Last week was the longest and hardest training week in my entire life. I have done weeks of doubles and triples and I was fine. I have woken up at ridiculous hours to train and had to run late at night. This week was super tough.
Halfway through the week, I was getting more and more tired, irritable and my appetite was all over the place. Any attempt at bike riding was a waste, my legs felt like two pieces of wood. I’m at that point in my training where you start to question your ability. You wonder, have you gone too far? I’m peaking, and when an athlete is peaking they feel like shit. Truth be told, if you don’t feel like shit during the peak week then you’re about to have a problem on race day.
I started to really stress about the weekend’s schedule. Sunday was going to be a 5km cross-country race followed by a 60km run. I knew all I had to do was get through this last week of big mileage and I was home free. I would have successfully made it through the toughest training phase ever, injury free. The very next thing I do, is walk right into a wall and bang my knee. I jammed my hip when I landed on my foot the wrong way an hour later. Why during this time of training people get really clumsy is kind of a mystery. I would say it’s because you’re much more tired than normal, the brain isn’t firing the same and your limbs are functioning on very little gas.
What did I do? I took a rest day. I decided this was evidence enough that my body was feeling the wear and tear. I scheduled an appointment with my chiro and while I took a much-needed nap on his table, he put me back together. By Friday I was doing my second speed work session, mentally preparing for the tough 65km run ahead.
On Sunday, I fell back in love with the sport of cross-country. As I ran the 5km course, in control and focused, I really wanted to drop the hammer and race. All my bad memories from my childhood cross country experiences were replaced with this day of happy memories. The race was a tempo run for me, and I still managed to walk away with a 3rd place finish. It was 1:30pm already and I still had to put in 60km of running. I found my way to the Bruce Trail to begin the journey.
Last week my life took a big 180 flip and as I explained it to my friend over the phone, he said, “You sound so grown up, and you’re suddenly very Zen about life.” I thought about this. As I reflect briefly on the last 5 months of training, I have really made some significant improvements in how I’ve decided to live my life. How is it related to running? Spending the time I‘ve spent with myself has been better than therapy. I’ve asked myself really hard questions about who I am and what I want to be. This past week, I kept complaining that I wasn’t physically tired, but emotionally tired. Even when I said it, I couldn’t really understand what I meant. Now I do. It only took a couple of 50km plus runs, but my body and my mind finally made the connection I’ve been searching for. The grown up decisions and choices I’m making are simply the by-product of the balance I have back in my life. I love running A LOT. I also know there is more to life than running and you need to keep room in your life for them.
Important things I learned last week:
1. I tried to teach myself to be organized and make a route. I also learned that I’m not that good at this. Even with an amazing Bruce Trail app on my Iphone, I got lost. I had to hitch a ride to the closest gas station to pick up my food from my one man crew that day. (Yes I got into a car with a random stranger, PLEASE never do this at home!)
2. Iphones suck! I had two fully charged Iphone’s using them only for navigation and they each lasted a max of one hour.
3. I’m absolutely addicted to GU salted caramel Gels. These are the best things ever!
4. If you can let down your guard enough and ask for the help, people will generally give it.
5. Having something or someone to look forward to, when you finish something really big, it helps motivate you to finish.