Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#allin or nothing

When adidas first came out with the #allin, admittedly I was a bit confused.  The first thing that came to mind was, "oh, it's a new word for ballin" and I couldn't come up with a better explanation.  I thought maybe it had been shortened like Puff Daddy-P Ditty-Ditty...I don't know, I purposely don't pay attention to pop culture.  When I heard it was "all in" I was pretty excited, as this pretty much sums up my view on athletics.  My philosophy in running is simple; make yourself tired, keep running, then run faster.  I view every time I put my adidas kicks on and step out the door as an opportunity to improve.  It's also why I became a runner.  I viewed running as a sport in which hard work pays off more so than other sports.  This is mostly true, until you get to the elite level where you basically red line your body about three times a week.  The danger becomes 'overtraining,' a word I have always hated and basically didn't believe in.  Why? Because overtraining is also how you improve, and fear of overtraining leads to under training and under performing. #allin or nothing

2013 was a huge breakthrough for me because I has spent the last three years with no real improvement in running.  I accomplished my long time goal in running, a qualifying mark for the USA Track & Field Championships.  The road there wasn't easy.  For almost three months I was afraid that a worsening breathing problem would end my running career.  I could barely run a track workout without couching to death afterward, making it almost impossible to run a mile specific workout.  Warmer weather helped get this under control leading up to my June races.  I had also been banished from my previous college team, something that weighted heavily on my mind.  When I got to Des Moines for the championships, I was confident and felt great….except for my breathing.  Allergies destroyed my chances at making the final.  On the cool down I could hear a whistling sound when I attempted to inhale.  I was later diagnosed with vocal chord dysfunction (a camera was shoved up my nose while riding to exhaustion on an exercise bike...that was fun).  This led to the decision to have my deviated septum fixed in hopes it would help, as I couldn't breathe through the right side of my nose.  I had the surgery in September 2013.  It helped my breathing but has basically destroyed my ability to race a mile.

The 2014 racing season has unarguably been the worst track season of my life.  Despite my hardest training, work ethic, and giving up alcohol entirely, my body didn't have it.  Maybe it was my reaction to the surgery and anesthesia, maybe I overtrained, maybe I just need a month off of running.  Ever since the surgery I have not had a single good middle distance track workout.  Long runs and tempos were better than ever, as well as distance races at altitude which was a huge breakthrough.  So what happened? Probably the most damming thing was an internal sore that refused to heal post surgery.  That made for a nice seven months of nearly constant pain and hopelessness.  Maybe putting in the nastiest training Ive ever attempted with that going on was just too much.  During this battle, the last thing on my mind was giving up at running.  I needed it to take my mind off the sore, and the doctors told me training didn't effect it.  Maybe I should have run easily for a month.  It also didn't help that it wasn't accurately diagnosed until I had been in pain for six months.  Two months of treatment and its better.

It appears I have lost something fundamental to running.  What it is I can't exactly say, I can only try to explain.  My aerobic capacity has stayed the same if not improved.  Sprinting was nearly impossible, though I regained that ability in March.  What never came back was my ability to run 1500 race pace at a relaxed effort.  I ran three 3:50 1500s this year, all in great weather with great competition.  I spent the last two months running on legs that barely worked.  I tried everything to get them back, but every workout involved calf pain that got so bad I dnf'd my last race.  So now I begin the task of regrouping and analyzing what happened.  I have exhausted every option in running besides one; rest.  It is the only option I see for the next few weeks, followed by a relearning of how to run.  Back to working on the fundamentals….maybe that's why Renato Canova calls the initial phase of training 'fundamental training.'  So its June, the US Championships are next week and I'm not even on the list.  I just had the most disappointing track season ever.

So why am I smiling? Because I went #allin or nothing.  There was no other option.  I left left no stone unturned as far as running goes this season.  I gave it everything.  After showing poor fitness in January I spent about six weeks (Feb-March) with basically no easy days and 100 miles per week with killer workouts.  Some may say this was dumb but I couldn't have lived with my self had I not gone #allin.  I don't know what my future in the sport holds, but I will give it my all till all options are exhausted once again.  However, I will purposely put in a few rest periods in my training next time, cause I did learn something.

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