Saturday, 19 January 2013

Offseason - Take 2

Some things, I need a bit more time to get things right: giving directions, finding a nail polish that matches my two black toenails, doing any sort of operating system update on my iphone. Also - taking actual time off of running.

The first go of off-season didn't really go as planned. I would argue I got a mental break by only doing the runs I wanted to do (yes to trails, hell no to track). Arguably, though, this was how I'd been training since August. The issue with this approach is that I still ran a lot. I was pain-free the entire week of trails in Maui. Two days back, and two runs on pavement, and my foot was sore.

In the end, this was the best thing that could have happened. It taught me to remain grateful for being able to run, and to treat every opportunity to get outside, get lost, and get out of breath as a gift. Under the watchful guidance of doctor / coach / high-strung runner therapist Ramsey, it also finally got me to take an actual offseason break, recover, and get ready for another year full of awesome. Luckily, the foot has healed up, and I'm back to training this coming Tuesday. I did learn a couple things with my three weeks off, though.

Here is how an offseason is actually (I think) supposed to work.

Weekly run mileage equals marathon-training tempo mileage
I was instructed to run no more than 30km/week. During peak marathon / ultra training, I was running a 21k tempo, plus a couple kms warm-up and cool-down, before work in the mornings. Instead, I now get passed on the seawall by people with water bottle fanny-packs. On the plus side, I have an excuse to do all runs at conversational pace, so have had some great chats with my run partners. (Fanny-pack runners - beware! I am coming for you next week).

Misty seawall

Less caffeine. Less food.
Normally, I am an eating and coffee (okay, and wine) machine. I usually need to do a top-up grocery run each week. leftovers stay leftover. I do not eat two breakfasts. If I drink coffee without doing a couple hours of sweat to burn it off, I am awake and twitching all night.

snow is pretty fun
It's been cold and rainy outside (and will be until about June), which means there is tons of snow on the mountains. It's been fun to "visit winter" by heading up the BCMC (a trail parellel to the Grouse Grind), do a hike on Hollyburn (Cypress Mountain), and snow shoe on Mt. Seymour. I also got my classic cross-country skis back out and did a four-hour explore in the trails on my trip to Big White (with very minimal wipe-outs downhill). 

misery (balancing, planks, hip-opening and deep breathing) loves company
One of the main causes of my foot problem is, weirdly enough, a weak core. So it was time to get back on the mat and start upping the amount of yoga classes I attended. A while back, Barry had expressed mild concern that he couldn't balance on one foot. I talked him into getting a 10-class pass at yyoga...the studio conveniently located closest to my apartment / workplace. I am by no means a yoga expert, but I have been attending somewhat regularly for the past six months. In the past six months...Barry has maybe stretched a couple times.

Barry decided to make his yoga debut two days after his awesome 2nd-place finish in the Fat Ass 50k run. I will admit that I have been jealous of Barry's continued trail running, compared to my 30-40km/week offseason regime. As a result, I wanted to do an activity where I could show I had at least some skill. As a result, I decided it was time to yoga.

We attended a "flow" class. I think "flow" means a mix of strength and stretching or "do whatever the instructor feels like, plus music." The class started with holding poses for what seemed like ages. Then a series of poses designed to open and stretch hips. It was then that Barry asked for extra blocks, and explained to the (somewhat unimpressed) yoga teacher that he had just done a race longer than most people's weekly mileage.

Despite the somewhat challenging start, Barry returned (with support in the form of Amber) for another attempt at the flow class. This time, he prepared by running over 42k on trails the day before. The class was packed. The instructor mentioned that we could only have 2 blocks each, as there was a shortage. Barry, however, hoarded as many as possible in hopes of being able to make his way into the pose - and refused to give any up when the instructor made a pointed comment to share.

After feeling triumphant about my yoga win over Barry, I attended a power class with Allison. The class kicked my ass (and, if it had been a competition, Allison would have too). It is always risky to attend yoga classes with a physio, since they can then find out whether or not you've been doing your core exercise homework. We did hard poses in a small, dimly lit room, to rap / dance was awesome, and worth all the sweat and flailing around I did.

The pinnacle of 7 months of doing yoga

immune system takes offseason, too
My immune system does pretty well on injury-inducing-mileage of 100k a week, likely too little sleep, and likely too much wine and caffeine. However, as soon as time off or a taper is close, things go south (or maybe that's when I just can't use running a lot to resolve life issues anymore?). Whatever it was, I was forced to complete the rest of my reduced running thanks to a nasty cold. The upside of the time off: I have now figured out how to upload workouts from my garmin (going back to 2010!) and have pink painted nails.

okay, let's do this
Thankfully, both my cold and nagging cuboid seem to be on the way out. I get to start physio-approved tempos this coming week. I think running amnesia is a key part of training, as I have already forgotten how sore and tired I was last year. So...let's get this year started!

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