Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 in Review

James River Footbridge - longest bridge along the AT.
Weekly mileage for the month of February:

Jan. 30-5:    130 miles (17:43:10)
Feb. 6-12:    137 miles (18:53:22)
Feb. 13-19:  110 miles (15:05:06)
Feb. 20-26:  123 miles (16:39:15)

Total for February:  476 miles (65:18:24)

January:   535 miles (69:34:15)
Total Year:  1,011 miles (134:52:39)

I'm going to call this the month of strange weather.  Since moving to Virginia, winter has been mild - I did experience 8 inches of snow one evening, only for it too reach 48 degrees the next day and be completely melted two days later.
This is only 5 days after...
This is what happens when 8 inches of snow meets 76 degrees.
February started out as a natural progression from January as I moved into the 130 mile week range.  Then I took a planned light week, but it ended up being a week where I struggled through left groin tightness and the recovery week turned into a slog.  I felt better for a brief period of time only for my entire upper left leg to get super tight at the end of a long mountain run last Saturday.  Now, I haven't ran for the last two days...

I posted this in my running log yesterday:

Didn't run today - don't plan on it. After a nice chat about listening to your body with Dr. Zealand and "being smart" I decided to listen. This quad/hip flexor or whatever muscle didn't get any better after yesterdays run. Spent an hour on the turf stretching, loosening, push ups, sit ups and such instead of running. 

I probably increased my mileage + hill running too quick when I moved here.

Sometimes it is hard to say if what I am doing is actually making me a better runner. In my purest form, I have some level of natural ability to run. By training, I should become a better runner. Sometimes the things I do in my training may cause my running ability to actually digress, even from my natural ability. I want to be a "happy" runner 5, 10, 15, 30 years from now. Maybe running 120 miles each week all year is not going to allow me to do that. It will be more beneficial, maybe, to run at a lower weekly mileage doing a variety of different types of workouts (WORKING ON MY WEAKNESSES for example), then doing a scheduled stint of 6 weeks or so prior to the "focus" race of high mileage.

I think the output of such type of training would be greater than running so high all year round. It's kind of like becoming immune to the training and sooner or later the outcome will not be as great as it was when you began doing that level of mileage. Like drinking coffee prior to a race to boost energy. If you start drinking coffee everyday, your level of energy will no longer be as high when drinking it before a race.....

My mindset is slowly changing. I am slowly becoming less stubborn with taking rest/days off. I want to enjoy the mountains, a slick singletrack trail. Maybe the time on the mountains shouldn't be what increases happiness. Maybe increased happiness is derived from a balance Mind, Body, Soul. Actually, I know that is what brings happiness. When I feel the best/happiest is when I am floating. That is not when I am injured/tired.

Running shouldn't be complicated. Competition makes it more complicated. Having some immature attitude to run 100 miles weeks all year long is complicated. Having a schedule planned to go to 200 miles in June is complicated. Being injured is complicated. I don't want complication.

Becoming my favorite dry trail shoes
So, I'm laying low for a while.  I normally don't like taking off days but I am learning.  Off days are really beneficial - I'm getting over this strange mindset that I have to run 120 mile weeks all year.  It's fun when you can run a lot of miles in the mountains but it is not fun when you can't run at all.  There really is no reason to run this much, this early in the year unless the "focus" race was in March, and it isn't.
James River AT Crossing


  1. Nice post bro. That photo looks like a good place to put a canoe.

    1. Jon, you might be driving by this area when you come down.

  2. More good thinking, Michael. I was doing the run-through-it thing with an ab injury for a week and a half... but I could only run 2-3 miles on the road and I wasn't heeling. I finally bit the bullet, am taking time off, and it's healing quickly. Some times you have to sacrifice a little (I had by far my longest running streak going) to gain a lot (like being healthy enough to get in real training runs. Keep up the wisdom.

    1. Bryon, last year I ran through an achilles injury for two weeks and ended up having to take some time off when in retrospect, if I would have acted at the first hint of pain/inflammation, I probably would have only had to take one day off (but I had a 450 day run streak going so my sense of good judgment had calloused over long before). This time I only ran 2 days through it before deciding to play it safe.

      It's knowing where to draw the line between general soreness/fatigue (i.e. pushing through the "pain" at mile 80) and an actual "painful" structural injury (i.e. bone issue/muscle strain or tear). Ultra runners are hardwired to push through the grueling moments, and inherently this is very important for the sport to exist, but while training (and even in races to an extent) it is important to know when to stop - blurry boundaries, but they exist and its up to us to determine them.

  3. Good running my friend and very good insight into training. Not getting caught up in training is huge. I get so excited and determined I ignore the obvious and hurt myself, just like you explain. I think I've finally found a balance of footwear, training, ancilary training and listening (THEN REACTING) to the body where I think I can run big weeks and stay healthy now. It took a while and I know I'll mess up eventually! Fun game.