I have been on the shelf now for one month as of Monday morning. My strained achilles has made enormous strides the last 10 days or so, enough that I even went for a short 2-mile run on Friday, but it is still not 100%.
Saturday morning pain and stiffness returned to my lower left foot from a run so short that I typically run an easy 2-mile warmup like that BEFORE a half-marathon. On a typical day, I would not break a sweat and certainly would have no soreness the day after. But these are anything but typical days right now, and I am simply trying to stay active while allowing my body to heal without any set-backs.
The exercise that feels the best right now is swimming, so I will continue to stretch out my swims when I get back to Austin from a work trip this week and start hitting the bike a bit harder weather permitting. I had been hoping that by now I would be back to training and I would jump right back into a cycle that would prepare me for a May Marathon. But right now, even that timeline is looking too aggressive. The next starting line I toe at a marathon I do not want any doubts in the back of my mind wondering if I am prepared enough for the event, or if I am ready to chase 3 hours.
So after some thoughtful laps in the pool this week, 100 of them, I decided that the prudent approach would be to let marathon season go and shift my focus to the Triathlon, just as I had planned on doing in February originally. Most mistakes in this sport are due to trying to force things when the timing is not right.
Going out too fast, not adjusting pace on a hot race day, taking shortcuts during training to hop into a race without enough preparation, not taking enough recovery time after an event before ramping back up.
Not allowing an injury to completely heal before resuming training.
After 7 years and closing in on 14,000 miles I think I have once and for all learned from all of the mistakes above and some others not listed. If this is going to be a lifetime sport, thinking in the “long-term” and not in terms of immediate gratification is a requirement.
As much as I love all of the support groups, running clubs, local run shops, social media interaction (Twitter, Facebook, Dailymile) – I think at times it makes it difficult to stay conservative in your approach, when even you yourself know how difficult it is to take the safe route or the least aggressive tact. It’s bad enough you are fighting your own internal battle, but add in a few runner buddies who talk about how they trained through an injury, or how your fitness level will allow you to be ready to race again in 8 weeks instead of 18 and it can lead to some poor decisions.
So in the pool this week I made a couple of decisions.
1. I remembered that each time I have had time off from an injury (IT Band in 2009, Shin Issues 2010) I came back gradually, patiently and most importantly – better – than I was before.
2. I am going to do the same thing this time. Joe version 3.0 is going to be better, stronger and faster than I was before.
Training for the Kerrville Half-Ironman last summer had me enter the fall race season not only a better athlete than I had been in the past, but a better runner. The proof aside from my 5:06 debut in long course triathlon was in my 5K PR of 18:02 (-:10) and Half Marathon PR of 1:23:31 (-:15) in the middle of marathon training. Prior to this little “inconvenience” I have never been more fit.
So why change the formula now? Why rush into a spring marathon without the benefit of all of the cross training, core strength, added flexibility and fitness? It just doesn’t make any sense.
So we are going to turn the page, prepare for a summer of local triathlons and a handful of running events that we run every year, (Holland Cornfest, IBM Uptown) – and peak again for a fall half-ironman.
Kerrville 70.3 at the end of September or Ironman Texas 70.3 at the end of October will be our “A” race. Everything leading up to that point, just training and sword sharpening.
Post Half-Ironman we are going to jump into our fall training season again with a focus on Houston for all the same reasons the race set up perfectly for us this year. A flat, fast Texas Marathon, easy travel, seeding to the front of the pack and perhaps some of the things that didn’t go right this year, Rainy, windy weather, our “Pacer” Brendon being unavailable to us will set themselves right in 2014.
So for the first time since 2007 we won’t be running a marathon this calendar year.
I’m just fine with that – it is going to make me want to race Houston even more next January and for the last time kick that race squarely in the ass. I am going to set my Houston goal the way I set goals for every other race distance and event. I am going to look at my training times, my recent race results and project it out for the race distance and course details.
Instead of assigning a Pass/Fail grade based on an arbitrary number of 179 minutes and 59 seconds, I am going to set my own definition of excellence and chase it down.
If that time is 2:56 or 2:58 or 3:03 or whatever it is – will be what it is.
I’ve got more than 340 days before that morning right now to figure that part out. Right now that is the furthest thing from my mind. We’re going to continue to reboot this thing until we are 100% healthy, then put our plan together to peak for two events, one Fall, one Winter.
Just like all the previous versions, I plan on some surprises and enhancements in version 3.0 that competitors have not seen before.
Version 1.0 went from 1st time marathoner to Boston Qualifier.
Version 2.0 went from 3:08 marathoner to Half Ironman finisher.
Version 3.0 – I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
No sense putting any limits on things right now, that is a recipe for selling yourself short.
Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is stop thinking about things so much and just let it come to you. It has happened more times than I can count on race course where I was at my absolute best when expectations and pressure were at their lowest because I didn’t over think things. The gun fired, I ran until someone told me it was over.
That is going to be the approach for 2013. Just keep pushing until someone tells me that it is over. We’ll take a two week taper and then drive down to Houston to run the marathon of our life.
Simplicity at its’ finest.