Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports
Sunday 25th October 2016… Berlin Marathon, around Mile 23
Jesus… This scene looks like an episode of The Walking Dead. Runners everywhere, eyes bulging, devoid of life, lurching from one side of the road to the other. Running shouldn’t be this hard. Even running ridiculous distances shouldn’t be this hard. Why didn’t I train more? I should have trained more. If I had trained more then maybe I wouldn’t look or feel as shit as I undoubtedly do right now. I know I look terrible, because everyone around me looks terrible, and I’m not exactly mowing them down…
Don’t ask me how, but Muhayman manages to spot me from a corner of Potsdammer Platz and yells some encouragement. How on earth did he do that? Big up that guy. Emily & Dean spotted me a little further along. You’re always looking your best 400 meters for the end of a marathon, right? Keep it together… that’s what I’m good at. That’s what I do. Fake it till you make it, baby.
We’ve been here before. A few more hundred yards. They are always the hardest. I’m in Agony… then Bliss. Or is it the same thing? It’s hard to tell. I afford myself a smile… that was tough, but already I can’t wait for the next one.
Was it a good performance? Heck, no! I remember doing this 2 years ago and how darn great I felt for most of the race. In contrast, this time terrible – my legs leaden from very early on. I had already done 2 hard races in the last week on top of a half-assed training effort, and frankly it felt like it.
And that’s why it was so rewarding.
2 years ago it was about pushing new boundaries, and, I’ll admit, about getting a little kudos. Results, finish times, and PRs not only mattered, dammit, they were the reason I did this crazy shit.
Now, today? I need a different reason to do this. And I have one… because going into a race knowing that you are not at your best presents its own special challenge, and getting through it and out the other side knowing that you gave it your best and got as much out of it as you could on that given day – I have pleasantly found – can give you just as much satisfaction as those breakthrough races.
And even before this, at some point during the sorry excuse of a training block you are putting together, you realize that… well, nobody cares how fit you are or how fast you can skate or run. How am I so sure that nobody cares? Because even I don’t care, really. Yes, it would be nice to get really fit, do well and get that PR. But at this point I need another reason to train and race even if I’m nowhere near PR form. And so I’ve made the decision to turn up and race. And that, frankly, is the bigger battle already won. The statistics don’t lie – the DNF rate in marathons is miniscule – less than 1%, I think. If you make the start line, you’re are going to make the finish line (er, unless you were that guy passed out and receiving first-aid at mile 25). But the DNS rate – the number of people who sign up in a burst of motivation and then didn’t manage to turn up on race day for whatever reason – is absurd… 25-30%, I think. Turning up is the battle won. The result? Well, that’s just the smallprint; I’m one of 6,000 skaters and 30,000 runners who are either delighted or disappointed with their performance, or somewhere in between. And, you know, I don’t really care about their results, so why on earth should they care about mine?
Well, I kind of lie.. I did managed to put in a PR that weekend. A 1:24:11 skate marathon (From Block D!) is much better than I was expecting, but I guess that it’s the first time that I have really skated well in Berlin. So between racing better and whatever technique improvements I’ve managed to eke out this season, I’ve been able to shave 4 minutes off my best Berlin time. I’ll take it!
What’s more is… my shins didn’t hurt. In fact, they haven’t hurt for months – but that’s mainly because I’ve barely skated for month, and certainly not with any of the sort of intensity that usually triggered the shin pain. Although I’m aware that it’s a chronic condition that has been getting better for the last couple of years, it finally happened… I managed to race without any shin pain for the first time since about 2007, and that, frankly is far, far more pleasing and important to me. I have more thoughts on this, but it’s definitely for another post (which may never be written at this rate).
I guess I didn’t plan it, but this season has been about consolidation, having fun and enjoying training and races without pushing the envelope too much.. I can’t even remember the last time I recorded heart rate, HRV, or pace. Life is sometimes too short, especially when you already know roughly what the answer is.
So this year has been fun, but I am excited to what the future holds!