RUNNING WITH THE KENYANS 5
Listen to your body - 6th January 2016
We all get tired. Training through everyday fatigue is a fundamental challenge of endurance work. But what if it’s more than just the everyday? Take a day off and the guilt sets in. What about our precious mileage!? Train through it and you risk digging a deeper hole. The margins are wafer thin and any slight error in timing can prove costly.
After three solid weeks, the past weekend threw a spanner in the works and it needed managing carefully. Following Saturday’s 4x7.5mins tempo, recovery before Sunday’s mammoth 15-miler was more crucial than ever. Sadly things didn’t go to plan.
Generally the camp has been a superb place to relax and recover, but Saturday’s deafening party nextdoor (attended by all of 40 people) went down like a lead balloon. I wasn’t alone in my sleepless night and when I defiantly headed out into the dark at 6am, the din was still in full flow.
The run itself was positive: 15 miles and 1200ft of elevation gains through stunning forest, with distant views of the sunrise hitting Mount Kenya at the highest point. It was afterwards that I felt the consequences. I didn’t mind being wiped out for the rest of the day - the run was the longest of my infant running career and done in harsh conditions - but deep down I knew this wasn’t a one-day issue.
Back home I can just about bounce into Monday night car parks after a gruelling weekend, but out here I need everything to go smoothly to allow the same. Your body’s far more sensitive. When the fatigue spilled into Monday and Tuesday I knew the training plan needed tweaking. Coach Roden reminded me over FaceTime that the training plan is only an ‘outline on paper’, advising that the mileage and sessions are just targets, as well as the fact I’m at altitude, so I adopted the flexible approach and listened to my body.
Forget 4x1600m – that session needs a fully sound body and mind. Forget a full day off – that only encourages further lethargy. I found a happy medium and ran easy for two days, which also helped relieve some mental pressure. Last week was strong anyway, so a couple of easy days kept the guilt to a minimum without impacting on volume.
22 steady miles and plenty of mango later, I feel more like myself. It’s time to shake myself up. Wednesdays are session days and the plan says track. No excuses today, throw caution to the wind and use a quick session to reinvigorate yourself. Pull your finger out and attack.
It’s windy and I’m alone, but the session goes well. A 10-minute tempo at 5:30/mile pace precedes some quicker 8x300m reps. I average 47secs for each rep, with the last one at 42secs, again something I don’t consistently run at home. I head back to camp feeling confident.
I’m now joined by a group of GB athletes including Laura Weightman, Ross Murray, Theo Blundell and Adelle Tracey. More follow next week. Some have trained here for several years but they still run gently during Week 1. I’m in no doubt I’ve been doing the right thing.
You can never train perfectly all the time, so the key is giving yourself the best chance of training perfectly most of the time. As I enter the last week of heavy training on this trip, I’m focusing on maximising the quality of my sessions. But not before a sacred rest day on Friday, oh and some decent sleep before the next 15-mile beast…
Posted 08/01/2016 15:43