Weaknesses, Ambivalence, & a Great 10k

I’m at a week (and a half) in recovery mode: Last week I tried to get a bit more sleep (success), not work a ton of extra hours (moderate success), and ran only 23 total miles. I was feeling a lot more optimistic about the rest of Winter training and going into the Spring racing season. Especially after running the Back On My Feet Mardi Gras 10k on Saturday without falling apart (although it wasn’t without cramping).

The course was .20 short. Whoopsy. Mile 5 was slow because we ran into the 5k..bod and weave isn't in my repertoire.

The course was .20 short. Whoopsy. Mile 5 was slow because we ran into the 5k..bob and weave isn’t in my repertoire.

With honesty I’ve concluded that some of the discomfort and bonkyness I experienced at the LA Marathon wasn’t from having a cold (although that was the biggest contributor and certainly exacerbated things), but also was an illustration of several weak spots in my training and other habits that all reacted at once to the stress of 26.2 miles, on a hilly course, while fighting a lack of rest, a high level of stress, and illness over the past few months while also running at a (for me) high volume.


Screen shot from thumbnail…used without permission…is marathonfoto really never going to decide to charge a reasonable prices for downloading images?

Also, side note, I’m on my second “rest day” in a row (because of logistics and weather), so it’s plausible I’ve entered a reality distortion based panic where I can’t stop eating, feel 20lbs heavier, and am certain I’m out of shape. You know, the usual.

What are these training weaknesses? In no particular order here are the things I’ve pin-pointed, which if given some attention, it’s realistic to expect I would run (and generally feel) much better:

  1. DIET: True, I maintain a diet that more-or-less keeps me  more-or-less feeling good, and out of the hospital. Having faulty guts  means that I eat much “better” than the average person. But there are several areas where my vices rule me: lots of sugar, lots of coffee, lots of wine. If I just halved my consumption of those three things , I might wake up looking like Shalane… or at least, I’d reliably be able to button my slacks instead of trying to make leggings work-suitable. us-olympic-marathon-trials-results-team-amy-cragg-shalane-flanagan
  2. STRENGTH: I’m as total weak-ass. Figuratively and quite literally. I have very little strength and gave up my weight lifting habit once my weekly mileage went over 40. So, that was like 4 years ago, and now I have all kinds of hip, back, and core issues when I run… because those areas are so damn weak! And, as suggested, I think my ass is pretty wimpy too.
  3. SLEEP: Poor Jorge can share hundreds of anecdotes illustrating how much I struggle in the morning. I’ve been like this my entire life. Doesn’t matter how early I get to bed, my brain, mood, and body take FOREVER to wake up in the morning. If I sleep less than 8 hours (and who has time for THAT?!) it’s worse, and for me sleep debt seems to accumulate very fast and I almost always develop a fever, or catch whatever virus/bacteria is going around – this is what happened in Jan/Feb first the flu then the cold. I was logging only 5-6hrs of sleep per night from Thanksgiving until I got back from LA and said….NOooooooo I can’t take this anymore!
  4. STRESS: Productivity and stress have such a weird relationship. High productivity increases overall stress, but also decreases it… but then if overall stress gets too high then productivity slows down – creating more stress! GAAAAH! This is my life.

    This counts as a whole week's worth of ancillary work, right?

    This counts as a whole week’s worth of ancillary work, right? (and to be clear: this is me NOT Shalane.

  5. CLARITY OF GOALS: For the first time, outside of wanting to break 3:10 in the marathon this year, I don’t really know what I want from running in 2016 … which makes it hard to focus, do the supplemental work, drink less wine,  plan training, and choose races. Which brings me to my next point.

I’m still waffling like crazy over how to proceed in terms of racing and training. More specifically, I can’t decide whether I should go run the Catalina Marathon on March 19th, or stay home and run the Cary March Madness Half Marathon on the 20th (already registered). I registered for Cary on New Years Eve (it sells out within minutes most years), and then last month, very impulsively I entered a giveaway for an entry into the Catalina Marathon. I was really excited when I won! As it says in my entry post, I ran the Eco Marathon in 2013, and LOVED it. I also managed to finish as the first female, and 7th overall… which was an awesome experience. I wrote about it here.FullSizeRenderWhat I failed to consider in my impulsivity, was that this race is 5 weeks after LA and 4 weeks before Boston, and although it’s a comped race entry, I still need to FLY TO CALIFORNIA, which ain’t free. If the weather and sea conditions cooperate I don’t need accommodations because my bother, SIL, nephew and I will go out to the island on their boat. I usually take 36 or so hours to not be sea-sick, but I mean, who sleeps before a marathon anyway? Not me! The bigger concern is running with “sea legs”, basically then you feel sea-sick, but while you’re on land, running a race that is 26 miles with like 4,000ft of elevation gain. Awesome?

Note: not the actual boat.

Note: not the actual boat.

I honestly feel ambivalent, I can get on board with going and with not going. The biggest appeal is an extra visit with my family . I feel too awkward to ask to defer the entry, because, you know. Contest. But I also feel like a douche if i don’t use it. I need to make a decision so I can figure out how to train…

I can’t decide what to do. 

Thanks for hanging in here with me, now it’s time to CROWD-SOURCE this, yay!

What do you think? Catalina: yes or no?  (follow-up question, am I stuck being a jackass no matter how I handle this?)

Reduce training volume by 20% to make time/energy for supplemental work: yes or no?

Give up candy and wine: just kidding, don’t answer this one.


8 responses to “Weaknesses, Ambivalence, & a Great 10k

  1. Woah! In that pic it looks like Shalene and Amy read “Racing Weight” and actually put it into practice! They look like they weigh 100 lbs combined! 🙂 Anyway, I guess your choice is between running three coastal marathons with little recovery in between them or two coastal marathons with a decent amount of recovery in between. Because of my fondness of quality over quantity, I’d do the Cary Half and skip Catalina. I’m sure the Catalina race will understand if you pull out. The sooner you tell them the better because with more time, they can more easily give away your entry. Since the entry cost you nothing, you lose nothing! I lift weights for 30 minutes 3x week plus yoga sessions 2x week and I feel as strong as ever and have stayed injury-free for over two years. So, I would advocate for the 20% reduction. How about making Mon, Tues, Wed dessert and wine-free days? Anyway, good luck with your crowd sourcing!

    • Thank Pete! I was thinking the SAME thing while watching the marathon trials, that they looked like they’d both leaned out! A lot. Perhaps I’ll offer to promote the race since I can’t make it…maybe they can re-raffle my entry? I love how reasonable your suggestions are and I’m going to try them! I always think of things in such an all or nothing framework that OF COURSE I fail…right? Like, obviously I don’t have to lift weight EVERY DAY, or give up alcohol ENTIRELY, but alas, this is how my brain seems to work.

  2. I say skip California as well. Maybe you could do some strength before and after a run(on easy days) to split it and keep the same mileage?

    • Thanks for the response! I’ve considered this idea of going against the hard days hard rule and doing the strength work on easy (and thus typically shorter) days, then it just becomes a matter of proximity to the gym … because when I say I’ll do strength work at home, I never do.

  3. First of all, good running! I’m jealous. As for your plans, I would say do the hometown half to save your legs. A lot of marathons can equal a lot of trouble (you are doing Boston, right?). And think how happy the person who gets your free entry to the marathon will be. Everyone wins!

    p.s. 15 minutes of planks, body squats, and the like twice a week is easy. Just get in the habit

    • Thanks, yes, I think I’m leaning toward contacting the race and bowing out… and you’re totally right that, seriously, doing a little bit of bodyweight strength training after a few runs per weeks should be easy…it’s also so easy to skip it…which I guess is why I always feel like I need the stimulus control of a gym.

  4. Since apparently lower mileage plus a TON of heavy lifting is what’s working for me I’m kind of becoming annoying about recommending it 🙂 So, yeah, I advocate reduce the mileage and up the strength.

    As for CA, I would contact them and let them know the situation. You’re an RD; I’m sure you’d understand if you were in their shoes!

    • Yah, I suppose if it were my race, I’d be like, “meh, that’s ok, thanks for the extra advertising on Facebook!” haha! Yah, you’re gym workouts are awesome, I wish I could afford a trainer right now…which sounds so ridiculous because that’s how I made my own living for over 5 years! sheesh….


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