Sunday, May 04, 2008

Long Run as a Curative for Bad (?) Race

I emailed my coach around lunchtime today, asking if I could push tomorrow's 2 hour run up to this afternoon. I had three reasons I wanted to do this, only one of which I felt was worth articulating. I had done a duathlon in the morning, so the original plan was to do the long run tomorrow.

I mentioned scheduling issues in my email. Because of the way tomorrow is set up for me, the only way to get the run in was to get up at 5 AM and run for two hours, after what was probably going to be another six hours of sleep (if that).

Eric said to go ahead and do the run as long as I was up for it, which I felt I was.

But there were two other reasons I wanted to get out there today and not wait besides the muted joy of knowing that long run is once again out of the way until next week.

The first is that while the duathlon I did will not help me in any measurable way for Lake Placid, going out and running tired will. I've done LP three times and here's what I've learned- if you aren't feeling a little beat during the run, you aren't working hard enough. Getting up on Sunday morning and eating some fruit and drinking some coffee and nailing a two-hour run at 20 seconds a mile faster than IM pace is important, but it doesn't get it done 100%. I wanted to be leg-sore, tired, frustrated. John Hirsch wrote about this on his blog, but this isn't a case of wanting to be able to relive my glory days of massive volume followed by instant recovery (I've yet to have any glory days or massive volume).

The second was that I was annoyed with myself. I lost second place today by eight seconds, and did not feel that I should have lost by eight seconds. It was a failure to achieve a better result, a mental breakdown in will power or a simple lack of ability to go fast on this day. I have nine seasons of coaching field hockey, track, and lacrosse under my belt and I know sometimes you have to get tough with your athletes. Sometimes you have to play bad cop and give a workout that says 'I'm not satisfied with your effort or execution and when that happens, you will suffer.' You're trying to breed a desire to succeed and quite frankly, a fear of failure, and that can be learned even when you know it's coming. I wanted to atone to myself for failing, although there are far more serious things that I should be atoning for, such as every time I say no when my son wants me to do something with him and I feel like a little part of each of us dies. As demanding, irrationally so sometimes, as a 3 year old can be, 'No, I can't right now' never quite feels right

So I went out and ran, with a small bottle of g2 and a cliff shot for food, cranked up the headphones and set out while wife and son were at his swim lesson, which is a one-parent affair.

The first hour was tough. My left leg was sore- achilles, calf, and vastus intermedius. I alternately felt like my lower intestines were either channeling a Chilean volcano or trying to give birth to the Rising Star. My heart rate was up around 143 and my goal is 129-132, a heartrate at which I can run surprisingly fast for a surprisingly long period of time. I actually was considering whether or not to just stop at home at an hour for a while.

Then something funny happened. I relaxed. I started channelling the athlete people tell me I am, the guy that does OK at the races but doesn't exist inside my head, where good is what other people better than me are. My heart rate dropped into the mid 130's but i was running faster. I did the hardest climbing in the last 50+ minutes (I ended up only running 1:52, but who's counting ), ran better, opened up my stride, worked my arms better, felt good. Actually felt good.

The goal of running tired and getting through it really did come to fruition. The preparation for IMLP, itself a springboard for my real focus, IM Florida, actually didn't take a hit despite doing a race in the morning. It was also a reminder that some things feel like they need to be kept close as reminders or motivation, both good (family) and not so good (IM AZ), but that the race this morning was not one of those things. Maybe I'd been slower than last year. Maybe I didn't prevail against a fellow athlete I had outran on the first loop, and only ran even with on the second.

Where will I be in July, that's the real question.

And then at a dinner for people who have worked on Brian's and Hammerfest to raise money for the Myelin Project, Michael D'Addetta mentioned to me I was faster than last year. That came as a surprise, so when I got home I looked it up. 1:25 faster, not the two minutes slower I assumed I must have been based on the results of where other people were around me.

Which is why a certain coach says to base what you do on what you do, not on what other people do....


John said...

I did? I mean, of course I did. What did I say? Jesus, I hope no one takes my advice on anything. Lucky for you, you have Eric, he is wicked smart. Ps, come to my ride. I didnt have your email addy so I think I sent it to your wife.

alan said...

I appreciate the invite. We've been all over the place on what we're doing tomorrow- if you don't see me, have an awesome ride- it's going to be a great day for it.