It’s weird to start journaling well into the preparation for a race, but that’s what I’m doing.
After finishing my summer bike tour, I began running again less than 12 hours after I landed in Texas. Since the tour was fairly short, and I finished it faster than expected, I still had over a month before classes began. And that meant plenty of time to get in shape!
July and early August is the worst time of year to run, but at least I had time off and was able to train first thing in the morning, before it got any hotter. A typical overnight low was 25 °C, which is uncomfortably hot for distance running, but was the best I had to work with. And in six weeks, a lot of progress was made, from “I forgot how hard this was” to “I’m pretty good at this!”
Once school began, I had a choice: Wake up at 4:30 AM and do all my running in the dark, or wait until after school and run when it’s 38 °C outside. I opted for the former until October. I hate running in the dark, but I would’ve hated the heat more, and I wouldn’t have been able to push myself enough to improve under those conditions.
Right when I was about to make the switch to running in afternoons, I ran into a roadblock: Both a stomach bug and a mental funk. As a result, I was only running 2-3 times/week and wasn’t doing floor exercises at all. Half the time, I couldn’t force myself out the door, and the rest of the time, I didn’t trust my ability to go running without crapping my pants. On the occasion I finally went running, it usually didn’t go well.
After three weeks of this, I finally had a solid run on a Friday, then set out on my weekly long run, 56 km, Saturday morning. It was going well for the first few hours, and I even felt like I got a boost during km 30-40.
At about 45 km in, I fell apart. I spent about as much time walking or resting as I did running, and when I ran for more than about five minutes in a row, my legs burned and ached. I probably wasn’t dehydrated, nor out of energy, but I’d crossed the lactic threshold and my muscles no longer had strength.
That said, I hung in there and finished the run, and during the last 10 minutes or so, started to feel good again. Was this a third wind? I kind of wanted to get a little more “good” distance in to make up for how pathetic the last 10 km was, but decided not to find out. Chances are running past that point would do more harm than good.
Most importantly, my stomach bug has gone away, and at about the same time, it feels like I’m getting my head together again. One of those things may have been contributing to the other. It’s always the case that a long training routine has a rough patch, and if this is the worst I deal with, that’s not bad. The first race in the spring season is 2.5 months away, so there’s still time to get in proper shape.