Monday, December 23, 2013

I've Taken All and I've Endured... day it all will fade I'm sure...
         --Foo Fighters, I'll Stick Around

My coach is trying to kill me.

Let me explain.

John has, shall we say, a very *ahem* unique method of motivation:
As many of you are aware, I'm training for the Charleston, SC Marathon in January. We stand just under 4 weeks away from me toeing the line of a race again. Crazy to think! But then again, outside of a couple of 5Ks in November and December, I haven't really attempted racing since the Cedar Point disast-debacle. So...we're due.

To give you an idea of John's ideas on training load, let me illustrate using a classic from the Paulo Sousa meme thread on Slowtwitch:

 To take you through a sample week: one recovery day. Run slow. Run trails. Run uphill. Run fast. Run long. Run long with tempo. Bike hard. Bike long. Swim somewhere in there. And oh yeah, get some core work done too.

Add on top of this that I got to spend the better part of two days with a sledgehammer and a crowbar taking out about 2500 square feet worth of engineered hardwood that was overglued to the floor (evidently, the previous tenant used the glue to LEVEL THE FLOOR)...and I'm *ahem* tired.

But it's all going to the right place. I've never run this much before healthily. I feel strong. Running is coming easier and easier. On some of these long runs, I just start jamming out 7:00 pace without really thinking about it. Of course, I then slow down when I realize what the hell I'm doing (don't leave your race in a workout).

This week, though, is the test: have a predictor run tomorrow (basically, what I can punch out for that test workout is a great indicator of marathon time/pace) and a 20-mile progression run on the weekend (get to test out that indicated pace).

Bring it, John. You haven't killed me yet.

Under that same token, I've been doing a lot of work with Christine Lynch to figure out what the ruddy hell has been wrong with my stomach.

As you've probably tired of reading in this space, I've had a lot of challenges with my gut. Whether it's pre-race, during the race, post-race, cramping, vomiting, etc. I was tired of it. Plus, Christine is the one that took this phenomenal photo of me in the medical tent at Cedar Point:

So...she's seen me in some pretty bad spots before.

After some consulting, we decided that the best approach would be to follow an elimination diet for the better part of 6 weeks. What's an elimination diet, you ask? You pretty much get rid of anything and everything that could possibly be a food intolerance. So...pretty restrictive overall. You then add foods back in, one item at a time, to test how your body responds to things.

Add that on top of the training from John...and there were some days where I certainly contemplated putting my head through a wall. (There was in fact a day where I got violently ill from cutting my coffee habit off cold turkey. Worst migraine ever, fever, chills, you name it I got it.)

Well, as it turns out, I'm intolerant of soy and don't handle fructose well under training load. So, out goes soy out of the regular diet, and finding new sports nutrition that doesn't contain fructose in it. Good times. But as we've done this, we've gotten rid of almost all of the symptoms that I used to deal with. It's awesome.

Christine's also helping out on the daily diet front, trying to find some more healthy recipes, etc. that aren't simply "lay protein over massive spring mix and spinach salad, add balsamic vinaigrette (good luck finding one that doesn't have soybean oil in it!)" which, although delicious, is awfully repetitive. We're getting there.

It's been an awesome experience, getting to know what works in my system and how it responds under the volume John's putting me under. It's been, dare we say, fun. One of the biggest lessons out of all of this is enjoying the process of what works for me as an athlete, and even what doesn't work. Then taking those lessons and applying it to racing.

Still a little ways to go before that happens. Time to keep slogging onward.

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