Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Something is wrong & I don't know what it is.

Well. I mean. Obviously **A LOT** of things are wrong right now and I am pretty darn clear on what many of them are (though I am sure there are plenty of other dumpster fires going on that I remain blissfully unaware of for the time being!). The something I'm talking about is, thankfully, a lot less consequential to the global community, but still kind of making my life suck.

Friends, I have lost my mojo lately. Yes, I'm still faithfully getting the workouts in (though not always as planned, and not always on the right days), but there's not much joy in it. Pretty much from last June through CIM, all I wanted to do was run. I wanted to run extra miles and extra days for the fun of it. Like, I didn't even worry about days when I didn't feel like running, because they almost never happened. I think I could count on one hand all the days that I came home thinking, "Wow, I kiiiinda think I'd rather just chill on the couch with Netflix & a glass of wine."

I'm about this excited about running lately.

But man, thus far 2017 has kind of been the year of "F#@$ this shit." I almost never want to do the runs. Lately I'd much rather work, or cook, or clean my house, or do any one of the billion renovation tasks on my plate, or torture myself reading about national politics on the internet, or, yes, chill on the couch with Netflix & a glass of wine. There have been so, so many days when it would have been so easy to say "Eh, who really wants to do a tempo run anyway" & go do literally anything else.

Also, I just don't feel very good physically. I have shin splints lately, a lot. I get twinges in my funky right knee sometimes, and also the right hip flexor (it of the Great Hip Flexor Debacle of 2013). My feet hurt. My back hurts. Sure, there are days where running is happy and magical but for whatever reason they are significantly fewer and much farther between.

I have my guesses about the reasons for this.

  • Stress. As I've read in more books & more websites than I can count, bodies don't differentiate between mental & physical stress. In the grand scheme of things, my stressors are mostly extremely first world in nature, but that doesn't make them non-existent. For one thing, work has been kicking my ass lately. For another, we're getting to the point with our remodel that a lot of shit we've been putting off has to be done like NOW, and then of course there is the ever-present raging shit storm that is the current national situation. (**Bonus**: I've been listening to The New Jim Crow on audio books this week during my commute & running, and while it is an amazing book and I highly highly recommend it to any American citizen worth their salt, it hasn't made me feel a lot better about the world or the human race.)
  • Winter sucks. Sorry but it does, even in a place that doesn't have real winter. I am so, so tired of running in the dark, and tired of being cold all the time. I hate hate hate running in tights (for chafing reasons that we don't really need to get into) & my reflective vest has a particular spot where it cuts into my neck a bit sometimes & ends up looking like some kind of hickey love bite that causes people to give me strange looks.
  • I just can't muster the same level of excitement about Shamrock'n Half that I had for CIM. I don't know if it really works this way, but I feel like I might have used up all my enthusiasm in those 18 weeks, and a month of dicking around/doing next to nothing afterward wasn't quite enough to replenish the well.

The obvious solution is to forget about all-out racing Shamrock & take a little more time off from real training until I'm feeling excited about it again. The thing is, though, I feel like I have a level of fitness right now that I haven't had in a really, really long time, and as I roll closer and closer to the days when lifetime PRs are no longer possible, it feels like a waste to run a five minute marathon PR and then not build on it and see what I can do in a half marathon.

So, I'm going to keep for-real training and plan on racing Shamrock hard, but I don't think I'm going to press on the mileage much for a while. I might not PR or run a sub-1:40 like I'd hoped, but that's okay. Right now running weeks in the low 40s is taking all the motivation I have, so that's probably going to have to be good enough.

* * *

Grand Total: 38.9 miles + 2 hours strength

* 32 easy
* 3.6 speed
* 3.3 tempo/threshold

Monday 1/23: a.m. strength / p.m. karate

Tuesday 1/24: 2 warm up, 1 @ LT pace/2:00 jog, 2 x (800m @ 5k pace / 2:00 jog), 1 @ LT pace/2:00 jog, 2 cool down 2 warm up, 3 x (1600m @ HM pace / .1 jog), 2 cool down

    Got late too home for going to the track to be plausible and I find doing speed work on sidewalks/roads terrifying & useless with all the pedestrians, traffic lights, etc. So instead I did Friday's threshold workout. I can tell I'm still out of practice at this pace because I was aiming for ~7:35 & did all three sub-7:30, which, no, is not a humble brag; it just means I suck at pacing right now.

Wednesday 1/25: a.m. strength / p.m. karate

Thursday 1/26: 8 easy

    OMG. Worst run in so, so long. Exhausted & everything hurt, especially the shin splints, which has not reared its ugly head in quite sometime.

Friday 1/27: 3.5 warm up, 1600m @ 10K pace/1:30 jog, 2 x (800m @ 8k pace / 2:00 jog), 1600m @ 10K pace/1:30 jog, 3.5 cool down

    It's been a long time since I was this unmotivated for a run. God, I came so close to just forgetting about it all together in favor of cleaning my house & getting more work done. I did not want to drive to the track and have to deal with re-parking my car, but the alternative was running there & back (meaning a double digit day), and I suppose the *real* issue is that I did not not NOT want to run 7:15 miles after it was so hard to run 7:25-7:30 miles on Tuesday.

    But, I sucked it up and just ran there and back. Getting there sucked. Every mile was in the 10:45 range & my shin splints were flaring up with a vengeance and every muscle in my body felt exhausted. Even once at the track I spent an inordinate amount of time avoiding that first fast mile. But weirdly, once I started, it felt...not that hard. In fact I ended up running the two miles in 7:04 & 7:05 instead of 7:15 (again, because my pacing sucks right now) and it was really fairly easy. I think the 800ms were in the 3:25 range instead of 3:30, so that was okay too.

    Alas, the jog home, much like the jog there, sucked. At least I know I can still run fast even when I feel like poop.

Saturday 1/28: Rest

Sunday 1/29: 12-14 easy 10 easy.

    And, I was lucky to get the 10. I actually think this day might have eclipsed the previous Thursday in terms of "worst run in recent memory." I was in so much pain. And exhausted. And less than two miles in I had not at all ruled out hitting that two mile mark & turning right back around. I hit three miles and thought, "I can make it to 12." By mile 6 the thought that I was only halfway done kind of made me want to cry. I started having those horrible horrible thoughts you have sometimes during horrible workouts where you're like, "Seriously, this is an utter shit show & I think it's much smarter if I call it good at x," and your jerkbrain is all like, "WHAT KIND OF WEAK ASS PUSSY ARE YOU????" and then you're like, "I'm sorry, I'll try harder!" but you still know you're going to call it good at x but will just feel shittier about it.

    Every time those thoughts popped up I countered with the classic "You would never say those things to another runner having a hard day, so stop saying them to yourself," which helped a little. I still felt shitty about the run but at least I could be honest with myself that it was physical pain & discomfort, legit yellow flags, and not being lazy due to boredom or normal running fatigue or a case of just feeling vaguely blah (all things I think I've gotten pretty good at pushing through).

I'd like to tell you this week has gotten off to a better start, but....I can't, really. I don't feel like I'm about to injure myself or anything, but it is about time for a cut-back week (which feels a little to say when you've barely broken 40 mpw lately), and I feel like my body (for whatever reason) will probably thank me for it.


  1. This is basically how I've felt when I try to run these days. And the running I have done is very minimal (16 miles last week). In my case I'm chalking it up to being 2.5 weeks post-marathon and hoping that I will feel better in 2 weeks. (I might start actual training then depending on which race I decide to run.) And honestly, I think the political stress can mess you up physically. I've had migraines two afternoons this week and I'm not sleeping well even though I'm tired all of the time. Obviously this is really unimportant compared to what a lot of people are dealing with but I felt a little better when I realized that I've been more stressed than usual and probably don't have Lyme disease or lupus or the other things that came up when I started Googling symptoms.

  2. Sounds like time off is needed. Marathons take a lot out of you, and you trained A TON for this last one!

  3. We have all been there and sympathize! Usually the key is to change something up. Rest more. Cross train more. Run differently (more trails? more track?) I've got an idea. Why not see if you can race the associated 5K or 10K instead of the half? Speed seems to be your strong point right now, and the long runs seem like they are a chore. You can still get in quality training and not have to put in an insane amount of miles to get a good result. You might have to tweak your workouts some to target specific 5K or 10K race paces. There will be less recovery time involved after the race and the difference in intensity might help to regain the lost mojo. Just an idea.

  4. Hugs! I feel you. Check in with your coaches, but I don't think you'll lose that much fitness if you phone it in for a couple of weeks until you start to feel better. I agree that emotional and mental exhaustion is a huge component (for the same reason, my sleep cycles have been totally haywire). This particular moment deserves, I think, as much outrage as one can muster while still managing enough self-care to function. Throw the plan out the window for a week or two and let the running be part of the self-care.

  5. Well I appreciate your honesty. I still think you are going to kill your upcoming half marathon. Have you purchased new shoes lately? A month seems like a long time, but be wary about ramping your training up too hard to soon. Here's to a better February.

  6. You qualified for Boston and destroyed your PR in the same morning – I'd be shocked (assuming you're not a cyborg) if you were able to recalibrate and remotivate quickly after an accomplishment like that. Brain don't work that way. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt for as long as you need it – you've earned it, and when you're ready to roll you'll know it!

  7. I have to agree with the comments above - you trained the HELL out of 2016 and you didn't really rest before diving back into Shamrock training. IMHO, it seems like you're on the verge of burning out and the stress of our current geopolitical situation isn't helping. (I think this is the main reason that I'm also wanting to clean the house - it's the only thing I have control over.) At this point, with only 5 weeks to go until Shamrock, I'd say you should maintain baseline fitness and go back to basics. One tempo day, one day of speed work, and a long run. Everything else at this point is bonus. I have no actual proof, but I think being emotionally and mentally fresh will help you more on race day than being at peak physical shape.