Thursday, February 16, 2012

Give and Take

In running & racing jargon, once a runner reaches the ripe old age of 40 they move up to something called the Masters Division. I’m not sure why they call it “Masters”. In the 15 years I’ve been running, I certainly don’t feel like I’ve “Mastered” anything yet. However, as a Masters runner I have learned that I need to be flexible – both in my training and my racing expectations.

When I started running at the age of 29, I could hammer every workout day after day and nearly every race I ran seemed to bring a new PR. If I trained (and raced) the same way these days I’d end up getting injured more than I already am! So, I’ve learned that a certain amount of flexibility (a give and take if you will) is required for both my running longevity and my overall sanity!

Now, I make sure to balance my workout schedule with both easy and hard days (and easy and hard weeks) as I build toward a goal race. And, even within that flexible schedule there is some additional give and take. For example, if I wake up on a day that has a hill workout scheduled, but my hamstring is letting me know that just won’t be possible, I head out for an easy run (or rest day) and slide the hill workout to the following day.

Mile 1 - already dying
Unfortunately, flexibility is not always an option when it comes to running races. If I’m having a bad day, I can’t very well ask the race director to postpone his race until tomorrow to accommodate my needs. So, when I realize it’s not my day (and switching races is just not possible) I’m forced to lower my expectations and make the best of it. Such was the case this past weekend at the Bradford Valentines 5 miler.

During the week leading up to race day, my hammy was behaving itself quite well and I had every reason to believe that I would have a quality “rust buster” kind of race. My goal was to comfortably run 6:20’s – or the pace I hoped to maintain at the DH Jones 10m coming up in two weeks.  Unfortunately, a serious case of heavy legs, a lingering chest cold and a coughing fit kept that from happening.

Final Mile -spit included
Due to a registration snafu, the race started a full 15 minutes late. But, once it finally began, I quickly realized I would have been better off skipping the thing entirely. At the first mile marker I clocked a brisk 6:13, and the next (fast?) mostly downhill mile was a much slower 6:21. Uh Oh. Next came the hilly third and fourth miles where I ripped off a 6:36 & a 6:44 respectively as I slowly worked my way backwards through the field.

My saving grace (or so I thought) was that the last mile was all down hill and if I could break 6:00 I just might salvage this puppy.  Of course, that’s when the chest cold induced coughing fit started and it ended with me doubled over on the side of the road puking (or trying to puke) my guts out. So much for my tune-up race. More gut buster than a rust buster! Realizing the score, I jogged home the final ignominious downhill mile in 6:49 for a cumulative time of 32:41 (6:33 pace).

So, I took my beating because… …well, because it was just my day to take one. I took it, chalked it up - and moved on.

The next day, I did my first ever multi-sport workout. 1 hour on the bike followed immediately by a 1 hour run - and it was great! It was a new experience starting a run all “warmed up” and those 2 hours of training just flew by! And, today I had a re-do of my “rust buster” in the form of a 5m tempo run – during which I averaged 6:18/ mile. Give and take. Sometimes you have to take it and other times you get to give it right back. It’s nice when it works out that way!

Now, if I can only figure out how to do that for the 10 miler!

(photos courtesy? of Ted Tyler)