What a Difference A Week Makes

Running a 19:33 at the Labor Day 5K in 2012 -- seems so long ago.

Running a 19:33 at the Labor Day 5K in 2012 — seems so long ago.

The last several weeks have provided a great example of why it is important not to get discouraged when you experience training setbacks or motivation issues. Until last weekend, I hadn’t done any racing since the Running of the Green Four Miler on March 16.  I was feeling good about a fifteen-second PR, but was slightly discouraged by my spectacular positive splits – let’s just say I didn’t pass very many runners (OK – nobody) during the final two miles.  I decided after I finished that I would devote myself to training for the next month or so and not race again until the beginning of May.  I had problems with consistency during this time and didn’t manage to do a whole lot of speed work. I also developed a puzzling heel injury that disappeared after a week of not running. A week before my scheduled “rust buster,” I did fourteen quarters on the treadmill and some easy runs at the end of the week and felt like I would easily meet my time goal for the Albany YMCA 5K.

On the day of the race, I managed to get to the Corning Preserve Riverfront Park at a reasonable time, registered for the race, and went to do my warm up. As I was running back along the course, I realized that the race started in fifteen minutes and I was still at least five minutes away. I’m not sure where all the time went. Maybe it took me longer to register than I realized. Anyway, my warm up was a whole lot faster and longer than it should have been, but the race started about fifteen minutes late, so I thought I was in good shape. At the beginning of the race, I started out and tried to keep up with the top woman. This was a big mistake since the top woman also won the race by more than a minute. Needless to say, I went out too fast, and had the experience of wondering where and when we were ever going to hit the mile markers.  This was one of those races where rather than racing, I spent most of the time wondering when the next mile was going to show up. I can’t complain too much, however, because I ended up as the third overall male; but, the time (even though the course was long) was well off my rust buster goal (there seems to have been a lot of rust to bust).  I wouldn’t have felt too badly about this had I felt like I was running controlled. I, however, felt completely and utterly spent at the end of the race. My wife was at the finish line and told me that she was “concerned.” I felt horrible.  So, I won some Lucite (cool) but ran slowly despite much effort – what to do?

The following week, I decided not to race the next weekend and I went to the YMCA and used the elliptical (my right tibia was noticeably hurting during the race) and generally took it a bit easier, although I did get in my mileage. At the end of the week, an odd thing occurred. I had been feeling sore and tired during the week and then I woke up on Saturday morning feeling great. I went out and did an intense hill session (10 x .25 mile gradual – but not too gradual – hill with a tempo run sandwiched between interval five and six) proceeded by three miles on the elliptical and two miles on the elliptical to warm down. Normally, after a workout like this I would be exhausted and moping about for the rest of the day. Instead, I felt fine, hardly tired. My right tibia had stopped hurting and my leg turnover felt great. I actually considered jumping into a race this morning. Although I thought better of it, considering yesterday’s mileage and intensity.

Anyway, I think the lesson here is that you might feel horrible and like you are going backwards while your body is incorporating new training stimulus (I look back at the fourteen quarters at the beginning of the week that I raced as speed work that probably only had a training effect during the last several days.). It is important, however, not to get discouraged and remember that the effects of a good workout will eventually show up if you get plenty of rest and don’t over train.  The lesson here: be sure to give your training enough time to take effect.

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