I had a whole blog post schedule planned for the next 3 weeks on both of my sites (this blog and Duathlon Central). But sometimes something comes up that I just feel the need to write about that blows my schedule out of the water…it’s usually something that seems very simple on the surface, but usually ends up being much more than that as the season goes on…
Thursday’s run was one of those things. Earlier in the week, I had to convince Tommy to add in an endurance run to my Thursday schedule, on a day that was previously scheduled as a day off. I hate days off, but I have learned to handle them in moderation. After a bout of diagnosed overtraining last year and several years before that spent flirting with it, I have learned that I can push my body to ridiculous limits only if I have adequate recovery time, which sometimes means a day of rest. However, I had taken the Monday off after Woodstock, then done two days of relatively light training, then this other day off before a monster weekend, and I was feeling a little bit anxious about my ability to effectively run for 75 minutes on Sunday after having not really run more than 30 minutes at a time for the previous month or so. We ended up adding in an hour of running on Thursday…an hour of running that ended up being one of the best runs of my life.
Sometimes while running, I feel like I am fighting what my body was created to do, and it feels like a struggle. Other times, it feels like all my hard work to become an elite long distance runner, and then a duathlete, has paid off by making me look like a runner. And then there are the rare occasions where I feel like this is what I was born to do, and nothing else. Going into this run, I was really lacking in the confidence to perform the high-intensity training that is on its way in preparation of my Welland title defense, Canadian Nationals in Toronto, and US Nationals in St. Paul. Confidence is a funny thing, especially considering I had just won in Woodstock the preceding weekend leading from wire to wire. I should have been buoyed by that…instead I was feeling scared that the lower volume, higher intensity training of May would lead to an early peak for my goal races. I have a tendency to overthink, especially when I have the time to think, which makes it very hard for me to trust the process sometimes. Tommy can usually do a fantastic job of calming me down and helping me see the big picture again, but this was one of those occasions when I think I really just needed to experience it for myself.
The run really wasn’t a big deal. A tad shy of 14km in 1 hour, with some 15 second strides at the end. It wasn’t a night run (my favourite), and it wasn’t overly special or magical. It just…flowed. That’s one of my favourite things about running. You can be out in your own little world, and you are the only one who knows what you are accomplishing. The majority of the people that I went past during this run probably had no idea what I was doing. The other runners I passed likely perceived my speed, but definitely not the fact that I was having quite possibly my breakthrough workout of the 2014 season. Only I knew at the time, and that insider knowledge fueled me all through the run. Every stride felt effortless, and even the hill out of the valley near the end didn’t register with me. I felt unstoppable.
While the run really wasn’t anything special (numbers-wise), it did set up an AWESOME weekend of training. For the past 4 days, I have been absolutely dialed in to my training. My Saturday workout produced some effortless climbing on hills that have never been effortless, and some of my most consistent and powerful tempo sets on the bike yet this season while still saving the legs for a strong run off the bike. Sunday’s run was also a “work of art”, as Tommy put it, where I nailed the race pace sections of my 75 minute run almost to the second, before turning over some quick 31 second 200m repeats on the track upon arriving home. I have a very tough week of training on tap coming up, but the confidence and power that I have received from the simple act of adding that Thursday run and the resulting weekend training results have me excited for it, ready to nail this week and next before heading to Welland to defend my title. I may have produced the same results without that Thursday run; that we’ll never know. But that run allowed me to get excited about the hard training of the weekend, and to have the strength to get out there and do the work that needed to be done. Thanks to Coach T at Ignition Fitness for talking me through this rough patch and helping me see the big picture again…I needed it.
Training is about balance. Hard work and recovery go hand in hand. Physically, that day off on Thursday may have been the right thing for me for one final rest before getting down to work. But equally as important as the physical aspect of this sport is the mental aspect. When you are out there alone for as many hours as you are, you have to believe in what you are doing. You have to be able to tell yourself before lacing up that you WILL walk out that door, you WILL accomplish what needs to be accomplished, and you WILL knock today’s workout out of the park. Because when you have that confidence, magical things can happen. You can lift impossible weights and run impossible distances…it just takes finding that one thing that makes you feel unstoppable. So do what makes you feel unstoppable, and then tell the world what you were able to accomplish.
Until next time…keep du’ing it.