Friday, March 23, 2012

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.

2 comments:

  1. Devon, great training you've been putting in, I hope you get what you want in SA!
    I have just finished reading that book, too and the thing I've learned more than anything is running "your" pace, not what HR monitor tells you to run. Just run by feel and make it good. I also learned that my core is not good, even though I thought I was doing good.
    Great blog reading, Thanks

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  2. Devon,
    Thanks for posting this as well as the link to the book. I downloaded it and I think there is a lot I can learn from it especially about too much holding back. Sometimes that darn Garmin holds me back from pushing the envelope and going "eyeballs out" when I'm more than capable of doing so. Good luck next weekend at Two Oceans!!!

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