Aug 15, 2007

a tad overtrained, or something else?


Aspen, Colorado - March 25, 2007. That was a fun run.

Well, since it's been five days since my last post with actual content, let's get this logging stuff over with really quick:
Friday: Anticipating Saturday's Long Run, I only ran one mile, but I ran it as fast as I could. 8:30, the fastest mile in my adult life. 14 consecutive days running, 7 to go.
Saturday: Went out to Long Island and ran from Aquebogue to Southhold - about 14 miles. There's a lot I could write about this run. 15 down, 6 to go.
Sunday: Recovering from Saturday's long run, I ran just one mile, four times around a block. It sucked. 16 down, 5 to go.
Monday: Still feeling a little tired from Saturday, I ran just 2½ miles. It was ok. 17 down, 4 to go.
Tuesday: Still feeling a little tired, I ran a mile and a half, but at a good pace. 18 down, 3 to go.


Last night when I got home from work, I told my wife that I was feeling a tad overtrained. My heart rate still felt a little fast, even though I wasn't actually measuring it. I've been generally sluggish. But most of all, my legs were still feeling the effects of Saturday's long run.

She suggested that I skip a day, forget the streak. I opted to run, but just run a mile to keep it short.

Am I overtrained? It's possible.. let's not forget -
I've suddenly gone from the dreaded "inconsistent" state to "consitent" (that's the whole purpose behind this 21 day thing)
in doing so, I ramped up my weekly mileage from "whatever" (0-15 miles, depending on how consistent I was that week) to over 30.
I've suddenly started running long distances again, going from a maximum length of about 5-6 miles to 12, then to 14.

So if I'm not overtrained, I'm certainly asking for to be.

On the other hand, here's the arguments for the contrary -
I am seeing remarkable improvement in my endurance, speed, and heart rate management.
When I actually do run, it feels good. check that - it feels awesome. I don't want to stop at 1 mile.
Yesterday, as overtrained as I felt before the run, I was on pace to run a 31 minute 5K (that would be a personal best) when I stopped at 2.5K and I felt like I could run three times as much at that speed. And, most importantly, I felt awesome after the run.

But, most importantly, I think my feelings of sluggishness, the unusually slow recovery times (for me), and maybe even my attitude immediately before a run might be attributed to the diet I've had for these 18 days. I have gone from a plant-based diet to a stereotypical american diet - lots of pizza, red meat, processed foods - and a lack of healthy alternatives. And in the last week, I've slacked on some supplements I take - especially greens-style multivitamin powder & fish oil pills.

Consider this - my weight has been fluctuating between 285 and 290 for two months now. And even with this running routine with remarkable improvements in speed and endurance, I've lost little to nothing. Clearly, I am running to eat, not eating to run.

Now, just for a second - let's forget ultrarunning or weight loss goals. Let's talk simply about a healthy lifesytle, which as we all know, includes BOTH exercise and proper nutrition, not one or the other. While I'm so focused on establishing exercise habits, I feel like I'm neglecting and reversing proper diet habits.. habits that I've worked hard to establish over the last 6 months. Yes, I have goals to complete ultras. I have goals to lose another 60-70 lbs. But I also have goals to just simply be healthy - to have energy to have a great day-to-day lifestyle, to reduce my risk of disease, and to enjoy a long happy healthy life. And to do that, I really need to change my mindset as far as what I fuel my body with.

Coming full circle here, I beg the question - am I fueling my body with what it needs to handle from this sudden increase in training? I should wonder why I'm feeling like I need a day off right now.

What I'm going to do is this - eat right for the rest of the week, run lightly (between 1 and 3 miles per day) on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to complete my 21-day streak, take saturday off, and do my weekend long run on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll be able to significantly increase my long run distance, because that's what I really need to do for the 50K on September 22.

-steve