My desk faces a window that opens to the apartment complex’s “back yard”, for lack of a better term. Maybe 100 yards of trees, shrubs, and bushes that would likely require a machete to get through separates our backyard with the neighboring golf course. I can’t see the golf course, but when the air is still I can hear the occasional cheering, or more amusing, the thunk of a golf ball hitting a tree, and the groans (or worse) that comes with it. I’ve never really studied the art of Feng Shui (and by “never really”, I mean “never”), and I have no idea if my desk is facing the correct magnetic pole for optimum productivity. But I can tell you that open window and view of nothing but trees is incredibly calming.
It’s amazing to me how I took “trees’ for granted for the last 33 years. This has nothing to do with the blog post you are about to read, I just felt like sharing.
Despite the fact I haven’t kept up with the #DTLAA posts, I HAVE been training hard towards our 24 hour race. Shocker, I know. The runs haven’t always been 100% to the training program, but the consistency has been pretty on par. More so than for any other race I’ve ever “trained” for, and I use that term loosely because I’m not sure I’ve ever actually trained for anything the way I should have.
Today marks 32 days from race day.
Our mileage is certainly low for someone attempting to run 100 miles, but has basically on par for a “beginner 100 mile” training plan. Which is pretty hilarious, if you think about it. “Beginner” and “100 miles” probably should never go hand in hand. So let’s call it a “just finish” plan instead.
We’ve done pretty well with our “just finish” plan.
As we approach the last month of training before the race, I find myself in a mental space I’ve never been in before. A few weeks ago at the Runner’s World Half & Festival, I ran 4 races in three days, and felt freaking FANTASTIC. In fact, all of my runs lately have felt strong. Who knew this “training” thing worked so well? And therefore, all I want to do is keep training, harder and harder. If I feel THIS good now, imagine how much better I’m going to feel after this last stretch of training, which in theory clocks the highest mileage weeks of the plan?
Last week, I fell.
It was a clumsy, typical trail fall. I caught my toe on a rock or a root, I’m not sure what, but I stumbled for what felt like 20 yards trying to catch myself, before actually succumbing to the fall and hitting the ground. I’ve done this countless times before, and am always able to hop back up uninjured…unless you count a slight bruise to my ego. Except this time, despite my best effort, I fell directly on my left knee. The pain immediately radiated up my body, so much so that I stayed on the ground for a minute before getting up. We were about 8 miles into a 12 mile run, and I wasn’t about to quit, so I kept running, despite the pain in my knee.
And then I ran the next day. And the next. And the day after that.
And then we fast forward to last Saturday morning, where I had to call it quits only 2 miles into our group run because my entire left side is angry at me. The change in stride from trying to “baby” my knee (which was just really bruised) was causing everything, especially my lower left leg, to hurt. And this lower left leg, likely my posterior tibial tendon, has been bothering me for quite some time to begin with.
Back to this “mental space” I mentioned earlier…
When your running is going REALLY well, and you can actually see and feel yourself becoming stronger, it becomes the most powerful form of motivation to keep going. That is where my head is at right now. And every painful step I took, I kept convincing myself that it was “mental training”. Because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the second half of this 24 hour race is going to hurt. A lot.
But after about two weeks of this “I’m fine/oh wait, no I’m not” short runs, I had one of those rare epiphanies, the “don’t train like an asshole” moments. The OBVIOUS realization that pushing through pain to finish a race = good. Pushing through pain to finish a training run when you are only 6 weeks out from race day and you are setting yourself up for injury = BAD.
Very, very bad.
Of course my initial reaction is to be pissed off. Isn’t it just my luck that things are finally going well in my running world, and here I am with a potential injury? But quickly (thankfully) that thought was replaced again with the idea of “mental training”. This too is part of the process. Learning to listen to my body, and to RESPECT my body (and to not throw away all of the hard work I’ve put in by being a stubborn a$$hole.)
So…here’s your #DTLAA update, T minus 32 days:
I’m not running.
I’m going to take two weeks off from running, and REMIND myself that I will not absolutely forget how to run in the matter of two weeks. I’m going to strength train, I’m going to stretch, I’m going to hang out on the rowing machine even though I hate it, to maintain my cardiovascular endurance.
(Other than the Craft Brew 5K this weekend, I’ve got to run that. But slowly. )
In two weeks I will gently test the leg out….
and in two weeks and 5 days I will destroy my legs regardless at the Paris Mountain 50K. Because “not training like an a$$hole” takes a backseat when you score a race entry to a beautiful, demanding, trail race.
And then two weeks after that…we give this 24 hour race a shot.
Stay tuned for multiple posts in the coming month about nutrition, pacing, packing, planning, and everything I *don’t* know about ultra running (which, at this point, is pretty much everything…)