After completing my first half-marathon, little did I know the effects the race would have on my body. I took Monday and Tuesday off thinking, "I should be fine to run easy the next few days with minimal fatigue." I was proven otherwise as I ventured out Wednesday evening for an easy 20 minute run.
A few strides into the run, my calf muscles immediately felt as if they were injected with lead. To say the least, the run felt uncomfortable and sluggish. As I've written before, I am biologically fine-tuned toward middle-distances (800 to 1500 meters). Therefore, a few days off and I am prime for a hard workout. Cowtown not only revealed my strengths and weaknesses, but put my body through such a crucible that it was not until yesterday (ten days after the race!) that my body finally felt adequately recovered.
With that in mind, it has given me a lot to ponder on the notion of recovery. The facade I, and others fall into is the belief that a high intense or high volume workout in itself produces the results desired, when in actuality it does the opposite. Bear with me. I am no expert in the arena of kinesiology or exercise physiology, but I believe when we punish our muscles, we are damaging cells and tissue, depleting our body of much needed glucose, and stressing myrofibrils, tendons, ligaments, and such.
It is in the period of "recovery" in which the actual desired results either begins, maintains, or improves. In recovery, we allow our body to rebuild cells and tissue, restore glycogen levels (depending on how much one consumes), increase aerobic/anaerobic capacity or threshold (depending on the workout), strengthen the musculoskeletal structure, and so on.
Training for the California International Marathon has instilled within me the urgent need to understand and apply proper recovery to my body due to the fact there has been a higher demand for volume and intensity at times. I believe I did well (according to my standards of "well") at Cowtown, only averaging 30 miles per week, due to the fact I not only got the most bang for my buck by maximizing quality workouts (the yin), but by balancing it with the yang of proper recovery to ensure - to use car terminology - the engine has not been exhausted beyond repair and that proper fluids were replaced to ensure maximum performance.
I believe this lesson of patience and intentional rest will not only deem beneficial when I suffer for 26.2 miles come December, but more importantly, as running has done so often throughout my life, benefit my relationship with Jesus, Sara, family, and any other endeavors I explore.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
As soon as the gun went off, I conservatively settled into a comfortable pace (one mistake I did not want to commit was going out too aggressively, and paying dearly in the end). The first mile felt like a blur as I looked down at my watch which read, "6:04." Perfect I thought, not too fast, but not too slow. As I cruised through the streets of Sacramento, I figured running with a pack would be more economical and psychologically beneficial (who wants to run a 13.1 mile race by themselves?). Thankfully, there was a pack of six runners a few yards ahead of me. I caught the tail end and hung back, enjoying the benefits of drafting, and having six pacers to guide me.
This pack of talented runners, which included the eventual overall female winner, proved to be the most effective strategy as we ticked off six minute miles consecutively for the next eight miles. I felt great and the benefits of Lactate Threshold runs, repeats up Stagecoach, and track intervals were paying off. I felt relaxed, comfortable, and confident that I was not only going to achieve my goal of 1 hour 20 minutes, but possibly even run under that by a minute.
At the 9 mile mark I hit 54:00 and then trouble began...........
At the 9.5 mile mark was an aid station. I thought it would be best to gulp some cytomax and water to refuel for the remaining 3.6 miles. Immediately after I downed the cytomax I got an ill-begotten side stitch in my lower abdomen. If you've never had a side stitch (it's different than a cramp), it feels like somebody jabbing a knife straight into your muscle and twisting it. Lo and behold, my pace abruptly suffered. I came through 10 miles in 61:30, hobbling down the road in pain while I watched the pack glide away. I began to curse under my breath as I witnessed a race which was unfolding so beautifully, now crumble with every limping stride.
After probably 4 minutes of having a hissy fit and using some colorful language, I made up my mind that this pain pissed me off and I was going to run through it no matter how bad it hurt. Oddly, as I increased the pace, I started to feel somewhat better. I was not able to get back on my 6 min pace, but 6:20 per mile for the next 5k was fine by me.
As I entered William Land Park, spectators of family and friends cheering, I cruised into the finish line with a smile on my face, lower abs sore, and legs throbbing, in 24th place in a time of 1:21:45. After a brief chat and venting of frustration about the side stitch with my mom, grandparents, and father-in-law, I jogged back down the course to run alongside Sara the last quarter mile and watch her run to a new best time of 1:36:27 (her previous best at Cowtown was 1:37:58). Thank you Cowtown, you proved to be a worthy adversary. Next step, Paul Reese Memorial 20 mile race beginning at Delta High School.
Posted by Jacob Rydman at 5:46 PM