I’m an idiot.
Coming out of my lackluster performance at Burning River, I knew I needed a little R&R. I had several months in between races, which provided me the perfect opportunity for some downtime. I’m a planner though so I can’t just have complete unstructured nothingness stretching out as far as the eye can see. The mere thought sends a shiver down my spine so I came up with a recovery plan.
While I didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time coming up with the plan, a decent amount of thought went into it. The goal was to cut my running mileage way back, get back into a habit of doing core exercises, and add in a bunch of walking for low impact time on my feet. The side benefit of lower mileage would be that I could sleep in longer in the mornings before work.
The plan was solid. It checked all the boxes. I executed it to perfection. And yet. . .
After a couple weeks, my recovery plateaued. My left leg/knee had been a little wonky and felt weak off and on. I eventually started some modest strengthening exercises to mitigate, however that didn’t seem to do anything. I never felt like I was injured as it was an off and on thing. It just seemed like the other shoe was about to drop.
It wasn’t until last week that I finally had my head smack moment. I was scrolling through my training log from 2014 when I noticed my paces. Back then I was doing all my runs at a very modest heart rate, which forced a much slower pace. Staring at all those 10 to 12 minute miles I remembered the formula for training workload doesn’t equal distance covered. Here’s the correct formula:
- Training load = Distance + Speed
Now it’s not like my runs were all tempo efforts. I went as fast as I felt, however that tended to be 9 1/2 minute miles plus or minus over a rather hilly course. I remembered 2014 being some of my better races, so decided I would slow down for a while to see what happens. I haven’t slowed my pace down evenly though. I’m still running the flats and downs at about the same pace, however I’m walking all the steeper hills. Heck, I’m even walking some of the more gradual hills if the mood strikes. This has increased my average pace by 60-90 seconds.
I’m a week into my Season of Slow and I think it’s already paying dividends. The other day I felt fast and fluid for the first time in a while. My legs are feeling stronger and more stable. This has had a knock-on effect of improving my mental state as I no longer hear ominous foreshadowing music in my head when I lace my shoes up in the morning. I’m even starting to look forward to increasing my training volumes over the next month. I haven’t decided yet how much longer I’ll keep chilling at this pace. Definitely through Blues Cruise 50K in 2 weeks and maybe all the way up to my planned 24 hour race in November. It’s even possible I’ll maintain this all the way through year end. I’ll just have to see how I feel.
Now all I have to do is remember that the fastest way to recover is to slow down.