My hamstrings have shrunk, oh my! I hobbled through a nice-and-easy jog into work with a loaded backpack of lunch, cold-brew coffee, & clothing. I took a few minutes in the exercise room at work to swing out my legs and stretch my hips. Hopefully that’ll loosen things up.
Tuesday:Up and at ‘em! Solely because I wanted to make a trip to Sprouts after work to re-stock my bulk bin items, did I drive to Green Mountain for an early morning run. Last week at PlayGldn we did 3 x 1.5-mile uphill repeats on Green’s access road, and judging by the pain and exhaustion unveiled by that workout, I need to incorporate it more frequently into my training. Today’s repeats were much more relaxed compared with last weeks. I didn’t want nor need to push myself, rather I just wanted to execute and practice sustained climbing. The 20 minute climbs are so long that I’m able to realize what sort of hunch, stride, cadence, and muscle emphasis works better, and train my muscles to be most efficient on race day.
I felt tightness in my lower abs/hip flexors. I need to loosen up them muscles with a ball. Read this article on the hips and running from Running Times.Wednesday:
November Project 5280 Clovers! I hit a wall early on, maybe halfway through the 35-minute clover session. I felt like I was cruising through the first half and on par for 20-21 Clovers. Then something went awry! The second half instantly became labored, my breathing heavy & strained, and each step needed extra effort.
I survived the circuit and completed 20-1/2 which is about average for me. Looking back, I didn’t take advantage of the mental game when my body began to struggle. This is where I’m supposed to embrace the shock, embrace the suck, and plow through the discomfort. This could have been a good training opportunity, but I whimpered at the challenge. I let fatigue and exhaustion win out. I grunted more frequently and exhaled louder, enunciating each challenged breath.
Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the 4-mile run from Julia’s work to our home, roughly 30-minutes post Clovers. I ate a banana and nuts in the car, but my energy was zapped. I called the Strava entry: Bonk practice becuase I was most definitely in the hole. I hadn’t felt like I’d overly exerted myself this month, but something caught up with me today. Hopefully it’s not the cold that Julia’s been dealing with for the last few days, but more likely it’s a culmination of the last three weeks of racing, pacing, traveling, and working out.
This is what it feels like to be wiped, depleted, drained. Feeling run down. While it’s OK to experience, and “practice” these feelings, it’s not welcome part of training. Rather, not my training. As the body breaks down and tires, it gets sloppy and injury risk increases immensely.
After work, I walked to the library and soaked in the river. My left foot is still bothering me from Stinger. My swollen 4th toe doesn’t bother me too much, but the blood blister under my big toe nail causes me to adjust my stride ever so slightly that I’m compromising my gait. I feel like injury is ringing my doorbell, just waiting for me to open the door!Thursday:
After lotsa food and a good night of sleep, I’m back to life! I took it nice and easy on the Dino Ridge hill with PlayGldn. My body felt good and like I recovered physically from yesterday’s lapse.
How do you listen to your body? What truly matters in becoming a better runner? Hitting 100-miles per week? Focusing on stretching, icing, re-freshening?
To answer these questions I had to go back into my training archives and compare training block with my Wings For Life training block. I needed to remind myself what I achieved in WFL was due to consistency and patience. I feel that I’ve lost both consistency and patience over the summer. I’m “looking for adventure, and whatever comes our way.” Name that tune! Throughout the summer, I’ve stacked hard work with fun play while exploring new routes and taking advantage of grandiose Colorado.
Fighting Colorado: As the long Labor Day weekend approached, my body wasn’t feeling spectacular. I’ve shown signs of being run down. Pains such as the blood blister under my big toe nail and cold symptoms are preventing me from striking on all cylinders, but all I want to do is run, hike, explore, and adventure! Welp, I’ll be in Aspen by noon on Saturday to spectate the finish of the Grand Traverse 40-mile trail run (Good luck Julia, Robyn, Bear, SBuck, & Colin), so along the way I might as well hike Mt. Elbert from Twin Lakes, right? Then I should run two separate jeep roads spurring from Independence Pass on Saturday? Or should I run 35-miles from Aspen to Carbondale and take the free bus back?
As I mused over weekend sweat sessions, I read Matt Fitzgerald’s account of his two-week long recovery from adductor/groin pain.
As former 2:12 marathoner Jason Lehmkuhle put it, “I think that you just have to accept that you are probably going to get injured every once in a while. It’s part of the sport. The way that you deal with the injury is probably more important than trying to do everything to prevent injuries.”
Reading’s through Matt’s daily blog entries, I recalled vivid emotions of past injuries. Thankfully, it’s been over a year since my last major injury – a stress fracture in my foot. Prior to that I’ve strained both MCLs from my bike accident. And suffered a handful of soccer injuries like pulled hamstrings, a popped hip flexor, ankle sprains, and shin bangs. I’ve strained my Achilles and calves from heel striking, and done a lot of damage to my left big toe from snowboard racing in boots that were too small.
As I read Matt’s delicate handling of his injury, I somehow felt like I was rehabbing an injury as well. I was transposed to a more vulnerable time by the excerpt, and legitimately felt like I too was nursing injury. I wondered what additionally I could be doing as preventative maintenance. The last 10 months have been relatively injury free, thanks to improved running form and perfect fitting footwear. I’ve felt damn near indestructible. My fear is in the wonder. How close am I to injury? Are these thoughts and readings indicators of doom ahead?
I composed myself after my run home. Julia went to yoga after dinner, and as I listened to a NAZ Elite podcast while stretching myself out, I absorbed this athlete tidbits regarding racing:
Don’t play it safe.
I made a short and easy run to work, and swung my legs out again in the exercise room at work. I need to focus on doing the little things every single day. That will make me a more resilient runner. And with resilience, comes confidence.
On the road again! After work I packed up the car and pointed it towards Aspen. I’d be waiting at the finish line of the Grand Traverse cheering in the gang and shuttling them back to the condo in Crested Butte.
After some traffic delays on I-70, I made it to Leadville around 5:30p, and was itching to kick out my legs. I knew that Mt. Elbert was no longer an option. I was a bit nostalgic being back in Leadville, reliving the memories of MB’s 30-hour epic just two weeks ago. I parked at Twin Lakes, took off my shirt, and ran the road back towards Leadville. It was a good out and back on the shoulder of Hwy 82 as the sun dipped behind the mountains.I returned to the parking lot, grabbed my dinner from the cooler, and walked down to the lake for a soak. I enjoyed the crisp water, serene sunset, and relaxed while eating dinner before getting back on the road.
I left Julia a good luck voicemail anticipating that I’d be out of cell service for the remainder of the evening. An hour drive remained over Independence Pass, and I hoped to find a good parking spot to sleep the night away. Lights out at 9:30P.
Rise ‘N Shine at 6:15A. I brushed my teeth, poured a prepared cup of luke-warm coffee, and drove down toward Aspen. After a quick stop at a campground to use the facilities, I landed at the Ute Trailhead at 6:50. I took my time eating 2 packets of soaked oats w/PB&J and finished off the coffee.
I loaded my pack with two Stinger Waffles, 2 granola bars, 2 gels, and 2 liters of water. I applied a hearty layer of sunscreen and hit the road at 7:15. I hadn’t mapped out a route, but knew there was a bike path that travels north towards Basalt. I traversed through town and quickly found the Cemetery Path that led toward the Rio Grande Trail.The plan was to run for five hours. I kept my watch on the time display and lost track of the mile beeps after about six miles. It was a beautiful morning with comfortable temps in the shade of the surrounding mountains.
The Rio Grande trail was lovely and peaceful, the hours passed by surprisingly fast. Given the downhill slope of the northbound route, I ran 2h15m outbound, with a safety net of 2h45m for the uphill return to Aspen. Little did I know that I’d need every minute of that return trip!
I didn’t look at my mileage at the turnaround point, so I really had no idea what distance I would travel. The return trip was tough, even though the uphill grade was marginal, it became grueling and did a number on me mentally.After 3h45m elapsed, I reached a point of desperation and started to think about stopping and hitching a ride on the free bus back into town. I hit such a low that I needed to know at least how far I’d have to keep suffering. I pulled out my phone and keyed in directions to City Market in Aspen. 9-miles to go. Ugh. Nine miles seemed insurmountable, though I was glad it was just single-digits and that there was an end in sight. This was my training opportunity: Embrace the suck, right!?
Then my arms began feeling numb. I swung them and shook them out. I wanted out, but by concealing my struggle from each passing cyclist, I marched forward, drowning in each mile.
I was elated when I made it back to civilizatoin and the main street in Aspen. I scampered to City Market, where I bought the lunch I’d been dreaming about for the last 3 hours – burrito, bagel, sticky bun, yogurt, & chips. I forgot the cookies, but my hands were full anyway as I meandered over to the race finish and set up my picnic where I cheered the afternoon away.
To wrap it up, I covered 37.8 miles in just over 5-hours. Despite the challenges, I was pleased to have completed the run which was at an average of 7,500 ft elevation and included 1,600 feet of climbing, all in the last 19 miles.
I relished in my satisfaction as I gorged on snacks and sat in my chair awaiting the arrival of my friends. Julia and Birdie came in hand in hand, Colin sauntered in cool and relaxed, SBuck somersaulted through the finish corral, and Bear powered through relieved and rewarded. Congrats to all of the Grand Traverse racers! What a rustic route to tackle, and surely a unique and challenging day high in the mountains. It was a welcome change to see others smile and suffer through to the end. I have no photo evidence of the finishing area, as I was pushing out top-notch media on my Instagram-live-feed to the front range fan base. I hope you enjoyed the fun! Back to Crested Butte, we go!
Endurance Changes Time,