Sunday, 13 September 2015

Lessons in Patience and Humility

A central personal goal of my ultramarathon/running journey has been learning lessons about running and about myself.  I am frequently asked to give advice as a physio about returning to running post injury or after a long absence from running.  I know all the theory, I've coached and advised many many people as they build for the first time or after injury.  I preach patience, being cognitive rather than emotional about your plan, being realistic.  I admit I have often likely sounded a little nonchalant about it, not understanding personally how hard that really is.  Now I know.

As aforementioned in a previous post, after training hard all winter and spring, I took some time off this summer.  I was forced not to run a single step for 4 weeks due to a medical issue (thankfully temporary).  That combined with a cross country move meant that my training suffered.  Time off isn't a bad thing. I've been running and training for one race or another for the past 3 years with no significant time off other than yearly periodization, with my longest break from running being 6 days.   I always maintain a good base, but I was tired after Miwok, so it was good to give my body a rest from running.

When the 4 weeks were up and we were settled in our new house, I was more than ready to go.  I had biked and power walked but I wanted to run!  Mentally I thought I could run all day.  Physically, I was in for a wake up call.

I trotted out of the house ready for a nice easy 10K.  I was SO EXCITED!  First I noticed my legs didn't feel right.  Then I started breathing heavily at a pace that used to be zone 1 and was now more like zone 3.  By 8K I noticed a small niggle in my IT band.  At 10K I was euphoric but exhausted and wondering who's body I was inhabiting.  Despite what I know cognitively, I foolishly thought I could just run out the door and pick up where I left off.  I told myself that I needed to be cautious and careful, but if I was really deeply honest with myself - I didn't think I needed to.  I managed 40K that first week and felt the slight warning signs of connective tissue stress in my achilles and ITB.  I am terrified of injury and that made me pay attention.

So I have been taking it slowly, following the 10% rule for increasing weekly mileage (although there is no solid research to support that arbitrary number that I know of).  I dug out the heart rate monitor and have been working on going slow, building my base back up again as if it were January.  I've even been a very good girl and have been strength training and working on my ABCD drills at least 3x/week.  My legs are coming back and my zone 1 pace going back down.  YAY!

Never in a million years did I think it would be this hard to come back from significant detraining.  Physically there is a formula that works and I know I'll get there.  But mentally, I have been humbled.  My pride had to be left at the door...again.  I am not known for my patience, which is why ultra running has been such a good character builder for me.

So to all those runners I have advised in the past: I'm sorry that I didn't truly get it.  I hope I gave you good advice and encouraged you despite my ignorance.  To those in the future: I've learned that taking a break and then rebuilding afterward is about more than what you are doing or not doing.  It's about who you are and how you define and value yourself through the process.  Rest assured - your body remembers.  If your desire is there and you are patient, you'll get there!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Saturday Night Inspiration

A new video from Salomon Running TV and an old one that I keep coming back to...enjoy!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Redefining and Strategic Planning...Sort Of

Sarah Seads nearing the finish of the Fat Dog 50M (80K)
First of all, I need to give a BIG shout out to my running buddy Miss Sarah Seads, who finally got to Fat Dog this year and ROCKED the 50M course in a torrential rain storm to come across the line as the second woman and nearly beating the previous course record.  Way to go girl!  Read her race report here.  It's hard to believe it's been almost 4 months since we were at Miwok.  Since that time, there have been so many changes in my life I've been feeling slightly destabilized to say the least.  Definitely not ready to rock.

We moved this summer from the beautiful and mountainous west coast of British Columbia (Comox Valley) to the flat homogenous prairies of central Manitoba (Winnipeg).   I also had to take some time off running for medical reasons.  I know I'm not the first runner to move to a completely different geographic and climate zone or be forced not to run for a while, but these things happening at the same time landed me solidly in a state of dysequilibrium.

As I drove 2600km east towards the centre of our continent/country, the sky got bigger and the landscape got flatter.  I had a lot of time to think as I seriously starting looking for river valleys and even small hills as a place to train.  Most road runners hate hills, but this mountain trail ultra runner was having a panic attack!

Several existential questions starting rolling around in my edgy, endorphin craving mind.

1) Who am I now? Am I still a trail runner?
2) Do I try to become a good road runner now that I live in a concrete jungle?  Focus on speed?
3) If I'm going to keep my word and go back west for a yearly race, how in the world am I going to train for it?
4) How am I going to keep from getting injured without the variety of mountain trail running?
5) How am I going to keep my mind sane without the peaks and valleys to look at?
7) How do I redefine my WHY now?  I need to find a way to keep it FUN.
8) How am I going to change my yearly periodization schedule and race schedule to take the harsh Manitoba winters into account?

My new neighbourhood running trails are along this river.
Notice I asked 'WHO am I', not 'WHAT am I?'  Being a runner isn't about what you do, it's about who you are.  How each run and each race, each time you push yourself beyond your limits changes you permanently.  Not always in big ways, sometimes in subtle ways, but the change is inevitable. I will always be a runner.  Running is a big part of who I am and what I do.  So no matter where I live, I will continue to run.  Why? Because I am a runner.  Because even though I won't be climbing big peaks or running along clear glacial rivers, I need to move my body with joy and reverence for the gift that's been given me as much as I need to breathe.

No hill training here!
I will miss the mountains as much as a part of my own body, but I've come out of my funk.  I've joined a few running groups (Trail Run Manitoba and the Manitoba Runners Association), signed up to race and volunteer this fall, and can't wait to get out there and explore this new place that I live.  I will lose my edge on the hills, but hopefully will improve my leg speed.  Remember what the most important attribute of an ultra runner is?  Adaptability.  It's all good as long as I can run!

PS - My big toenail decided to fall off this week.  Guess it's time to start training for another ultra!

A little slice of forest a short 10 min jog from my house in the middle of the city!