Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Learning Objective

"What is with you?  Didn't you get hurt before Cleveland last year?"

This was the message a good friend sent me last night when I was trying to make my decision.

Yes.  I've been injured exactly twice, and both times were this time of year in preparation for Cleveland.

Okay:  the task of today's lesson is to analyze WHY.  In honor of the APUSH test in 6 days, let's do it like a DBQ.

"Analyze the reasons why TST has had the only two major injuries of her running career during Spring 2011 and Spring 2012.  Use the evidence from the period 1993-2012 to evaluate your answer."

Now, if this were an actual DBQ, there would probably be the trainer's list of stretches for me and a picture of me calling time-out on the mound at age 16 to stretch my hamstring.  This is a reminder that I have had hamstring problems that were pretty severe since about 15-16 years old.  They have always been tight--especially the right.  And it was so bad that in the middle of games I'd get shooting pains in my back and have to call time out on the mound to stretch.  The hamstring pulled on my lower back and the pain was excruciating.  I remember it pretty vividly.

Then, it would most likely have some training logs from my early 20s.  Showing that yes, indeedy, I can handle high volume.  I did everything right, all the time.  Rest.  Massage. Ice baths.  Nutrition was questionable, but only because I was still in the happy-hour-turns-into-2am phase of life.  Other than that? I did everything right.  No injuries.  Ever.  Even through Ironman.  High volume, no problem.

Then we'd move into the past 4 years.  And we could maybe list the training logs but include sleep and recovery.  What we'd see there is that I haven't slept more than 5-6 hours per night consistently since 2007.  That's not an exaggeration, it's a fact.  Having kids turned the worrywart that I am into the hyper-sensitive, unable to ever sleep worrywart.  This is reality.  I'm working on changing it, but it's been five years now and it's just kind of become the new normal.

There is no massage, as childcare for 2 kids is more than our mortgage.  I just can't justify massage like I used to.  There is little to no ice.  There is little to no rest or sitting down, and not enough stretching.  From September-June, there is especially no sitting and many hours standing in poorly supported shoes.

Then we'd see a sample of my learning objectives for my courses and maybe a few pages of the high-stakes exams in March and May that very soon may become the foundation of my paycheck here in this state, along with the lists of IEPs and 504s that are also pretty detailed and legally binding (as they should be, to ensure everyone gets a fair and equal education).  We'd see the burden of that serious responsibility lies upon the classroom teacher.

We'd also see the results of my long runs and pace work and see that yes, I absolutely can run a 3:40 marathon and can absolutely run a half marathon in the low-1:40s.  There is no doubt at all in my mind, and also no doubt when I look at the evidence of the log.

And it would be clear from examining the evidence that the spring is not the time for me to try an aggressive running goal.  

This would be what the thesis statement would have to say.

We've already established that I can't dog my goals.  I've done 4 stand-alone marathons and I don't even know how many stand alone half marathons--6? 7?  Doing these races "to do them" is not fun for me.  I'm past that phase and I can't really go back anymore.

So what I need to learn after examining all this evidence is that:  I'm 34.  I am prone to hamstring issues.  I have a lifestyle that I absolutely love and is amazingly rewarding and I would not trade ONE PART of what I do every day.  But it is not conducive to me hitting high, aggressive running goals in May.  It's just not. This is the reason I have told my teammates I can't do TTT, because I know that I won't be ready.  February-May is the hardest part of my year.  I need to start realizing that at 34 and having a history of hamstring problems, it doesn't mean I can't do it EVER.  But it means that doing it in May is just unrealistic and not worth the headache and injury that I have gone through the past two seasons.

When was my best marathon?

Columbus.  October.

When was my best half-ironman?

Rev3 Cedar Point--September.  And that was 6 months postpartum, for crying out loud!  But most of that training was done without school.

If I want to have the results that I know I am absolutely, 100% capable of, I need to time things up better with life.

In conclusion?  February-May should be survival mode.  It should be building a nice base in all three disciplines so I can get stronger in all three.  And then, when one of the biggest sources of stress is on hold for a few months, well, THEN it's time to ramp it up.  I'm still really crazybusy in the summer, but I can sit down.  I am not up until almost midnight with Matt grading papers together every day.  I'll still be tired, but not as tired.

Okay.  So that's the lesson we can take away here.

Boy, am I ready for that test to be over on Friday.  For now, I'm going to get ready to head out on a nice solo ride and enjoy the sunshine.  And then tomorrow maybe I'll swim.

And the world is still spinning.


Alili said...

TST, that is a really insightful analysis of your training. Go kick some C-bus butt in the fall!

Kat said...

Great analysis. Sometimes we have to accept the limitations we are given - whether by our careers, our families, or our environments. Hope you recover quickly and have an amazing late summer/fall race season!