Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Intervention

"Making a commitment to run comes down to how badly you want to explore your limits. It means honestly confronting your excuses. It means making time to train. Unless you go all out for something, you may conclude your life without actually having lived it. It doestn't have to be running, but it should be a quest for excellence, and it need be for only that period of your life that it takes to fully explore it. That's how you find out what you are made of. That's how you find out who you are. To live your life your way, to reach for the goals you have set for yourself, to be the you that you want to be, that is success." -Ron Daws, "Running your Best"

Why is the taper so damn evil? Why do I find myself with a sore forefoot and toe, forcing an emergency trip to the podiatrist with hopes of him providing enough damage control with regard to my neuromas and metatarsal pads to enable me to run the race I've trained 18 weeks for without my foot hurting so badly by the end that I either have to drop out or suffer some other injury from compensating for it? Why would I write such a long sentence? Why, within a week's time, do I hear from my brother, my mother, and my wife that I may be training hard enough to actually do myself long-term physical damage?

I believe in what Daws says. I'm also guilty of the single-mindedness and pig-headedness that seems to go along with it. I believe that striving for excellence in one of life's many avenues makes it easier to persue it down others. There is so much pain and suffering in racing, and it's only amplified during the marathon. But there is a finish line, I know I will reach it, and that makes it possible. This inevitably spills over into the other "endurance events" of my life, be it sick kids, night feedings, art shows, or whatever life throws at me. I know I have the strength to get through it, and that the "finish line" will eventually appear. I'm still convinced that because of this running makes me a better person, and it most certainly makes me happier and more fulfilled.

I thought my family was on board with me, but apparently that's not completely the case. In addition to dealing with what feels like a bruised or nerve-inflamed toe/forefoot marathon week, I get to figure out how to further minimize the footprint my running leaves. This is where I deal with the single-mindedness and pig-headedness that develops when I spend two hours a day away from my family running, not to mention the time I spend thinking about it. It's easy to pay words like "balance" lip service, now comes the test.

I ran 16 miles with Lucas on Sunday, and even though the effort was easy my forefoot/toe pain returned soon after the run. Our family headed up to Phoenix to spend the rest of the weekend with my parents, and I convinced myself to take a real day off from running yesterday in hopes of it hastening my recovery. This morning I felt a little better, and I decided to run 6 easy in my racing shoes, hoping that the worn insole/metatarsal pad combo in my trainers was the culprit. I have an appointment at 1:45 today which will hopefully help, though time is of the essence.

Pay Duncan a visit and congratulate him on a 6th place finish at the Vermont City Marathon. He put his fitness to the test in true Daws style.

Training: Today, 6 miles, 41:55, 6:59 pace
Yesterday: off
Sunday: 16 miles, 1:59:33, 7:28 pace
Miles for the week: 75 in 8 sessions


dezmo said...

I think Duncan actually placed 6th, there were three handcr's in front of him.

As far as congratulating him ... I will give him props for manning up and admitting to a bad race. Sorry, but I just don't fit into the "birds are singing and everyone rules" mentality. In fact feel free to delete this post.

Duncan lost me on Thursday with the comment that he was in sub 2:29 shape. Maybe he was (or is) but isn't that why we race? I find it hypocritical (although funny) that he criticizes most everyone for having a magic formula and training regimen yet it is OK for him to self assess. I'm sure he ran his heart out but I am afraid that he did himself in with too much intensity. I'd say he used up his race in training. I hope he learns and moves on, but don't expect a pat on the back and a "you're awesome" for that.

You have also had some pretty hard workouts. Only you can judge if you have allowed adequate recovery between these. On a couple of occasions I doubt it, but overall it's possible. Please rest hard this week. And 7 minute miles isn't rest for someone planning to go just under 6 minutes a mile for their goal race. I hope you do well, I too am a father and husband and have some idea of what you are going through. Just remember on June 5 you will still have two children that adore you no matter what any of us thinks.

Duncan Larkin said...

Mike, thanks for the kind words. I hope you feel better and that you get a good prognosis from your doctor. Remember to listen to your family. This experience ends with the race, and if you have to postpone it, you haven't lost all you've learned about yourself (mentally and physically) in this recent training. Easy for me to write this, I know, but races come and go, family is forever.

Mike said...

Thanks for the clarification on Duncan's place, I fixed it in the above post. If you go to Duncan's post today you can see my comment on his race. I applaud him for the attempt, and congratulate him for honestly racing his best for 156 consecutive minutes. The truth is I think the vast majority of runners honestly do not give their all when the gun sounds, be it 5K or the marathon. It takes too much pain tolerance, will, and courage to do so. I think Duncan is in the minority, and I respect him for that.

Do I think his preparation was ideal? Compare our logs, we obviously have different ideas on how to skin that cat. I don't know why it should bug me if he states he is "2:29 fit". As far as that being hypocritical, when you say that he used up his race in training, then say that "only you can judge if you have allowed adequate recovery" to me you're doing the same thing. Duncan probably has as good an idea as I do about that sort of thing.

I'm glad you commented, as I honestly enjoy readers who take me to task. Have I done too much? I think I did last time, and if you compare my last build to this one you will see a substantial reduction in both the days spent running at a high intensity as well as the overall level of that intensity in an effort to better control my peak. I'm trying to learn from my mistakes and fine-tune. As far as recovering enough, it's hard to say for certain. I think the 18 miler the day after the 5K a week ago exacerbated the latest neuroma/foot problem, so you might have something there.

dezmo said...

Mike, I think that we probably agree on 99.9% of what is being posted. Unfortunately I am not nearly as good as either you or Duncan at putting those thoughts into words.

After re-reading Duncan's last few posts I need to try this again. First, I have no doubt that Duncan took it to the limit ... just look at the picture of his shoe! It's easy to take one comment and twist it around which is what I did. That just struck a chord with me ... sorry Duncan. The great thing about running is that it is (or should be) absolute. You either run the time or you don't. I'll bet the farm that if Duncan gives his body a little more time to adapt he'll be right there.

Forgive me for being wordy, but it is refreshing to read about people who are not world class actually racing. I began running in the late 80's and as you all know, racing seems to have taken a nosedive since then.

Good luck this weekend and I hope your suffering is less than 150 minutes.

Eric said...

Holy crap, dezmo. Drop by my blog and leave me some comments like those above. Where have you been?? I'm a big fan of brutal honesty, so please leave me a comment sometime if you see something that tickles the hairs on the back of your neck.

Mike, I think you're well on your way to another PR with this build. What I am (and you are) really looking forward to is year three of the plan and beyond. Maybe it's just something in the air today, but I just reminded myself that what I'm doing the next four months, twelve months, eighteen months, whatever, is like a grade school Presidential Fitness test compared to where I expect to be in a few years. I know you are thinkingthat way, too. You are the person who taught me that perspective.

As far as the family stuff, I hope that all manages out well. The Daws quote is right on. I love my family as much as anyone, but I am at least as important to myself as my family is to me. I'm sorry, but not every situation in life is about taking a bullet for someone you love. If someone told me I had to choose running or my family, I wouldn't immediately say "family". I'd say "why?". The answer to any conflict between running and family time in my house is setting the alarm back another half-hour. I obviously don't know what your particular conflict is, but hopefully you can balance the solution to accomodate Mike the runner as well as Mike the dad. Both will suffer if the solution is out of balance either way.

Thomas said...

If I remember correctly, you had similar foot problems before the last marathon, and that turned out ok. I hope the appointment goes well.

As for family thinking you're doing too much, even I get those comments, and I'm doing half your mileage. They worry about you, that's just natural, and does not mean that they want you to quit running. Without knowing too many details, I get the impression you're rather good at balancing running, family and less important things like work.

Scooter said...

"Why is the taper so damn evil? Why do I find myself with a sore forefoot and toe, forcing an emergency trip to the podiatrist..." I think this sums up the problem pretty well. At reduced loads and with more thinking time, we magnify problems. Your foot is probably little different than a week ago, though the diminished loads may let it tighten up a bit and change your sensation of the discomfort. Your foot will be OK. You'll race well. Arthur will look down and smile!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

I hope your race goes well, take care of yourself. balance is hard.

twat-shaped grimace said...

Well, everyone here has already kissed and made up, and dezmo meant no harm, but I'll say that there's a difference between "brutal honesty" and simply offering an opinion which, ironically, is far less informed than the one being maligned via that brutal honesty owing to its even lower evidentiary standards.

That was convoluted, so I'll translate: Duncan has more reason to pin a number on his capabilities than his detractors have reason to either question this assessment or Duncan's fitness level itself.

"I find it hypocritical (although funny) that he criticizes most everyone for having a magic formula and training regimen yet it is OK for him to self assess."

How is self-assessment tantamount to a "magic formula"? A guy with a 2:32 PR who has recently upped his mileage considerably and run 5:23 pace for 10 miles is well within the realm of good sense in speculating about a 2:29.

"I am afraid that he did himself in with too much intensity. I'd say he used up his race in training. I hope he learns and moves on..."

Maybe, maybe not, but how and when? What lesson(s) should he "learn" here?

"The great thing about running is that it is (or should be) absolute. You either run the time or you don't."

No offense, but this genuinely sounds like someone who's never raced a marathon. From the simple perspective of cold logic you're right, but weather can obviously make a big difference.

As Thomas implied, anyone who posts his training on the Internet is going to get a range of directives and advice -- especially if he mixes in robust opinions about pretty much everything. The wisest thing to do is probably laugh off 100% of it. Personally I could never balance chasing my goals with taking public potshots at essentially everything within and outside of running, but like dezmo I do enjoy watching others do it.