Maybe I should slow down?
It seems like a funny thing for a self-described “slow happy runner” to say… but maybe I should take my own advice and slow down a bit? I’m talking primarily about running here, but of course there are probably all sorts of metaphorical parallels to the whole of my life — I’ll let you point them out to me in your comments.
What seems to be happening for me right now as a runner is that I’ll have one or two really great days, when I go out there and run faster or further than I intend, effortlessly and joyfully, followed by a run (or two) that goes really badly or at least not as planned. Bear in mind that I normally only run about three times a week, so it’s not that I’m out there pushing hard every day. My knees are gradually feeling better and stronger overall. I actually feel like I’m recovering sooner after each run, while at the same time I continue to discover that I can run at speeds that I had never thought possible. Yet I keep having these crashes — so I wonder if I’m starting to push myself to a point of diminishing returns, and maybe I should just go back to being slow and happy again.
Yet the times when I feel the most joy while running are precisely those times when I’m pushing and my body is responding — so it’s hard to resist the temptation to keep going out there and doing it. Or perhaps overdoing it.
As I’d previously reported, I ran this past Monday (4.4 fast joyous miles to make up for having been too sick to run last Sunday), followed by 3.25 miles of fatigued slog on Wednesday. So I vowed to slow down on Friday, but instead ran 4.01 really fast joyous miles, another of those magical runs when I forgot to look at my watch and was surprised to see how far I’d gone, and how fast.
Last night I went to bed early (around 10:00 PM rather than my usual near-midnight) eagerly anticipating this morning’s planned a 10-mile run, which would be my last long run before the half marathon in two weeks. Sure enough, I awoke promptly at 1:00 AM (instead of the usual 3:00 AM). So I figured, fine, I’ll go back to sleep. My middle of the night awakenings usually have one of two possible outcomes: I’ll go back to sleep immediately or I’ll be awake for 60 to 90 minutes. Last night (or I should say this morning) it was after 4:00 AM before I finally went back to sleep. I lay there for three hours trying to figure out the sequence of events I’ll have to complete to get myself and my three cats moved out of this condo — really moved out this time, which means finding new owners for all the furniture and donating, discarding, or shipping home all the other stuff. I’d met with a realtor yesterday afternoon, so this topic was floating around in my head when I went to bed, lurking there waiting to strike when I awoke.
My alarm went off at 5:45 and I did not leap out of bed in joyous anticipation of running 10 miles. I didn’t leave the house until 8:15, and it was already getting warm. I had planned to run at around an 11:45 pace — 45+ seconds per mile slower than my recent short runs — but things were working well at the beginning and I was having trouble slowing down and settling in. By 4 miles I wasn’t having much fun. I decided to head back toward my condo for a quick break and evaluation of the situation. I was carrying water but did not feel thirsty. But I had a brief dizzy spell while waiting for the “walk” signal, and I knew I was done for the day. My planned 10-mile cruise turned into a too-quick 5.28 miles (11:23 pace) that left me feeling weak and angry with myself for screwing up.
I don’t know what went wrong (other than losing all that sleep). I’d eaten typical things both last night and this morning. It was not all that warm, only about 60 degrees when I finished, although if I’d tried to keep going for another hour it would have gotten very warm.
After I got home I guzzled orange juice and quickly got over the dizziness, but I had no desire to go out there again. I ate, I napped for about an hour, and then I went swimming (my usual leisurely dog-paddle). I went grocery shopping this afternoon. It was a normal Sunday. I have no unusual pain tonight. I simply didn’t have it in me to run 10 miles this morning.
I’m now officially in “taper mode” — so while I’ll continue running probably twice a week over the next two weeks, I’ll keep them short (under 5 miles) and I’ll work on being SLOW. I need to remember how to have fun while running even though I’m not out there every time setting new personal records.