In the last week I have been receiving a ton of messages, ranging from "are you running the Dublin marathon" to "take at least 3 months off". My facebook page getting saturated by Dublin marathon posts last weekend wasn't a happy occasion for once, but what can you do.
I am really tired! I could not even watch a football game on Sunday without constantly falling asleep, and that is not a statement on the quality of the game. I find myself sitting in a kind of haze at times, and I'm sure my productivity in the office at the moment is not at its best. Running really isn't on at the moment, apart from not having any inclination anyway. When I can be bothered I do walk the dog, much to her delight, but that's as active as it gets at the moment.
Keep in mind that the following was written with the benefit of hindsight. It sounds obvious enough now but it wasn't so clear at the time.
Looking back, with a little bit of help, I can see that the problem started as early as March. The Tralee marathon was supposed to be a training run but I definitely ran it too hard. In some ways that is understandable, I unexpectedly found myself running in third place with a podium finish a real possibility, so there's not much regret about that one. The problem is, I never manged to get back into a fully recovered state. I'm pretty sure this cost me a sub-3 in Manchester, and then I really started piling it on - Limerick, Wings for Life and Lakes of Killarney on consecutive weekends, with the Wings for Life run particularly tough on a very hilly course on one of the hottest days of the year.
Maybe 2 years ago I would have gotten away with that. But this time also coincided with some hugely stressful times in my family and it all proved too much. I never fully appreciated how much stress from other areas of life can impact on your running performance, until now.
By then I had become somewhat aware of my lack of recovery (Killarney had felt quite tough for a 3:15) but instead of resting I added an even bigger ton of fatigue on top of it all by running the 100k in Donadea. It's easy to say so afterwards but it's no wonder Belfast did not go to plan.
Obviously, Belfast was the biggest fatigue factor of them all but instead of finally seeing sense and rest I actually had my shortest recovery after a 24 hours race ever, and I guess from here on the race in Albi was already as good as doomed. My coach never fully understood my need for recovery and the odd easy week or two she prescribed was never enough to dig myself out of that hole. Even though I knew that the last few miles in Dingle had felt much tougher than they should have, I never realised the full scale of the problem. Those tough back-to-back weekends just added another layer of fatigue and things got progressively worse. Running 4 hours in Tralee 4 weeks before Albi felt easy enough but I don't think I would have been able to run a 3:30 marathon that day, things had become so bad.
By the time I started the taper my system was so compromised that even 4 weeks of low easy mileage did nothing to improve my fitness because my recuperation ability was so out of wack by then.
As stupid as all those mistakes are, it is a really common pattern. A runner gets tired, the performances drop and instead of resting and recovering he/she starts training ever harder to make up for it, digging the hole ever deeper. Let this be a warning to you. I never had any of the typical overtraining symptoms but I could tell that something wasn't right.
With all that, where does that leave me now? On the sofa, basically, and probably asleep. I'll see when I start to feel like running again, which right now is absolutely not the case. After a few weeks I might hopefully feel like an easy jog is appropriate, and how my system reacts to that will tell me a lot, though the expectation is still that I will have at least 4 weeks of full rest. Eventually I might be able to do some sort of evaluation, but that's still a bit too far ahead right now.
I do hope that I will be able to come back from this and that I have learned that lesson.