Monday, January 2, 2012

Run Down, But Not Run Out of Time

This morning, I got up early to do a three-hour ride. It was a shame I missed yesterday's ride as I was still feeling under the weather. Ideally, I would have preferred a 4.5-hour ride as prescribed by Coach however my recent run with the flu virus led me to hold my enthusiasm back. Why would I take undue risk of a viral infection on my heart after brief convalescence from disease? As my last foray into the marathon indicated, if you are not 100 percent recovered then you will not perform to your best.

I started a little stiff in my back, but I was not run down – the feeling of disinterest or indifference caused by fatigue and pain. I did an easy warm-up and then shifted into slightly higher-gear. It was all about control and being disciplined to hold my pace. On my way out towards the airport runway, the familiar and predictable headwinds welcomed me. I dropped into aero-position on my tri-bars and focused on spinning in nice smooth circles. I also paid heed to my breathing, taking in generous mouthfuls of air as I cranked the pedals. I did all these while staying alert to fast-moving traffic (and that meant more than the herds of roadies sweeping furiously but respectfully by), and being aware and cognizant of my surroundings. Might as well enjoy my morning if I was training, anyway.

I took one High-5 gel every 30 minutes, after my first hour passed. Before I left my house, I consumed one packet of gel and one can of Red Bull. The latter tastes like bad medicine, but gives you wings minutes later. I took two bathroom breaks, refilled my water-bottles, and completed the entire 90K in just-over 3 hours. I was pleased for the time, as I did not waste much of my time churning out ‘junk miles’.

You can run yourself down to the ground, yet your joints may hold if you are blessed with the right genetics for endurance sport. Or, you played it safe and held back in your youth by not thrashing your knees and ankles from overuse, or faced full physical contact from testosterone-infused sporting adversaries. I always found it delightful when well-intentioned people caution me about overdoing endurance sports for fear of damaging my knees. What is more amazing is that some of these naysayers are only in their 20’s and 30’s and are suffering such debilitating conditions. Well, I believe in the science and am assured by anecdotal evidence. I think of 79-year-old Mr Kor Hong Fatt who ran Boston this year, and think: ‘Now, who do I prefer to listen to…?’

Brand Tribes author, Reeves Lim writes about ‘running in and running out’. This is a stunning example of encapsulated writing using the analogy of running. I am looking forward to meeting Perth-based, multiple-Ironman finisher John Cooke tomorrow. We will definitely have war stories to trade over coffee. I will certainly ask him about his lessons learnt at IM Western Australia. Stay tuned for more sharing.

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