When the Workout Sucks

I frequently say I’d rather things go poorly during workouts, because it gives me the opportunity to react & adapt; I’d rather that not happen for the first time during the race. That doesn’t mean I enjoy it when a workout sucks, but it is a small comfort.

Today was one of those days. The weather hasn’t been uniformly hot this summer, so I’ve had few workouts in 100°F days. I don’t mind training in the heat, but it’s not fun when I haven’t had the chance to ease into it. I also haven’t run hills. (The Leavenworth half marathon is flat, but I’m running Multnomah Falls the week before Leavenworth. Multnomah Falls is about 1600′ of elevation gain – straight up, straight down.)

I’ve garnered from my research that prepping for the Badger Mountain Challenge 50K means getting used to “power hiking” up the steeps. If I can maintain 3-4 mph uphill, I’ll make the cutoff. (50km/8 hours = 15:26/hr pace) I planned to try it out this workout, with the poles.

I decided to go up the Langdon trail to Trailhead Loop, do the parking lot loop (to give me enough miles to meet my 8-mile goal), up Canyon — I always go down Canyon because it’s so steep — and then back via Trailhead Loop & Langdon. I was surprised how much work it was going up Langdon — it’s the less-steep option, and I’m used to running (albeit slowly) up Skyline! I was tired by the time I got to the park on the east side of the mountain.

Going up Canyon was brutal. At my slowest, I was plugging along at 1.5 mph. I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” I managed to turn that around: “Yes, you can, and you will. You used to think you’d never run up Badger, now you do. You just need to put in the work, and this is a step toward that.” That made it better, but it didn’t make it easy.

As I turned onto Skyline to head down, I decided to try to run. It sucked. I felt like I was running uphill. My best pace was still just 15:20/mile, and that was really brief. August 20 on Badger

Even with a couple of miles left to go, I was spent. If I could have quit, I would have – but I still needed to get back to the truck. I gave up any pretense of running, or even of walking fast. I even cut over to the utility road, because I couldn’t bear walking even a few feet farther than necessary. (I think the detour saved me .08 mile.)

Here’s a few things that went wrong:

  • I didn’t refill my water bottle at the park on the east side of the mountain
    • I was running short of water. In fact, I was out of water when I got back to the west trailhead. Running low on water meant I couldn’t cool my arm sleeves or my head. Bad, bad choice
  • My belly ached
    • I brought two Clif Kid Z bars and four Endurolyte capsules with me. That should have been enough; maybe it was.
    • I think I drank too much water in the parking lot loop. I didn’t feel sloshy heading up Canyon, but I wonder if the water was making me achy.
  • I underestimated how difficult it would be to run holding the poles. I think it threw off my arm swing, which threw off my stride.

On the plus side, I felt better soon after getting back to the truck, despite drinking about ten ounces of water almost immediately and downing my recovery shake. And my clever plan for the shake worked: I blended two frozen bananas with cashew milk & Recoverite, and I put the bottle in small cooler filled with ice. The ice was still about two-thirds frozen, and the shake was cold. What a treat!

I haven’t worked out the past two days, and I’ll give myself a rest day tomorrow – perhaps a nice walk, and there’s plenty of yardwork to do. Although my next two races are not going to be hot, I’ll have to train in the heat over the next five weeks if we don’t have an extended cold snap. I don’t mind – training in the heat equals being stronger even in cool weather. I just hope there’s enough time left for me to acclimate at bit.

Next weekend, I’ll run on asphalt. Because the Leavenworth HM is on pavement, I don’t want my body to forget what it’s like to run on pavement. But I’ll try again with this workout on Badger, minus the poles. And it will be better. Maybe it will suck again, but I’ll learn something from the experience. And that will make me better.

But for now? DINNER

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