Spring Training: Week 4

The further along I get into training, or whatever it is I’m presently doing, the more relieved I am that I decided to skip doing a spring marathon. This past week shaped up to be a disappointing one, with low mileage, horrible weather and a severe bang to the head. All adding up to less than 45 miles, though not for lack of trying and regret for coming up short again.

If I was looking out to a race in 12 weeks, I’d be feeling pretty distressed. Maybe meandering slackerdom is the source of liberation I’ve been looking for all my life. No goal = no pressure + no disappointment. It also = no achievement, I realize. But everything in life’s a tradeoff…

Monday and Tuesday actually went pretty well. My recovery run pace continued to hold steady around 10:00 and my tempo pace picked up a smidgen. I felt horrible on Tuesday, the fallout of four days of celebratory eating and drinking. Which, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed immensely. But I was certainly hauling the celebration along with me on Tuesday and forcing myself to run fast, and not particularly enjoying it. It’s times like this when I look back to the years during which I subsisted on vodka, Doritos and generic frozen pizza and realize I must have felt horrible pretty much all of the time.

My legs were dead on Wednesday, no huge surprise there.

Snow, ice and plunging temperatures resumed on Thursday, which featured a morning run I won’t soon forget. Or maybe I will, if I suffered any permanent brain damage. Still, determined to get those miles in, I went out again on Thursday afternoon and struggled through another few, although I had to stop and walk often due to residual ice.

On Friday I woke up and the right side of my neck was swollen and in a fair amount of pain. My back wasn’t happy either. It was a long, stressful workday as well, a 9 on the Stress-o-Meter. So I said fuck it and skipped the workout. If ever there was a day to take off, this was it.

Or maybe Saturday was. I took that off too. A mild headache (probably from that huge martini on Friday), continued neck pain, a persistent malaise and slight fever sent me to bed for the most the day.

And everything had been going so well.

Even though I’ve curbed my hypochondriacal impulses, I Googled “concussion symptoms” anyway. Headache, malaise, upset stomach: check, check, check. But no memory loss or single pupil dilations. Increased irritability? With me, who can tell? Did I really want to go in for an x-ray of my head or whatever they do? Bah. The treatment for a mild concussion is the same as what I was doing anyway: rest.

Even though the latter part of the week fell apart, I did manage to finally sleep well last night and wake up this morning feeling halfway decent. The headache was finally gone, my neck was in reasonable shape and I had some energy (or maybe it was just cabin fever gnawing at me). Sure, it was 5F outside with the windchill, but ain’t no way I was going to go into that stupid treadmill room. I would run outside if it killed me.

As so often happens, the runs I have the lowest expectations of often turn out to be surprisingly good ones. I’d originally planned to run a meandering hilly route through local streets, but at the last minute decided I’d check out the running path to see if it was still covered in murderous ice. It looked okay, so I decided to do a loop down to Bronxville and then see how far north I could get before the path became unrunable again. The Bronx River was partly frozen and I was half expecting to see hapless ducks and geese trapped in the ice like miniature versions of Shackleton’s Endurance.*

My legs felt great after two days of rest, so I decided to just run as fast as I wanted to for whatever distance seemed good. Sounds like a solid plan! I ended up doing a progression run, starting out at 9:10 or so and ending up around 7:25. Not great, but better than I expected for the effort I was expending. The path is still a giant jigsaw puzzle of black ice in spots, but it’s not too bad. We’re supposed to get temps above freezing this week, so I’m hoping those will go away.

I’m scheduled to do 70 this coming week, with 3-4 days of doubles. Yep, well, we’ll see. Between work and the weather, I’ve no clue what I’ll be able to do. But this week I demonstrated to myself that even now, after a year of disappointment, currently feeling slow and fat, and much of the time wondering why I’m bothering to pursue running seriously at all, I still care enough to go out and try.

My first race of the year is next Sunday and I have no idea how I feel about it. Or, rather, I do. I feel worried. And bad in advance. I’m certain I’ll race like shit, all things considered. So should I just race and accept where I am right now? Or skip racing until I feel “ready,” whatever that means? I’ll decide on Sunday morning.

*There. This is the cleverest witticism I could come up with today. I thought that one up while running. Thank you. Thank you very much.

5 Responses

  1. Good on you for taking the days off, you needed them! I was just wondering today about periods without racing. This year I have my usual two goal races (though the Fall one is a Half) and I was toying with the idea of not having anything major for next winter. It’d be a first since I started running. I think it’s healthy to take a break after so many cycles.

    Can totally relate about your racing fears too, I have a 5-miler next month, my first race since Philly. Really scared. C’est la vie. May you have a couple more confidence making runs this next week, you deserve them.

  2. As a Negligent Mom ™, I can say that you probably did have a mild concussion and you’re fine, dammit. Just needed a couple of days of rest, that’s all. Now get up and get something done, you lazy layabout no-good slacker…

    Oh, sorry, I was thinking you were one of my kids.

    Glad you’re on the mend, glad you’re doing something different this winter. “Insanity is doing the same thing over…” – oh, you probably know that one.

    • You’re not negligent in the important ways: helping them learn how to get a job, not blow all their money or get entangled with “the wrong people.” You know, the key stuff. Minor head injuries are small potatoes compared the ways in one can really screw up their life.

  3. Go for it. You’re still logging miles, and you’ve still got all that base working for you. I think little short races work as a good baseline, and at the very least, help you come up with some other goals. I think “c” races in some ways end up as importance as “a” races in how they give you some more specific feedback, so to speak. I’m a big fan of jumping in small races I don’t care about just to see how I do. (Though I suppose a NYRR race isn’t going to be small…)

    And occasionally you can completely surprise yourself. I somehow netted a half marathon PR last summer under similar circumstances (lingering soreness, bad allergy issues, missed mileage, had missed three days that very week actually, was actually away for a work conference when I ran the race…)

  4. So you’re Julie Smoothnoggin Threlkeld on FB now?

    Good one about the ducks in ice. And running outside if it killed you — second time lucky?

    Just rock up and do the race. It could end up being one of those gift races — so good that you’re thanking yourself for a week for starting.

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