This morning I was in a different mindset as I got ready for our group run at the Celery Fields. Both of my Achilles tendons have been extremely sore for the past couple of weeks so I decided that I would either not run at all and just oversee the run or maybe walk/jog a little while everyone else did the workout. It’s difficult for me to go to one of my favorite training spots and not run!
Instead of my usual pre-run breakfast of PowerBar Energy Bites, a little caffeine, and 8-12 ounces of water, I decided to eat a “regular” breakfast which included taking all of my vitamins plus a bowl of organic granola with almond milk.
So the pressure is off. No hard running today. No running at all since I had my regular breakfast. We meet at the school, carpool to the Celery Fields, and a few others meet us there. We start the dynamic warm up and my Achilles tendons hurt. We finish that and I explain the fun hill workout they are about to tackle. I decide to go with them on the easy mile warm up loop just to make sure everyone knows the route. We had a few new people out today; which is always cool.
Warm up mile loop is done and the group splits up into several smaller groups as everyone begins the actual workout of 2-3 x mile loops working hard on the up hills and coasting the down hills. I took it easy on the first loop and did not run hard on the up hills. When I finished that my Achilles tendons actually felt a little better. I really wasn’t feeling them at all, which was a nice change! So my warm up loop and the first of the workout loops were both somewhere around 10:00-11:00 mile pace. Considering the loose rock trails and hilly terrain, not bad.
Remember, I ate my regular breakfast, not a pre-run breakfast so I wasn’t supposed to be running and certainly not running a hard workout.
I just finished two miles on the hilly loop and I was not feeling my breakfast at all plus my Achilles tendons felt pretty good. I decided to run the second of the workout loops harder and dropped to about 8:46 mile pace running hard on the up hills and coasting somewhat on the down hills. That felt great!!! Maybe I just needed a longer warm up – definitely a trend with me lately. Sometimes I need a 2-3 mile warm up before a workout or race.
I then started my third of the workout loops really pushing the pace on the up hills AND the down hills and finished around 8:18 mile pace. I could not believe how good I felt. I then joined the group for the 4 x short sprints up the steep grass hill. Those things make you feel alive! Somehow I swear my legs muscles morphed into a Jell-O like substance while my lungs were burning and I became a little light headed. I had trouble keeping track of how many I had actually run. Who knew counting to four could be such a challenge. Okay, a slight exaggeration here, but these are intense!
After the fourth short, steep hill sprint we did one more mile on the hilly loop to cool down then a quick stretch after some shin strengtheners. A total of 5.5 miles for the day. I am still struggling to adjust my way of thinking about mileage in workouts and total weekly mileage. Training for that 57 miler has really skewed things for me. I am keeping much more detailed notes in my training log now so I can see the intensity and types of workouts and not worry so much about my lower weekly mileage totals.
The big mistake I made after the 57 miler was jumping back into 50+ mile weeks with only one week of rest right after the race. When my Achilles tendon pain started I looked at my training log and I could see it right there plain as day the reason why. Last week I backed off to about 33 miles and this week will be even lower. I decided to do shorter runs, increase the intensity of just a couple of them, and also take more rest days to heal up. I definitely needed to recalibrate my way of thinking about my training. Yes I am going to be running a 50K in just a few months and yes I am going to run another marathon when I run Goofy at Disney Marathon weekend, but that does not mean that I need to be training the way I was just a couple of months ago. I don’t always have to run high mileage just because that worked well for me this spring when I was preparing for a 57 mile race in June.
I don’t know if other running coaches have similar issues, but I find that I am often my own toughest athlete to coach. I always feel like the regular rules of training do not apply to me. Sadly I am not invincible. But luckily I do learn from my mistakes and that helps me to be a better coach to others.
Back to breakfast…
I have never been able to run well or run hard after eating cereal with milk or just drinking milk. As I said this morning was organic granola with dark chocolate bits and almond milk. I decided to switch to almond milk for my cereal because it is higher in calcium and has fewer calories than regular milk. I am still amazed at how hard I was able to run after eating all that. I felt great on the run. The granola is pretty dense and kept me fueled. I did not get my extreme post run hunger for quite a while after the run too. Perhaps a new pre-run meal in the arsenal!
I will definitely keep trying new things to see what works.