Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Pressure Mounts - 16 Weeks To Go

This is what I looked like
about an hour after
after my tenth marathon
This week, I've properly appreciated for the first time what a significant volume of training I've committed myself to. Before my best marathon yet, I trained three and sometimes only two times a week. I usually had two or three days to recover between each training run. If I maintain the training pattern I've set out for the ultra I will be running five days every week, snatching just two days recovery between them. And on each of those recovery days, I attend a high intensity gym class.
It feels like a recipe for fatigue, a suppressed immune system, and overuse injuries.
I'm not backing off yet, but there's great comfort in knowing I can do so if I choose.
This week was an oddity, because it followed the spontaneous 23-miler the previous Saturday. I ran a couple of miles straight after my gym class on Tuesday and felt fatigued and wobbly. Things had improved by Thursday when I joined a charity run at work at lunchtime and, festooned in tinsel, ran a competitive four miles against a bunch of competitive IT professionals. I think I'm going to be able to cope with these clusters of three short runs from Tuesday to Thursday if I don't run any of them straight after a gym class again.
This weekend held my first two longish back to back runs, eleven miles on Saturday and seven on Sunday. Encouragingly I was more energetic and speedy on Sunday.
However, I usually feel crap. This volume of training has had me craving high-energy food and my weight has crept up a couple of kilos. I'm tired, and finding it hard to get up in the morning. I have an upset tummy and a blocked nose a lot of the time.
I'm not just going to put up with this and hope it goes away. Between now and Christmas I'm hereby imposing an in-bed-by-ten regime and watching what I eat so that my blood sugar doesn't spike. If that doesn't help enough, I may look at dropping one of the midweek runs. I have to maintain the two back-to-back runs at the weekend though, and in just a few weeks, they'll amount to a combined distance of thirty miles. It will be a real challenge to fit them in around other people's ideas of what I should be doing over the Christmas holidays.
I've changed what I listen to when I run. As I'm not chasing speed on the long runs, I can afford to listen to audio drama rather than energising music. I've been greatly diverted this weekend by, amongst other things, Big Finish Productions' audio revival of 1970s post-apocalypse drama "Survivors".
Reading the above, I realise I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. Some of this is my resistance to change, and some of it's the low mood that comes with tiredness. I think that there's a part of me that doesn't actually believe that this five-day-a-week training programme is the right thing for me and that it's risky and contradicts the lesson of success I've been having by running less and faster.
Maybe the two problems - exhaustion from the volume of training, and a shortage of days over Christmas when I can run - are actually solutions to one another.
It's not just in my legs and joints that I'll do well to cultivate flexibility.

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Miles run: 55
Miles to run: 809
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