The Connection Runners + [workout plans]

Pre-race post: thoughts, jitters, and general excitement

The week before a large race, I always get excited. My work productivity suffers (dramatically), my sleep is interrupted with "last minute details," and I start feeling like I need to get out and run.

These are the result of having an exciting event right around the corner an... tapering. During a taper I'm not working out as much (down from about 2 hours/day or more to an hour or less), so I'm not as tired. As a result, I'm more inclined to feel jittery and not sleep as well. This is all quite normal for me. But there are several differences this time around. At this point in the season, these differences lead me to certain conclusions about this race and what I should expect from the rest of the running season.

1. My taper has been gradual yet shorter and I don't feel sluggish.

In times past, before a 100 mile race, I've started tapers two weeks out. I think two weeks is too long and by the end I feel pretty sluggish. I've always been skeptical of this because I don't think I should feel sluggish, even though by the end of the taper I'm really ready to run.

First of all, I'm starting to question the reasons for having a training block that consists of weeks. The week, consisting of 7 days, is convenient for training because long runs can happen on the weekend, but 7 is an arbitrarily assigned number. Why not build for 10 days and then take it easy for 3 or 4? A weeks worth of days may not lend itself to the maximal training or, for this matter, tapering. I have been active during my taper - I've been running every day although I've decreased the time every day - for around the last 10 days.

Second, even though I'm running less each day, I'm continuing to do short burst of speed to get my HR up and get some turn over. I'm hoping this will help me keep everything fairly loose during recovery.

I'm still excited to run, but I haven't been as sluggish. I tend to think this is a very good thing.

2. I'm still uncertain about my fitness.

Of the two races that I've done this year, neither has turned out well. A smart man might take some time off and get healthy to redeem the remainder of the season. I'm not a smart man.

I think of fitness as having two components. The first is training. The second is preventive. To get fit, you need to work out. That much is clear. I've done this and this component of my fitness, I'd say, is good. The second component, the preventive aspect, has been neglected. The preventive component consists of those things you do to ensure training does not at some point become counterproductive. This might be stretching, eating right, protecting yourself against viruses (if you can) & c.

Although I think of fitness in this way, I've done a shabby job of following what I think, especially in terms of the preventive component. My micro-nutrient levels are pretty messed up (which I'm scrambling to fix - see the last post) and this leads me to think that I'm over-trained. Which in this instance, means that my preventive planning has not been balanced with my training. Maybe my training has been spot on (I do think it has been), but given that my nutrition has been out of whack, the training has at some point been detrimental to my fitness.

Since my last blood work, I've been pounding vitamins and I think I'm feeling slightly better. I also went in for a physical and had more blood work done. I'm still waiting on the results.

3. Conclusions

I should relax. The race results are not important. While I like to gauge myself based upon my performance, it isn't fair to myself or to those who are around me if I do this at this point. It isn't fair to me because I know I'm not as healthy as I can or should be. Plus, I refuse to solely identify with this hobby. I'm not seeking to live off my running and I have other interests so I should be happy to finish these races. It isn't fair to those around me if I'm in a bad mood because I didn't perform as I wanted. In fact, no one wants to be around someone who is grumpy because they didn't perform as well as they believed they could have.

The season is not ruined. I'm OK with not having superlative performances. But it is up to me to define what counts as the "season." I got into this sport because I wanted to be outside. I can still do that and I can do that really well! It might not be smart for me to run this Saturday if I was worried about being really fast at Hardrock (I'm now at 10th on the wait list) or Angeles Crest. But I'd rather do as good as I can where I can. I don't know how many opportunities I'm going to have to run 100 mile races, so I'm going to try to enjoy as much of it as I can (in a type 1 fun way).

I'm really looking forward to Black Hills 100 on Saturday. The forecast, as of this moment, says it's going to be 97 and sunny. Well, we'll see what happens out there. Wish me, and the other runners, good luck. And please, send us your chilliest thoughts.