Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This week's "A-ha!" moment

It's been a really interesting week.  We had an epiphany, of sorts.

Last week, due to Thanksgiving, we ended up rearranging our training schedule a bit to accommodate for plans with family and realistically schedule around events so we would be successful in our attempts instead of just half-assing it because we were tired/hungover, etc.  As a result, our short run moved from Wednesday to Thursday, and our arm workout moved from Wednesday evening to Wednesday lunch.  No big deal.

On Wednesday, I had family coming into town, and due to traffic they got in pretty late.  I ended up staying up until 1:30 am in the morning.  This would have been fine, except our run was scheduled for 9:00 am and I had to get up early (around 6) to eat something before it.  I did not sleep well, I forgot to prep my breakfast the night before, so as a result I only ate a little bit and it wasn't very appetizing.  My run on Thursday (5 miles) could not have felt worse.  My leg felt GREAT actually, but my mind, my lungs, and my momentum crashed. I was not in the right head space, my arms and legs felt like they each weighed 100 pounds and I could barely propel myself forward.  Ordinarily we run the entire way through, unless we get stopped at red lights (it happens frequently downtown), but this time I had to stop to walk about 3 times.  If we had a leash, I would have been wearing it and Christi would have been dragging my sorry ass around the block.  Walking isn't the end of the world of course, but it was certainly unusual for 5 miles and hasn't actually happened in a long time.

I started wracking my brain trying to figure out what I did wrong:
1. Wednesday wasn't a rest day.  I worked my arms and core, which explained why my arms were so heavy.  If your arms aren't moving, the rest of you isn't moving much either.
2. I didn't sleep enough. I certainly didn't sleep well.
3. I probably didn't drink enough water, and then I had 3 glasses of wine on Wednesday night. Don't judge me...
4. My breakfast not only had very little protein, but my oatmeal was runny and I didn't finish it, and I didn't eat it early enough to digest in my system before taking off on the run. It did not sit well.

I shrugged it off, and made a mental note to take better precautions on Saturday for Sunday's run.

On Sunday, we ran 8 miles.  While I didn't get to sleep incredibly early, I slept very well.  I got up early to eat, not quite early enough to cook and digest fully, but I at least had a better breakfast (tofu and potatoes).  The run felt really good.  My legs were tired by about 6.5 miles, and we got stopped at a few stoplights (which by then, I was thankful for), but the difference between Thursday and Sunday was tenfold.

Fast forward to this week.  (I know, sorry... this is a long story. I should have warned you!) On Monday night, we realized that all of our short runs in December were now 6 miles long.  (Yes, 6 miles is "short").  They are all also scheduled on Wednesday morning.  Runs on Wednesdays must be completed by 5:30 am to get Christi to work, so this meant moving our run from 4:30 to 4:15 am.  Ehh, no biggie.  But what this also meant was that it was at least an hour of running (and likely a little longer, it is 4 am and all and we are sleepy), so this meant fueling the run was a necessity.  This meant getting up at 3:00 AM to eat.  You heard that right, 3:00AM.
*I am pretty sure I once said that I draw the line at getting up before 4, but just in case it wasn't clear, I am definitely drawing the line at 3.  Anything requiring me to get up earlier than that requires a change in my hobby. :)

Tuesday, I was on it.  I boiled potatoes and made tempeh for the next day's breakfast.  I had my clothes out and ready to go.  My shoes were and headphones were by the door so I didn't need to fumble around for them in the dark.  I was in bed at 8:00 pm and up at 3:00 am on the dot.  I ate breakfast, chilled a bit with the cats, and then went out to the track.  I ran all 6 miles and it was like I could have run miles more.  It was the first time (in longer than I can remember) that my head, my lungs, and my body were all in sync.  My heel felt great.  And while I wished I ate a little bit earlier than the run, my food stayed settled as well.  I never needed a second ear bud.  We laughed the entire time.

It doesn't matter what you eat or how many ounces of water you consume, or if you are wearing the perfect shoe, or if you are listening to the perfect mix.  A great, and successful, training run depends solely on one thing: REST.  I am certain that having Tuesday as a rest day and getting 7 hours of sleep made the ultimate difference.  Sure, the food and hydration and shoes all matter.  But without rest, the rest are null and void.

Rest means my legs don't get ultra tired, which means I don't start doing funky things with my stride, which means I limit my injury.  Rest means I have plenty of time to loosen sore muscles instead of continuously working them until they get injured.  We are half way through our training program and ahead on our mileage, and the best part is that despite the few twinges and occasional need for sports tape or ice, it is going relatively easily this time around.

I don't want to jinx myself or anything, but I am feeling pretty damn proud at this moment.

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