I was having fun in the first week of the new WTRL Zwift Duathlon series, slowly cranking up the run pace on the treadmill when, with just two minutes left to go, I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. Uh oh. Too much run intensity, too fast for these old legs. I immediately slowed way down and finished at a slow, limping jog. But this was just week one of six. How best to recover and prepare for next week without risking a strain turning into a full blown tear?
I’ve been running pretty consistently for almost twenty-five years now. Some years more, some years less but I’ve probably logged at least 500 miles a year for the past two decades. You would think after thousands of miles and thousands of hours of running I’d have perfected a system. Actually, I have, it’s just that most days it’s not an ideal system. Despite being a veteran runner, I still make the same mistakes many beginning runners do.
For all my years of running, my feet have held up pretty well. My hips and knees have had various maladies over the years but feet and ankles (especially after I gave up soccer and basketball) have never given me any major problems. Until recently.
A few months ago, I started feeling a hard, sometimes painful, but mostly annoying, spot on the ball of my foot. It didn’t bother me too much when wearing sneakers and excercising but I definitely felt it when I was barefoot. Without any padding, it felt like I was walking with a quarter under my foot.
As an athlete, perhaps the only thing harder than being injured is not being able to race and compete. For many, that is the goal or purpose of all those early morning workouts or pushing through a hard session when you aren’t feeling your best. It’s not necessarily about about winning or losing but challenging ourselves to get better, faster, stronger and achieve our invidiual goals.
Can we do that in this current pandemic world? Sure, but virtual racing presents a new and different set of challenges from the typical in-person experience. I’ve found some competitive release in racing the bike on Zwift and doing some virtual running events. Here are my tips to nail your next virtual race.
It’s time for the occasional reminder to myself that races aren’t won in the middle of winter and that recovery is a key element of a successful training cycle. Even more so as you grow older. Those niggling injuries or aches don’t fade quite so quickly.
This all sounds so basic and cliche but it’s the thing I often find myself wrestling with the most. I like to workout. I like to go hard. I like to sweat. I like to feel tired. I don’t like to take a day off. Even if I know it’s probably what’s best and that I’m not going to lose fitness with an extra day or even two a week. In fact, it might end up improving it instead.
After 10 solid years of service, our basement treadmill finally called it quits last fall. We looked into having it repaired but apparently a decade of my corrosive sweat had rendered the circuit board inoperable. The tech was impressed we’d gotten such a long run out of it and suggested a new purchase would be more economical than replacing the board. We ended up purchasing the exact same model (Sole F63) in the newest model year. Why mess with something that works? But…. why buy a treadmill at all? How do you stand it?
Last month I met up with my running club for a Saturday group run. It was going to be a hot day, really hot, but we were going early and mostly running on shaded trails. Eight miles later, my pace had cratered, I was soaked, having sweated through my shoes, and reduced to walking the last half mile to get back to my car. It was a tough and disheartening workout. But it didn’t have to be.