Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training/recovery update

Here I am three weeks removed from the Leadville 100 and I'm still pretty beat up. My injury list:
  • Left heel (plantar fasciitis): Getting better but slowly. Strayed from my daily strengthening and stretching exercises and have recently re-committed myself. This excellent video is where I got my exercises.
  • Left knee: I think the problem in my left knee is a classic case of runner's knee. I first came down with runner's knee during the 2008 Mohican 100 (literally around mile 60) and it took me a few weeks after the race to finally get over it. I can run, but my knee does protest a little.
  • Shoulder/neck: I woke up on Friday morning with a wicked cricked neck. Though not an over-use injury, it's just icing on the cake. My Friday morning run really sucked. Every time I swung my left arm I was in pure agony. I should have stayed home.
Incredibly, all three of those injuries are on the left side of my body!

I was quite banged up after the 24-hour national championship last October and it took my about a month before I was able to start getting back in a groove. I know that, with patience, I'll be back a groove soon enough. At this point, I'm not physically able to run the Rock 'n Roll Denver Marathon, but it's still possible. I'd love to get to 4,000 miles this year and it is quite possible but only if I average about 73 miles per week for the rest of the year. I came within 50 miles of 4,000 in 2008 and 2009 and would love to finally do it. But--the question has to be asked--why is 4,000 so important?

Honestly, I've been kind of down since Leadville. For the most part, I've always felt like I improved year after year. This year, 2010, has been a real disappointment, but I do forgive myself just a bit since the elevation and different terrain have been such big factors. Not only that, but I've been mentally dragging of late, maybe kind of depressed about my lingering injuries. A few days ago I reached out to one very accomplished ultra runner I respect about slumps and here's what he said:
Slumps are not fun. I do not fully know what happens as we go into a slump. Mostly I think a slump starts with physical fatigue (muscles, bone, etc). Once we have put ourselves into a position where we are forced to recover, and don't.... then we put ourselves into hormonal fatigue (cortisol, testosterone, stress hormones). During hormonal (endocrine system) fatigue, we are unable to produce the hormones that we need to recover well, rebuild, sleep properly, etc. With all of this, we enter into a point of no routine.
Once our hormone levels are out of whack and we are not sleeping well, eating well, or training well; now we are in a place where we feel 'flat' and 'out-of-shape'. This out-of-shape feeling is perpetuated by the simple fact that our testosterone and natural HGH production are decremented. We less of these two hormones, we feel 'soft' and 'fat'. Once we feel like this... we are convinced we are just falling out of shape and need to train more... and thus the cycle continues.
With all of this, I typically fall into a place of mental disengagement at this point. With mental disengagement and continued training we deplete our hormonal reserves further; and suddenly we are emotionally drained, listless, and uncaring. At least this is how it goes for me.
That pretty much sums up where I've been since Leadville. I feel in many ways like a ship lost at sea. I'm floating in a vast ocean without any idea of where I'm supposed to be going and without clear directions as to how to get there. I look around me and I see so many runners who have something I don't. I think I have enough ability--and certainly the desire and drive--to be something in this sport and accomplish my goals, but yet I'm missing something in my training, or maybe it's in my mind, that is holding me back. I have to find that something. I'm so happy to be here in Colorado, where I've ALWAYS wanted to live. Not a day goes by that I'm not excited about life in Colorado, in awe of something I see (for example, on Saturday morning I literally saw purple  mountains on my way home from my run), and energized by the endless possibilities of outdoor adventure, but it's much harder here. I have to figure out what I'm doing wrong, or not doing at all or enough, so that I can get better. Maybe all that's needed are time, patience and continued training.


On Saturday, I ran only 10.3 miles and then on Sunday logged 11 miles, ending the week with a quite modest 53 miles. I'm trying to run on dirt, trail and gravel roads as much as possible. As much as I'd like to head into the mountains, the body just isn't ready for it yet. My knee isn't right. Soon enough....

This past weekend I also spent some quality time on my bike. It's nothing fancy; just a Marin hybrid bike that I bought a few years ago. I really enjoyed spending time on my bike. On Saturday I headed into the Parker hills for 20 miles and then on Sunday did 12 miles around our future neighborhood, which has some really great bike paths throughout and beyond the development. Saturday's ride saw a few max speeds of over 30 miles per hour. At one point I hit 34 mph, at least according to my Garmin. It was a nice change of pace.


I'm thinking seriously about what I'll need to do to have a better 2011 racing season. I've kicked around the idea of reducing my peak weekly mileage but have decided against that. Instead, I'm going to be much more strategic in my training and try to cycle my efforts so that I'm peaking at race time. For instance, this year July was my heaviest month as I trained for the Leadville 100 on Aug. 21--even as I did two mountain races (Leadville Marathon and Barr Trail Mountain Race). What if my heaviest months were April, May and June and then I scaled back just a bit in July (by 10-15%)--when the Leadville Marathon and Barr Trail Mountain Race roll around--so that I have quality outings at each? What if I also cross-train (swim, bike, weights, etc.) and focus even more on my core?

A good plan? We'll see.


Over the weekend I watched "No Impact Man." This is a documentary about a man--Colin Beaven--and his family who give up everything that creates an environmental impact--from toilet paper and diapers for their toddler to electricity and meat. In the beginning of the film, Colin expressed his concern about deforestation--a concern many of us have. This film struck a nerve with many people, and I think it's because we all feel guilt over our carbon footprint. I think Colin Beaven's point was not that we should all give up modern comforts for cave life (in the end, the family turns their electricity back on); the point of "No Impact Man" is to demonstrate that there's something we call do to help improve the environment and safeguard our planet. I put the point of the video this way: Let's say you claim you could never finish a half-marathon and you cite every excuse in the book. Trying to motivate you to do the half, I then go out and finish the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon. Seeing me finish, you then realize that a 13.1-mile race is quite doable, and so you start your training and ultimately finish. It's the same with "No Impact Man." What the family did was insanely difficult--giving everything up (in Manhattan, no less)--but it shows us that reducing our carbon footprint can be done through a few simple measures in our everyday life. If you haven't already seen "No Impact Man," check it out. The trailer is below and here here's a link to his blog.


  1. I feel your pain. Most of my lingering soreness, aches and pains have gone away. I hurt myself another way a week later but that is another story.

    I am going to start "training" again this week... running and lifting as usual, but to what end? That is my problem right now. Lacking motivation and goals and specific targets. It must be fall. :) But I hear you on the being lost feeling. I personally call it a sensation of being untethered.

    This too shall pass! Enjoy the downtime.

  2. It sounds like your body needs more time to heal from Leadville 100.
    Recovery is just as important as your weekly training runs. I just ran Pikes Peak Marathon and then 15 days later I ran American Discovery Trail Marathon. I ended up walking the last 6ish miles of the ADM b/c my knee and body were in so much pain from the downhill portion of PPM. I didn't let my body recover enough. so have you run Leadvile 50? I am tentatively planning to do that in July 2011. Hang in there and let your body recover!

  3. Dena: Congrats on your 2nd place finish in your age division at the Pikes Peak Marathon! That is awesome.

    You are right about recovery, but the frustrating thing is that I think my approach to recovery after the Leadville 100 has been sound in principle. I basically didn't run but about 20 miles the week immediately after Leadville (not a step on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). Two weeks ago I did 48 miles, last week I did 53 and this week I'll hit about 60. My legs are now starting to respond and I feel the turnover coming back, but I still have these knee and foot issues. I think it's time to see a doc about the foot!

    I haven't done the Leadville Silver Rush 50-Mile Run. It was too close to the 100 this year for me to give it serious thought. One of these days I'll do Silver Rush...and definitely the Pikes Peak Marathon! For 2011, I'm looking at the San Juan Solstice and Jemez 50-milers--not both, just one of those.

    If you ever do the Leadville 100 (maybe you have), I would recommend the Leadville Marathon as a good trainer, but it's not on the course. I think the Silver Rush 50 is just too close to the 100.


  4. Wyatt are you out there at the moment running daily? I assume no tempo / threshold sessions at the moment due to the nagging injuries?

    What pace are your runs at, are you getting quality sleep and eating well etc. I assume your alrady on top of this but anyone of these things is out of balance it will affect your overall state.

    Bottom line is running 100 milers is extremely tough hard especially Leadville and everyones recovery powers are different so it's wise to take things slowly back and wait for when your mind and body both want to race.

  5. Richard: For the past few weeks my training pace has been around 8:00-8:20/mile. That's about a minute slower than my usual training pace (7:00-7:20). I haven't done any quality (tempo, intervals, etc.) since Leadville. My legs wouldn't allow it--they were heavy and stiff.

    Actually, this week my turnover has vastly improved and my legs feel rejuvenated, despite the foot and knee problems. I'm seeing gradual improvement with my knee. I think my muscles have recovered OK, but my foot and knee are definitely not 100% (yet). The injuries affect your mentality, morale, and spirit, as you know.

    The diet has been and always will be there. I'm very dedicated to diet, but always looking for new and better recipes for all the right foods. Sleep--about 7.5-8 hours a night.

    I guess things work out in due time!

    Happy Trails,