This is something I like to say to Jonathan right before races. There are enough gaps between races that it continues to be funny. I like to think it takes him out of his nervousness for just a few nanoseconds and gets the happy chemicals flowing in his brain right before the horn blows.
So here we have a joke with pretty good staying power. I’ve been dragging it out to the start line for a few years now. The joke is like the accordion that travels the U.S. continent, witnessing (or perhaps causing, through some kind of curse) death and mayhem, in E. Annie Proulx’s novel Accordian Crimes. Except instead of passing through the hands of hapless owners, it passes through years of hapless training and racing.
Lest I get too tangled up in this comparison and paint myself into a corner (to mix metaphors… Ack! Escape! Escape!), here’s where I’m going with this: while I may be using the same musty pre-race jokes, the pre-race training is getting some new material. Or at least a new mental approach. I hate to tarnish it with something as touchy-feely as “mindfulness,” but the way I approach workouts today is quite different than it was even a year ago.
In essence, here’s the Great Truth: I am where I am on any given day, and sometimes it’s not where I want to be. But that’s almost always because I’m not fully recovered, which means that I’m tired. Being tired is real. It’s not a weakness, nor is it something to ignore and “push through.” That’s how you get overtrained and, possibly, also injured.
Here’s an illustration: I was scheduled to do a bunch of 1K repeats yesterday on the track. It was pouring buckets of rain all day, so I moved them to the treadmill. My legs were still aching and fatigued from Sunday’s race followed by a windy 8 mile progression run on Tuesday.
So I was tired yesterday. I knew this to be true. But I decided to try the workout. That’s what you do. You try it. You don’t drop it altogether because you’re tired. But you don’t bludgeon your way through it either, for the same reason. You can get some work done, but it needs to be the appropriate amount of work, done at the appropriate effort.
The first couple of repeats went okay, although I was deliberately running them slightly slower than last time. The next two featured a rapid cratering in performance. On both, my legs died at the 800m mark and I knew I was running way too hard for the last 200m. Done! Doing more 1K repeats at too high an effort would be counterproductive: I would be doing the workout at too high an effort to gain the intended benefits, plus I’d feel like a shitty runner for the rest of the day. Who needs that?
Did I have to stop working though? Could I still do something productive? Sure. My legs were dying at 800m. So why not try a couple of 400m repeats and see how they go? I did those and they were fine. But two were obviously enough, if my labored breathing was anything to go by. I was done for the day, having logged 3 miles at high effort. I jogged my recovery miles and came away feeling okay about the workout. And about me, the runner.
To review: Sometimes the best thing to do is just run to your capability on that day and, rather than viewing the experience as a compromised workout, instead declare it a major attitudinal victory, and a minor physical one. You can also just defer the workout to a later day, although for practical reasons I opted not to shuffle workouts this week and next. But a few smart runners I know, especially those with some grey in their pelts, do this on a regular basis.
So there’s your training widsom tidbit.
I am getting a media credential for the NYC Half, although now it’s looking iffy if I’ll have time to use it. Some new freelance work has landed, two projects that start next week. But I am hoping to at least get over to the press conferences on Friday and do a few interviews. As usual, I am most interested in talking to the Media “B list”: Jo Pavey, Serena Burla, Jessica Augusto, Madai Perez (although language might be an issue with those two).
I also learned from my NYRR contact that there are no planned press events for the More Half next month. This is specifically because of Sally Meyerhoff’s death, as she was the headliner. So that’s a disappointment. If I’m free I may go loiter at the expo anyway to see if anyone interesting is there.