I’ve had a bit of an up-and-down last week in my training. And I wanted to write about it because a lot of the time, I’m talking to people and giving advice on how to train right, but sometimes, you can be doing the plan you had on your schedule and stuff just isn’t working out the way you want it to. It’s unpleasant, but I do think it’s the ability to try to push through it — even if pushing looks a lot like taking a step back — and actually coming back to racing. If I had stopped every time I was sidelined with ridiculous cramps or gut issues in the last 10 years, I would have quit before I learned to run my first mile… It’s not always pretty, and this week had some tears, but we’re working through.
10 days ago, I drove to Massachusetts (ugh, 12 hours!) to race in the Beverly crit as part of New England Crit Week. It was rainy, I haven’t raced crits in years, and the pro field that showed up was pretty freaking fast. It wasn’t pretty for me, but I hung in and actually kind of enjoyed the pain, because if I’m being honest, it’s not always easy to force myself into that pain cave.
The next day, I did a solid 10 mile run with plenty of hydration (thanks, new running vest!) in insane heat and felt pretty darn good.
Saturday and Sunday, we raced the last two crits of the New England week, and I had an absolute blast. It was wicked hot, but still, I felt surprisingly good, and finished OK (top 20 both days, which I was happy with, all things considered). Beyond the results, I felt like I was really in the race — I’m still not a sprinter, but at least during the hour we raced, I was able to move around the field and feel a lot more comfortable in turns again.
Monday and Tuesday, I was home enjoying some time with my family in NJ, and getting out to run in the still insane temps. Again, hydration vest played a serious role. Mileage was actually decreased a bit because of that, and I was pretty pleased with my recovery / how good I felt after the weekend.
Wednesday, dad and I headed out for my 18-miler, the long run of the week. I was a little nervous, but between him being next to me on the bike (and with the ability to leave me to go grab the car and pick me up, cutting the run short), I felt comfortable making the attempt at the longer distance, despite the heat.
It went super, super well. Dad and I had an awesome time chatting and hanging out, miles flew by, and I finished feeling strong and comfortable.
The next day, I drove back to Ontario—10 hours in the car—and took it as a ‘rest day’ (as restful as a long drive ever is).
Friday, the wheels came off.
We went for a hike up and down the mountain, and everything was fine until it wasn’t. On the way back down, my legs did the vicious contraction thing that they used to do in my most overtrained/poorly fueled days, and for the first time in years, I was in tears during a workout. Luckily, Peter was able to help me out with a bit of wife-carrying down a few chunks of the hills and I stumbled my way down the rest and to the car. It wasn’t pretty. It hurt like crazy.
I still don’t know what makes my legs do this, but I’ve tried pretty much every homeopathic remedy, medical testing, nutrition/training hack… I’m hydrated, I didn’t do anything so outside of my comfort zone, and they cramped on a downhill, not under significant load.
It’s a weird, random thing that comes and goes during my training, and never happens under the same circumstances.
So, Saturday and Sunday were spent helping with an MTB skills clinic and riding through some serious cramping, followed by a light hike that felt fine. Sunday was going well until I pressed a piece of furniture into my quad and it seized again, so Sunday was a wash for training (but great for home repairs!). Today, I’ll get out and try a light run after I do a walk. There’s a chance it’ll go great, and a chance that I’ll be limping home. It’s a tossup. But I’ll keep SLOWLY trying to get back out and moving, and I know from past experiences that it will go away.
There isn’t really a moral to this other than to say that no one’s training is ever going to be perfect. There are missed days, missed weeks and even missed years and seasons. It’s OK to step back and let your body recover from whatever’s going on. I’ve learned from past experiences like this that the worst thing I can do is push through and ‘tough it out.’ Sometimes, the tougher thing to do is to just chill when you want so badly to be OK and back running and riding.
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