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Flatlining

2 October, 2010

Sometimes, in the week before a race, everything will come together nicely…and sometimes it won’t. First, on my long run last week I noticed that a section of the seawall was being resurfaced. After asking around I discovered that the work would indeed not be completed for the race, and that a new, uncertified course would have to be set. If a course has not been accurately measured, then really what is the point? The exception to this would be cross-country, which is what I should have signed-up for (would have been a lot less expensive too), and the “fun run”, a redundant phrase. I suppose I could have run it anyway, but it turned out that my heavy training last week was just a little too much. The ‘cold’ which I thought I’d already beaten came back with a vengeance to the extent that much of Monday and Tuesday was spent in bed, and the only thing I was running was a temperature. Since then I’ve been gradually recovering — it moved into the chest and I had a cough up to this morning.

I distinctly remember thinking on Saturday afternoon that a long run the next day would be risky. But as I previously said, I felt as though it were too important to miss. Well, that was a mistake!  I ended up having to take a week off of running, as well as miss today’s race. A hard effort within a week of having a fever risks permanent damage to the heart or worse, and is a line I won’t cross.

This morning I was reading an interesting article in the Post about the “Quantified Self”. Although, I think the article itself was slightly muddled (data, and what we infer from it, can be content, but the desire to self-publicize is, for me, something quite separate though it was treated as being a part of the same subject). Do people really gather data on themselves just so they have more to blog/post about? I’m sure there’s plenty of art in there, but otherwise it’s just tragic. In my second(ish) year of running, I used a heart-rate monitor for a while. But, as today’s paper pointed out, you can end up being a slave to the monitoring device. I ended up mostly running with my attention directed not inwards, or even to appreciating my surroundings, but to anticipating the “too fast/slow” beeps which alerted me when the heart rate wandered outside of predetermined limits. Not fun! What was even less fun was getting obsessive about correlations between heart rate and different paces, all pretty useless information at the end of the day. I may be more of a “numbers person” than average, but there are just too many variables in running, let alone life, to spend loads of free time doing data analysis. Even if you automate the whole process you risk having your entire life dictated by narrowly measured notions of the ideal.

That said, I can now see that by being too attached to the outcome of these two races (this and next weekend) I ended up harming myself and the result was to miss today’s race as well as one whole week’s training. My conclusion is that with more information I might have made the better decision to either forego or shorten last weekend’s long run. So, for three months, I’m resolving to monitor my resting heart rate, as well as rate the quality of my sleep out of ten, first thing each morning. Maybe I’ll spare you the details. In the new year I’ll decide whether it’s useful enough to carry on or otherwise drop/modify. I’d love to hear from runners out there who are into the whole quantified-self doodadling. What works, what doesn’t? Is it worth it?

As I’ve built up moderate amounts of walking (today and tomorrow too), I’ve been noticing what might be another chronic muscle tear, to the right soleus, I believe. It’s just a little too close for comfort to the achilles tendon, so I’m going to take tomorrow off as well and hope that everything will be working okay by early next week.

This week: 0km.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ray permalink
    2 October, 2010 9:31 pm

    Sounds like a little bit of a crisis of faith in your training. After 5 years and just over 100 races now I can say my weekly mileage rarely exceeds 50km. I’m getting by without injury, slowly getting “better” over the years, certainly enjoying the group runs. The last 3 years have been pretty aggressive training and distances and sleep cycles are certainly way worse than the improvements in sleep seen in the first 2 years of lighter training and racing. I’ve noticed that the body is a wonderful self healer if you just give it time, which is why day-on day-off works for me for so long. Too many days off get me stale but I find if I want to heal faster I can include hot yoga and pilates and it really fixes you up fast.

    It sucks to get floored because of a sickness and hopefully that’s all it is before your training continues! Don’t get discouraged — you’re rocking. Try to find the fun in it.

    As for your question, I don’t wear a heart rate monitor. I run by feel and have gotten good at it. I like to work hard on hills, zone out on flats, and see the technical tap dance of downhills. I think the inherent pace changes teach me “gears” which I need in my trail runs anyways. You train for different things and I’ve heard lots of benefits of heart rate monitoring for steady state pacing, as long as it doesn’t take the fun out of training hopefully it’ll work for you.

    • 3 October, 2010 9:26 am

      heh, it’s not quite that bad! I’m only going to be using the heart rate monitor for resting rate (42 this morning, which is back to normal pretty much). But I have had to draw a (rather heavy) line under this illness – it happened before that I went back too soon without properly healing, and the result was half-assed training followed by a piss-poor performance.

      We’re both on the same, outlying page in that our long runs are way above the typically recommended 20-25% of weekly total. Probably trail running is more healthy from a holistic point of view (as long as you don’t do the downhill-tap too fast!) — that, and possibly your strength training/biomechanics allow you to do those ultra type distances(?)

      I’m hoping to be back on the track for a pre-race shake-out this week, see you there.

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