I got a little bit of a wrist slap this weekend, after I allowed myself to slip back into old habits. No friends, I am NOT hitting the bottle again (well, not hard anyway..). This has to do with nasty old running habits.
I was scheduled for a 16 mile progressive run this weekend. I wanted to squeeze in one last 20, but "compromised" at 16, including faster miles. I'm still trying to heal up from too many months of over-training (in warp speed time) to put together a decent Chicago Marathon in (GULP) 13 days.
A logistically tricky weekend, my only time block to run was Saturday afternoon. 80+ degrees and 100% humidity. It's okay to be jealous. I had a few factors working against me, but with my trusty Garmin and HR monitor, I would be fine. I'd run by HR alone, disregard pace, and get in a great solid workout before the start of a serious taper. HR training over the past month or so has been critical to the healing process for me. I'm a fly-and-dyer by nature, someone who loves smashing myself day in and day out to feel successful as an athlete. Training by HR doesn't allow me to do that, and as such, I'm bouncing back from the burn-out zone pretty quickly. Yay resilient body!
I pull into the parking lot of run location, turn on the Garmin. It immediately flashes "low battery". Insert about 50 expletives here. The proverbial blue streak. As it is, it's Mexico hot outside, it's the middle of the freakin' afternoon, and now my Garmin is failing me. Am I on candid camera? No, really. I wanted to go home, but due to time restraints knew my only choice was to suck it up.
Sooooooooo I started up the ole' Timex and the Garmin simultaneously, laced up the shoes and decided to do the best I could. The first and only mile the Garmin lasted was right on target. Zone 1- nailed it.
At this point I'm relying on feel and mile markers (I was on a marathon course w/ visible markings) alone. The trouble is that everything feels hard in the heat and humidity. I was struggling between "is this Zone 2" and "holy crap that HAS to be at least Zone 4, I should slow down". Now throw in ONE more factor - I was running the exact course where I ran my marathon PR 2 years ago.
Recipe for disaster. Getting frustrated by "feel", seeing splits I liked on my watch, and getting caught up in re-living my fastest AND smartest race I've ever run? Yep - you guessed it. Took off like a bat out of hell. I would try to talk myself into slowing down, which I think would last in 30 second spurts. Then I would slowly speed back up. I could feel my legs getting tired, but I could easily chalk it up to the weather. The phrases "this is supposed to be a workout" and "suck it up" went through my mind early and often.
This game lasted until mile 10-11. Then I crashed and burned. Hard. Cue tears, walking, jogging, cursing at myself for being stupid, etc. Not pretty.
Point of today's rambling?
In the words of a wise person: "Learn the lesson. Trust your training. Trust the methods".
I was supposed to do a progressive run, and instead, I let old habits drive me in the absence of the "tools" to keep me honest. If I want to get faster, and be a more competitive athlete, I have to embrace every workout for it's individual purpose. Going out and running race pace every day isn't going to make me a better athlete. Its the reason my body is completely shelled.
I have learned the lesson. I am going into this taper (and beyond) with Saturday's run in mind. I have had great progress with healing the last few weeks, and need to remind myself WHY that happened. It wasn't by accident. It was carefully thought out. And I don't want to start sliding backwards now.
As endurance athletes, it's hard not be competitive with ourselves (and others) every day. Yet each one of us is different, and we each may take slightly different roads to reach our fullest potential. We need to listen to our own bodies, and trust in our own training. Only then will we see our greatest results.