The subject is a mouthful but it’s the perfect description of what the next week means for my running.
Each increase in interval time followed the same reaction to my body. The first time is painful towards the end of the workout, it might be a little sore for the rest of the day, but I recover. It never reaches a point where I think I did something bad to irritate it to injury again, but just enough where I know I’m pushing my tissues beyond what they’re used to in the past few months. The second time at the same interval is painless, but with soreness someplace, usually in my arches. Finally, the third time is how running should always feel in terms of pain, soreness, and general body awareness: like it’s nothing.
At that “nothing” point, I know it’s time to advance to the next interval. I started this process in the beginning of June and due to life getting in the way, it didn’t progress as quickly as I wished but two months later, I am here. I started with walking, then running 1:00/4:00 and increasing after three times if things felt good to 2:00/3:00, etc. all the way to the point I am at today: 4:00/1:00. Each workout is 30 minutes of consistent activity — six sets.
And like I’ve mentioned before, life got in the way for a week of my running. I took all of last week off for our camping trip to the Adirondacks and “forgot” to run. It was a well deserved, completely awesome week away from the reality of home. It was nice to stay in a cabin with a private bathroom and shower, which makes a week of outdoor activity and campfire much more bearable. Don’t get me wrong — I love “roughin’ it”, but when you’re spending a week away from home doing sweaty activities, drinking, and lounging by a fire — it’s awesome to be able to wake up and start fresh with a hot shower. Despite not seeing much wildlife, we spent two days on the lakes near us kayaking, canoeing, and boating (without a motor, I have the blisters still to prove it), I hiked my first mountain, Pharaoh Mountain, the highest point within our immediate vicinity, and even took a trip to Lake Placid. Maybe I wasn’t running, but I was sure to get my fair share of sun and exercise.
The endurance nerd in me enjoyed Lake Placid the most. It was the Wednesday before Ironman Lake Placid and I was geeking out over the setting up of the tents, the expo, and all the “WELCOME IRONMAN PARTICIPANTS!” signs everywhere. Plus it was incredibly motivating to see these athletes in peak performance shape enjoying their taper on the mountains of Lake Placid. I snapped a few pictures of people on their bikes or running and secretly wished it were me out there, rather than on vacation. The Olympic sites were pretty awesome too and I love the Miracle on Ice story but… Ironman Lake Placid, people. That I can relate to more than my favorite sport’s Olympic team from 1980.
Upon returning from vacation, I was refreshed, eager, and motivated to start up with my 4:00 sets of running. And of course, like I should know by now, the first workout hurts the deepest. My last two 4:00 blocks were the sorest of any run I’ve had to date during recovery. I walked and the soreness/pain would subside, but about 2:30 into my run, it would return. I stuck it out during the last two sets and vowed to take my recovery seriously. It was even sore at home which wasn’t something I experienced during my other times, so I iced more and took plenty of care to stretching. I took a full three days off and the next time out, hit the roads for my first official workout on the street besides that one I cut short before our camping trip.
Just as every previous second set, this one felt great… well, as great as you can feel when your ass is getting kicked by the elements. My injured areas felt good, a million times better than the first run at this interval, but the slight hills I was attacking (oh so slight) and the uneven ground took a toll on everything else. After 30 minutes and not even a 5k, I was physically exhausted like I had just raced a half marathon. It was a wake-up call, more than the 8:00/mile pace making me winded for 200m, but I wasn’t in pain and that’s all that mattered.
Now tomorrow, we’re at the beginning of the end. My last run was Wednesday and it felt good, so two days of rest should prepare me for my final bought of 4:00/1:00. A successful run will mark my third one at this pace and time to move onto the next test — the final test – 30 minutes non-stop.I’m expecting a little pain in that first 30 minutes non-stop. I’m expecting to take three days off with diligent recovery methods. I’m expecting to return after those three days to running it again at a slightly quicker pace, feeling more effortless, and without pain. From there, I think I will be officially okay with looking at my running as “slow base building” and not just recovery running.
I’m no longer recovering. I am recovered. I’ve become a better, stronger, smarter runner.