It’s official: I’m completely effed up

I dutifully forwarded the last two weeks’ worth of SportTracks logs to Coach Kevin and got a reply shortly thereafter (I’m paraphrashing): “You are really messed up! Stop training right now.”

I’ve known my running was rapidly going from bad to worse, with the abysmal 8 mile race on Sunday being the cardiac Klieg light. But it was helpful to have a third party confirm this, with exclamation points.

It’s probably this iron/vitamin deficiency business, but there’s also a chance of some kind of weird overtraining effect at work. So I was told to run very easy this week, 3-5 mile sessions at most. Since I’m a woman of extremes (which is what got me into this mess in the first place), I’m going to up the ante by not running at all this week.

In the meantime, I’m huffing 27mg of Ferrochel, 1,000 mg of Vitamin C and 4,000 mg of Vitamin D on a daily basis. And rediscovering the pleasures of chicken livers, leafy greens and roasted pumpkin seeds. The cast iron cookware is getting a good workout too.

Now we wait and watch. I’m awaiting whatever modified training plan I’m to start on next week. Then we’ll set up some sort of pace vs. HR workout to do as a baseline for evaluating how I’m doing over the coming weeks.

This is so frustrating. I feel as though now, rather than spending the summer in preparatory mode for marathon training in the fall, I’m instead going to be just trying to get back to where I was in April, before things when all pear-shaped and running a 7:30 mile became a huge challenge.

The fact that something like this has happened probably shouldn’t surprise me so much. When I look back over my training, I realize that I’ve been working very hard and running at high mileage now — at least for a newcomer to competitive running — for two years, pretty much without a break. If I ever wondered what my limits were, at least in training, now I know.

It’s better than being injured, I suppose. But it still sucks.

14 Responses

  1. I am so sorry, and yes, that really does suck. I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning of 2009 and was excited for you to start up your training again. I think it’s great that with two pair of eyes (you and coach) you were able to catch what’s going on before you really hurt yourself.

    Enjoy the break, if that’s possible, and with the coach’s revamp.

  2. Not running at all? You extremist. It’s scary that the reversal was so quick and so deep. I’m wondering what Kevin will come up with. Good luck with the next phase, whatever it consists of.

  3. I don’t think overtraining sounds weird at all, given your huge mileage along with those slow recovery paces for the bulk of it. That comes out to tons of miles but also a lot of time on your feet. On a positive note, I don’t think it takes a huge amount of time to get over being overtrained, so hopefully you’ll be back to your zippier self sooner than you know.

  4. Two words: CHILL OUT.

    Not saying that to be flip, but putting this much pressure on yourself and freaking out over every little detail is going to hurt. Stop worrying about every little aspect of the weather, of the surface you are running on, of the rotation of the earth, etc, etc, etc. This may sound stupid but running is just as much mental as it is physical and forcing yourself through huge numbers and marrying yourself to a plan and other theories isn’t going to help you get over those little blocks. Until you can relax (and this is a universal), you’re not going to get any faster. The best advice I’ve ever heard is that before you can actually care…you have to learn to NOT care. So take off the Garmin, get outside and go for an easy run no matter what the weather (don’t be so afraid of conditions that aren’t 100% ideal, as it seems you often are) and how you feel and just enjoy it again. Taking a week off sounds like a good place to start, but make sure that when you are back out there that you keep in mind the world will not end if things aren’t going that well.

    Also, if you are looking at supplements you are best not to take them based on blood test results alone: go to a program like fitday and put in what you eat for a week just to see what nutrients you DON’T get (sometimes its surprising) Play around, then have another test done if things do not clear up.

    Best of Luck!

    -Grumpy Old Coach and frequent blog surfer

  5. Sorry, Julie. I’m a woman of extremes myself and I’m feeling your disappointment. I hope the 3 to 5 milers will see you through to the other side and it doesn’t take long to get there.

    And I’m curious what your mileage was during your low mileage weeks and how many of these did you have the last two years.

    Here’s to you surviving this and getting better, stronger.

  6. I don’t think there’s anything weird about it – you’re just out of shape, that’s all. Not worth worrying about that, just get back into shape.

    Um, also, I wouldn’t go to the extreme of not running for a week – all that’s going to do is put you further out of shape. Throw the Garmin away and just run easy for 30 minutes to an hour a day. Easy running isn’t going to do you any harm – unless you’re seriously ill.

  7. This might be a good time to ask yourself, “Why do I run?” Competition and tracking your progress are great. But it’s more than that. Perhaps take this time to just enjoy it for a while you body rests a bit.

    • Graham, I love to run, but I exhausted my affection for slow running about four years ago.

      Now I run (slow and otherwise) in order to run fast. Lots of people don’t enjoy training and view it as a necessary evil in order to race well. But I look forward to the two or three hard sessions a week. They are the highlights of my week in some ways. The other runs are a time to relax, clear my head, and enjoy the seasons — but those things aren’t really enough for me anymore (one reason why I refer to local 5Ks as “gateway” races.)

      So while I still love running for the simple act that it is (and I am grateful that I can run) I most miss being able to run fast.

  8. Sorry about your setback. Your post made interesting reading. I was interested in the part about your use of cast iron cookware. Must be true that it supplies iron to the diet. Take care and good luck. Could not handle the chicken liver part or any other organ meat.

  9. I’m sad to hear that you’re still not feeling well. I know how frustrating it can be to take some time off, but I also know how good it feels to be running healthy. Just as you’re willing to sacrifice and push through the struggles of hard training, you need to be able to push through the struggles of resting completely when your body needs it. Sounds to me like you’re making a smart move. Hope that you’re able to get to the root of all this and come back strong soon.

  10. Julie. You are right when you say better to be overtrained than injured. But still: ouchies. No matter the reason, having to pull back on training SUCKS. Whatever will you do with yourself? If you find yourself at loose ends, I am here, in midtown, awaiting you with a glass of red wine in hand. Or we can commiserate, or not. We could just go shopping and make fun of stupid people. That’s always fun, too.

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