“Go on an eleven day vacation to Africa right as your base-training begins!”, said no running coach, ever.
When I bought the ticket to fly from Dulles to (Amsterdam to) Africa, there were no thoughts of long runs or HR caps or race dates. I wouldn’t change a thing about the trip; we had an incredible experience and the elephants didn’t seem mind at all that I was taking eleven days “off”. (Nor do they seem to mind that we spent four of those days staring in awe at them and their adorable offspring.) Neither did the Coach, which was an early sign that we would be a-OK working together! In fact, my schedule read: “Above all, don’t stress. Don’t run if you don’t feel like it. ENJOY your vacation. That is the number-one rule!”
This gal and I, we’re in sync.
I did have one specific workout on the calendar: Take a picture of a lion for me today! Well yeah, I can do that:
If you know how lazy lions are, you know this was quite the feat. It’s a rare luxury to see the cat standing and alert during the day! Most of the time they look like this:
So sleepy! It’s tough hunting animals and eating all night. These guys were still here the next day. Truth.
The point is that I put in some work before I left, trying probably-not-as-hard-as-I-could to get onboard with this HR-focused training and the initial crawling feeling that ensues. I completed the running along with most of the functional strength training and a little bit of SolidCore (hurts so good!).
In the midst of gallivanting around Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kate & I did manage to get in three runs, total. Fun fact: Nairobi is at an altitude of 5300’ while the Mara ranges from 6- 7,000’. It’s 80* and sunny every day. Better fact: one of the Safari camp staff asked if we wanted to join him on a run one morning, and we did. Side note: we requested the 8k distance and ignorantly scoffed that we’d be okay without bringing water. Mmhm.
(A safari is not the active-vacationer’s ideal situation. Needless to say you can’t just go running around the game reserve. Walking anywhere, unguided, is also inadvisable. You spend most of your days in a jeep, relaxing at camp, eating and sleeping. This running adventure was a treat, despite the profanities my lungs and legs were screaming. Run with a native Kenyan: check!)
My “welcome back to reality” was a 30* day and snow-packed sidewalks, along with a full TrainingPeaks calendar. As I naively underestimated the effects of jet-lag, my legs and cardio system were happy to teach me a lesson. The coach was spot on with low-key runs and easing in, while I reported things like “well I ignored that “cool-down” and ran up the Calvert hill instead” because 1) I had to, to get home but actually 2) my ego got the best of me.
We all know that any story where the ego is served does not end well.
The ego and I took a big dose of humility yesterday; I’m taking a step back while reading the “this should feel Zen-like” note and conjuring up trust that may not have fully been there before. As an athlete, you are the only one who can tell your muscles what to do – the coach provides a suggestion and crosses fingers that you’ll be diligent, listen and have faith. Then it’s up to your mind to decide how to play the cards. Man, that’s a tough way to get through the weeks! But that’s the point. Teach your mind, and all systems will follow.
All aboard, now. I took my recovery run today so easy that I could still chat and keep the HR below the prescribed number (huge win! Huge. ). We covered a short distance in those quick (but actually, very slow) 30 minutes, but who cares? I’m recovered, did exactly what I was told AND I got some QT with my gal. Most importantly, another learned lesson is in the books for this cycle and we’re moving forward.
Week 4, it’s on.
Now, let’s hear it. I know I’m not the only one who has started HR-focused training and been like “MAN, WHAT THE EFF?”. Vent, tell your story, come have a glass o’ vino (or water), or ask questions. All ears.