Sunday, December 18, 2011

USATF XC Club Nationals: Well, at least I wasn't last place

The title sort of gives this one away. XC Clubs didn't go so well. The past 2 weeks leading up to the race raised several red flags -- sickness and several little injuries -- that I felt I would be able to totally fight through. But by race day, I still had a pretty heavy cough and my hip flexor rang with ache every time I coughed or took a long stride. But I would do what I could to get through the race and somehow finish around PMurph or Shredder.

Didn't quite work out that way though. By 2.5mi into the race, my hip started hurting quite a bit and more importantly started feeling weak, like I was running on one good leg. I came through the first 5k in 16:50, but knew that I wouldn't sustain. At that point it was a matter of just finishing somewhat respectably, but it became quickly apparent that I would have to be content with simply finishing. 6k in people started passing left and right and I found it very difficult to keep a high cadence and pull my right leg from the goopy sections of the course. I finally got myself through the finish in around 35:30, placing 234th out of around 300 (damn, that's a fast race). OUCH (referring to the hip and the time). That's a good 90sec slower than I thought I would finish and an 18:40 second 5k. Slowest 10k I've run in over 2 years. That was a pretty miserable experience. I limped to the team area and stretched it out. Fortunately the pain went down a bit in the last 2km so I was able to slowly jog a cooldown but it was very tight still. I indulged in a good evening of beer drinking and that took my mind off the misery.

Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

The next morning a group of us went for a 5mi run through some of Seattle, finishing with donuts. Hip was stiff but not too painful. It was not until the plane ride home that it really hit me... not the pain, but how upset I was about the race. It was something I had trained hard for but unfortunately fell apart just before the big day. I got pretty frustrated and angry about the whole thing and continued feeling that way for a few more days. It was a pretty depressing time for me!

Then I thought about what led up to the race that caused my body to collapse in on itself so. At the time I didn't think I had overtrained or anything of the sort, and I may not have, but after talking to Dirk about the race and training, I realized that I just simply had not been training like I should have. What I refer to is the fact that I had a very successful Spring this year, with all 3 races being big PRs. And what led to that spring was indeed triathlon training, but also very little track work, as opposed to what I did for 2 months leading to XC, when I hit the track every week (for 8+ weeks!). I only started track work 2 weeks before my first race in March and even after that I ran the workouts controlled and not as hard as I could. I didn't really think much of it in the Spring or after, but it was the tempos and hills and strength/endurance building I did during my training that made me strong and ready to run well and healthy. I did none of that leading to XC (I did a couple tempo-y workouts, but they were short and too fast). Also, bringing up my mileage from 20 to 35 to 45 to 50 to 60 was probably way to quick of a jump. Doing that with no recent tempo/strength meant it was only a matter of time before my legs gave up.

Lesson? I should train the way I know helped me succeed in the past. Rattling off 2:20 800s at track workouts are bullets I should be keeping in the chamber for race day... and anyway, that's not the kind of speed I'll be using in a 10k! That's not to say the training was incorrect... it was just not the right training paces for me. Too fast for 10k training for me. Do more tempos and longer tempos at that... that's what increases the endurance and strength at the same time, which are essential together at distances longer than 5k.

I'll also keep the mileage much higher during triathlon season... whereas I ran 30 at most during the tri season, I will regularly hold 40-50 this year... I'll be much better prepared therefore when I eventually just focus on running later in the year, and it will help keep my endurance high for Eagleman in June.

In addition, I have a new respect for the training I did earlier this year. I aim to really nail my workouts this coming Spring, now knowing how effective they are when done correctly. Once I realized this, the passion and excitement that I usually felt when racing (that I did NOT feel the past few races) came back quickly... I am really motivated and psyched to get back into my training. And I hope to apply the same methods for when I train for XC Clubs next year as well (this will include ending triathlon season a few weeks earlier), as I want to make the race more of a priority in 2012.

I took this past week completely off from exercise to allow my body to heal. I have been starting a new stretching regimen to help ward off future joint injuries. This coming week I only have 3 swims, 3 rides and 3 strength sessions, and an optional Xmas day run. Will keep the focus on recovery but also getting my feel again for the water and the bike. At this point last year I was crushing my body in the water and on the saddle after very little/no recovery period from the previous season... I aim to be more conservative at the start of my training so I can hit the important workouts effectively and also have a lot more energy left to burn by the end of the year. Hope it works!

1 comment:

  1. 35 something is hella fast in my book. I'd love to run that fast - so bravo. Plus, gotta remember, these are some of the best runners in the country. Come spring time we're gonna need to do some rides together. I'm getting a lot faster than before. When's your race schedule coming out?