Does “Slow and Steady” really win the race?

As you know I have been in race season recovery mode.  It’s been like six weeks now, and I really feel like it has done my body good.  I’ve racked up very few miles in weeks, and although I feel like my body is recovering from the eight marathons and numerous other races in 2014, I am starting to feel that general malaise set in when it comes to getting my runs in.  Does this ever happen to you?

I’m trying to help myself, and yet I feel like I am being lazy.  I guess it cannot be helped.  In addition to having a lack of desire set in due to the cold, dark season I’ve had a severe head cold for eleven days now which hasn’t helped matters.  When I do get out and run a few miles I’ve been hampered by difficulty breathing and general tiredness.  It’s funny that I am hardly ever sick, but have been sick a good bit of the time I have been in recovery mode.  I think it’s related.

I know that based on previous years letting my legs and feet have a rest is critical to starting out a new race cycle with a clean bill.  I’m just getting antsy.  It’s like a long, drawn out taper, and I don’t like it at all.  At least at the end of a taper though is a big race to look forward to.  I’m still seven weeks away from a major race.  Maybe this is all just race withdrawal.  Maybe it’s a combination of seasonal affective disorder, recovery and illness, but I want to feel good again.  I want the desire to come back, the NEED to get back out on the road.

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All in good time, I guess.  Slow and steady, I am trying to convince myself.  I certainly don’t feel like the hare at all these days, much more so the tortoise.  How does the off-season impact you?  Does recovery mode take its toll on you like it does me?  Convince me that this is a good thing.

Stick a fork in me..

I’m done!

I’m done with my racing season, yes, and that is nothing new.  My last race was a month ago.  As with each year I have been a runner, November and December are my recovery months.  With my 2014 packed full of long distance running my body has needed the rest.  I have to admit, it has been kind of nice to take some time off.

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If you’re ready, I will reveal the measly mileage put on my running shoes in November.  Are you ready for this?  I ran a grand total of seven times!  Yep, just 7 runs in a month that was 30 days long.  My last race was on November 2nd, a Half Marathon.  So if you subtract that mileage from the monthly total, I actually ran just 20 miles in recovery mode.  That is by far the lowest tally I have racked up in a month since I started running seriously back in 2010.  It’s actually kind of pathetic, but I think it was totally worth it.

My legs have healed, my feet feel good.  The muscle tissue has recovered.  I can tell just in everyday actions like walking and climbing stairs.  The few recovery runs I had were at a really decent pace, too.  They ranged between 8:13 per mile up to 8:37 per mile.

I say stick a fork in me because I feel like I am done with recovery.  I want to hit the pavement more these days.  With no races on the horizon sometimes I’ve been just too lazy to lace ’em up and hit the street.  It’s been fine for now having that sort of thinking, but that must now change.  True, I will not be getting back at it 100% for now but just having a healed body gives me more motivation to go into attack mode again.  I would like to hit somewhere between 60-70 miles this month, and then really step it back up in January.  With a marathon in mind for early February, I feel my approach to time off and recovery was a great decision.  All good things must come to an end as they say.  Recovery mode is over, it’s time to train!

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Hallelujah!  I’m back, and ready to rejoice in running!

Happy Feet? No, I’m not a dancing penguin, I’m a runner.

Progressing toward a month of over 100 miles of training, and very few days off from work, my feet are tired.  I have had to work very hard to get them some rest.  Elevation has helped a lot, as well as spending some quiet evening on the couch.

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As I struggle through the final days of training for my next marathon in a little over two weeks, my focus now is more on rest and recovery.  I need to make sure that my body is ready to conquer the next 26.2.  It was a beautiful morning today, and cool.  It was the type of morning that just screams get out and run.  I refrained.  I plan on running a smooth and pace focused five miler tomorrow morning, and I’ve run four days in a row.  Time for a rest day.

Vacation is looming.  Getting on the jet plane on Saturday morning, my thoughts are all about vacation.  I’ve worked six straight days, and work tonight, tomorrow and Friday before I can breath  a sigh of relief.  Can you believe that?  I have to work 9 days in a row leading up to vacation.  Well, most of the battle has been fought already, just three shifts to go.  The problem is that I work on my feet.  I don’t have a cush desk job.  My job is physical and demanding on my feet.  I know how to take care of them though.  This is nothing new to me.  

So my final wind down/taper is upon me.  Wow, can’t believe I haven’t even thought about how this is taper time.  Usually I go mad during the taper, but this time I will have vacation to distract me from taper blues.  

How long do you taper prior to a big race?  How do you fill those empty hours that you would have been out running?  I do know one thing, I am hoping for Happy feet come September 13th.  Happy hamstrings, too!  😉

Feet Up

Finally!  I have two days off.  I’ve worked eight days straight, and deserve some much needed time off.  

I work on my feet, too, so this is how I will be spending the evening.

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…. And this is what I will look like tomorrow.

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Of course, I will be doing some training runs inbetween, but generally my feet need some rest.

Marathon day is four weeks from Saturday, so my body is kinda feeling a bit run down with all of this training, and with working so hard without a vacation all Summer.  It’s time for a break.  Luckily I have a vacation planned in two weeks, too, which I am looking forward to more than I could ever possibly imagine.

Peace out…. I will be on the couch.

Lackluster June but positive outlook

Looking back at June, I am really disappointed in the overall miles I put in.  I did manage 60 miles, but it’s my lowest mileage month in the past year.  I can look at it a few ways though, and I choose to look at it as a positive.

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First of all…. June was a busy month personally, aside from running.  The end of the school year for my sons, family in town and a graduation.  I also spent a good amount of time car shopping, which has put me closer, but not in a new car yet.  I have about five weeks left on my current car lease, so I have time still.

Secondly….I am really looking at June as a recovery month. Through the first six months of the year, I have run five marathons, one Half, one 10 miler, one 10k, and one 5k.  That is a lot of racing miles, and my body is in recovery mode.  I tried to decrease overall mileage in June in effort to let my body naturally recover and regain strength.

Most of my runs in June were short distance runs.  I am focusing on quality, not quantity right now.  Working on, or rather focusing my training on form and breathing.  I have been working the hills more than anything, training for a downhill marathon in September.  So, in the process of recovery, I am trying to really focus on technique, while working my quads.  I am teaching myself a new way to run downhill, which I need come September.

Up next?  July is always hot here, and most typically humid.  I plan on starting to mix in the distance training again in a few weeks, giving myself long runs every week, and increasing overall mileage back up to the 100 mile range for the month.  Looking back at my training log last Summer, I did a lot of things right leading into Fall, so I will use that knowledge to my advantage over the next two months.

Rest has been good, and runs have been high quality of late.  Here’s to a productive July!  Good luck in your training.

Uber Fatigue

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This past week has been one of those weeks.  A week of very early mornings, lots of work, and little play time.  Do you ever have one of those weeks?

Just trying to muster up the strength to get any exercise has been a challenge.  I think I’ve run about 14 miles total this week.  Actually looking at it now, I am surprised I was able to get that tally.  I’ve just not been getting enough sleep, and certainly not enough fun.  Yeah, I know my body is in full on recovery mode, too, which doesn’t help the overall feeling of listlessness.  It just makes me crazy to feel run down.

I managed a few decent, albeit short runs this week.  One day I would feel decent, the next, just so tired.  I laced up though, even when my body said “no”.  Just getting in a few miles helped my mind and heart get a brief uplifting.  I just find it difficult to mix in enough rest, all the while still wanting to get in some training miles.

So, what’s up next?  Well, the marathons are over for the season.  No more until September.  Body says thank you.  I only have one half marathon in two weeks, and a 10k the following weekend.  That’s it.  Seems simple, yes?  The honest fact about racing is this.  I love it.  I love having a race in the near future to look forward to.  This will only last though for another few weeks.  Come June 7th, after the 10k, I will have nothing on the books for the entire Summer.

Once I get it through my head that I am not racing all Summer, I plan on using June, July and August to rest and rebuild this machine.  Taking care of this mid 40’s body, and reenergizing it.  Back to basics, ironing out a new training schedule, and following it.  Hopefully starting back at square one will get me that BQ in September that I want so badly.

Time to hit the “Reset” button so I don’t feel like this anymore.

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Marathons Are Tiring – Run or Rest?

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A week has now passed since running the All American Marathon.  My body is still recovering.  My legs are still sore, and I have this overall sense of just being battered and worn down.  Marathons are not easy.  Marathons are taxing on the fittest of bodies.  I have to remind myself over and over again that feeling worn down is normal.

The problem is that I don’t like feeling worn down.  Like today for instance.  It is a beautiful day, I have the day off from work.  I should be going out for a run today, and be looking forward to it.  I will run, but I know that my legs will not be happy.  Knowing that sort of impedes my desire to get out and do the thing that makes me feel renewed and rejuvenated.  It’s a quandry.

To rest.  To recover.  To run.

It’s maddening.  The very thing that makes me feel alive, is tiring me out.  It’s probably why I have been in a fairly constant bad mood the past few days.  I need that exercise to get the blood pumping.  I need that freedom that running gives me to make my mind sore.  To uplift me, to free me from the doldrums.

What do you do when you are tired, or sore, or injured?  Unable to run, or run as much as you would like to.  How do you get through recovery without going absolutely batshit?  You would think that I would be better at dealing with this by now, I mean, I have been running for a few years now.  I should have a pretty good grasp on this by now.  Quite the contrary, at least this week.  Help!  How do you manage recovery?

Healing

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It’s hard to fight the instinct to push.

It’s never easy slowing down when all you want to do is speed up.

When you give your heart and soul to something, it consumes you.

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We must learn though, that with every step forward comes rest.  To get better at something, our bodies need to be ready for it.  Without proper rest and recovery, we will never be our best.

I think that recovering from a marathon is like how my body feels after taking a red eye flight across the country and not being able too sleep.  It takes days to feel right again.

After my most recent marathon I was sore, as expected.  My legs didn’t feel right for a few days, and I slept like a rock.  I decided to run a two miler, four days later.  The resulting run was slow and tedious.  Another two days off led me to yesterdays run.  A two and a half miler, slow again, but a bit more natural feeling.  Ok, so let’s run again today.  Back to back days on the run.  Today I managed a 5k, and threw in a few hills.  Better.  Not whole yet, but better.  Getting there.

I’ve learned to take it slow.  I really don’t watch the Garmin, but I track my progress regardless.  Small steps forward, taking it slow.

There will be a time and place for that quickness, be patient.  A marathon is taxing, remember.

Ok, so these are notes to myself.  Sometimes I need reminding that a low mileage week is great for my body.  Taking days off is ok.  Chilling on the couch with my feet up isn’t being lazy, it’s being good to myself.

Self, relish in the accomplishment of another marathon, and heal to run another.

Rest.

Recover.

Recovery running

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This is is how I imagine I look when I run, but alas, looking at 99% of my race photos, this is far from true.  Having run a difficult marathon in the wind and cold four days ago, I am considering a recovery run today.  I’ve read many articles on how runners of all shapes and sizes and levels of ability approach recovery.  As I have progressed as a runner, I’ve learned that I have to adapt and personalize my recovery, and can’t use a bottled recovery plan.

After the marathon on Saturday, my body felt pretty wrecked.  My hips, and knees were just sore beyond belief.  I certainly have walked away from other marathons easier than I did this past weekend.  The wind forced me to work harder, resulting in more aches and pains.  The day after, on Sunday, I felt even worse, plus I had to work that afternoon.  I wasn’t ready for a run, and didn’t plan on one.  Sunday came and went, leading to Monday.  I could have run on Monday, but wasn’t feeling ready.  No problem.  The aches and pains were still there, but the hips felt much better.  Just some knee pain, but a fading pain.  Tuesday came, and my thought was to wait another day to run.  Like magic, over the course of the day, my legs felt back to normal.  No more pains of any kind.  That leads me to today.  So, I think I am ready for a short distance run.  Thinking maybe a two miler.

It is extremely important to listen to your body, and this doesn’t happen overnight.  I’ve made many mistakes over the past few years, but the good thing is, I’ve learned from my mistakes.  Running when your body isn’t ready will just lead to injury, so learn to listen.  Taking an extra day or two off will only help.  I’ve learned that resting can be just as beneficial sometimes.  Focus on keeping the body healthy.

I am going to start back slowly, with no target pace in mind other than slow.  If I’m not feeling it, I will end it early.

The running community is a great one, full of ideas, tricks and tips.  If you have any suggestions on recovery, what has worked for you, please share.  Would love to hear your recovery techniques.

Two Marathons/Two Weeks

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I’ve spent days in recovery mode.  I feel like I’ve barely run in the past week.  In fact, I only ran seven miles the entire last week.

It feels good to have some down time.  It feels good to relax, and let my post marathon legs and feet recooperate.  The rest is over though.

It is indeed time, time to get the game face back on.  Time to lace up the running shoes and pound the pavement.  I’ve got three days of running to do.  Three days before leaving for Vegas for another marathon.  Once I board that plane, the final rest before the 26.2.  So, until that time, I have to get in a few low mileage runs.  Some speed work, some hills.  Now that the muscles are alive again after the City of Oaks last Sunday, I must prepare them and my mind for another journey to the finish line.  That long 26.2 mile journey out in the desert in Nevada.  Sin City.  This Sunday.

I am excited, and somewhat overwhelmed by the adventure at hand.  Two marathons in 14 days.  I am up for the challenge.  Recovery is over, and the preparations begin.

Look out Las Vegas, here I come!