June 5, 2009


The 80-plus degree heat beats down on me with an irrepressible fury. Sweat, grime, and dust run slowly down my forehead and drip on the brown asphalt. Splash-splash. My heart is a giant hammering racehorse, beating thunderously inside my chest. My itchy, irritated eyes narrow and my jaw sets firmly as I pump my fists in front of me, willing my legs to turn over faster, stronger, harder, and propel me 100 meters further down the track.

Rewind to four days ago. The Project Manager in me was unleashed, and I started getting antsy about my training. Have to do more, have to really hit it hard, bigger workouts, more miles. Don't have time. Must get on top of things NOW. I evaluated the meal plan and put myself on strict compliance. I put pen to paper and devised some gym workouts and intervals on the indoor cycling trainer for some guaranteed ass-kicking. I set running schedules for my usual loops and hills, and planned a track workout to throw in a little speedwork.

When I was finished, I gave it a look and wondered if I was setting the bar a bit too high. Three double workout days in a row seemed possible, but since I hadn't set foot in the gym but once in the past three months (stupid tendinitis), maybe it would be tougher than I thought. I've done this before. I can do it, I say to myself. No problem.

By 5:00 PM on Wednesday, my muscles were feeling admittedly sore from all the workouts. I hopped on my commuter bike after work and headed across the river towards Duniway park. Three miles is nothing, but on my converted single speed, it feels like 20. I rolled up to the track just in time for the group workout to begin.

Warmup, lunges, squats, jumps, side shuffles, push-ups (guy-style, thank you very much), and sit ups. Then, our plan for the day: 100 meter repeats, and 6 laps around the track at 'comfortably hard' pace. It's all pretty much hard for me, so I wasn't sure what that meant. I just knew that I had one thing to accomplish: go fast.

And fast I was, at least on the 100 meters. I'd forgotten that I was pretty snappy with the short distances. When it came time to do the 6 laps, I lagged behind as usual. The pain set in and I was sure I did a number on my calves and hamstrings. After the work was over, I hopped on the bike for the 5 mile commute home and briefly considered calling J for a ride. Rather than endure the inevitable heckling that would accompany such a phone call, I reluctantly headed home.

That night, a tiredness crept over me that I'd never felt before. I almost fell asleep in the kitchen while I was waiting for the brown rice to finish cooking. I mechanically fed myself and then crashed in bed at 9:30 PM. I ignored J's commentary of my early bedtime ("What are you, six years old?") and slept like the dead.

The next day, I could barely raise my arms above my head. I wobbled on sore legs with tender heels. Every muscle, joint, and tendon hurt. I was definitely going to skip today's workout. The verdict? Overtraining.

It's been two days and I'm still not fully recovered. I wished for a nap all day, and walked around like a zombie at work. I headed straight home and used the cloudy, damp sky as an excuse to miss today's 6 mile hill run. I need another day off to recover.

But more than that, I need to learn to listen to my body and convince myself that if I miss a workout, it will be okay.

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