Listen

The start of my Specific Marathon Phase of training definitely did not go to plan. Leading in I had taken a good week worth of recovery. The onslaught of the Threshold training I subjected my body too had taken a lot more out of me than I wanted. A week of recovery probably would have been about right if it was just a matter of the muscles and connective tissue recovering. Unfortunately it looks like I had dipped into the next level of breakdown.

Clearly there was a bit more to my fatigue than beat-up legs. The immune system was compromised and I picked up a couple of low grade infections. Combining that with the hormone imbalances that go with some significant overtraining, there was no way I could get any high level of training in. My usual sleep wasn't enough. The night shift hit me a lot harder than usual. Plus running was difficult in every respect. The legs hurt, I had no energy and I was always ridiculously hungry.

The solution was to take more recovery. Just hit some very easy runs if I felt like it. Not ever force anything. If I didn't feel right then I just wouldn't train. Patience became my goal. The ability to wait and be comfortable with not training hard in some ways can be more difficult than pushing out some hard and fast running. Eventually I had a run that felt great. Everything flowed, the pace was good and I felt better at the end of the run than at the start. Attempting to give myself a safety net, I thought it would be wise to listen to how my body responded to that run.

Recovery was a little slow. The next day I was stiffer than I should be. So I took two days completely off running. Instead I focused on a fair amount of labour to completely overhaul the backyard. Plenty of physical work, but quite different to the usual training. This seems to have worked. In the end I was feeling on top of the game again. The period was finished with a good long run of 3 hours, with a good portion over some new trails. As a result I don't know exactly how far I ran, but it felt good. This was followed up in the evening with some drill work, soft sprints and some strength work. Followed by a couple of easy days where recovery has gone to plan. Looks like I'm back in it.

All up I had taken 14 days straight of dedicated recovery. 20-20 hindsight shows the Threshold training stint was too big a load for me to positively adapt to. The time to the Melbourne Marathon has closed down, and I haven't got in the a good predictor session yet. I would expect my recovery abilities to be a little fragile over the next couple of months, as the recent stint is likely to have my body behaving like it has just come out of an athletic peak. That is a risky time to throw in a lot of hard training. So I will need to be careful.

Still I plan on getting in 4 cycles of Specific preparation. However, this time I will stay clear of backing up hard days. I will ensure there has been appropriate recovery after a hard day before hitting the next key session. Ideally I would like to include three key sessions each cycle of 8 days, but I do expect to only have two key sessions at times. Purely depending on what my body is telling me. At the moment there are plenty of doubts in my ability to reach my goals in the marathon. That is normal after some forced down time. The hard part will be to stay comfortable with not trying to make up for any lost training.

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