I adjusted my plans for this past week and took my usual 6 week active recovery week and made it during my 5th week instead. This was not due to illness, schedule, or anything in regards to training, but for mental health purposes. To be honest, I was down and struggled to get out of it. I say this not to draw sympathy, just stating facts and to stress the importance of listening to your body!
We hear this adage a lot, listen to your body. Many times it is in regards to injury or fatigue, not pushing yourself to the point of injury or other things like that, but in my case this week I was overwhelmed a bit with life in general and needed to take a step back. Running 60 miles this week honestly would have caused more stress for me than it would have relieved for once so I kept it under 20 and addressed the issues that were stressing me to the best of my ability.
This is something I do not see enough people do when they are training, and honestly I have not really done that well before. I know in my case I put so much pressure on myself to preform and get the job done that I set out to do that it can stop being fun and become more debilitating and distracting to the rest of my life. When this starts to happen though something eventually has to give, and for me I usually have to give up the thing that was designed to counteract the stress because I have allowed it to consume me too much.
Fortunately I am not taking my normal "bull-headed" approach to training for this challenge like I have others before it. Rather than run headfirst into training and pushing myself to be stronger, faster, and better than before I am actually taking advice! I am learning from those that not only have done something similar to this before, but also have done it with a similar lifestyle to my own. I have found a few guys that have not only run this type of distance before (in some cases much farther) but also have trained while having a career, family, and a few other things going on outside of the gym/trails. So this week I focused on getting my head right, spending time with my daughter, and tried to mend some things that have been eating at me because as of today I have 5 months!
That's right, today is March 15th and in exactly 5 months I take my first steps on running 361.5 miles in 7 days! This is both scary and exciting all in one. While I have been focusing on getting my head right I have also been looking at how I can maximize my training without causing myself to stress about not getting enough, because if I am being honest my biggest fear is not being prepared for this run! So I have worked to develop a bit of a plan again (I know I don't do plans too well) and am starting it this morning!
The plan is simple! First, I need to sleep. This has been my biggest struggle really my whole life, but has been exasperated throughout the COVID pandemic. Going to bed at midnight, having my daughter wake me up a few times, and then struggling to fall back asleep I have been physically unable to get up to an alarm to run in the morning except for a few occasions. This needs to change drastically! I cannot wait until later in the day to attempt a run between work, being a father, and the other responsibilities I have. If I am able to get out for a run during those times then it will be a bonus, but I need to get my ass going in the morning.
The first thing that I am doing is to try a few herbal teas that have been recommended to me. If/when they work I will share them with everyone, but until I have tried it I will be vague. I also want to start doing a nightly cool down, something like yoga or basic stretching. No impact to very low impact to calm me, slow my breathing, and still engage my muscles to repair during sleep.
Upon waking up I want to get a 90 minute run in before I start my day. No specific distance, just go for 90 minutes on the treadmill until the sun starts peaking a bit earlier, then I will be back on the roads and trails. I want to do this EVERY day during the week. If I can be on the treadmill by 5 everyday I can get my 90 minutes in before my daughter even wakes up and have my running done for the day if I need it to be. 90 minutes will be an easy 9-10 miles for me at a groggy pace and that will add up quickly over the course of the week. With 9-10 miles 5 days a week and a marathon or more on Sunday's I am anticipating my mileage to take a jump this week as long as I can follow through with this plan.
As long as I am able to do this I will take Saturday's as my rest/family day and Sunday's I will continue to have as my long run days. As I get closer to August 15th I will take one day during the week out and swap it with Saturday's on some weeks to have back to back long runs to simulate the Canal run a little more.
I am also still tweaking my diet, but hope to have a better answer for this over the next week or two. This Saturday I have tentative plans to meet with students and faculty from Syracuse University's "Sports Lab" where they will start conducting monthly tests on me for VO2Max, metabolic testing, and a whole bunch of other stuff that is way over my head but will help me to learn my body a lot more. This will help me to determine the various needs my body has, how my diet and training alter my body, and so much more data than I will know what to do with. This is a very exciting opportunity that will hopefully give me some insights into my current and changing needs.
Next, I am switching to tea and I am going to start going without coffee. I will allow myself a little leeway here and permit 1 cup during the morning, but I cannot continue to rely on caffeine to fuel me throughout the day. I have a feeling that this is one of the causes of my recent week of crap and I need to be at the top of my game, so coffee as much as I love you we are taking a break.
Finally, I need to add more strength training into my routine. This is where I started my fitness journey and what I really love, but with all of the running I am doing it has taken a back seat. I know realistically that I cannot get to the gym with a substantial amount of time to lift like I like to, but that doesn't mean I cannot do something! So every day I am going to do pushups, mountain climbers, squats and lunges. Today will be my baseline to start seeing how many I can squeeze in throughout the day and by next week I hope to have an idea of how many I realistically do throughout the day to share with you all.
I know some of you have found this blog today through the Dizruns Podcast and I would like to say welcome! I am glad you are all here. Regardless of your intent to sign up for the Virtual Pain in the Canal Challenge this coming May I encourage you all to leave comments here and/or join our Facebook Group "Pain in the Canal Challenge". This group is designed to support each other in our running challenges, or in the challenges that are presented due to Colorectal Cancer. No matter what, it is always a good thing to have a network of people there when you are struggling, whatever the challenge is, so please join us and show your support!
This week I do have several meetings with a few different companies and hope to have some really exciting news to share over the next few weeks, but until then keep running for a cause that is bigger than yourself and you will be amazed at how far you go!