Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beyond Bonking- Scary

A year ago at this time, I weighed a lot. More than I have in a very long time. I needed to lose a lot. I think I have these numbers right. I think I lost 25 by November 15 or so. Running started getting good then. I gained 5-10 back by February 15 or so. Lost 20 in past 5 weeks by eating 800-1,000 calories most days. You don't have to tell me that's dumb. I know it is. I'll spare you the issues of control, "all or nothing" mentality, and long term relationship I've had with food. But I know better than to try to lose that much that quickly. I tell my team all the time all about the importance of food as fuel and why you need to eat for performance.

This past Saturday, I ran a routine 12 miles with Shannon. I'd eaten a Powerbar and a medium sized dinner the day before and that's all. Nothing Saturday morning. I got to about 11 miles feeling fine & then all of the sudden, I started having trouble seeing, the trail "moved" from side to side, and I was super dizzy. I was sure I would pass out. I think I grabbed onto a tree. I had already fallen twice in the run, but I don't think that was connected. Maybe. I convinced Shannon I was OK and we finished up the last mile in silence. I was close to passing out and honestly, was just waiting until I got back to the parking lot/bathrooms/water area before I dropped. Shannon went to her car to get her phone or something. I vaguely remember walking behind the bathrooms and the next thing I knew, Shannon was over me. She said she had been there for 2 minutes and it could've taken her about 2 more minutes to find me. I may have been out for 4-5 minutes. I am positive I passed out because of no food. Like a mega-bonk.

I figured that was an isolated incident and told myself I just needed to change my eating habits, but it lasted longer than expected. I felt terrible all day. I was going to cook dinner, and knew what I wanted to make but stared at the pantry for 5 minutes before giving up. I simply couldn't think of what to do. Sunday was worse. ZERO energy. ZERO brain function. I could hardly get a single coherent sentence out all day. I stayed in bed for the most part until 8 PM! I'd get up, get confused and get back in bed. Not really to sleep, just to avoid having to think and function. I really felt dumb. Shannon texted me to ask how much she should run Monday. It took me 2 hours maybe to think "6 miles would be good." I weighed all kinds of options in my feeble mind to come to that brilliant conclusion.

Monday was better and I went to work but felt foggy. Today was better than that but I don't feel 100%. I went to the doctor this afternoon and he told me the drop in blood sugar &/or blood pressure could've been so severe that my brain and the rest of my body just shut down. I haven't really bonked more than once or twice since 2000-2003, when I was training for triathlons and I remember feeling bad for a couple of days afterwards, but nothing like this. I was really incapable of much thought or movement for 36 hours. Luckily, the doctor said the effects would be temporary, but still pretty scary. They did an EKG & blood work. Results from blood will be back in a couple of days. EKG looked good. Resting heart rate of 36. He said that was the record low he's ever seen in a healthy person & I felt like saying, "If I was so healthy, I wouldn't be here." I also got another kind of antibiotic & inhaler for the month-long bronchitis I still have.

Some of my runners are really concerned & tell me I need to take a break from running- that I need to get my eating under control & take care of myself. One told me if I can't get through 12 miles without passing out, I can't consider doing more. It makes sense, but I'm committed to continuing and having a great 24 hour run in a week & a half. I just need to be smarter than I am. I tried to lose the weight to improve my running. Now that it's having a negative effect on it and potentially serious effect on my overall health, I'll eat what I need. I haven't been able to run what I want to the past month because of the bronchitis, but I've run enough to call it a "taper," and my running before that was good. I've been able to get in 30-40 miles/week this past month for most weeks, but nothing longer than a 12 mile run. 100 mile week the week before. I think I'll be OK as long as the bronchitis passes and I fuel myself to run.

People always say, "Listen to your body." Mine never says much to me but it was yelling this time! Maybe this was a teachable moment for the team.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Too Much?

Maybe I overdid it.

Week 1: 100 miles. I've run 100+ mile weeks before. Not a ton of times, but I have. I don't know if I've done as many short, semi-fast 6 mile runs as I did. Over Spring Break, I tried to meet with anyone on the team who wanted to run whenever they could do it. That sometimes meant 3 runs a day. Luckily, I did not repeat the 16x400 workout! It was a lot for the week.

Week 2: Fewer miles, but some hard running. This week I got 15 hours of sleep in a 5 day period. I tried to sleep more but couldn't. Could be a sign of overtraining now that I think about it.

Week 3: Worst cold/flu/bronchitis I can remember ever having. Completely shut me down. I only got in 12 miles for the week. 9 days later, I've been running but still sick.

I think it's safe to say these could all be connected. Sometimes, I guess, too much is too much.

Monday, May 2, 2011

18:10 for 5K!

I say it was when I was in 9th grade, but actually, I think I ran my previous PR in 1988 in 10th grade at McAlpine- 18:15. I dunno, it could've been 9th grade. I never got any faster than that. I turned 30 in 2003. I ran 18:58 that year and have not run a 5K race since. Last fall, I ran on our XC course by myself and ran 19:07. I was pleased. My running's getting better & better and I started doing the math and thinking that I can run under 18:00. We have a 5K on the track May 19 and I thought about jumping in on that but I'm worried about the pressure. I went to the track yesterday to see if I could maintain sub-18 pace for 2 miles. I knew if I could, running under 18 was a possibility.

First mile 5:48. Stomach hurt a little and legs were not fresh feeling at all. I started the run 45 minutes after I woke up and blame that. Second mile 5:46. Still not feeling good, but not feeling terrible. Decided in the last 200m of the 2 mile to keep going for 5K. Last mile 5:56. Completely zoned out with 3 laps to go. Started thinking about other things and was 1:33 that lap instead of 1:26. Last 200m :40. Total time 18:10. Lifetime PR by 5 seconds. Adult PR by 48 seconds. Very happy about the time and the possibility of a faster time on the horizon.

After turning 30, things seemed to fall apart for me running-wise in a lot of ways. I just assumed I was going to get slower and operated under that mindset until this past fall. For 7 years, I did marathons, ultras, got hurt a few times, but never pushed my speed limitations. I figured, "If I can't run fast anymore, at least I can run long." Don't know why you can't do a little of both. (Obviously, someone who focuses on 100 mile races exclusively isn't going to be a great 5K runner and vice versa, but there is some middle ground.) I've been doing hard workouts faster and more effortlessly lately, but last week, after 600s, we did two 300s that were supposed to be at 800m race pace. Who knows what that is for me, but I was just trying to stay ahead of the girls as I did on the 600s. Hit the 200m mark of the first one at :33 and got passed by Mallary. She was :50. I was :52. Legs were screaming. Difficulty breathing. Next one, Mallary & Shannon passed me. I was :52. They were :48 & :50. I thought I would die.

I may do that 5K on May 19 but on a track with people watching me... I dunno. I'm very much looking forward to Black Mountain Monster 24 Hour in a month. Wasn't planning on doing it, but I think I was just put off by last year's unseasonable heat.

I've lost 30-35 pounds in the past year and that's probably been one of the biggest factors for my improved running. I felt terrible a year ago. Pushing harder has meant having to bump up my vegetarian (post/semi/not exactly-vegan) protein consumption. The last couple of days, I've neglected that & can feel nagging calf and hip problems that aren't too happy with my lapse. On to tomorrow.