I read Christopher McDougall’s book, “Born to Run.” I wanted to eat beans and corn, slap some huaraches on my feet and lace them like I used to tie my ballet pointe shoes, survive on only my instincts, and run all day and night like the Tarahumara Indians. Well, not exactly. The book inspired me, but my fantasy mostly involved the idea of only eating enough that you could run any time of the day. And to actually have the ability and leisure to run any time of the day.
The runners in the book were not doing speedwork or tempo runs or recovery runs. They ran, and they ran far. They also ran because they loved it and because their bodies had adapted to it so it was more natural than walking.
To see how my perspective has changed doing longer runs, I now consider anything longer than a half-marathon distance one of these longer runs. I still consider 18 km a long run, but it doesn’t take as long as 32 km will. With the longer runs came a few changes. I’m hungry most of the time (by “most” I mean I don’t get up at night and eat), I’m getting stronger and more fit, and I’m really, really tired.
It happens around this time. My body tends to hurt more and my legs feel like they’re wearing socks of lactic acid. My mind becomes bored. I’m now about 3/4 of the way through my preparation (and 17 week run clinic) for my goal event in October. I’ve exercised in some way 6 days a week, some days doing double workouts. I get up too early, too many days a week, to fit in a swim or extra run or some strength training.
All this lead me to a bored mind. I’m over-tired and sore and this leads to a lack in motivation to keep going. Don’t get me wrong: I know this comes along for everyone in a training cycle. But it reminds me that my body needs rest. My body needs recovery. I need my mind to rest too.
It’s easy to give up around this time. The goal seems far enough away that it still seems far away, but also not that far that I can just stop and resume in a few weeks. We have run the strength-training hills and solid base kilometers in the last 3 months. Now we are running the longer distances and increasing our speed. The goal distance is closing in and race pace is becoming clearer.
Lately I’ve had trouble sleeping and my body is sore all the time. This means I need recovery. I’ve asked our coach which workouts to cut out so that I can – and do – recover. I worry that if I stop anything I will get slower and not be able to keep up. I know this is contradictory; we don’t recover without giving our body time to recover.
On top of all this, I’m pretty sure now I have a virus. I’ve rested and am taking things easier, but I am feeling leaden and weary. I get winded going up a flight of stairs (though I run 30+ km each weekend), and my legs feel like wooden sticks.
My weekend run went great, but I can’t sway myself into optimism and start cramming in training. To reduce my risk of injury and mental boredom I will abide by my other training plan of recovery. I will sleep more, run (a little less), eat well and use common sense. I think most runners have the hardest time with the last one on my list. Sure we know we should rest, but what’s 10 more kilometers? Who’s going to know?
Obviously, I will know, and so will my bored mind. I will take that break until my mind feels fresh again. I will rest until I look forward to each workout and am willing to put my body through some hurt so that I get stronger. I will be patient, knowing the only one I am racing is in my head.