Friday's tough run that ended short had one amazing effect. The right calf that had been bothering me for the past 8 days (since I picked up the pace one morning to catch Eric) completely healed. It went from very sore to completely not-sore in one day. Saturday morning I awoke to no calf pain and before, during, or after my run. No calf pain Sunday or this morning. At one point during the run (about the time I was desparately running a flat portion repeatedly), I recall the calf muscle "moving" like a knot coming undone. It's too bad it takes me getting to what I described in my log "the end of my rope" during a training run to fix a sore calf muscle.
But as no good deed goes unpunished, nor shall a problem be solved without the introduction of a new one. While the calf muscle was miraculously cured, it was replaced with a very sore left knee and left quad (iliotibial band?) pain. The pain is not acute, but rather a very tender soreness. After a warmup the soreness can sit in the background, always there but unless the pace is pressed, doesn't do much. So yesterday I headed out on my 22 mile long run.
Mindful of the trouble I have had with the hills in Eastport and all my soreness, I resolved to run most of the 22 miler on relatively flat surfaces. So I ran the 7 miles to Perry corner and back as the first leg of the run. This course has a couple of hills but they are long and not so abrupt as the hills in town. Also, it has a few miles of causeway that are flat along the ocean. My big mistake was similar to Friday's mistake (not a fast learner I gather). While I had tea and toast with honey before I left, I still came back from that leg a little depleted. I was taking advantage of the flat road and the background nature of the left leg pain by running at a pace near 8:30/mile. This is faster than I've been able to maintain since I got into high mileage. Unfortunately, this only served to have me dehydrated and depleted by mile 14. As I approached the house I really wished the run was done. I wanted to be able to go in, sit down, and rest the rest of the day. Instead, I took about a 6 minute break while I checked the woodstove, ate a banana with honey, and drank lots of water. When I went back out I felt fresh again but this only lasted a mile if that. By the end of that first mile, with seven left to go, I was feeling the distance.
Miles 16 - 22 almost hurts to think about. The soreness in the left leg was no longer in the background, but rather the only thing on my mind. My pace dropped to somewhere near 11:00/mile and I was starting to struggle, not unlike Friday. I struggled on like a trooper putting myself in what I call the "orbit" - a loop around town that avoids passing the house and solves the parachute problem of bailing out when the going gets tough. And the going was getting tough. Many times, soreness or a running battle plateaus and it's just a matter of hanging on. But yesterday saw deteriorating conditions with each passing mile and the run became a quest to finish. A fresh bailout on my mind from Friday, I was determined to see this through since I didn't have the same time constraints. But when sweat breaks out on your face at 25 degrees and not because you're running hard, you know you've got problems.
At mile 19 when I was the furthest away from the house in my orbit I thought the end had come. But from deep in the subconscious a crazy idea came to the surface. This idea was planted there by none other than Mike from our first long run together back on November 20th. I'd count my steps. And I did.
Mike talked to me about this technique for overcoming distress while we ran next to the beautiful shore in St. Andrews. He was describing how this method of disassociating works at getting some runners through the rough patches of a marathon. Mike related a story about a race where he helped a young lady count steps and got her through the rough spot and to the finish. (Not even a thank you kiss - I hear). Mike says if Paula Radcliffe does it, it must be ok. I'd have to agree with him on that point, but to count steps - you'd have to be in a bad way.
At mile 19, I found myself in a bad way. So with a nod to Mike, I started to count, and count, and count. It was horrible! I was struggling and counting. Breathing and counting. Shuffling and counting. Grimacing and counting. I thought I'd throw up.
I counted through to mile 21 where the psychological effect of being only 1 mile out allowed me to re-engage my brain. 22.2 miles in 3:27:40 (last 8 at 10:55 pace). So needless to say, with two brutal runs so close together, I was interested to see what this morning's workout would produce. The leg is still sore and while not any worse, it is time to adjust the plan to accomodate a recovery for this particular issue. Thus I begin again...
In the past 7 weeks, I've put in 2 weeks of low mileage recovery running, a steady progression to 100 in singles and finally one week of added supplemental runs (two of them). I shall do the cycle again. Resilience refers to hardiness or toughness from something's flexibility and ability to adapt, adjust, and not break under stress. An elasticity. In my case, I wish my plan (and me) to be resilient - it's character of hardiness or degree of toughness defined by its ability to withstand pressure through flexibility and elasticity. To bounce back after being stretched to the limit. After Friday and yesterday, I have found the limit.
The key to the adaptation is control. 50% psychological and 50% physical, controlling the when and how of rest, recovery and build-up is essential. For me, avoiding the haphazard nature of "on" days and "off" days is important. It characterized my previous running with the results to prove it. This time I have run through a lot of soreness and the feedback has been giving me the green light to continue. Just slow the pace down. Now, however, the feedback is different, the tender muscle different, and the pace is abnormally slow (today it took 30:54 to go 3 miles comfortably). Therefore, I will reduce the intensity (in this case miles) to improve the condition of the muscle. I will do this using the same 7 week cycle just completed: 25, 50, 70, 80, 90, 100 + supplemental.
I had a feeling this is what would happen. I've never known a plan go to plan, so the fact that I was very successful reaching week 7 before the red light came on is very satisfying. I've been thinking about the quote, "To get what you do not have, you must do what you have not done." Well, I am trying just that - to do what I have not done. The redo of the initial 7 week cycle is part of that. No fooling around: push the envelope, develop the aerobic capacity, repeat the cycle if necessary to accomodate muscular/skeletal limitations. It will be interesting to see if the 2nd installment of this 7 week cycle allows for further progression into continuous 100+ mile weeks. We won't know unless we try.
Last week: 114 miles. Includes 2 brutal runs.
On tap: 25 miles @ 3 miles / day - recovery week #1.