A Bad Workout ain’t the End of the World — August 31, 2021

The sun is shining, temps were in the low ‘60s, and the humidity isn’t at crazy levels. All giving rise to the last day of August having the potential to be a great day.

Most likely I will run at Colby’s track and now that the Puma Deviate Nitro’s are not bothering my feet, I am planning on wearing them. I feel faster and have more confidence that I will run my fastest in them, compared to the other “go faster” shoes in my rotation.

Today, I get to do the baseline for Under Armour’s All-Out Mile Challenge and at the same time complete my monthly fitness check. This means a 1.0-mile time trial, then 4 x 400 and finishing with 4 x200, plus warm-up/cool-down.

This track workout will tell me what I will focus my training on during September — the All-Out mile or running a hard, but not racing a 10K in October.

The mile is scarier, more challenging, and something that I want to do. However, it will come down to how the leg feels during and after the workout. Continuing to make positive progress with the leg is more important to my running goals, then running a fast for me — mile or anything else now.

However, I believe that today’s track workout and mile time trial, while challenging, will be one of the good ones. This is the best I have felt all summer, the leg is progressing, and the weather is going to be fine. In other words, it is time to make the donuts and be ready to have fun meeting the challenges the track will give. The track always gives and gives and gives… Hehehehe

Why yes, I am still smiling and ready to do the work even after writing about what I plan to do.

How Did I do?

That was one of the most instructive workouts that I have had in a while!

Wow, that means you had the great workout that you predicted — right?

Nope, it sucked big time.

It sucked bad enough that I bagged it after doing less than half of the second part of the workout and skipped the cool-down altogether. It felt like I was breathing through a straw, then the left leg began to complain in earnest, and I started to beat myself up over how poorly I was running — while I was running. When I begin to do that, it is time to let the workout fade into the mists of time as quickly as possible, so I did.

It is now only a memory, but good things will come from this memory — of that, I have no doubt.

Let’s back up and think about what went right and what I need to work on.

I left the house in good spirits, the weather was sunny, temps & humidity in the mid-’70s, so I believed I was ready to have a great workout. This is not how I usually approach a challenging workout, so that part was great.

When I got over to Colby, traffic was horrible coming into the campus — I had forgotten today is move-in day. Not a big deal, but I worried about whether I would be able to park, where I would park if it was full, or if I could even use the track. All those wonderful thoughts that go through your mind when you come up against the unexpected.

Find parking was not a problem and there were just a few people using the track. However, it looked like the Cross-Country team was having a meeting and I figured would be doing some work on the track at some point. So I was worried about if I was going to get the entire workout in or not. Plus, having an audience to watch the “old fart” run around the track was distracting. I know they couldn’t care less about me, but…those insecurities of thinking how slow I am compared to those college kids, especially if they got on the track before I finished…yeah, let’s just say it was distracting.

With all that going on in my head, I did a mile to warm-up for the time trial. I know that I was too fast for a warm-up at my present fitness level, but I was feeling good and wanted to finish before the team took over the track.

I took a few seconds between the warm-up and getting going on the time trial, just to get myself in a good space. When I felt ready, I started quickly like a race would, then as soon as I hit the backstretch, it suddenly felt as though I was breathing through a straw.

From that point on, the time trial mile became a slog-fest, or was that sufferfest. I never got my breathing right and my stride felt labored for the entire mile. All I could do was to keep pushing, not give in to the thoughts going through my mind, and finally working hard to just get the damn thing over with. I did finish the mile and forgot to turn off the watch as leaned over feeling like I was going to barf. Finally, I caught my breath (after about a minute) and looked down to see what my time was, and shut off the timer.

The numbers sucked — bad. My thinking cap wasn’t on straight yet, and I hadn’t subtracted out the extra minute it took me to find the stop button. Needless to say, I was rather deflated about how I felt the entire mile run and then to see that much effort for that slow of a time…I almost stopped the workout right there in disgust.

I collected myself, walked down to the trash can, turned around determined to do better on the rest of the workout.

During the recovery lap, I figured out that I needed to subtract out the time I took to stop the watch and chuckled at myself.

I figured it was between 30 and 60 seconds at least, so that mollified me a little. However, while I was doing that recovery lap, I noticed that my left leg was a little grumpy. It gets that way on some runs but also stops sometimes. So, I hoped it was just a momentary grumpiness.

Starting the first of four 400s, I felt a little better, but as I came down the backstretch, it was more like my fast-twitch muscles had gone into hibernation. I couldn’t pick the pace up at all and even when I pushed hard, nothing went faster. Just the laughter from the peanut gallery in my head, and the grumpiness in the leg was not improving.

That next recovery lap was a welcome one (sarcasm). This is when I started to really beat myself up about how poorly I was running.

When I got back to the starting line, I attempted to go out strong, work on my stride and run hard for the entire lap. That all lasted about 50 yards before I went into struggle to finish mode. I was feeling like shit, running like shit, breathing like shit, and my left leg felt like shit.

When I finished that lap, I proceeded to beat myself up some more. Then, as I was coming around the far corner on my recovery lap, I could see the team moving to the football field to do some stretching and cals.

At this point, I was thinking why bother to do anymore, the workout has sucked, I feel bad, and my left leg was not happy at all. I wasn’t interested in watching college kids run like antelopes when I was moving like a brontosaurus. As I got closer to the end of the recovery lap, I decided it was time to shut it down and bag the workout.

So, I stopped, put my glasses on, and walked dejectedly back to the truck. All the way home, I wondered what happened to that great workout that I expected to have and why I was beating myself up over it so much.

I guess, I really wanted to do well this morning and when everything went down the toilet, I didn’t handle it well.

Now that I am home and have had an opportunity to stop, look at the data and reflect on what I did accomplish, I did better than I thought while I was running

  • I improved my mile time by one second from July’s fitness check. It doesn’t sound like much, but with how badly I felt and the amount of struggling to simply finish the mile time trial this morning, not doing worse was a huge win.
  • The two faster 400 m intervals were disappointing, but with how I was feeling, just finishing them was a victory over wanting to quit.

What lessons did I learn or re-learn this morning?

  • I am old. The legs and body are different from what my mind sometimes believes or thinks they should be. My times are and will continue to get slower. It is just the way things work. Yes, I know that it frustrates me. It will only continue to happen as I decline, unless I do a LOT more work.
  • I am not a professional runner (far from it) and while I am willing to work hard at my running, there is a point of diminishing returns as I get older.
  • I am learning that one workout does not make or break a training block. A training block is all about consistently getting out the door, while doing most of the work.
  • When a bad workout happens (they will), figuring out what went wrong, along with what I did correctly, make adjustments or changes as necessary, write it up, and move on. Good and bad workouts are part of a training block, and you can learn a lot from both.
  • That I did the correct thing when I bagged the workout. (1) It serves no purpose to get on the struggle bus and then beat yourself up while you attempting to do the work. (2) The left leg bothered enough that it was starting to change my stride and was beginning to bother more. It is better to stop before a niggle that has been around for a while becomes a full-blown injury.
  • The Puma Deviate Nitros felt comfortable and light throughout the workout, but more than once, I thought about how soft they felt while doing the faster work. I wonder if a firmer shoe would work better for me at faster paces? I will look at this closer to see if this is something I need to change.
  • I wonder how much added strain running harder on the track with the left leg on the inside caused it to complain more, or is a combination of a softer running shoe and running faster? More to thinking about.

No matter what, I did at least part of the workout, and while I am disappointed with how I did. It does give me a good baseline to work from.

  • Do what I can, with the body I have now, and keep working to improve it.
  • Continuing to strengthen the left leg and the rest of the body
  • I am what I eat, so I do have to work on this part and get back to more of an 80/20 eating versus what I am doing now, which isn’t 80/20 anymore.
  • I know my strength throughout my running career has been my natural speed, is it time to focus more on longer/slower running and not be as concerned about shorter distances?
  • How does the above question affect my training plans/paces
  • Figure out why it felt like I was breathing through a straw at the start of the mile time trial
  • Work on not letting other people or better runners being around intimidating me or losing my focus

Probably the biggest take-away from today’s workout was/is that — IF I want to run faster than I am now, I need to run faster, more often. For now, the left leg limits both running faster or longer, so the priority is to get that working pain/discomfort-free.

Honestly, I need to let things settle down for a couple of days, think long and hard about what comes next. Instead of my usual drastic action/reaction to a bad workout.

I knew that I was going to figure out a new training regimen after this workout, no matter what the results were going to be. I will put together a training plan that will work for me based on the data I have accumulated over the last six months, what I want to accomplish, and the limitations that I have to work with. I am certain that I can come up with something.

Now, let’s see, what kind of workout plan should I do, do I need to do shorter speed sessions with more repetitions, am I doing all the prehab, rehab, strength work, and making some dietary changes that are necessary. Harold — stop!

Give it a couple of days before you go into Mentat mode and really screw things up!

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