I hit the trails yesterday for my long run...20 miles. Energy level pre run was really good despite knowing my legs were likely to be a little tired, and should be for where I am at in training cycle. One of the things I am learning and need to learn is how to run on tired legs, how to manage my effort. It’s always easy to have a good mind set on long runs when one is primed for it and you have great energy...tapered, rested, whatever. Having a good mindset on tired legs is a learned skill for sure! As always, I hit the trails with lofty goals, thinking, “yeah my legs SHOULD be tired, but they don’t feel tired right now...I think I can be aggressive and plan to just climb and descend and climb and descend for 20 miles pushing the first few minutes of the ups and then backing off…” I hoped I would be able to maintain this stamina over and over again yesterday.
The trails were still pretty snowy with some ice and mud, but overall pretty good footing. So starting out, there is an Immediate technical ½ mi climb. I took it with upper moderate effort for a couple minutes then backed off and topped the hill. Not too shabby since I really wasn’t warmed up yet. Then a technical, but relatively relaxed descent to the bottom of “Jelly Legs” - a 0.4mi technical switchback hill. Did the first two hitting zone 4b by 1-2 minutes then backing off to zone 3 climbing for the last 2-3 minutes. Yay! I thought. Relaxed easy back down and strong up. By the 3rd or 4th it the cumulative fatigue in my quads became very evident very quickly. By the 5th climb I could no longer climb strong enough to get past 4a, “jelly legs” was how they were starting to feel by mile 7. I reassessed where I was at and realized I need
ed to back off a bit and recover. I opted onto a less technical/less hilly course and relaxed. I also took in some calories and water/electrolytes. I hung around in zone 2 and a bit in zone 1 even. I was aware my zone 1-2 effort felt more like upper 2 or even low 3. I continued to drink to thirst and took in more calories at 2 ½ hours, at this point I tried not to look at heart rate zones much, only to be aware and continue an effort I felt I could sustain.
I increased my perceived effort on climbs, but my heart rate remained low. Despite this, I was pleased that I was working my effort and satisfied….that is the magic that is starting to develop with my training….being satisfied and confident in my running and what I have on any given run...I definitely still struggle with this and have twinges of those thoughts...you know, “if you were a stronger runner you would be able to get into zone 4b on every climb out there..all the way through”, “you’re just weak”. BUT, out there yesterday, I was able to see those thoughts and recognize them, and stop short of OWNing them....I thought about owning them...but instead... I chose to USE those thoughts, and ask myself…”Are you managing your effort like you need to?” “are you fueling and hydrating to optimize how you feel?” “Can you increase
your effort here or there?” “Are you focusing?”. Those thoughts come because I want to perform well on every run..and now I am learning to use them instead of avoiding them or letting them give meaning about me or consume me. Ha….That’s what I am working toward anyway! Learn and grow Lori, learn and grow.
So this morning’s run was track work with 4-5 x 1200 meter intervals. I wasn’t really sure what to expect considering how fatigued my quads felt yesterday. I’ve also never done track work the day after a 20 mile trail run. I ate well yesterday trying to restore as much nutrients to my legs and hydrated well. 2 mile warm up
my quads felt pretty heavy. The 1200 meter intervals were not at a max pace, but I knew they would still be a challenge. It was a fun challenge though and amazingly enough the cobwebs in my thighs broke apart and the first 1200 felt quite good. Second was decent. I had the option to do 4 or 5 intervals. On the 3rd one the fatgued quad syndrome came back and I was thinking 4 would likely be plenty to serve it’s purpose. The 4th was a definite challenge most of the way, but still finished feeling strong….and not compelled to do 5 ;) It was a really satisfying track workout. My mantra for the track was “relax and breathe”. I also really tried to “feel” the effort and pace for future reference i.e., what is my breathing like at this pace, how do I feel at this pace, what do my legs feel like at this pace...yadda yadda.