Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…


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.

Nutritional imbalances

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!


16 responses to “Reboot

  1. Kim (Book Worm Runs) March 29, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Ugh! You gotta love the highs and lows of training!! 😦 It sounds like you have a good idea about what needs to be done to get you back on track…good luck!!! You will be back at it in no time!! 🙂

  2. middleagedrunner March 29, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I’m wondering if it’s the time of year, something in the air, or WHAT because the blahs seem to be going ’round.
    I felt like this should be the week for all my hard work to pay off and (like you) I’m rather feeling like the wheels have fallen off my bus.
    Don’t know if it is a case of overdoing it, long work days or too many oreos and not enough veg but I don’t like it either!
    Here’s to both of us snapping out of our funk..

  3. Anne March 29, 2011 at 8:07 am

    This really is a tough time of the year, but it almost sounds like you never completely recuperated from your initial cold. More rest days sounds like a plan, maybe even a couple of days in a row (once) to really give your body time to heal. Do take care Abby…you’ll be raring to go soon and you’ll have a great season!!

  4. Kari w/ Jogging with Fiction March 29, 2011 at 8:22 am

    It stinks that things aren’t going well, but hopefully noticing a little in advance will help you make changes in time and boost your confidence! Good luck!

  5. Mallory March 29, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I think every training cycle has its ups and downs… just like life. My guess is the nutrition thing is messing you up more than the other things. It’s really tough to eat healthy when you’re always on the go. I would suggest trying to pack more healthy food with you when you’re traveling around. That should help some. Anyway, I hope you cheer up a bit. You CAN do this!

  6. Denise March 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

    my first thought was that you sounded burned out. maybe it was going too hard too quickly?? and these bugs that are going around are laying everyone up for a while. i’m still feeling lethargic myself from the flu and my normal energy just isn’t there. as for protein, i struggle to get what i need, too some days. i rely heavily on egg whites, edamame and string cheese lately. all of them can be kept in a little cooler and made ahead of time so maybe you could keep them w/ you when traveling for work?

  7. Nerdquist March 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Even tho you bailed on us yesterday, I would still love to run/sprint/hike/meander the loop with you on Sunday……but only if we agree to roll with our imperfections, tired legs, needs to stop and rest, cranky lungs (and/or sinuses, or persistent coughs) and low points too.
    And I’ll bring a piece of meat for you.

  8. Johann March 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Hope you are feeling better already! I think you have all the answers to the why of this. Take it easy!

  9. Laurie March 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Ew, Val, no meat (although I am so bringing massive amounts of beef jerky while in a canoe.
    Abby, I am a fan of peanut butter and my current favorite, chocolate milk after a harder workout. And black beans. And Trader Joe’s pita bread. Protein hides in all sorts of places! I am also a fan of an iron supplement when I jack up training. I actually think it is more of a placebo effect but I don’t care. Oh, and I second the string cheese idea. We buy it in bulk. A day without string cheese is like a day without sunshine.

    • Nerdquist March 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Ok, ok. I’ll bring the kinder protein animal product of string cheese. Unless of course, I’ve eaten it all, which is just as possible given the rate I go through bags of it. In fact, I think I’ll go have one now….

  10. RunToTheFinish March 30, 2011 at 6:29 am

    i can totally relate to this!! I feel like two months ago I was on top of my game and PR’ing at every race… now I’m happy if I can make it through a 7 miler. I agree though that it probably is a result of every work out being intense and needing to take better care of myself emotionally.

  11. Chris March 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    First of all, cool picture on the front page! However, we definitely look too serious, a foreboding moment before our early exit of that race! Hmmm. Maybe that picture is a bad omen. Anyway, I like the idea of more rest days and more protein. If you don’t like meat, eat eggs or whey protein in a shake with fruit. I’m sure you’ll be back to normal soon.

  12. Tasha @ Voracious March 31, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling like you’re running on empty. I know how miserable that can be. I really hope you can figure out a way to feel better quickly. It was such a huge relief for me when I started to feel like my old self again. Good luck!

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