I’m running along epic, sandy colored trails with haze-free, perfect views of snowy mountains in Central Oregon.
This is why I love running, except I’m not feeling in the zone or even within distant eyesight of the zone. It’s not the Elvis jumpsuit (which feels surprisingly comfy), but it’s something much more frustrating – a lack of energy and flow.
It took several weeks to finally accept it, but this is what almost all my runs have felt like since I started training again after Leadville. In addition, I track my recovery via Heart Rate Variability (my next Ultra Running Magazine coaching article is about how all that works), and it kept telling me that I was getting more worn down than expected after easy efforts and that my body wasn’t bouncing back well. This was despite taking a month off alcohol to see what positive effects it would have, but that experiment was marred by the underlying fatigue.
Ending my season early is the solution. Frustratingly, I was really excited for my final race of the year at Brazos Bend 100 (hence the Elvis suit training run…), but I’ve felt like this once before, after running the Grand Slam in 2013, and know it simply needs a break and to stop any hard training or racing for a few months. Plus an early off season isn’t a bad thing, especially since it’s much more important to me to enjoy running and racing for decades to come, rather than potentially ruining the next year or two with overtraining.
It took me a few days to fully buy into this choice due to the all-too-common fear of missing out from not racing the 100 miler. But now I’ve had a few days to digest the decision it seems so obvious. It’s no different to switching strategy mid-race to get the most out of the rest of the run, finding solutions and the smartest way forward.
What also helped was to think ahead to the runs I can’t wait for in 2018. Antelope Canyon, my 9th Western States, running Softrock (the Hardrock route over a few days) and plenty more. So I don’t want to spoil all that for the sake of FOMO.
I enjoyed 2017’s runs but always aim to learn. This year’s mistake was a team relay right before Western States 100 which included two downhill legs running all out (averaged about 4:48/mile pace for one of the legs and then running another hard downhill run hours later trashed my legs). This meant that the great fitness I’d built up was affected by fatigue at WS then that flowed through to a small extent to Leadville two months later. Each race just dug me a little deeper into the hole.
Besides, I now know the Elvis suit works fine so I’ll just use it next year at Brazos Bend. And no hardcore downhill races right before 100 milers!
(Originally published November 15, 2017 on http://sharmanian.blogspot.com/)
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