Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ocean Freighter Analogy

I ran yesterday. The first time in over a week. We're down in Florida, and for a while the weather was actually cooler here compared to back home, but that's not saying a lot. So that with the usual distractions of travel/visiting home along with the lack of killer instinct in my training lately (more on that below) led to a week off.

Naturally, I'm rusty and it's starting to bug me. I just put in my usual easy effort, but it resulted in a slower than normal pace, even if it was soupy as a mofo out. It got me thinking...

First, a bit of a physics refresher: Imagine an ocean freighter. It's big. It's heavy. And despite the horsepower of its massive engines it still takes a while for it to get up to speed. It can be at full throttle but will still crawl for a long while. Ever so gradually, its speed picks up and eventually it's cruising at a good clip.

While at high speed, the captain can reduce the throttle here and there, maybe even cut the engines briefly, and the ship will still be moving along at a respectable miles per hour. Momentum. It's all about momentum.

That's also training: It can take a while to get to that cruising speed. Once there, the workouts come relatively easily. One can get away with missing some time or workouts here and there, but only for a while. That's what happened with Boston. It was my second fastest marathon time despite only averaging 45 miles a week. Other races during the training cycle, including the Mid Winter Classic, all fit in the same category. Yes, those helped rev the engine higher, but only between periods of the engine at a lower than ideal throttle.

But now the ship has lost its momentum. The engine is idling. Sputtering, really, and it's showing. I'm obviously struggling with this and am at a grand paradox: On one hand, I don't feel much like competing and forcing myself to do a regiment that allows me to effectively compete. On the other, I don't like not having that speed and fitness. Angel and devil. Yin and Yang.

So what's next? Dunno. I'm going to continue to let the chips fall where they may but I am seeing signs that a fire is being reignited. I will say this and with a degree of was part of my plan all along. I wanted to let myself go in order to get that competitive drive back. It's happening now, but it's early. It's clear though in which direction things are heading, and it's good.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 70s, overcast, very humid.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade)

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