Plodding along in concrete shoes

After a couple of looooong Saturday runs, it was nice to turn around after “only” three miles today.

We’re running the (final) Austin 10/20 next Sunday so my coach had us drop our mileage this morning. Which is good, because I’m still struggling with fatigue. My legs feel heavy and my pace is slower than it should be. But it was a hilly route and not only did I run all of the hills, I passed people on the hills. The uphills. So there’s that.

Monday night I ran two miles after a core class that involved 100 squats, some large number of side lunges, a bunch of other torture moves, and–just for fun–ten burpees at the end. So I wasn’t alarmed when I felt like I was dragging on my two-mile run afterward. That, and I ran with a faster friend, so just keeping up was exhausting.

Tuesday at the track, we ran Yasso 800s as described by my coach:

One-mile warmup and cooldown, 12x400m with 200m recovery. Pace is your goal half-marathon time converted to minutes. For example, if you want to do a two-hour half–marathon then you should do each 400m in two minutes. The idea is to keep them exactly even (plus or minus 2-3 seconds).

Yeah, I didn’t quite hit the pace, but I wasn’t super-far off and each lap was consistent. It was hot (already mid-80s in the afternoons) and windy, and I still had the sore-quad/heavy leg feeling, so running 12 of those suckers took forever.

I took a rest day Wednesday, but Thursday I struggled through 4.25 miles, same issues.

I’m not sure what’s causing this. Typical heavy-leg culprits are hydration, stress, or lack of sleep. Well those things are constants in my life.

  • I have trouble hydrating well at school–depending on the day, I teach at least two 90-minute classes back-to-back without a break, and my campus has a grand total of four single-stall faculty restrooms for about 100 staff members. The closest one is out one set of doors, across a bridge, and through another set of doors, which makes leaving the kids alone a bit risky. And between classes there’s often a line which means the students arriving to class are unattended in my classroom while I wait. I usually drink coffee in the morning and 1-2 bottles of sparkling lime water (I think they’re 16oz each?) starting at lunch. But after spending 20 years carefully gauging my daytime fluid-intake-to-bathroom-availability ratio, it’s not so easy for me to change that mindset. But I’m going to work on that this week.
  • I teach six classes of about 150 students total. They’re 12-13 years old, and it’s spring. ‘Nuff said. Also, this week the campus got some significant, disappointing news and on the heels of that I had to deal with a difficult student situation. I stuffed and distributed about 250 invitation letters to prospective Honor Society members, then answered 49484596 emails either asking questions that were already answered on the website or complaining that their child did not receive an invitation. On top of that, my subject is tested twice by the state each year (writing and reading) and one of those tests was administered this past week. On Tuesday I had to walk around my classroom for four hours to monitor 30 kids while they answered multiple choice questions and wrote an essay. They were trapped in the testing room until almost 1:00, went to lunch, and came back for another half-hour. Then we had 20-minute classes the rest of the afternoon. The following day, even though a different grade level was testing we were not allowed to have classes. The kids not tested were assigned to various classrooms where they … sat quietly, then went to another classroom and … sat quietly. So yeah, stress is pretty much a given during the school year, especially in the spring. The education trajectory, both in the Legislature and Congress, does not bode well for stress-free teaching going forward, either. I mean, stress from my job is part of the reason I run!
  • I am chronically tired–my Garmin scowls at me a lot over my sleep data. Over summer vacation I sleep 9-10 hours per night, but during the school year I leave the house by 6:30. In order to reach those sleep numbers, I’d have to go to bed before 9:00 PM. Not feasible.


Like I said, these elements are constants in my life, so I’m not sure why any of them would suddenly cause me to feel sluggish, but if I want to run well next weekend I’ve got to do something different. First I’m going to focus on hydration. I’ll also try to get to bed early every day, at least by 9:30–no matter what else I do, that can’t hurt. And as sad as it makes me, I’m cutting back on my go-to snack, string cheese. It’s got a lot of sodium–well, not each individual stick, but I almost always eat two at time, and more than two per day. Clearly I’m not good at moderation, so perhaps I just need to quit cold-turkey and see what happens.

So the plan is to run after core class Monday, do whatever the Tuesday night training workout calls for, and then instead of taking a rest day Wednesday, at the very least walk around the long block. Thursday will be a short run, probably three miles. Fridays are always rest days, and Saturday I’ll sleep in, then go to the 10/20 packet pickup. I hope that’s a reasonable combination of non-running strategy, running time on my feet, and rest.