minutes of speed work during the week (16 minutes each on Tuesday/Thursday) would be more aggravating that a hilly AF trail run for 4 hours.
But maybe not?
In any case, it seems to be perfectly fine today. And it’s a rest day so I’m happily giving all my bones, muscles, & joints a break.
I’m learning to run my easy runs a little easier.
It’s uncomfortable, but that’s part of training. When I think about when it gets hard or I’m starting to waver mentally, I reel it back in with the notion that I can do hard things. I want to do hard things. I want to get uncomfortable.
There is a huge difference between actual injury pain and just being uncomfortable. We spend most our lives in comfort. Heating & air-conditioning. Full bellies. Overstuffed chairs. For millennia, we survived as a species without these things. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my creature comforts. But, I do think that there is some merit in the primal feeling of scraping the bottom of your physical ability.
When I think about those track sessions that I loathe so much. It’s because they are hard. But they are hard mentally for me. I feel the pain in my legs and lungs and everything says, hey, dummy, just stop. Or slow down. But if I tune out that little negative voice and let my legs do the work, it’s kind of astonishing how much you can push through.
I like to think about those Survivor challenges where endurance is the gold standard of winning. If you can do X for the longest, you win. And at what point do you allow your body to give up? Few of us get to where we crawl across the finish line. What can your body do if you think you can do it?
It took me over 4 years to go from a 4+ hour marathon to a BQ. And once I broke that barrier, I have had 2 races that I haven’t hit that goal (when I was attempting to). The power of knowing I can is the driving force behind my ability. Every time I notch another hole in that belt, I set my own precedence.