Broken, but mending
I managed to have a few good runs during the last week before classes began, but immediately afterward, my left knee started to hurt. Only enough to prevent me from running once, but also enough to make me cut it short several times.
Arguably, the worse issue was my head. For one reason or another, I’d lost my grit and couldn’t push through when things got tough. At times, my legs were fine, I wasn’t out of breath, my knee wasn’t hurting at the moment, but I couldn’t make myself keep moving. As a result, my weekly distance dropped significantly, and I wasn’t doing as many floor exercises either.
A lot of things can cause burnout. In my case, considering the timing coincided with classes starting, it was probably a combination of factors, including:
- Not enough sleep
- Not being settled into my new schedule
- General stress
- Being bad at running in the dark (in order to get to school on time, I had to start running two hours before sunrise)
- A minor knee injury
- Being at the point in training where you simply get sick of it.
Most of those are fix-able, except the issue with running in the dark. A good chunk of the race will be at night, so I’ll have to get the hang of it at some point. But as the school year settled in, and as my knee began to heal, things should start turning around.
At one point, I concluded that one of my pairs of running shoes is contributing to the knee issue. They’re a little too big and their drop is on the high side. I’ve decided to shelve them until after the race. Then I might start using them again, once/week.
What worried me was the schedule was about to change again - after Labor Day, I’d have to get to school even earlier, making it essentially impossible to squeeze in a run before work (unless I wanted to wake up at 3:30 AM). So I’d have to start running in the afternoon, when it’d be a lot warmer. So even if I started to turn things around, it might be harder anyway.
Luckily, we got unseasonably cool weather, and at the same time, my knee mostly healed and my head started to get it together. I managed to string together three solid training runs in a row, one of which was on an unseasonably cool day, even in the afternoon! Followed that up on Saturday with my longest so far: 65 km in 5:11:21. If I can run like that in the race, I should be in good shape.
Of course, it should be pointed out that these good runs just happened to occur during a week that I did a lot less floor exercises (due to lack of time). Funny how when you’re not already worn out, you run better!
Six weeks to go, the last two of which need to be a taper. Only four weeks left to make real improvements, but it looks like we're heading in the right direction.
And just as my knee finishes healing, my plantar fasciitis is flaring up again. It’s one thing after another.