We’re five miles into an mostly-downhill 12-miler in the drizzling rain on Saturday when I know I’m screwed.
We weren’t running too fast. It wasn’t too hot. I was well rested (hadn’t run since Monday). I ate a banana that morning. I mapped the course, carefully picking the easiest Point B I could find from my house (Point A). And yet…my legs felt like lead and, after less than an hour of running, it was clear I was out of fuel.
Previous issues with calf cramps inspired me to carry a water bottle — figuring the cramps and the lack of energy was due to dehydration. It didn’t seem to help me Saturday (though carrying it did give me a good shoulder workout and I switched the thing from hand to hand for miles on end).
Dan was turning at 5 miles to head back home — adding on the 3 he needed to get his 8 (he’s doing the Cleveland marathon on Sunday). Then he was going to shower & pick us up at the beach.
I can’t even tell you how desperately I wanted to run back home with him.
But, I had invited the girls on this run. I mapped the damn thing and I actually needed 2 miles more, according to my marathon training plan. I thought maybe I’d add on at the end, or have Dan drop me off a couple miles from home. I knew at 5 miles that I was going to be good with 12 that day. Screw the plan.
I struggled for the next 7 miles — fighting both fatigue and that negative voice in my own freaking head.
I am doing the half marathon at Cleveland on Sunday and I wonder if I can still switch to the 10K. I can’t run a half on Sunday. Not like this. I immediately dismiss the thought though. I don’t quit that easy. Ever. This is not me.
But, I’m so damn tired.
This is not me. This fatigue. This absolute lack of strength. Walking up hills. Praying for a red light so I can stop. It’s only 12 freaking miles. Oh. My. God. What is wrong with me?
I ate all the 4 Sport Beans I had brought with me. They were a last minute grab-and-go that I was grateful to have grabbed even though I was both irritated and embarrassed that I would need energy crap to get through a downhill 12 miler. I don’t know that they helped anyway. This muscle exhaustion is deeper than Sport Bean level.
How will I ever run 18 and 20 milers if I’m struggling to get through 12?
Almost as soon as we reach the beach, Dan pulls in. Thank God we don’t have to wait in the cold. I climb up and into the front seat with some effort. He hands out water bottles (Yes, I am lucky, I know) and we talk all the way back. But, in my head, all I can focus on is the fact that something is very wrong.
I am stiff and sore for two days. From 12 miles…downhill…at a relatively slow pace.
I Google about a million things, trying to self diagnose. (What did we do before Google?) The only thing that has changed in the time that I’ve been having trouble (the last month or two) is that I’ve added the speedwork. I have not yet really increased mileage.
I email a friend, a top runner in the area who also happens to be a dietician. I explain my symptoms — sluggish runs, calf cramping, zero energy, extreme post-run soreness — and mention that I’ve been eating the paleo-type diet (i.e. very few carbs). I’ve been eating that way for more than a year now. And, last summer, I set PRs eating that way.
But she explains how and why the low-carb thing isn’t working for me right now. She thinks it does have to do with the interval training and my stubborn (my word, not hers) refusal to replenish carbohydrate stores afterwards. (Truth: I often never ate before or after interval training because it upset my stomach.)
15 years of running ….you’d think I’d know better, right? Clearly, we’re never too old to make rookie mistakes. Never too experienced to know it all.
And, thankfully, never alone because we (meaning you and me) have a whole running community to lean on, whether what we need is a much-needed mid-run pep talk (thank you, Heather D.) or a dose of honest runners-really-do-need-carbs advice (Thank you, Sandie). Aren’t we lucky?
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”