Three weeks ago, I felt like I could do anything.
All the pieces of the puzzle seemed to be coming together. I was training hard, fueling well, and seeing the returns come in. Each workout seemed zoned in – the runs felt smooth, the riding clean. I was even enjoying the hills.
I said to Brent one day over breakfast, “I just feel good.”
And then, just like that, things started to fall apart.
At the beginning of March, Brent and I had an awesome hill ride. Seriously, I’ve never ridden like that in my life, and I felt like it was both the culmination of two great months of training and the beginning of a stellar season to come.
Two days later, I was fighting off chills in a North Jersey motel room.
I took a couple days off when I was sick and thought it was just a minor blip, but since then, I’ve been feeling pretty low.
I’ve been training, and trying to train hard, but I don’t feel like I’m recovering well after each session. I have no power in my legs when I ride, and my gait feels stilted when I run.
It’s made me wary of training with friends and teammates, as I never know how I’m going to feel during a given outing, and it’s totally knocked out the confidence I’d built up during the first couple months of the season (this may or may not be a passive attempt at an apology to the two friends I bailed on yesterday morning, when I woke up with an annoyingly tight chest and annoyingly high self-doubt. Hope they still want to run the loop with me this Sunday…).
There’s some other little things – persistently cranky lungs since I got sick, a wacky period, needing an alarm to wake up at my normal time in the mornings, etc… – that are telling me that something’s off.
I have a couple ideas of the cause:
Overtraining too early
After laying low for most of December, I dove back in January 1 and within a couple weeks was logging multi-hour training sessions. I felt great while I was doing them, but it might have been a bit too much, too soon.
Between my new commute and staying near school one night a week, I’ve not been spending nearly as much time keeping and making food to have in the house, which means I’m relying on quick trips to the grocery store whenever I can fit them in… I’ve been super conscious about maintaining lots of fruits and vegetables in my diet, but have somewhere between less-than-stellar and seriously-terrible about protein (don’t tell my grandmother!). I know this is key to muscle recovery and overall energy levels, and I need to figure out how to boost my intake with really easy on-the-go options.
Treating adventure racing training like marathon training
Though I’ve been adventure racing for a couple years now, I’ve never actually trained for adventure racing until this season. When I’m running, I like to run 4-5 days a week, with 2-3 cross-training sessions and one rest day. But now there’s no such thing as cross-training, so I’m trying to make all of the workouts targeted training, and using short running dates with marathoning friends as rest. It’s meant lots of hard efforts and little rest, and though I’m sure it would work for some people, it’s proven not a good strategy for me.
So, with a 26 (28?)-hour race less than three weeks away and three more in the seven weeks that follow, I need to work on regaining strength and, just as important, rebuilding confidence. I’m going to start integrating more rest days and more stretching and try to maintain a schedule of 4 (maybe 5) multi-hour training days a week. I need to figure out the fueling stuff and am, once again, contemplating omnivoredom. There are other complications that come with that (namely, remembering to seek out non-veggie options after 20+ years as a vegetarian), but I might give it another shot. And in terms of confidence? Well, hopefully that’ll come as these other changes take effect.
Because, man, I was so excited at the start of the season… and now I’m more than a little freaked out about keeping up the big boys.
And now I’m ready to be done with these downer posts… I’ll be back Thursday with stories of snowy hiking adventures!