It was all going so well…
Week 5 of marathon training and I’d been diligently building up the Sunday long run mileage, running up and down hills and doing some actual proper speed work. My fitness and pace seem to be on their way back and I was pleased to be heading into the heaviest week so far with a 14 miler already under my belt and feeling happy that I was on schedule.
Ah yes. The heaviest week so far. Such fun.
I had a 6 mile training pace run in the Tuesday night drizzle followed by a very exciting Yasso 800 session during which I ran my fastest ever 800m and did all but one of the reps under 4 minutes. Then a 5 miles-ish hill reps session, a day off and the weekend double of a jog to Northala for parkrun and 16 miles on the Sunday. By Sunday morning I was delighted I’d hit all the sessions and feeling ok, if a little sleepy.
Last Sunday’s long run, however, will be logged as one of those runs we decide are character building. What a difference a run makes.
I’d already run just under 22 miles that week before I even got my shoes laced up, and I’d had a couple of little irritating body issues playing on my mind.
The first is that this year my hands have decided that what I really need is to start suffering from Raynaud’s for the first time in my life. Leaving aside the worry that this might be an indicator that I’m definitely going to develop arthritis sometime soon, it’s massively annoying and quite painful.
The second niggle is more concerning. Those two little words that every runner fears…plantar fasciitis. I often get a very minor point of soreness in my right heel which usually disappears if I poke a spiky ball into it, but it had been nagging all week.
By the time I made it to 11 miles into Sunday’s run my useless hands had been spasming for 6 miles and were so numb I couldn’t grip my gels to open them, and my heel was really hurting. My frozen legs were complaining every step of the last few miles and when I emerged from the shower after the run I was in bits, hobbling around trying to work out if I’d scalded my forearms from running them under warm water that I couldn’t feel was too hot.
So what went wrong? Everything had been going swimmingly, why had things started to feel so hard?
I’ll tell you what went wrong. I had fallen into the usual trap of only focusing on the running.
I had neglected the Yamauchi Triangle.
Nothing to do with missing planes and boats. Sorry.
The Yamauchi Triangle is what I’m calling the model that the EA marathon workshop chaps showed us back in January. The lovely Mara Yamauchi was on some of their videos and offered the completely common sense advice that your training, rest and nutrition levels should always increase or decrease proportionally with each other, so they form an equilateral triangle.
So if you do more training, you need to eat enough food and rest more. My triangle, after a 38 mile week, was looking decidedly wonky.
38 miles may not sound a lot but that’s the highest mileage week I’ve ever done, and clearly it took its toll. I thought I was getting my triangle in proportion, because I’d worked out I needed to take more care about eating and drinking enough and had upped the nutrition third of the triangle to match the training third.
What I was missing was the rest. Less Yamauchi Triangle, more Duff Banana.
Now, I’m factoring ‘recovery’ into the rest element as well, because for most of us by the time we’ve worked our 9 to 5, done the running, done some strength and cross training, kept the house in one piece, cooked and fed ourselves, scaled the washing mountain and managed to hold at least one coherent conversation with our partners there is actually not a lot of time left in the week for rest. You know. Other than actual bedtime.
But what I do need to do is recovery work and do the short list of physio stretches and other bits that keep my body together during these long weeks of marathon training.
Short list. Ha.
Calf raises, knee lifts three different ways, icing everything that aches, rolling with at least two different implements and after I’ve done all that, lying in the floor with my feet in the air to boost circulation to my lower legs.
I mean, at least when I’m doing that I’m resting. Technically.
People will read this and think, crikey. You’re mad. It can’t be worth it.
It is worth it though. It’s worth the sports massages and the endless stretching and the buying comfortable old lady shoes from Ecco that you found on a list of shoes that help with PF and the special heel impact insoles and the fear that you’ll never make your goal and the pain of the long run.
It’s tough. It’s really, really hard work keeping your triangle in proportion when you’re training for a marathon.
It’s not my natural inclination to rest when I could be doing something ‘more useful’, and it might seem counter intuitive to train better by resting more. But think I’d better start going against the grain.
Who’s for a catnap?