The Tortoise and the Hare

by klassman

Lately I’ve been running much slower than even a few months ago.  I understand the phenomena though I thoroughly do not like it.  Training volume is up; the temperature is rising; distances are stretching out from 45-60 minutes to 90-150 minutes.  Sounds like a list of excuses not explanations.

Six months ago, I posted a best-ever 37:05 for five miles.  Seven weeks ago, I nearly bested that pace when I turned in a 1:14:29 for a 10 mile run.  My average pace for all of April was an 8:20 mile over the course of more than 104 miles.

The past two weeks, I’ve been averaging closer to 8:45 per mile with a similar volume.  BLARG.

On the upside, there are some good things happening too.  My average weight day in and day out is down about three pounds since early April.  I got back into the pool last week for two short workouts (both <3000m) and though the times were not stellar, it felt good.  I had fun riding Tour de Cure with nearly a dozen others and in addition to helping raise several thousand dollars for the ADA, I received a spiffy new jersey.  The kids are about to start swim lessons and have been making dramatic progress with their comfort and ability in the water.

Curiously, my bike times haven’t changed noticeably in the past six weeks.  It takes about the same time, give or take 10 seconds, to get up a big hill as it did in the spring.  It takes the same time, give or take a minute, to travel about 35 miles from the house to a country road turnaround point.

This whole Ironman training experience is certainly not a smooth, straight line.  There are bumps along the way that really can get into one’s head — my head.  Lately, my stomach has not been as sure as usual during long efforts.  I bonked horrendously three weeks ago on a rather unimaginative long run.  The time away from home to train — especially the weekends — wears on everyone around me.  I cannot start early enough — set the alarm too early and risk missing the workout due to oversleeping and set it too late into the morning and mess up the day for everyone else.

Still, there is a sense of adventure and conquest to the whole thing.  The following is attributed to Jacqueline Gareau, the 1980 Boston Marathon champion.  I think she knew a thing or two.  She probably also had bad patches where she couldn’t get her training and times squared away.  At least, I like to think she did.

The body does not want you to do this.  As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong.  You always go too far for your body.  You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet.  It is the will to succeed.

For the next week, I’ll keep at it.  That is what I can do.  Like the tortoise, I’ll keep focused on steady, consistent forward motion.  That tortoise, he had Gareau’s will to succeed.  I’m not going to ever run like a hare so I’d better be a really good tortoise.

Next up, tomorrow I’m due for an hour run and a 3500 meter swim.