World 24 Hour Championships, Torino, Italy, 11-12 April 2015.
It's been haunting me. Ask any of my running mates. A couple months ago, I had to commit to apply. I did. I was accepted. But I wasn't jubilant. I felt not just ambivalence towards the race, but almost resentment towards it. Where was the mojo?
I've been running. Trail running, road running. All good. Enjoying the miles, solo or with mates. This wasn't burnout. I was happily training...but for what? If I didn't want to do World 24 Hour, what did I want to do? I had a long list of maybes.
Yet I wasn't eager to sign up for anything. Everything was rejected for some reason or other. I wondered if maybe I was just done racing. Maybe my competitive gene had fizzled out.
After two months of talking about the "problem" (alternated with ignoring it or "being" with it), of looking for answers in ultra running podcasts, of listening to mates' stories of their own racing goals, of talking more, of more quiet reflection, I finally found what I think is my stumbling block.
|My running story told in triangles|
Accompanying all this, my running performance has seen gains that look a lot like that little chart above. Now, I'm sitting at that last triangle on the right. What's next? Where do I squeeze out more performance now? Stop working? Become a full-time athlete? Move to a mountaintop? (with a training field in the valley below 1500m, of course.)
I've been wringing out a towel of goodness for 7 years. But you know what happens when you get that towel nearly wrung out. Getting those last few droplets out is HARD. Your hands burn, your fingers get red. You work for those last few drops. Yes, you worked before, but it's nothing compared to the work of getting the last drops out.
That is where I think I'm at.
Am I ready for the mental AND physical challenge ahead? The challenge of trying to eek out a few more drops?
I've decided it's time to try. So with that in mind, I've researched a few things that have been on my "someday" list for a while. Things that may be "One Percenters." There are several more to research, but here are a few:
|With a mate on a 3 day training weekend|
|Natural strength training opportunities on a 70k run!|
Magnesium (Mg). A mineral used for all kinds of chemical reactions in the body. Some is stored in bones and is used for bone maintenance and growth. It's also used by nerves and muscles and neutralises stomach acid (hence its use in antacids). Mg is in all sorts of foods, but particularly in high fibre foods like whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and green leafy veg. People living in areas with naturally occurring "hard" water get more through their water. Why am I interested in Mg? Because of the periodic sleep deprivation I get due to "restless legs." It's been touted as a fix for muscle cramps (though my restless legs aren't a stereotypical painful cramping). Research says Mg levels are tightly controlled by the body. Although levels in blood increase right after high intensity exercise (likely due to muscle breakdown that causes it to transfer from muscle into the extracellular fluid - just like happens with potassium), levels normalise within a day. In prolonged exercise, one might think levels could go down, as the broken down Mg is pee'd and sweated out, but it doesn't seem to be the case - and again, levels normalise within a day. Taking oral Mg and expecting a change in internal chemistry looks to be a tough one - the body keeps its levels under control. So, unless you have a deficiency, you're just going to pee it out. Knowing whether you're getting your RDI appears prudent with this one. There's a small amount in my Hammer Race Caps, so I'll consider that a potential top-up and leave it at that. Though doing a food diary and adding up my daily Mg intake would be the scientific thing to do. That's one of those "when I have more time" projects :)
|Even loving it at 30+ degrees! (Mind games are key)|
Pineapple. Just the other day, someone told me they'd heard pineapple was an anti-inflammatory. I'd never heard that - and I think I do a lot of reading. Well, that very night, I picked up an article that said "eat pineapple for the anti-inflammatory properties." Okay, time to research. Pineapple is a "bromeliad" flowering fruit. There's an enzyme called bromelain in it. Well, I think bromelain is more technically a mix of protein-digesting enzymes (yes, enzymes that digest protein, which is possibly the reason it "tickles" or stings the mouths of people who eat a lot - your mouth has protein in it, after all.) Bromelain is a natural blood thinner and anti-inflammatory. It really has been used as such by the medical community. Bromelain is extracted from the stem and the juice of the pineapple. The problem is that it does not occur in high enough doses naturally in the fruit to act as medicine. Stick to the omega fats like Udo's Oil, walnuts, and avocado and turmeric (curcumin) for your natural anti-inflammatories. But feel free to enjoy a pineapple for its anti-oxidant/vitamin C :)
|A 60k day on the Bibbulmun Track|
Well, my hands are sore. From researching and blogging or towel wringing? Time for a little speedwork. I've got a 100k in two weeks - decided to put a training race into the program a few days ago. I won't be in peak shape for it, but that's what training is about, isn't it? Getting into peak shape :)