This Runner's Trials

Do what you enjoy

Posted by runnerstrials

Hi dear blog readers. How goes it? My rest week is going ok.

My runs have been untimed, and my bike ride and swim were fairly awful. But I'm hoping the best of the week is yet to come.  I'm trying a new form of exercise tomorrow night which I am super excited about :) Oh, and I have my first Olympic distance triathlon Sunday but I'm trying not to think about that.

My biking and swimming have been going so terribly that I complained to my hubby about it yesterday. And he said "why are you doing triathlons then? You should only do what you enjoy." Hmmm. That kind of makes sense...

But the truth is, don't we all like a challenge? Or am I alone here?  I think to do endurance events you have to be a bit crazy. I mean does anyone really enjoy running an entire 26.2 miles? I'm sure they're out there somewhere, but at the start line on race day, I'm willing to bet these folks are few and far between.

Now I do heart half-marathons. Hands down, my favorite distance. Long enough that I can pace myself but short enough that I can push myself hard the whole time.  And while shooting for PRs and trying new courses is fun, I craved something else.

Enter triathlon training.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't somewhat enjoy it. I liked it a lot before my sprint tri. But lately it's been getting in the way of my running and wearing me out.

I started thinking maybe I should hang up my goggles and bike helmet after Sunday's race. But part of me really wants to tackle the 70.3 mile distance.

I don't know why I see the 70.3 and 140.6 races as the epitome of endurance racing. I mean they definitely are, don't get me wrong. But you don't have to do one to be considered a "real" athlete. If you don't enjoy 2/3 of an event, why push yourself and be miserable for hours? Heck you're a real athlete if you compete in any distance, in any event, at any level in my book.

Back up to this morning when I still wanted to be a 1/2 Ironwoman. I started searching for flat areas to bike and swimming lessons for adults. In hope that these fixes would get me into the triathlon spirit . Then I randomly found out that the 1/2 Ironman race I wanted to do- Beach2Battleship- is FULL and has been full for over a month. How my type A self just found this out will forever remain a mystery.

At first I was angry. Shocked. Disappointed. I started searching for other Fall 70.3's all over the country. But then I realized I was actually relieved I didn't have to do the race. When I shared the news with my twitter and bloggie friends, real life friends and husband, everyone said the same thing: "maybe it's a blessing in disguise?" or "it's probably better that you just focus on marathon training".

Guys, when everyone who cares about you agrees on something, it's time to listen. Obviously I was doing too much, and people knew it.Feeling burnt out after week 2 of marathon training is not a good thing. Something needed to change.

Thanks to divine intervention, after Sunday's race, I will focus solely on marathon training. Sure, I may bike or swim for cross-training if I feel the urge. But I'm really excited to just run. After all, it's what I enjoy.

Do you feel pressure to tackle certain challenges? Marathons are popular here in blog-land so I bet some people feel like they have to do that distance :)

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There's no denying it: I'm overtraining

Posted by runnerstrials

My legs did not want to move this morning. They were achy and tired. How could this be? I only ran a 4 mi race yesterday. I'm usually not this sore after half marathons.

And I slept for 9 hours. I don't remember the last time I clocked in more than 6 hours of shut-eye.

Today was also my last shot to get in a long bike ride before my triathlon next Sunday. But there was no way that was happening.

My hubby warned me my training was too much for me. I started sprint triathlon/ half marathon training on May 2, took a 5 day break to have surgery and then jumped into Olympic distance triathlon/ marathon training.

I've told him for weeks I was not overtraining. I've defended my training. I've seen other bloggers and athletes- including my husband- do much more than me and be fine.

But I'm not them. I'm Jen (hi!) and my body's exercise threshold is completely individual to me.

I ran across this spectacular article from the runner's bible Runner's World this morning and it really spoke to me. There's no denying it anymore; I'm overtraining.

"...In some cases, what doesn't kill us will make us stronger. But when it comes to running, repeated hard training sessions without adequate recovery will send us into a physical and psychological tailspin that ultimately breaks down the body and mind. Overtraining is individual in nature: What is too much training for one runner may not be nearly enough for another. So it's impossible to tell if someone is overtrained just by looking at their workout list. It's the way the individual's body responds to those workouts that helps diagnose overtraining." (source)

Epic article- and another one- go on to list the signs of overtraining:

  • Fatigue. "While fatigue is a normal part of hard training, when it persists for days after a hard workout despite sufficient recovery, it's an indication that adaptation to the higher workload is not occurring. Instead, the body is experiencing catabolism, or breakdown." Ummm... I honestly don't remember what it's like to not feel completely spent. All I want to do at night is lay on my couch. I've documented how tired I've been here.
  • Decrease in performance. Check! See my race recap from yesterday.
  • Muscle soreness. Parts of my body hurt everyday. The foam roller is my new BFF.
  • Difficulty sleeping. This is one of my most predominant symptoms. Despite being exhausted at night, I can't fall asleep and then I wake up in the middle of the night. Sucks.
  • Elevated resting heart rate. Not sure if I have this symptom. I should start checking my heart rate every day, but I doubt I'll remember to :(
  • Emotional instability. Oh yes! See this post. I've been blaming my mood swings on my birth control pills, but they may not be solely at fault.
  • Loss of enthusiasm for running. My biggest- and most worrisome- symptom. I ran a 4 mile race yesterday and was miserable. I'm usually all smiles during and after races but yesterday I felt like poo.

Overtraining can also lead to injury. This really scares me. I have 12 weeks left of marathon training and I do not want to get hurt.

But honestly, gaining back my enthusiasm for running is my biggest motivation to stop overtraining. I really do love running and racing and I want to get back there again.

So what's a girl to do?

  • Say "no" this week. No speedwork, no long runs, no Garmin. This week's workouts will be just for fun. And I'll stop or skip them all together if I feel tired.
  • Cut back on my training overall. I have a triathlon this Sunday. After that, I'm kicking my bike and goggles to the curb for 3 weeks. I'll be traveling and won't have my bike or access to a pool or lake. Blessing in disguise, no?
  • Re-evaluate my goals. My biggest goal is to run a marathon well in 12 weeks.  That means every race from now until then should be for fun.
  • Stay healthy. I wrote about how I stay healthy and sane when training a couple weeks ago. I really need to respect these rules and review them regularly.

Today I did an untimed, fun lake swim with my husband. Instead of supplementing my swim with a bike ride, I walked the furball instead.

Have you ever done too much? It could be workout-related, work-related or something else. How did you know when to cut back?

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Run For Your Cause 4 Miler

Posted by runnerstrials

Today I ran my shortest race to date: a 4 miler :) It was a humbling experience.

When my alarm went off at 5:20, I looked at my phone and saw the exlamation point that indicated a weather warning. It was for a heat advisory. Fantastic.

Running in the heat this summer has really been affecting me. I've gotten heat exhaustion during a long run, heat rash and have not figured out the whole how-to-hydrate-properly thing. I did my long run on Thursday and have wavered between feeling dehydrated and over-hydrated since then. I woke up this morning with a stomach ache and other indications that I was over-hydrated.

I was not in the mood to run hard. But I was in the mood to run with some lovely ladies :)

Me, Emma, Kath, Emily and Caitlin. Kelly and Michelle ran too! And Diana cheered us on :)

Can I just say how wonderful it is to have friends to race with? It makes the whole experience much more enjoyable :)

Diana and Caitlin made these wonderful Operation Beautiful signs for us to wear. I got a couple of comments about it during the race which was really cool. I'll definitely sport an Operation Beuatiful sign in future races :)

Originally my goal for this race was to break 30 minutes- a 7:30 pace. I thought  this would be no problem since I ran a 10k at a 7:29 pace back in May. Then my hubby said his goal was to run a 7:20 pace. So of course I adjusted my goal to try to beat him ;)

This was not a good race for me. My stomach hurt, I felt over-hydrated, it was hilly... blah blah blah... excuses, excuses.

Around mile 2, I caught up to my hubby. He told me he was having cramps. Instead of being competitive, I hung around with him for a little bit.

After a minute or so, I took off because I thought I had it in me. But I didn't. I felt awful and seeing the pace on my Garmin made me feel even worse. I honestly thought I was going to get sick at one point.

I eventually had to stop and walk for a bit. This is when my husband caught up to me. I thought he was going to fly by me, but he told me we'd stay together. I was SO thankful he was there! We even encouraged each other to push it at the end :)

My official time was 30:43, a 7:41 pace. I was thrilled to be done!

I feel so conflicted. I felt awful during the race, but gave it my all and finished... pretty well! But I am so darn competitive with myself, I'm disappointed that I failed to live up to my expectations. Which sounds so ridiculous.
Caitlin said after the race that you need to tweak your goals based on the day, the weather, how you feel, etc.
This is so true. I have been thinking about this a lot today.
I have an Olympic distance triathlon next weekend and a 20 mile trail race the weekend after that. I need to take the pressure off myself and approach these races with the goals of have fun and just finish.
Now I'm off to take someone to the lake to celebrate his birthday. My baby turns 8 today!
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