- 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.
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.