Food = Energy

Food = Energy

Friday, May 29, 2015

Slow it down

The famous runner's high. If you run for a long enough time, which varies for each person, you will almost assuredly feel it. It's the moment when you no longer feel like you are in pain or tired or consciously moving forward. It's that last part that is key, I think. Running when experiencing a runner's high is almost like a blur in memory. It's this calming sensation and period where you are briskly and easily moving through the air as opposed to pounding your feet and legs across the pavement or trails.

Then there's the post race high. 

Runners need to be smart here. It is a dangerous period. Let me explain:

When runners (cyclists, swimmers, and tri-athletes too, perhaps) sign up for a race, there's this wonderful feeling. Sometimes it's all nerves, but nervousness can be a good thing. Then, when runners are running the race, there's usually a moment (several even!) when one of the following thoughts arise:

"Why in the world am I doing this?"
"I can just stop now, right? It's my decision, after all."
"I'll just get to the next aid station and see how I feel then."
"Okay, something's wrong with my super fancy, not cheap, always accurate on a training day GPS watch. I know I'm running faster than ___:___ a mile!!!!"

You get the picture. 

Pain. Discomfort. Fatigue. These feelings aren't pleasant, but when racing, it's usually all mental...not all the time though so please don't quote me on this or run through the pain caused by the bleeding gash you just received courtesy of Mother Nature or the dizzy spells you're having. That would be so not cool.

Here are some of the times when you may not want to push it through a training run/workout or even a race: 

But we feel these discomforts and yet, when we finish the race or the workout, we can't wait to do it again! Sometimes that's not the case, but generally it is. Okay, so you may not sign up for the same 5K, bike race or marathon, but you sign up for another race all the same. Well my warning sign above is meant to advise you to use caution during this post-race high where you feel almighty and unconquerable. Just finished a 5k? Bet you can run a half marathon next week. Finished a half-marathon? Shoot for that ultra next month. Only a few more hours of running. You can handle it!...Not so fast. I'm going through this mental period right now. 

I finished the Trail Factor 50K on Monday and Val ran the half marathon race on Saturday and immediately after our runs we agreed we wanted to do one again (despite our nerves and struggles throughout!). So throughout the past week I've literally been on almost every race site for Oregon and Washington seeking to find out next race. Just last night I was contemplating running a 7 hour event in Seattle tomorrow or another 50K next weekend but Val quickly put the brakes on that idea. She was right. I need way more than 4 days to recover from the 50k (this actually goes for any race distance you complete) but I was able to get her to settle for allowing me to run 26 miles next weekend for her birthday! How did I change her mind? Found a 52 mile relay run near Seattle where she and I would split the race into 12 legs of 3-6.6 miles each, accumulating just about 26 miles for each of us. 

Now why am I confessing to this you if I'm talking about taking it easy after a hard race? Well this is me taking it easy. I damaged my muscle fibers a great deal, but as long as I dial my diet in and increase my sleep, I should be completely fine tackling 26 miles broken up in that manner I described. See?? I thought this through. Now what about Val going from a half marathon to 26 mile (what will be her longest distance run so far!)? Well, same thing. The way the race is broken up should make the 26 miles easier to cover (maybe not mentally..who knows). 

So my main point here: CAUTION. I didn't put a STOP sign up there on purpose. You don't have to stop that post-race high. Embrace it. You deserve to feel great after completing any goal, exercise-related or otherwise. I'm just advising that the goals that you make afterward are made with caution, with adequate thought. Val made me actually think through what signing up to run 7 hours 5 days after a 50k race could actually do to my body. Would it jeopardize my continued training for the 12 hour race in July? Likely, yes. Would it take a toll on my health and immune system? Absolutely. Do I want to risk these things? Not really. So I hope next time you are about to embark on conquering the world after conquering that local park race, you think about this post and listen to the people telling you to, not stop, but slow down a bit. Breathe. Think. Consider. Then act.

Happy running!

Some pics from the 50K and half marathon:

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