days off

Recess


After Comrades I had fully resolved to not train. I had been training and racing so hard for so long that I  was ready for a break. I decided that I would take the rest of June to not train specifically, to enjoy my life (and my birthday) and get rejuvenated. I have run when I felt like it, listened when my body asked for extra long naps and slept in on a Sunday morning.

I haven't taken any real break like this in a while. From the time I started to focus on qualifying for the Olympic Trials in late 2010, I have been in near constant pursuit of the next peak of fitness. And although I haven't burnt out or overtrained in that period of time, I still think, in the long term, burning, burning, burning is not a sustainable strategy. I just want to WANT to run for as long as I am able, and sometimes feeding that want means doing less of it or backing off.

I gave myself the month and I have enjoyed it. I have had accidental double days and plenty of zero days too.  


I was not completely satisfied with my race at Comrades. I know my fitness was much better than the day I had and part of me initially after the race wanted to, once again, leverage my fitness for another race. I wanted to prove how fit I was. But I didn't allow myself to pursue another race. I was very resolute before Comrades that I wouldn't simply rush on to the next race and I stuck to it. I am glad I did. There is no race or run or victory or time that can undo my Comrades race. Instead of trying to fill the unsatisfied feeling with something else, I simply let it be. I see that that dissatisfaction is fuel for the fire to come back even stronger and faster. It keeps you hungry. It keeps you pushing your limits. Now that I am starting to train again, I am motivated to reach for new heights.

Always in stride with the Baker

This past weekend I decided that I would kick off my training as any zaney ultrarunner would do: by running a 50k. The week before Nathan and I had been running on the Flume Trail on my birthday and he said it would be fun to run a 50k together. I thought it would be as well and suggested the Inside Trail Race's Marin Ultra Challenge. I am pretty sure when he suggested it, he didn't mean the following weekend, but I had been pondering the race for quite some time and made a strong pitch.

Heading up Old Springs, mile 30
Photo by Gary Wang

The race itself was low-key and fun. Nathan and I ran with fellow ninja and good friend Peter the whole time and we made quick work of the 33 mile race with nearly 7000 feet of ascent. Going in I thought I would just cruise, but between the three of us, we managed to push the pace for such a stout course. I don't actually think I've ever pushed that hard in a trail race before. It was really fun to run together and play off one another, I would blame Nathan "the Hammer" or Peter "The half-stepper" for the pace but I know I am equally responsible (going up Heather Cut off apparently I got the nickname Devon "Two Switchbacks ahead"). We finished what we started together, even working our way up in to co-4th place (I was first lady from the start) after hammering down Redwood Creek trail in low 7's. Good friends, good fun, good trails, great race.

 Photo by Tanford Tahoe
  Photo by Tanford Tahoe

All in all, I am very thankful I took a little break from the constant focus and training. I am ready to train, excited to race again and ready to explore my own limits.

Invincible


Sometimes I mistakenly think I am invincible. My muscles recover pretty quickly from hard runs, even runs I feel that I am completely under prepared for or extremely taxing and I usually feel ready to run within a few days. 

April's "triple crown" of achieving my Olympic Trials Qualifier, winning the 100k National Championship and setting a CR & PR, and then 9 days later setting the FKT with Krissy at the R2R2R show my capacity to recover quickly and be ready to roll. My crazy race month in April was not by design, in fact, the only thing I had planned (at the beginning of the year) to run in April was R2R2R. LA came about after I didn't make the standard at Houston in January and Mad City came about because of the discovery that my spot on the 100k National Team was tenuous at best (as one of my 'A' goals for the year was competing at worlds). I knew as these plans all manifested themselves that I would be extremely lucky to get through all of these events unscathed. I told myself that I would focus on recovery, recovery, recovery. After LA, I did a good job basking in my success but was also able to put in some good 70-80 mile weeks between it and Mad City. After Mad City, I barely had time to land on the ground and repack my bag before I was off to Utah/Arizona for R2R2R. I don't think I even celebrated that victory as much as I should. My "recovery" was non-existent for the most part as between Mad City and R2R2R I traveled, worked my busiest week yet as a chef, slept at an even higher altitude and ran about 30 miles for the week. I was very tired for R2R2R and even more tired after the 42 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing. However, by the time I got back to SF, after a good massage and a few easy miles with friends, I was feeling much better. I even managed a fast 14 mile run on Saturday (the 4th day after R2R2R) with Nathan before heading up to Bodega Bay for some family time. I ran 70+ total miles for the week and tried to get back into recovery mentality. It was essential I do as I asked a great deal of my body in April and before I can even stop to take a breathe, I am on my way to my next race, leaving on Sunday for Australia and the North Face 100k which is on May 14th. 


I say I tried to get back into recovery mentality because for some reason last week, I had a hard time pushing out the "I should be training" mentality. Because of all the racing, I don't feel like I've been doing a whole lot of running or had a whole bunch of feel good time in my body and for some reason, I figured a good week of training would be the cure for that. Why I thought this is beyond me. I didn't go too crazy, but planned a good 90-95 miles for myself for the week. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty light, Thursday was our normal morning ninja run and Friday I did a double plus a gym workout= 19 miles and 1 hour of weights. So by the time I woke up on Saturday, I was worked. I was ready to go back to bed before I even got out of it. My body didn't hurt (except my hamstrings from the previous days squats) but I was all over tired.

Look a bobcat. 
Or in my case, oh look, an excuse to stop while going up a steep hill!

I planned to get out with Nathan and run with him for the first 7-10, then continue on my own for a total of 25 miles. I thought I'd get a good 45 mile weekend in and that would give me a little confidence booster for NF100k (i.e. trail time confidence). The majority of the first few miles went like this: we run, we get to a hill, I start walking, very slowly and wishing I were dead. 

Nathan and I started discussing just exactly what I was playing at with the my training schedule for this week (my coach has this time unstructured as I should be chilling out not training per se). I came to the obvious conclusion ultimately that I am way too hard on myself and just because my muscles/bones feel good doesn't mean that I can just jump back on the horse and keep going full throttle. This past month has been super taxing. This past month has been super amazing and rich and full of things to celebrate. And I should celebrate them and praise myself, not push myself until I do break. I have been very lucky to make it through the past month healthy and that is something I definitely need to be mindful of. 

Needlesstosay, I decided to cut my run short. And it sucked, most of the way. I was not my best runner ever, I was tired worn out Devon (hence the death becomes her photos). I just need to cut myself a break which I use to be good at doing but haven't done in a while. I cut my run short on Saturday and changed my run plan for Sunday. I ate a half of my favorite kind of gluten free carrot cupcake to celebrate all I've accomplished (I usually don't have them except after particularly hard long run efforts or races & hadn't had one since last summer!). I refocused my energy on recovering. I am in recovery. I should be. I need to be.

When it comes down to it, the only way I can make it through my next challenge (NF100k) is not by training more but by maximizing how recovered I can get. I need to fuel myself, repair my body and rest, rest, rest. I am such a big proponent of rest (I take off one day a week) that it is funny to me how hard I find it to really rest or chill out sometimes. Ultimately, the changes I made in the weekend's run plans made the week an ideal maintenance week for me- about 80 miles. My run on Sunday was fast and felt really good, so I know that I am not too far gone. But Saturday's run reminded me not to push myself too far.

I know I am not invincible. I never intended to have the month that I have had. I don't want to become one of those people that gets sucked into chasing that high or racing too much. Instead, I want to be the type of person who cuts myself a break, rewards my good work and doesn't engage in self-defeating behavior or thought processes. I cannot continue to be the runner I am if I blindly press forward in haste, instead I must be patient, I must take a step back and I must take time to celebrate my accomplishments/ give myself credit for all I do. I think I am on the right track.

One of the things I do while resting? Make Fast Foodie Tshirts of course! Get yours here!