I admit….I unwittingly overdid it. I knew I was hitting bigger mileage last week and putting myself through consistently longer and more difficult runs, but I didn’t take into account the breakdown the body goes through after a 1/2 marathon coupled with what seems to be the beginning of the season of sickness. Now, I’ve run a number of 1/2 marathons in the past, never at that speed of course, but I also never followed them up with a stretch of hard running. I’ve always taken a day or two off and then gotten back into it with easy runs. This time though I did an easy 5 the next day, followed that up with an easy 8 that turned into a very powerful 10, followed by a successful 6 mile predator run, followed by 15 miles, followed by 15 more miles, followed by a 15k trail race. Add to that what I thought was an all out war of allergies that actually turned out to be a small cold, and you’ve got a recipe for breakdown.
Sunday rolled around and I couldn’t will myself out the door. Not only was I still coughing up little balls of phlegm that had been stuck in my chest the past few days, but my legs felt like someone had knuckle punched me in my quads repeatedly. Then Monday rolled around and nothing had changed. More coughing and more dead spots in my quads. I was itching to run, but knew I wasn’t in the shape to do it and figured I’d just ease up for Tuesday’s workout.
So tonight comes around and I’m feeling a little better even though I still have what amounts to an empty spot in my right quad that would seemingly stay dormant when I put pressure on it. I figured I had enough to run through it though.
Then as we are waiting for the rest of the guys to show up, I ask Jesse what our workout is.
“10 x 800’s with 90 seconds rest.”
Hmmmm. I had a feeling this was going to be a tough one, seeing as we are only 5 weeks out from Chicago, with probably two weeks of taper, effectively giving us only 3 final weeks to train. Fair enough. This is what followed.
Even just going through the warm up and getting ready to start the hard effort my legs felt just as they did the past couple of days, which is to say quite dead. No backing out now though. We push into the first 800 and already I can tell something feels different as I can’t quite seem to take in oxygen like I normally do. It was like my throat was open, but not quite all the way. We were supposed to get as close to 2:20 as possible and the initial effort felt like we were on track, but hitting the mile marker at 800 we came through at 2:27. A few mumbled cuss words with tones of concern for the rest of the workout were uttered as we began the recovery. We started into the second 800 and forced ourselves to push even harder, this time barely coming through over 2:20, but beat from the effort. Little could tell this wasn’t going to go well for him and he backed out to do mileage.
The rest of us continued on, knocking out a couple gradual downhill 800’s, but the effort was still forced and I questioned if I was going to be able to continue on, fearing I would quickly drop into the 2:30’s and unwillingly calling it quits. At this point Poray also decided to back off and put in mileage instead of beating himself up with the effort. It was only Davis, Azizz and myself. This was essentially the point I had to make a decision, either unwillingly admit to some sort of defeat or push on and commit to finishing. Personally, it’s a development of mental strength to stay with a workout and see it through when all I want to do is back out and run mileage, but after already taking two prior days off, I’d be miserable until I got back into it. Plus, even if I started to completely bag the workout, just knowing I finished it through is a matter of success in my book, yet to not only continue with the workout but also hold on to relatively fast times is an even greater success of mental fortitude and physical strength. It’s moments like these that I recall during bouts of excessive nervousness on the starting line of important races. I’ll take this to Chicago.
Ultimately, we take off into number 5 and finish it out, my breathing breaking down into rapid fits earlier and earlier into the distance. Then 6, and 7. Soon enough, Davis is coming through at every 800 at or below 2:20 and reaching over to grab his knees for recovery. We were all dying in our own way. But we continued on. We hit 8, then 9, dragging our asses through around 2:29, a drastic drop from our previous efforts, scolding ourselves for the lag. We start into our final 800 on the gradual downhill and attempt to make up for the previous one by pounding down the trail. Davis and Azziz almost run head on into two joggers going the other way, completely focused on the task, and I work to push hard and not stumble forward as my legs go weak under the weight of my body crashing down on top of them. Harder and harder we push to the mile marker and finally lean through, myself at 2:22, Davis at around 2:17. I ask him twice what he hit that one at, but he’s defeated from the effort and can’t answer me until we start our cool down.
And now, my body feels a bit like it does after a tough race. I obviously am not back to where I should be after last week and after this bout with the cold. It’s a real tough time to be putting in the training we need for Chicago, while tuning up with races, and during the change of the weather that includes increased allergy reactions and a spreading of nasty colds. We have but one option, run strong yet wisely, and take care of ourselves with extreme diligence. I’ve started by penciling in sufficient recovery runs and heading to the store for cartons of orange juice and a handful of oranges. Next comes a stocking of E-mergen-C, and maybe some zinc, echinacea and other goodness. Oh, and sleep. More sleep. Speaking of….it’s about that time.
3 mile warmup
10 x 800’s (between 2:19 and 2:29 – average around 2:24/2:25)
90 second recovery inbetween
4 mile cool down
Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, flax seed, raisins, coconut oil, almonds), coffee
Lunch – Pasta soup w/ peas, potatoes, chick peas, etc. etc., water
Dinner – ummm…didn’t really have any
Snacks – Banana, water, coffee, clif bar, vegan jerquee, chocolate bar, orange juice, chocolate soy milk, small piece of leftover pizza
Propaghandi – Supporting Caste, Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes