Highs and Lows

I’ve had a strange thing happen to me. Not two weeks ago I finished Sapper Joe 50k. It was a great race and an incredible experience. It was my first sanctioned 50k race and the pressure was on. If you’ve read my last post you’ll know that while I reached my goals and did very well, it was not a good day for me. I had to fight mental battles, tired legs, and severe energy issues. At times I wanted to drop out and call it quits. Even for a few hours after the race I just wanted to stop running all together. Of course, it only lasted a few hours, but still. By the next Wednesday I was feeling better and running again. I was still fighting soreness and tired legs, but it’s what I expected and didn’t push too hard. And then the strange part happened; Monday of this week and my first real post-race training run.

Monday – 6/7
7.07 miles, 1200 ft elev gain, 1:04:40, Ave Pace – 9:09
I began this week by focusing on some heat training. It was more than 80 degrees out and humid. This run took me up the LCC Creek Trail then back down to the Lower Bell Canyon loop trail. Lots of climbing, lots of sun, and a waist deep river crossing. While I had energy issues due to the heat, my legs felt awesome, like they could go for triple the miles. An hour after getting done I felt like I hadn’t even run a mile that day. Weird.

Tuesday – 6/8
6.15 miles, 1000 ft elev gain, 1:05:09, Ave Pace – 10:36
For the first time ever I ran some of the upper trails in the Dimple Dell Recreation Area, more commonly known as “The Gully”. I did this run with my friend Scott. The trail is wide and covered in wood chips for the horses. We were fast going down, but slowing coming back up because Scott was having ITB issues. After the run I felt fresh and ready for me. It was hot that day and even with that I still wasn’t tired from two hot days and lots of hills.

Wednesday – 6/9
10.15 miles, 1300 ft elev gain, 1:30:35, Ave Pace – 8:54
The hottest day of the week, Wednesday racked in at 85+. For the first time ever I ran the Gully from the very bottom to the very top. There are so many things I could say about the trail, but I’ll leave that for another time. I had massive energy issues which I’m certain were due to the heat and dehydration, but I never felt it in my legs, just as overall lack of fuel. I thought for sure I’d be tired after this run, but nope. I still had more. Maybe it just hadn’t set in yet.

Thursday – 6/10
8.34 miles, 1700 ft elev gain, 1:13:27, Ave Pace – 8:48
I thought going into Thursday that things would be slower and more painful. I was running a tough, technical trail that required more than I thought I could give. But once I got into the run I realized I felt totally fine and had tons of energy. I was running fast, even on the uphills. And on the downhills I was running in the low 6s. I couldn’t believe it. For sure I’d be wrecked after this run.

Friday – 6/11
10.15 miles, 1300 ft elev gain, 1:24:55, Ave Pace – 8:23
I went back to the Gully. It was 30 degrees cooler today than Wednesday, but even with that I figured I wouldn’t have more than 6 miles in me. I assumed that the miles and hills would finally take their toll. However, not even a mile in and I was feeling it. I was running sub-9 min/miles running uphill. I felt strong and tons of speed in my legs. I had absolutely no problems with form or turn-over. The downhill was kept under 8 min/miles for the whole 5 miles and I cruised the last very small hill, something I had to walk on Wednesday. For sure I would be crushed after today’s run. And while my legs finally do feel tired and my calves are a little sore, overall I still feel fantastic. While I don’t know if I’ll get to run tomorrow due to a busy schedule, I know that given the opportunity I could put in 20+ miles without feeling too wrecked. I want to go into a long run tomorrow feeling a little tired so that I get used to running on tired legs, but it has taken me all week just to get my legs to feel even a little tired. So crazy.

For years I’ve been mindful of how my body cycles between low and high energy, low and high strength, and low and high endurance. I’ve become accustom to it through my climbing, being able to focus my energies on projects and difficult ascents during the times when I’m cycling ‘high’ and working on technique and maintenance when I’m ‘low’. But now I’m really starting to see it applied to my running. I’ve been trying to track it a little, but it’s a little tough because sometimes I have a hard time knowing when I’m cycling low or if I’m just worked from a long training run or race. But I do notice it. I was at the low point in my ‘low cycle’ during Sapper Joe, even though I had a great taper and proper training going into the race. And I’m certain that this week is part of a ‘high cycle’. I generally see a 4 to 1, high to low. I need to start keeping track of it so that I can plan for the low times and adjust my workouts and know how to go into races. Anyone else notice this happening to them? Please comment and let me know.

2 thoughts on “Highs and Lows

  1. Good post.
    I know exactly what you mean with the high/low energy phases. Generally I simply adjust my training intensity mid-run to fit the day’s energy level, which (at least in my mind) has the added benefit of accounting for just “not having it” some days.
    The problem I have on occasion is delineating between these cycles and potential overtraining indicators. The best method of distinction I’ve got so far is to just push through, and if the slump lasts more than a week or so, back off a bit for a week or two to recover.
    Keep it up…

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