In my graduate training to become a teacher, we were drilled about the importance of reflection. I know the value of it (both personally and professionally), but, at times, it is necessary to remind one's self just how powerful and important it can be. This is such a reminder . . .
Recently, as we packed for our annual pilgrimage to North Conway, New Hampshire, I decided, naturally, to procrastinate by looking back at my training since February (thank goodness Garmin Connect collects all this for me!).
Six weeks removed from Western, still not feeling 100%, I have been getting a little antsy to feel more consistent in my daily runs - just getting out for longer each day. I’m trying to be patient, but when I’m not working in the summer and the weather is perfect, it’s hard. After running through my second speed workout (an 8 X 400 workout on a rolling dirt path yesterday), my confidence was pretty low. Just a few days ago I was running 200 meter repeats at well under sub-5:00 pace. Yesterday, it was a struggle to approach 5:00 pace (and I think I only did once). I blamed it on the 95 degrees and the fact that there were a bunch of uphill sections (the “track” I used is a great, rolling ~0.5 mile crushed-gravel loop around a local park). What was going though? I should be able to run harder. Shouldn’t I?
Then I looked at the data on Garmin Connect. Following Rocky Raccoon (my first 100 miler), I remember feeling “off” for a bit, but it didn’t seem as long as this summer. The record tells it differently: it took me five weeks before I ran 14 or more miles at a go. For that first 14 miler, Adam Wilcox drove down to the Blue Hills and I remember being very tentative about my tight knee. It was six weeks before I made it 20 or more miles. But most of my runs remained less than 10 miles, and were largely flat. Since Western? It took me only two weeks to make it to 14 miles, and I've had several more 10+ mile runs at a solid effort. There was a hard 12 miler. There were a couple of hard mountain runs in Vermont. And there was 39 miles last weekend pacing for Scott. D’oh! I should remember the past – I’m actually mending faster following Western than Rocky. I may not feel like it, but I'm actually being pretty consistent and, mostly, am running them hard (a little aside – as I looked at all my runs in the month and half or so leading up to Western, it was clear that my average pace to/from school (which is the same run each day, twice a day, and, as such, a good measure of my fitness/energy) completely plateaued and even got a bit slower, when it should have been getting faster. Again, D’OH!).
Lessons? One, it looks like it takes me 5 – 6 weeks to recover, physically and mentally, from a hundred miler (this, the 6th week following Western, was the first that I made it through all my runs without really noticing the tightness in my knee, which, according to Garmin Connect, is just when I started feeling better following Rocky). Two, I should use the info in Garmin Connect and start being less stubborn (foolish) when I begin feeling worn down or when I get warning signs about injuries, and try to take more days “off,” at least from running – swim around Walden Pond (or the Y . . .), take the bike out for a couple of hours, something like that. Three (and I’ve written this earlier this week), patience is key.
It is amazing what a little reflection can do . . .