Over the past 15 days, I’ve run further than a marathon four times – all four times with the majority of the terrain above 10,000 feet. Plus, I’ve done the Hope Pass double twice. That may sound like a lot of running, and, indeed, it was, but I really felt as if my body was adjusting to it well. I could tell that I was getting faster and stronger with each run. And I’m training for a 100-mile race, so no matter how much I run, I feel as if it’s not enough.
But last Saturday, I did a little throw-away speed workout, and I may have gotten myself into trouble. I’ve been trying to do one easy speed workout a week during the last couple of months, just to toss in a touch of anaerobic work in with the volumes of aerobic work. On Saturday, I planned to do a little fartlek workout for a couple of laps around Wash Park. I was a little tired from a Hope Double on Thursday, but I didn’t plan to push it. Either way, on one of the faster sections I felt a slight tweak in the back of my leg, in the same vicinity of the injury that had me sidelined for most of the winter. But, whereas the injury last November immediately forced me to stop running, this twinge just made me want to cut the workout short. It didn’t feel too serious.
I jogged it in. Then on Sunday I ran an hour easy. I felt the tweak on occasion, but, it didn’t strike me as anything other than a slight tension. Then, on Monday, I went up to Leadville for what I had expected to be a back-to-back-to-back session of long days at altitude – what I had planned to be my last serious workouts before I started to taper.
I expected to feel sluggish from the heavy mileage over the previous 12 days, but instead, I felt amazing. Besides kicking a rock around Turquoise Lake and taking a spill (some things never change), the run was as smooth and relaxed as any long run I’d ever done. But then, right around the Colorado Trail, I started to feel the twinge in the back of my leg, and then it started to scream at me. Of course, these things always seem to flare up when I’m 14 miles into a 28-mile run. I didn’t want to risk anything, but there I was 14 miles from my car, storm clouds building, and without a lot of options.
The twinge was never serious enough where it impacted my stride or made me think I needed to stop immediately, but it was serious enough to make me decide to cancel the last two days of the back to back to back.
I’m in Denver now. I took yesterday off, and I’m going to go an easy four or five miles today, and we’ll see how things go from there. My preference would be to run at least 60 or 70 miles next week, but my body’s going to be the ultimate arbiter on that one.
This is a slight setback, for sure. I don’t think a four-week taper is ideal, but sometimes ideal is a luxury you can’t afford when you’re pushing the limits. I’m very happy with how my training has gone over the past three months. Given where I was and wasn’t fitness-wise around the time I ran Boston, I’m feeling amazing right now (apart from Mr. Twinge). I think if I can heal up and get to the starting line fit I have the potential to run a very good 100-mile race next month (at least by my standards).
Now it’s just a matter of resting up and executing on race day. Good luck to anyone looking to get in a few more hard training sessions for Leadville. Stay smart and healthy!