Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smart to rest or just lazy?

A year ago, I would not have named my blog "The Imperfect Triathlete". It would have probably been more along the lines of "The Triathlete Who Does Every Single Workout and Will Pace Up and Down the Street To Make Sure the Run is 45 min and not 44:30". But then again, in a sport dominated by type-A folks, that blog name is probably taken. I use to be religious about the training plan. I was a marathon pace leader and I was so frustrated by runners who would report missing one, or God forbid more than one, run a week. How will they ever finish a marathon? If I did ever miss a workout, I'd be sure to make it up. I even knew that physically it didn't matter that much, but I didn't want any mental weakness to be there, as I was sure it would creep in on race day and ruin my race.

Enter this year. Life. Shitty life. Life where you don't want to train. You want to sit on the couch and eat. And eat some more. When you stomach feels about to burst, no worries, power through, eat some more. I had several weeks of 2 hrs total training, if that. I also had a lovely 10+ lb weight gain (over the 10 lbs above marathon race weight I was already at). When you get out of the habit, it is really tough to get back into it. Slowly but surely, I did. No, I am not in the shape I expected to be for my first Ironman, but that is life, and there will be other races. It was so bad that for a while I really thought I'd be sitting this race out. All this down time broke me of many habits, but most importantly, the need to do every damn workout.

While my consistency has improved (minus the swim, see yesterday's post...), I still miss my share of workouts. And that is ok. With the Endurance Nation style of training, workouts are intense, and they wear you down. Having lost my base with my "winter of life", this has been very tough on my body (and mind). Skipping some workouts has probably (definitely) been the smart thing to do. 

But when is skipping a workout smart, and when is it just lazy? 

This past weekend I was suppose to do a 4.5 hr ride at race pace plus and a 3.5 always be pushing ride.  I did the 3.5 hr ride on Saturday. Unfortunately, I had pushed my long run (2.5 hrs) from Thursday to Friday, which meant my tired legs were getting progressively more tired with not enough rest. I wasn't able to hold power on my ride. My legs and body in general just felt shot. Sunday I woke up and decided not to do my ride. Yes, my legs were tired, and so was I. But most of all, I think I was mentally tired. My mind needed a break.  I do not know if this calls for a rest day or not. Is this a moment of mental weakness that will hurt me on race day? That I do not yet know. I justified it as that I have my final race rehearsal this coming Saturday and I don't want to be toast for it. I am also worried about the short 2 week taper, so some additional rest would be good, right? Basically, I am feeling guilty so I'm searching for excuses.

Yesterday I did both workouts as prescribed. My legs felt good, so I was glad I had the day off on Sunday to freshen up. But then at the end of my run, my right shin started to hurt.  I had had bad shin splints earlier in the summer, which were solved by some rest, new shoes (thanks Asics for discontinuing my favorite Foundations- now I'm running Kayanos + superfeet), and calf sleeves. I've tried to be good- ice bath after the long runs, compression sleeves frequently, and the trouble has been solved. I don't want it to come back. I iced last night and popped some Aleve. Today walking seems fine, which is good as yesterday I wanted to cry.

I was planning on doing my 5 miler (with some intensity possibly) today after work. A few things happened...  1) I was starving all day. I ate and ate. Listening to my body right? Well, at first I was listening, then I was telling it to stop telling me it was full because that granola is just so darn tasty! So I had to sit and rest a while before running or I was sure to have an unhappy belly. That gave me enough time to come up with an excuse. If my leg was killing me yesterday, how is running today a good idea?  In all honesty, I totally believe not running today is the right call. Thank you three years of PT school (and Runner's World). Where I am upset is that I used this as an excuse, not an alternate plan. I know I would be fine with it if yesterday I said "tomorrow I won't run- let the leg calm down". But now I know that I would have run (whether that would be a good thing or not) had I not stuffed my face and been lazy.

There is definitely a balance in following a plan and letting that plan lead you into a brick wall.  Maybe one day I'll strike it.

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