The Drama of Training

Remember the excitement and anticipation you felt when you signed up for that Fall half marathon?  It's gonna be awesome... I'm gonna check this one off my bucket list... I'm gonna knock my PR into a whole other zip code!  All those dreams and exuberance are now mired in the trial of miles.  The pamphlet didn't say anything about all this work.  It mentioned the fun and swag and expo and medals (gotta love the bling)... but not the humidity, the soreness, the chafing, the early mornings, etc.  As you go through the training for a race, you often lose sight of why you signed up and start to look at the training as drudgery you must endure.  This is a very common theme that turns your saga into a dramatic play.
 
There are many elements to a drama.  The first is the introduction.  This is where the situation and characters are introduced.  I think I just covered that one. 
 
Next up is the rising action (and no, I don't mean getting up at 5am on a Saturday).  This is where the conflict becomes clear and obstacles begin to be presented.  This is where many of you are, right now.  You are in the phase of training where the honeymoon is definitely over.  The miles are mounting as quickly as the list of questions and concerns.  What you need to know is that this is okay and normal.  The idea behind training is stress and adapt. (See the graphic below.)
As you stress your system, it goes through a period of supercompensation and develops a new (higher) baseline for performance.  The above graphic is a very common diagram that you can find in almost any coaching/training/exercise physiology book.  Here's the thing that these books NEVER mention, but should: When you are in the training trough (i.e., the downcycle), you are there mentally and emotionally as well as physically.  Little things that normally don't phase you will drive you nuts.  You get down and depressed - or become easily frustrated and flustered.  That is normal - and a good sign that you are doing a good job stressing your system.  It is also a good indication that you need to ease up on the gas pedal just a bit for a week in order to rebound and get both stronger and happier.  You will go through several of these cycles in training.  When a downcycle hits, come to FLEET FEET and talk to someone that understands.  We can give you the tools (proper footwear, fueling advice, stretching suggestions, recovery/massage products, or even an empathetic shoulder to lean on) to get through the hard time so your dramatic saga to continue.
 
Once you reach the final performance-rising phase of your training, it's time to enjoy the climax of the drama: race day.  When you race at the peak of your training roller coaster, the race will take care of itself.  Your personal drama will have a happy ending.  This is where you'll experience the joy pictured on the race pamphlet.
 
Good Luck and Happy Racing!
Coach Cary

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