Saturday, 22 March 2014

Why quit while you're ahead when you can crash and burn?

Flirting with disaster. It's something I excel in when it comes to running. It's exciting. It's fun. And without pushing your limits, how will you ever know how good you can become?

I haven't run further than 22 km in maybe 6 months. Long runs tend to make my knee unhappy, and since it's my knee that gets to decide if I can get out of bed in the morning, I do as it says. If the knee says I have to cut a run short, I cut it short. If the knee says I can keep running, I keep running.

So my runs have been shorter than I would have liked. For someone with ultra ambitions, I have run remarkably few long runs the last few months. My weekly mileage has understandably suffered, and I've been happy to put in 40 km per week, ecstatic if I've managed 50-55 without temporary left-side paralysis. As training has gotten harder and harder and my speed increased, though, I noticed that my knee got quieter and quieter. My theory is that my knee likes my running style better when I run fast (I'll just have to run ultras really, really fast). This resulted in 70 km last week, a week that was, coincidentally, the hardest in my life when it comes to quality runs.

Wise from past experience, I promised myself I would take it easy this week. That was Sunday evening. Have you experienced Sunday evening optimism? It's like with New Year's resolutions, or ”I'll start on my new diet on Monday”. It sounds fantastic in that moment, and maybe you truly believe that you'll make it, but when Monday or the new year arrives, the prospect of training at the gym 7 days per week or going cold turkey on chocolate chip cookies suddenly seems about as uplifting and exciting as spending Saturday night cleaning the cat litter box with your toothbrush.

Monday rolled in, evening came and with it the usual AIK interval session. The focus was on technique and not speed. ”Easy”, you're thinking, and it would have been, if I'd held back. ”Easy” was not how it went down. How it did go down was that I ran as fast as I could to see how close to the 3:30 min/km mark I could get, and also because there were others in front of me and I had to see if I could beat them. Because I was obviously dropped on my head as a child. Repeatedly.

Wednesday should have seen me run a shorter distance than my usual 17. I did 17,1.

Yey! Spring is here! Rejoice!

Thursday I skipped training, as I was at work all day. Instead, I went for what should have been a fun, easy, short run with my friend V on Friday. Fun and easy it was. But it was double as long as I had intended. Because it was so fun and easy I didn't want to go home.

Then Saturday. The AIK part of Saturday's training usually lasts for 1,5 hours, so I often run up to meet the group. That way I can get a couple of hours' worth of training. Today, our coach had planned a longer round that took us to a place I hadn't been before. At no point did it cross my mind to cut my run short. At no point did I remember that I have an evil dictator inhabiting my left knee. I followed the group almost the whole way back to the hockey arena, chatting away the kilometres and admiring the view, then fought off the soft, uneven snow that fell two days ago and which now covered all secondary roads on my way home.

Just kidding!

Tired, but not exhausted, I got there after the longest run in months, having brought this week's mileage total to 67 km. Easy week? Pfft. Why have an easy week and let your body rebuild itself when you can have a hard one and risk injury?

It wasn't my smartest move, but I got away with it. This time.

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