Je suis fatigué

When I mapped out my training schedule for the fall, I knew I’d be tired this week. For the past 12 weeks I’ve run an average of just under 90 miles per week; for the seven weeks prior to that I averaged 78 mpw. The majority of days I’ve run twice a day. I’ve had just four full recovery weeks since mid May. During nearly all of the non-recovery weeks I’ve done a long run and two other hard workouts.

Here’s where all this leads — the apex of exhaustion (or nadir of energy, if you like): I slept nine hours last night but woke up feeling drained and sleep-deprived anyway. I sat in a near coma for an hour or two, attempting to motivate myself to go out and do a 10 mile run with hills. Then I went to lie down for an hour. I finally managed to drag myself out the door for a five mile recovery run. Five hours later I feel like I ran a race this morning.

I remember being very tired at the peak of training last season, so I was expecting this. But it’s amazing how pervasive and all-consuming the fatigue is today. And, naturally, I beat myself up for missing a key workout (even though I’d noted in the schedule to “drop this run if too tired” — prescient, no?).

I’m also famished basically all the time. I crave very specific foods, like sunflower seeds, honey and pineapple. I am shoveling food in like coal into a roaring furnace.

Whether to try another run later on today is something I’m still mulling over. I’m hoping that, as so often happens, I’ll awake tomorrow a new woman, full of vim and vigor and aching to get my 6.6 oz. racing flats out on the road tomorrow morning. If that’s the case, I’ll do my 14 miler as planned and maybe even throw in some hill repeats to boot. If I still wake up feeling like warmed over dog food, I’ll take it easy again tomorrow.

This is my 18th week of training and I feel as if I’ve been dropped from a high building. I’ve seen marathon training plans that go for 24 or 26 weeks. I think I’d be dead right now if I tried to follow one of those.

What’s funny — and this is why experience is such a good thing — is that I know in two weeks I’ll feel like a million bucks. And in three weeks I’ll feel like a billion. Then I’ll be on the starting line, with my legs feeling like two lit rockets, and I’ll actually have to hold myself back. I can’t imagine a more foreign sensation right now, yet I know it’s coming.