Even after a fairly high volume weekend, I’m happy to report that my body seemed to be holding up well, and I continued my Running Base Training for the majority of the week. It was another week that included some road runs, some trail runs, and a whole lot of home CrossFit workouts. The weather has continued to be nice most mornings, with a good upswing in temps throughout the afternoon. I have to say that I’m a little surprised at the fact that I’ve been feeling pretty tired throughout the week; this base building business is exhausting.
It could definitely be a result of the 24 Miles in 24 Hours endurance challenge that I decided to start the week with. But I spent most of the day Sunday recovering (after I finished), and I took the day off work on Tuesday. Which meant I had two days back to back where I slept later than usual; unheard of for me. And while I haven’t felt overly beat up or sore, I have felt really freaking tired. Before I started base building, I was looking forward to feeling less exhausted with the elimination of speedwork from my routine. But even without the hard runs, the distance and time on feet has left me really looking forward to bedtime most days.
Thankfully, my amazing husband has been great about encouraging me to listen to my body and take extra time to rest. And I had the opportunity to take an unexpected half day off work on Friday, which meant I enjoyed an amazing afternoon nap after my workout. I’m hoping that all of the extra sleeps this week will help me to feel a little more refreshed next week, but we shall see.
I started working on improving my endurance running base after my Virtual Marathon at the end of March. So at this point, I’ve had a full month dedicated to this effort. In the month of April, I ran a total of 229 miles, and in March I ran about 220. That number includes tapering and recovering from my marathon. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m starting to feel just a bit fatigued. I want to share more about what my base building has looked like, and how I plan to move forward through the month of May.
Running Base Training is Exhausting
Base building is essentially a period of time where you are running with the focus of improving endurance and stamina. I generally have a fairly solid endurance base, but because I want to move into longer ultra-marathon distances, I decided to dedicate some time to upping what I consider my base. Generally, I can run 10-14 miles pretty comfortably, so that is what I consider my current “base” to be. Can I run farther? Yes. Am I comfortable? Not particularly. So my hope is that before I move into a structured 50 miler training plan, I will be able to increase my base to the 16-19 mile range.
I covered how and why I’m focusing my efforts on base building previously, and for the most part I’ve followed my plan. Now, I would say that my 24 mile run last weekend didn’t particularly fall into my plan. It wasn’t run all at once, but I also didn’t have a ton of recovery between miles. But outside of that adventure, I’ve been running middle-range distances without worrying about pace for the past month.
How It’s Felt
When I first started this base building plan, I was feeling pretty energized. I didn’t take off too much time after my last race, but I eased into the miles and I wasn’t all that beat up from the race itself. I hoped that I would continue to feel really good, now that I had dropped running a tempo and speed/strength workout every week. Those workouts made me so strong, but they were freaking brutal. I love the Hansons Marathon Training Plan, but it takes a lot out of you.
Related Post: Hansons Marathon Method Review
At this point, I am not feeling as good as I had thought I would, to be honest. I’m not worn out or beat up physically the way I felt I was when I was marathon training, which is awesome. I was sore for a good, solid 60% of my training. But what has resurfaced is the feeling of Cumulative Fatigue. Basically, just a fairly consistent underlying level of fatigue that is higher than my “normal.” My legs feel heavy (but not really sore), and I find myself really looking forward to a senior-citizen bedtime.
At this point, I am absolutely not interested in incorporating any sort of speedwork into my training. I don’t miss it at all. Probably because I’m too tired to miss much of anything other than my memory-foam mattress. I’ve been doing a lot of hill work, which probably adds to the fatigue. It’s not intentional, it’s just that it’s somewhat difficult to avoid now that we’re living in the hill country. It’s a blessing/curse situation. As challenging as the trails can be out here, I’m really loving the opportunity to explore and run on varied surfaces.
PS, I’ve been doing some trail running research, and this blogpost from Run To the Finish has some great trail running tips. If you’re newer to trail running (like I am), take peek.
Even though I’m not feeling as energized as I thought I would, I’m going to continue my efforts. I’m hoping that my body will keep adapting and getting stronger, just like it has with every race training plan in the past. I’m not a naturally patient person, but I’m going to do my best and keep trying. I plan on continuing with the mid-distance long runs between 15-18 miles, with relatively high mileage weeks. AND NO SPEEDWORK.
So far I’ve followed a pattern of increasing my weekly long run every three weeks, and then dropping down for a recovery week on the fourth week. This week was my drop. In thinking about how I felt during the Hansons plan, I remember feeling more fatigued during my cutback weeks, which I always found weird. I attribute that to my body really need the extra rest from the previous weeks’ efforts. This is the same pattern I’ll follow for the rest of May.
Towards the end of May I’m planning on running a virtual trail race. I’m still waffling a little between a 30k distance or a marathon. At this point, I’m leaning more towards the 30k option. I’ve been running a little more on the trails every week, and I plan on continuing this. For the first couple of weeks, I was running 2-3 trail miles on a few of my runs, and then finishing out on the roads. Moving forward, I’m going to try to run more complete runs on the trails, and get on the trails for my long runs when I can.
After the virtual race, I’ll start a more structured plan for my 50 mile race in October. There are a few key differences I plan to incorporate. The most significant difference between base building and the 50 mile training plan will be around the long runs. Obviously, they will be longer; probably around 20-25 miles on an average week. And they will be followed up with a mid-distance run (10-13 miles) the next day. Which means my overall mileage will be higher as well, and I’ll be running on even more fatigued legs. Good times!
I also plan to increase my time on trails where I can. The hilly runs will continue, but I may incorporate some actual, intentional hill repeats. Finally, I have read that it is helpful to utilize evening hikes as a way to help the legs learn how to keep moving, even when tired. So, depending on how I’m feeling, I may give this a shot here and there when I can. Luckily, the two Brambila boys are almost always up for a little walk.
Towards the end of the summer, there’s a 60k night race that I have my eye on. If it’s not cancelled, I’ll plan to run it as a supported long run. So, one more month of base building, with a fun little adventure at the end, and then straight into my 50 mile plan. This summer may continue to be exhausting, but if my last few trail runs are any indication, I will still be having a blast. When I’m not napping.
Related Post: Staying Healthy & Sane During Social Distancing.
This Weeks Workouts
Total Miles: 51
Total Workouts: 4
How the Runs Felt
This was a much needed cut back week for me. After the 24 mile challenge, it was absolutely necessary. I technically started the week finishing up the last 5 miles of my run in the early hours of Sunday morning. I took Monday completely off, and enjoyed getting in a few short hikes on the trails close to us. Tuesday morning, I was able to sleep in (heaven), and then head to the nature preserve down the road for a full 7 miles of trails. I had the chance to explore some of the longer and more technical trails on the back half of the nature preserve that I hadn’t previously explored.
The weather was fairly perfect (slightly drizzly, chilly, but not cold), and I had such an incredible time. The trails were so varied. The first couple of miles were almost exclusively on steep limestone hills. There were a couple of sections where I had to actually use my hands to help me climb up, which is a huge change from my primarily road racing background. It was tough, and I felt like a complete badass when I finished. This run was important for me because I’m trying to get more comfortable running on trails that I’m not familiar with and require a little more navigation.
I’m not out there with a compass, off the grid by any means. But I using some new apps and maps, and just learning how to figure out where I am and where I’m going. This is not a skill I needed to develop on the roads. With GoogleMaps readily available, you almost have to try to get to lost. This is not the case on the trails, so I’m taking it one step at a time. I also saw my first poisonous snake! It was a coral snake that I almost stumbled on as I was running downhill. I stopped pretty quick, and I think I scared the crap out of it, because it almost jumped in the air. I memorized the band color pattern, and confirmed it was indeed a coral snake when I got home. Tuesday was a very exciting morning.
The rest of the week, I stayed on the roads and ran in the morning before work. After my trail run on Tuesday, my pacing was fairly consistent for the rest of the week. I really crack up when I see the pace from some of my trail runs. Walking is not a thing in road running, so my paces never really get above a 9:45. And that rarely happens at this point. So when I finish a run and see an 11:46 overall pace, it’s pretty comical for me. I know the effort is equitable, but it’s just so different. I’m still loving every minute. Even when I almost step on a snake.
For my long run, I decided to go back to the nature preserve. I would be lying if I said that nearly doubling my mileage from my last trail run wasn’t intimidating. In fact, I don’t think I’ve run anything further than 7-8 miles on trails in a single effort. And like I mentioned previously, these are not easy, runable golf course trails. It took me over 2 hours to finish my 13 miles, and I felt like I had run 17. My legs were so heavy, and my body was tired! But I had no regrets.
What I’ve Been Listening To
My episode of the Run Hard, Mom Hard podcast became available on 5/1/20, and I have to admit that it’s a strange experience to listen to yourself. I’m proud of the episode, and I hope it brings some value to other women out there in the running community. I semi-stumbled upon two new podcasts this week that I am LOVING. The first is a TCM production called “The Plot Thickens.” It’s very different from my typical podcast interests. It’s not exactly true crime, but it’s an extremely fascinating story. And it’s super well done. 10/10 recommend so far. The other podcast I started listening to is Counter Clock, which is definitely a true crime podcast, focused on a very cold, unsolved murder. It’s also really well done, and the investigative journalist has kept me interested for 6 episodes so far.
The Mother Runners blog recently put out a post on some recommended podcasts that I haven’t listened to yet, so I’m looking forward to checking out some new stuff in the upcoming weeks.
How the WODs felt
This week I worked out four times, which is a little less than previous weeks. Mostly because I had the brilliant idea to run 24 miles over two days last weekend, and my body needed some extra time to recover. Looking back over my weeks programming, I had quite a few squat-type movements. Between thrusters, goblet squats, and front squats, my legs were starting to feel pretty heavy by Friday. Friday’s workout was nice and short, and I wasn’t at all upset about it.
Once again, my kiddo joined me for the majority of my workouts on his bike and skateboard. The weather has cooperated really well with that lately. I also made sure to program some extra core work this week, since I felt like I had slacked a little last week. Texas’ governor has said that gyms will be reopening on May 18, and I honestly have mixed feelings about it. I definitely miss working out in the box, but I want to see how my box plans to adjust to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading. I’m not particularly concerned about catching the virus myself, but it’s not something I personally want to pass around if I can avoid it. So for now, I’ll continue with the home workouts.
What Went Well
My recovery from the 24 mile endurance challenge has been better than I expected, physically. I guess getting off your feet after a mile has some benefits! Now that it’s getting warmer, I’ve been more mindful about making sure I drink more water and gulp down Nuun and pickle juice when I feel a little more depleted. My stomach situation has continued to improve, which makes me a VERY happy runner. And I got more sleep this week than I have in a long time, so that’s always a plus. I spent a little more time stretching on Friday, since I had half the day off work, and I felt amazing afterwards.
What Went Shitty
Despite the extra sleeps, I’ve still felt tired. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and cumulative fatigue is definitely expected with high mileage running. But in all honesty, I am just a cranky little beast when I’m tired, and I don’t love it. I spent most of Sunday in solitary confinement, taking naps during the day, and finally falling asleep at about 7pm. The rest of the week, I just found myself edgier than usual (which is not a good thing since I’m not exactly warm and fuzzy at baseline) after about 7pm.
Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week I’m hoping to find more opportunities to catch up on sleep, and hope that helps with my mood. I also want to make more of an effort to take a morning break and go for a short walk during the work week. I know it’s something that really helps me feel more grounded and calm during the day, and I wasn’t consistent with that this week. As I get more comfortable in my new role, I need to be more mindful about taking care of myself and taking little breaks.