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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Running through Jello

I feel like I'm back on top of things and fully recovered.  I can always tell when i get there because as crazy as it sounds, when i'm not fully recovered (i.e. in the week or two following a bigger effort) i start thinking i should cut my already ridiculously low training volume down even lower - say to 30 minutes a week.  I'm tapped out of motivation after my three 10 minute jaunts and the idea of that single half hour session on the weekend just seems too much.

But this last week has been awesome.  It's only three weeks since the 8+ hour winter 50K run and i'm already at my 'high-water' marks for the super intense sessions - this week I managed to match my best past efforts on the bike and run and exceed it slightly during my rowing workout.  All were brutal and it took nearly as much time for the feelings of agony to subside immediately post workout as it had to create them.

But it was the run this week was particularly fascinating. It was my progressive interval day which called for a constant speed of 8.2 mph (7:19 pace) starting with a 0% incline and increasing 2% every 2 minutes.  The first three intervals reach a 4% grade but never demand an intensity i can't 'wrap my mind' around.  6% is a different story - and by the end of the 2 minutes i'm usually above Lactate Threshold - the point where i'm maxed out my cardio system and increased efforts come with time limits.  It feels hard enough where if i placed too much stock in 'feelings' i'd be convinced that i should just stick at 6% for the final 2 minutes and hope i could make it.

But instead, i make it harder.  The only way to go into this last 2 minutes at 8% is with guns blazing.  I usually roar internally (i tried doing it externally once but this is apparently frowned upon?) and charge up a simulated hill toward a mentally simulated finish line.  It's only 2 minutes, right?  I can do this.

Unfortunately, that bravado and fake finish line only get me through about 45 seconds.  With over a minute to go it really becomes interesting.  I start counting down from 100 every time my right foot hits the spinning belt.  Even though i'm sure i don't actually close my eyes, the optic nerve impulses must not make it past the Cerebellum, being used to keep me on my feet but never making it into my active consciousness.  My focus is entirely abstract  - nothing but numbers (55, 54, 53, 52.....) and an odd and heightened awareness of the approaching end of my ability to continue performing coordinated movement.

you want me to run through there?
I start to feel like i'm running through jello or some other viscous fluid.  It's not purley a cardiovascular difficulty, or a lactic acid/muscular difficulty one like i often get on hard biking intervals - its this beautiful whole body sort of thing.  Arms, legs, chest, gut, skin, lungs - messages being sent from all remote outposts simultaneously declaring that actual war is about to be lost.  Defeat is on the horizon.

I think maybe if i'd actually had a gun to my head i could have pulled out another 30 seconds or so.  Maybe.

I thought it was pretty sweet to come that close to actual physical failure on purpose.

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