Thursday, August 28, 2014

Joy Stealers, Beware

The last few weeks have been really good, in a lot of ways.  Training is going well overall and I'm managing the Tweaks and Freaks as best I can as we lead up to race day.  38 days... to be exact.  It's amazing how there always seems to be so much time left in the training block right up until you realize there's NO TIME LEFT in the training block.  The summer whizzed by so fast.  It's been a great summer so far, and I've enjoyed the 'juggle struggle' of managing life, kids, work, and training.  It has been challenging trying to manage finances after my wife lost her job but she's back to working (thank you God) and we are getting closer to getting back on our feet during this transition.

I don't want to dwell on the physical side of things too much, but, there are some very real challenges to trying to run at a high level. (relative to what I've done in the past)  This week I've been sick with whatever nasty head cold the kids and wife had.  That's just LIFE.  The kids pile on when I get home from work and there's no way to avoid the slobbery kisses and playtime.  That's just a fact.  And I SO don't hate it... I love those munchkins.  So I'm not stressing about it.  Fitness is high, and even though I feel like a snot-factory my head is still 'in the game'. 

On another note, my foot issues seemingly have finally faded away for the most part.  Phew.  Now my achilles is lit up a little bit (as it always does the last 3rd of the training cycle) but I'm taping it and managing my workouts to not flare it up anymore.  I've raced with tendinitis before and I'm prepared to do it again.  I'm trying hard to stay OUT of my own head in this area, honestly.  One day at a time. 

On the training side, I'm two 20-milers into the cycle with at least 1 more to go before I taper in 3 weeks.  I've had one 20 that was a SLOG and one in the pouring rain that felt incredible.  This year I feel like I'm running with a higher level of calm (mental maturity?), in general.  Maybe it's just patience while I'm out there but I've definitely made a conscious effort to reign it in a bit mid-run.  It hasn't been a perfect cycle but miles are increasing, long runs are up to 20, speed work has been happening every Tuesday since March, etc...  I'm putting the pieces together as best I know how and as best I can fit it into the busy dad life.

I feel like it's hard to respond with anything other than "I'm so busy" or "It's just really BUSY right now".  That's just an auto-response that flows out of us even when we aren't paying attention.  And, let's be real... it's true.  But, it's never NOT busy.  It's always going to be busy, for the rest of my life.  This is adulthood, this is fatherhood, this is being a professional at work, this is trying to be as professional of an athlete as I can.  This is it.  We need to stop dwelling on how real the struggle is and start banking on how real the joy is.  The JOY in these things is very real too.  In fact, it's often times sitting in the shadow of struggle that we are allowing to dim our day(s).  It's exhausting being around people that never allow the joys in their life to WIN over the struggles, and so help me if I ever become like that. 

So I won't.  I won't do it.  I won't let the 'struggle' win.  It's too easy that way.  It's the LAZY, selfish route.  I love running.  Why?  Because in a zillion ways it brings me JOY.  I'm on a mission to rid myself of the things/people/thoughts/habits that steal my joy.  Period. 

Joy stealers...beware.           


Monday, August 11, 2014

Tweeks and freaks

Well I made it. (...through another week)

The last 2 weeks of training seems like it's lasted for 2 MONTHS.  It's been odd, I'm not going to lie. It has been GOOD as well on many different levels, but I've had to adjust my thinking a bit to see it properly. 

The latter half of the summer training cycle always brings about it's fair share of aches and pains but this time around I almost feel like each week I have something new to deal with.  I got over (mostly) the issues in my feet, IT band, etc... but this last week my achilles/soleus lit up like a torch after the long workout on Tuesday.  It's the same achilles that has caused issues in the past.  Just out of nowhere though, even though I felt like I was being smart and doing the right things. (long warmups, controlled workout, long cooldown, etc...)

There's a part of me that feels discouraged when I feel tweeks like this, and my mind automatically goes down the path of "OMG I'M INJURED" when I start to feel these things.  But this week I tried to address what I was feeling as a natural symptom of what I was putting my body through instead of immediately victimizing myself and throwing myself headlong into a bowl of icecream to wallow.  (Not that THAT'S my usual method, but still)  I took Wednesday off when it was supposed to be a double-day and I stayed calm about it, for the most part.  I ran easy on Thursday, staying calm when I felt achy heading out the door.  I knew my 20-miler was looming on Saturday and I HAD to give my body a chance to cool down.  

Well, it DID cool down.  I can't say I ran the best feeling 20-miler on Saturday though, because that would be a straight up lie.  It felt pretty terrible, but my taped up achilles held up nicely, so that was a plus.  It was about halfway through that run that I really had to say to myself, "Dude, stop acting like you're gonna accomplish your goals and train with intensity without having aches and pains.  It's just not going to happen... get OVER yourself"  It was a moment of clarity.  A moment of calm in the midst of a run that was whipping my BUTT.  The whole run really was a mental breakthrough of realizing that running on tired legs doesn't mean I'm doing anything means I'm training my body RIGHT.  

In the midst of internalizing the freakouts I've been having lately, I think there ARE some legitimate questions that I should be asking and answering.  Is there a glaring reason I'm having these physical issues?  Am I doing something wrong?  I am doing too much?  Too fast?  The wrong method? The wrong plan?  All of it has to be at least looked into I think.  And I'll be the first to admit... I've struggled over the years with doing too many workouts at a pace that is faster than what it should be. (...given where a more reasonable pace should be for ME on days that aren't "workouts" and should be taken easy)  I have tried to address that this year and dial it back.  I've been working on pace/effort like it's my JERB, actually. 

Here's a fact:  It just takes ONE workout that pushes your body a little bit and you can be achy, lit up, or even injured.  It just takes ONE.  For real.  It's not always an accumulation of dumb decisions that causes the aches and pains, and I think that's a common and annoying misconception.  You can blog all you want about what method is the BEST method but everybody is different and every BODY is different.   I need to STAY the course and ignore the BS.   I need to acknowledge that what I'm doing everyday with my body is difficult.  I need to be at peace with the fact that with high intensity goals comes higher risks.  Calculated risks, yes, but not every risk is 100% in my control.  I WANT to do this... everyday!  This is the journey I am choosing, and the ups and downs of this journey just come with the territory.  I can either accept them and deal with them like a professional or I can be a whiney little victimized amateur with my attitude.  I choose to be better... for me.       

54 days until raceday #1.  My spreadsheet of checkboxes is a little over halfway completed.  All I can do is put my head down, keep my chin up, and live his thing 1 week... 1 day... 1 workout at a time, as honestly as I can.