Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I love to Bonk

I have kept a very detailed running log since about 1984 of every run that includes distance, time and pace (if I timed it), time of day, temperature (including heat index or wind chill, humidity, and wind speed and direction), how I felt both physically and mentally (I give these each a rating of 1-10 with 10 being the highest in any category and the rarest), my weight, and just some general comments about the run itself or things that happened that day in my personal life. The main thing this has helped me to do is to be able to quickly see how I perform historically under certain conditions, and it has paid off tremendously in many of my races.

About once or twice a year I bonk on a run and my body just completely shuts down. I'm not sure how it is for everyone else, but my mind and body are just completely spent from the outset, I always end up doing far less mileage than what I had planned, and it's as if the off switch has been flicked for my entire body. The interesting thing for me is that it usually occurs when I have been training heavily for a long period of time (which I have been doing) and strangely enough it always signals to me that my training is about to go up a notch for the better, which usually happens about 7-10 days later.

Case in point, last week on June 2, I went out on my normal 7.5 mile route, a route that I have covered well over 1,000 times through the years. Before I had even gone 200 yards to the end of our street, I was already breathing heavily and sweating. Anyone who runs a lot knows this type of thing happens from time to time, and typically by the time I get to the half-mile or mile point I have started to get a better rhythm going and the run improves the rest of the way. This was not the case on that day. I had barely made it 2 miles before I was fighting the mental demons to keep moving forward. I stretched it out to mile 3, then 4, then at about mile 5.5 finally gave into my screaming body and stopped and walked back home. I was completey covered in sweat, and my shoes and socks and shorts were drenched. The next day I had a run planned and decided to give myself an unscheduled day of rest.

The next 3 or 4 runs that followed were better and most were in the 7:50-7:55 pace per mile range (including a 12.2 miler this past Saturday in 90+ degrees). Then yesterday, it happened. I went for a run on my 7.5 mile route around 5:30 in the afternoon (temps still above 90) and really did not feel like going, but went anyway. My body felt lathargic, but I pressed forward and was surprised to see a 7:45 pace for the first mile. At the halfway point, I looked down to see that I was at a 7:30 pace, and I ended up holding that 7:30 pace for the entire run. On top of that, my swimming the last 4 times has gone from about a 2:00-2:05 pace per 100m to around 1:50-1:55 per 100m with what feels like less effort.

So what do I take from all of this? If you train hard and faithfully, you are going to go through periods of ups and downs, regardless of your ability. Just hang in there and the benefits will come.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I love my Specialized Roubaix. I honestly believe that Specialized makes the best bikes! Congrats on your new one.

Yes, bonking is for everyone. A part of life.

You've been tagged. I hate this stuff too but fun to read what other people have to say. Go to my blog to get the 5 questions.