Racing (?)

My training of late has been good. Maybe too good, according to a twinge in my quad, and a slight ache in my fascia. They aren’t injuries, thankfully a few days off cured them both, but they could have been. They were niggles, warning signs resulting from a pushing of the running envelope.

Careful now, they said. Don’t break through. The paper is pretty thin. 

And so I asked myself: what was it all for, all that pushing? 

The Pikes Peak Marathon winning vlogger, and general all-round-positive-vibes-internet-person Seth James DeMoor recently spent one of his videos discussing overreaching, over training, and burnout. He discusses how there is an element of risk to training hard, and how sometimes you might take those risks intentionally, diving into the pool of functional overreaching. This means to spend a period of time, probably no more than 3 weeks, and possibly as short as a week, pushing your limits, rolling the dice, mashing some hard miles together, in order to force adaptations in the body which will allow you to become a better runner. One of the key things about this is the intention – it is a planned push, a calculated risk to be taken when you are fit, healthy, and have a specific goal in mind. 

Having watched DeMoor’s video I realised that although I am, for the most part, fit and healthy, my goals weren’t specific enough.

I want a quick mile time, a quick 5k, a 10k, but when? Where?   

I’ve just been running, really. Which is good. It’s excellent fun for the most part, until it isn’t, and you’re just kind of going after it day after day because that’s what you do. If I was going easy everyday then that’s fine but because nearly all of my running has been done with a club, I’m used to doing intervals and tempos and long runs, you know, the hard stuff, whether there is a race coming up or not. 

So although I would say that my training has been good, there have been a few unintentional breaches of training code. There’s been a few too many hard days in too short a space of time, which might be acceptable when purposefully overreaching, but should really be avoided otherwise i.e. when you don’t have a race in mind. In this Covid-afflicted world I suppose we have to relax some of those golden rules, but races are happening now, and it was time for me to get a couple of the calendar so I could ease up on the slightly mindless grind that I was subjecting my body too, and start getting specific in my training. 

So, with my Autumn targets in mind I’ve so far selected two arenas of battle:

  1. A 10k, at a GP track. I want to get some numbers on the board, and although I’m quite happy to knock out a 5k on my lonesome, or hopefully sometime soon at a returning Parkrun, I like going for 10k’s in a racing environment. The goal is straightforward enough to wrap my head around: sub-37. 
  1. A 10-mile trail race in the Peak District. I have no time expectations for this run, I want to go there, run hard, and feel like I left it all out there (as with any race) but this is about doing something different, seeing some sights, and delving deeper into the world of trail running. Although, saying that, it is supposed to be a fast course. As close to 60 minutes as I can get, the better.

The last time I raced was early in the year, in the cold, on the comeback from a different niggling injury. It is strange, and exciting, to think about getting after it in a competitive sense again.

Deep in lockdown, I thought it was a bit weird to be getting fitter without having any sense of finality, or completion, to be found in a race, but honestly I didn’t really care that much. Now, getting back into a group environment and training with other athletes, and even on a run with some friends, there’s been a reignition of the competitive energy which died down through the Spring/Summer months. 

I’m raring to go, and crossing my fingers that these races stay green lit as a potential Winter Covid spike looms. 

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