Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coming Together or Falling Apart?

My last good workout was November 7th. Since then I have not had a single workout at the level I feel I should be running. October was unquestionably the best month of running I have ever had. However, I had a series of small injuries in my lower legs the last few weeks (plantar fasciitis in my left foot and some lower left leg pain that could be anything from a stress reaction to a calf knot), my grandma died, the time changed so that I am now running mostly in the dark, and my two training partners have been injured or busy when I am trying to do a workout. The combination of all that stuff has hampered my training. However, it might be a benefit.

Emil Zatopek was a and these days Zatopek Syndrome is what we say when a well training person, dare I say training too hard, has to take it easy for an extended period of time and has an amazing performance. He was hospitalized before one of his European Championships for two weeks I think, not running a step until the day before the race, and eventually racing against doctors orders (I could be wrong) he won, or at least did really really well.

I am not sure if my low mileage the last few weeks is making me perfectly ready for a marathon or if I overextended myself a few weeks ago and I am going to race slow. I am leaning toward the former. I have to. I have had a number of just amazing workouts this cycle which are so far beyond anything I have done in the past. One simple example, before this cycle my best 20+ mile run was 20 miles in 2:06. This cycle I have done 21 in 2:10, 23.5 in 2:24 (with the last 11 in 1:03), and 20 in 1:59. That's a night and day difference between where I used to train and where I am now. The question is, did I get derailed these last few weeks?

I have been in this situation in regards to running once before in the spring of 2008. I had an injury in March that setback my training. Then in April my first few races were poor 5k performances. Finally, a week before the last meet of my undergraduate years I ran a strong 1500m PR. The next week I ran a 10,000m that was everything I had been hoping for the entire year.

Regardless of the outcome of my race I have decided that my trip to California will be good. Additionally, I'm still hungry to compete. There are moments in training when I am tired, sore, bored, and frustrated that I am seemingly not progressing. I wonder why I don't just throw in the towel and quit. However, I know why I don't quit, I have made the choice to see how far I can go. I mean "far" in the philosophical way. It's about working hard and committing to something and putting in the work to improve. In other words, at the moment running is like my girlfriend. The cool thing about athletics, unlike just about everything else, is that you have a finite amount of time to progress before you are in your 40s and start regressing. If one can learn the techniques and processes to progress to a high level in a short amount of time those techniques and processes experience can be reapplied in other endeavors. What are the similarities between a successful marathoner and Fortune 500 CEO? A marathoner must educate oneself on the history and technology of training typically through copious reading, mentors (coaches), and self experimentation.  A Fortune 500 CEO I would assume would be the person who knows the most about the company, their market, their strategy (all considered copious reading and mentors (colleagues and managers)), and has experience both in management and as an entry level worker (education through both the role of mentors (other managers) and self experimentation). I am sure that double parenthesis are not allowed in English, but they are in math!

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