I was mentally and physically spent as early as July last year. Having made my way through Hardrock again, with the help of friends who crewed and paced and generally took pretty damn good care of me, I was drained afterwards. Looking back, I should've just stopped racing and running at that point; I had reached my goals for 2012 and had nothing more to prove to myself but I pushed on anyway, racing another six events and pacing 2 fairly large events. The training in between was nil. In fact, I have trouble remembering anything resembling training. I moved back to CO at the end of July and, contrary to what people imagine, the most populated parts of the state are quite flat, including where I moved to just south of Boulder. So, running from the doorstep was typically something like 45-60 minutes of flat road or trail running. And I paid the price big time in hillier races.
I hated running.
The only thing keeping motivated to even think about running was coaching and living vicariously though my athletes who were all incredibly eager and excited to run and race. Unfortunately, it was not contagious.
|Riding in Santa Cruz with Tan.|
Knowing I had Leadman looming over my future like a caped, fat vampire, I designed a long term training plan for myself that obviously included, damnit, running. The plan was to begin the painful process on February 1st. I had just moved up in the mountains where my kitchen sits at 8,625 feet and every part of the thousands of square miles around me is absolutely not flat, but rather up and down by a couple thousand feet at a time. Due to some weather (go figure, it's Colorado), I was forced off the bike a little earlier than Feb 1, so laced up my shoes and headed out for the first of several painful "runs".
Thankfully (or sadly, depending on your perspective), I've been in this situation a few times, like 25 seasons worth. So, I can be patient with myself and ramp up properly - by the way, this is something lacking in the majority of the more novice runners I coach. "Hey, Coach! I've been running 30 miles a week now for a month. I think I'll sign up for a hilly 50 miler! Whatd'ya think?" Aside from the entertainment (and frustration) this gives me, by gently adjusting the ambition to meet the athlete's current ability, it serves to keep myself in check when beginning from scratch in my own training. Obviously, I wasn't starting from scratch, aerobically, but cycling and running are surprisingly two wildly different sets of skills, strength, and stamina. My first run late in January, 6 miles - 3 of which were walked. The next "run", 2.7 miles - most of which walked. Here I was a week after racing my MTB for 9 hours and 81 miles, feeling stronger at the end than when I started, and now I'm gasping while walking 30 minutes? Gawd. Humbling as it was, I pressed on.
I busied myself with running every day of February, tracking my progress over the weeks and am now at the point where I feel strong, at least in my climbing, and a 100 mile race seems manageable once again. The thing that is most stunning to me is that I crave running again. I tricked myself into it by focussing on a long term goal instead of worrying about how I felt or what I thought in the present moment. The two perspective lenses merged and now the clarity is almost unrealistic.
Now the next phase of training begins this weekend with the reintroduction and merging of the bike with the run. I haven't touched my bike since a 25 mile ride with Lucho the day after I moved here last month and to say I'm eager to ride again is a stark understatement. To say that I'm nearly giddy to love both pursuits at the same time and hope to find the 15 hours a week to do both is spot on.
It's been nearly six weeks since breaking my ribs and smashing my thumb. The ribs still give off subtle but clear signals that a little more healing is required and the thumb is fairly painful when I move it a certain way or try to pick something up, like a 40 ouncer of beer. I'll likely have to wrap the hand for my upcoming MTB races on April 13 and 14 in Fruita but, overall, I'm thankful for the current progress (slow as it may be). The week after those races is the Zion 100 run. I haven't sorted out my strategy or goal for that race. I'm leaning towards making it a very slow, none-punishing run as opposed to racing it. Regardless, the fact that I'm excited to run it has me wondering who that person was who hated running last July.