Limits

Doing 16x400 on the Treadmill in Seattle
Photo by Jonathan (clearly)

It feels like only yesterday that I was sprinting the finish at Napa Valley Marathon securing the win and breaking a 20 year old course record by a mere 7 seconds. Since then I have been both exploring and knowing my limits.

I have been reading the book Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald and not only is it a fantastic read, but it is also helping me have the confidence to believe I know myself and to listen to my body. Over the last year, I have worked incredibly hard with my coach and in my running to really develop a method and rhythm that works for me. I have come to realize that I tolerate high mileage well and that I adapt to intense training pretty quickly (Fitzgerald talks about this in his book). I have also found that shorter training cycles work for me and prevent me from burning out. Looking back on the last year of training, I can also see that after a race, whether A race or otherwise, I usually need about a week to really get my head straight and my mojo going again. This is why having a digit running log is great, you can map the peaks and valleys quite clearly.

Napa Valley Marathon was suppose to be a controlled effort used as a precursor to the upcoming Two Oceans race in South Africa. It was a great race and the perfect boost in my training. Despite it being "training" or qualifying it that way in my head, I wasn't ready to plunge immediately back into hard training. It took me a week. I ran lightly and only as far as felt excited to do. I took naps. I skipped my long run when I really, really wasn't into it. And for once, I cut myself some slack about it. I figured it was best to know my limits and not push through and have a bad run. Taking that extra day off really refreshed me and by Monday morning, March 12th, I was ready to drop some serious intensity and serious mileage. 

Last week I hammered. I ran in crappy, nasty rainy weather. I went to Seattle to cheer on my friends at Chuckanut 50k and I ran on a treadmill to do my intervals because the weather wouldn't stay calm enough for me to do them outside. I ran as hard as I could for as long as I could on the Alter-G. I pushed my limits and just when I thought I was at my limit, I pushed a bit more just to make sure. I ran 119 miles last week and got in some high quality tempo and interval work. I had a decent long run and was satisfied with how the week went.

By the end of the week, I was definitely walking a fine line of being at or over my limit. Running on the Alter-G at faster than my 400 meter speed for a few miles at a time had my hamstrings tight and sore. A lingering sore spot in my foot (from Napa) became more and more painful. I walked on the edge of that limit and took a risk of it being too much. Thankfully, it wasn't.

Monday I took a much needed rest day and Tuesday I only did one run in the afternoon after having my massage therapist Scott go to town on my legs. The run felt good and I enthusiastically hammered out a very tough 8x800 in 2:36-2:40 pace on Wednesday. Thursday I hit the Alter-G again for a progression run and was flying along at 5 minute pace after 45 minutes of sub 5:30. It was awesome. 

Next week taper begins for Two Oceans and I feel like I have done all that I can do this training cycle to prepare myself. I have pushed my limits and I have also respected my limits. I have learned a bit more about myself and started to actually recognize patterns in my own training. I look forward to continuing to chase and push my limits and see what can be uncovered.