Last I left you, I was deciding how to approach my goal half marathon after an entire season of struggles. I struggled with motivation. I struggled to hit paces. I struggled to enjoy my running. I had hoped that with a season of a significantly lighter load than what I had doing prior to getting injured around Chistmastime that I’d slowly recover and rediscover my passion. But it never happened. If anything, the situation had worsened.
I think I was in denial for a long time. I didn’t want to quit training and I didn’t want to quit believing that I was going to get fit again and race well. I knew deep down I was overtrained and I know deep down I’ve been dealing with overtraining for a long time now. But I just couldn’t admit to myself how bad it was. I don’t know. Maybe I was addicted to training.
But for some reason, I decided to email my coaching contact at McMillan Running (I have been training with a custom training plan from the group). I really shouldn’t have waited this long to write to him about this. But, that denial thing, I guess. Anyway, here’s what I wrote:
I just wanted to thank you for the training plan this cycle. I really enjoyed it! Unfortunately, while doing all the workouts I still feel like I must be struggling from overtraining. My body feels good, but my fitness is still off from where it was before my December injury. My iron was low last year so I don’t think it’s that. I have a theory that my injury (my pelvis got so out of whack it was severely irritating my sciatic nerve) was the initial manifestation of overtraining and now I’m dealing with the after effects/still recovering. But it’s been almost 6 months! My half marathon is on Sunday and I don’t even know if I should do it. I ran an ok 10 mile race at the end of April (1:07:55). It felt pretty comfortable until the last mile and a half or so. It’s not what I had hoped at the beginning of the cycle, but I put in a solid effort and was mentally in the game that day, which feels like an accomplishment lately!
Then a couple of weeks ago I showed up at the 10k. The weather was rough: 99% humidity/68 degrees and immediately after the race I came down with a cold, but 2 miles in I just quit. I didn’t feel sick or injured or anything. I just didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if it was the weather, the cold coming, my head or what. It’s just weird! I notice on workout days, sometimes I’m all in and focus and do a decent job and others I have struggle and have to fight tooth and nail to overcome the urge to walk back to my car. Sometimes I feel a little flicker of my old fire, so I’m hoping maybe it’ll be there on Sunday and I’ll feel like racing. I don’t even know how to readjust my goals. I’m not in terrible shape, physically. It’s just my heart wants to race and compete, but my head won’t let me right now or something. I’m thinking maybe just go and run whatever I run without a watch and not care? I have no idea!
Anyway, I wanted to let you know that this cycle wasn’t successful not for a lack of trying on yours or my part.
>THANKS so much!!
Shortly afterwards, Coach sent me his reply:
It really sounds like you should take a break off of exercise for a few weeks. You’re going through all the typical things when suffering from over training. The best thing you can do usually is to just stop and allow your body to heal. Get lots of good sleep, eat well and don’t think about running for a couple of weeks. That way your body will get re-energized and you’ll start to get motivated again as you get closer to training time again. Continuing to train usually just makes it worse and with you not being motivated by the races and questioning whether to run is a good sign that you shouldn’t. You want to be excited about performing well and not doubting yourself. This is also a time that you can easily get injured because your body won’t recover as quickly. There will always be more races in the future and those are the ones you may want to focus on.
I hope that helps.
I read that and I just knew I had to shut it down. Immediately. Since receiving that Monday night I have not run a step and haven’t felt the least bit bad about it. This has been a long time coming and at this point, while I’m slightly afraid I’ve done irreparable harm to my running future, I feel like I actually have one. Training was getting me nowhere fast and if I have any future in this sport, I have to stop running for a while.
Right now my plan is to take 7 days off of all exercise. In the next 7 days after that I can strength train, but only if I want to. In the next 7 days after that I can reincorporate low intensity aerobic exercise. I can jog … and I mean JOG .. easy for 30 minutes max 3 times that week and again only if I feel like it. And then the following week I can do 4 days, if I feel like it and so on and so forth. But, if I do not feel like doing it, I will not. I am taking this recovery one day at a time and my job right now is to rest really really hard.
Mon: 4 miles easy in the early a.m. P.m. receive the email that finally made me see the light.
Sun: the day of my goal race and I didn’t even bother to get out of bed until after the race started.
Total: who cares.