Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Physical Challenge: Week 6

Repetition.  In some ways, it's the cornerstone of training.  Day after day, we follow a routine.  We go out, as we did the day or week before, and do the same thing (or something pretty similar) in order to achieve a goal.  By that measure, Week 6 felt very much like Week 3.  In both cases, I had a good week of training, capped by a long weekend during which I backed off from training and indulged in the gastronomic side of life.  But before I go into details, the numbers:

Training Days: 2     (To Date: 24)
Rest Days: 5     (To Date: 18)
Weight: 156     (Net Gain/Loss: -4)
Running Days: 2     (To Date: 17)
Running Miles Logged: 22.3     (To Date: 133.2)
Average Run: 11.1     (Short = 11.1, Long = 11.2)
Cross-Training: None

As you may have already noticed, I trained for only two days last week.  This was by intention.  I've been training hard for 6 consecutive weeks, and the last 2 weeks especially have been defined by long mileage (typically, 10-15 miles per run) and heavy elevation gain (3,000-4,000 vertical feet).  It was time to take an extended rest, let my legs rebound, and come back to Week 7 feeling fresh and rejuvenated.  It's easy to give in to a tendency to train too much; to do one extra run, and then another, and another.  But if you do that for too long, you're body can't sustain the output.  You basically end up breaking down your body more than it recovers from each training session.  Instead of growing stronger, a kind of chronic fatigue sets in in your muscles.  I know, because I've done this before.  Not this time.

A wedding in New Jersey, coupled with celebrating Father's Day on Sunday with family from NJ and NY, gave me the perfect reason to take 4 consecutive days off from training, hence last week's low numbers.  And of course, a wedding and Father's Day meant one thing...eating.  I indulged in lobster, filet mignon (twice), wine, GF beer, and a long list of other foods and snacks I won't admit to here.  Suffice it to say that my progress in the body weight department slipped backwards just a bit.  I went into the weekend weighing 153, seven pounds under my starting weight, and two pounds under the previous week.  I came out of the weekend weighing 156, 3 pounds heavier.  It was like a re-run of Memorial Day Weekend.  But that was okay.  We have to allow ourselves such indulgences from time to time.  And I'm still on track to hit all my goals en route to the Virgil Crest Ultra race.

As I wrote about last week, I'm using the race as a fundraiser for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  Please help me support this great organization.  So far, I've raised $55, which gets me a little over 1% of the way toward my goal of raising $5,010 ($100 per mile).  A huge thank you goes out to Susan T, DeAnna O, and Erin E for your generous donations!  Won't you please join them?

Finally, there's news on the race front.  The race organizers of the Virgil Crest Ultra just unveiled a revised race course that differs from years past.  The route now includes more technical singletrack trails, and notably, an additional 1,000 vertical feet of elevation gain, making the grand total for the race a staggering 10,000 vertical feet of climbing.  9,000 was bad enough, but five digits of climbing seems truly insane.  In the words of the race organizers, the hills will be "relentless."  Wonderful.  Also, because the course is different, last year's times aren't quite as useful for the purpose of benchmarking and predicting this year's performance.  We'll see how it goes!

- Pete


celiacman said...

Keep up the great work! I found your blog while searching for ways to raise money for the NFCA. I applaud your efforts and wish you well in your training. I plan to live vicariously through you as I just learned yesterday that, due to the condition of my knees, I will not be running for a while and have had to cancel my planned half-marathon in September.

And for what it's worth, your indulgences for the wedding and Father's Day sound well worth it;-)


theMom said...

I love reading your updates on the Physical Challenge. Thanks for posting them. Like celiacman, I only run distance vicariously at this point, but for a different reason(time constraints).

Although I dream of running super-long distances, I'm still putzing along struggling when I try to do my one little bitty mile at a time. I can't believe how I have to talk myself through each step to keep moving without slowing to a walk. That's what mid life and lots of pregnancies does to a body, I guess.

My biggest struggle right now is that I get out there and can't find any compelling reason to run. I just want to be able to say I can. So it's a vanity thing for me. And some days, vanity is not enough of a reason to make me want to put forth the the effort.

I appreciate your work and stick-to-it-ness. It's nice to imagine success, even if only seeing it through another person.

peterbronski said...

Hi CeliacMan... Glad you found me here on NGNP! Thanks for the encouraging words. I loved reading your blog post about your daughter asking if Bear was gluten-free. With a young daughter of my own, I can certainly relate! That's too bad about having to cancel your half-marathon. I hope your knees recover. Perhaps you and your daughter could help me fundraise for NFCA and the Virgil Crest Ultra! And yes, the indulgences were definitely worth it!

Hi theMom... Thanks for your support! I know what you mean about it sometimes being hard to motivate to go running without some specific goal. That's one reason why having an upcoming race on my calendar is so good. It's also why I love trail running. Road running for me can become monotonous. But with trail running, the terrain keeps you on your toes and the scenery is beautiful and ever changing. Keep up the good work with your mile runs! If running really is a drag, there are lots of other good options... have you ever considered taking up biking or another sport?

Cheers, Pete

theMom said...

I know what you mean about running trails. I did my college cross-country practices in a state park adjacent to the college I attended. It was wonderful.

I gre up in Washingotn State, iwth lots of hills an mountains. Now I'm stuck where it is very, very flat. Open. BOOOORIIIIING.

When I was in Colorado two years ago, I was totally energized and loved the hikes we took. Even though I was not acclimated to altitude and was 4 months pregnant. The change in scenery more than made up for any fatigue I might have felt.

I had opportunity again recently to run in a state park while doing research for a little writing project I was working on. I didn't even plan to run that afternoon, since I had forced myself to run at home that morning. But I got out there walking the trails and just was inspired to pick up the pace. I easily and quickly did a mile. Much easier than the mundane scenery I have locally.

I wrote about the local scenery a month or so ago just to gripe about it to someone. http://accordingtothemom.blogspot.com/2010/05/traveling-through-unmarked-land.html