return of the tweak

Yesterday marked two weeks to Ironman Copenhagen, and, as per usual, my body found a sneaky way of letting me know it was time to back off.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my training plan for this race is a last-minute, cram-it-in approach of 10 days freaking hard + 4 days freaking easy (x2). My second 10-day block started with bike intervals in the morning and a 9-mile run with 30 minutes of climbing in the evening. Then it was off to Big Bear for a big weekend.

Torture is shaped like an oval.

I don’t normally write about the nitty gritty of my training, but this past week I worked so hard, and felt so fit, and honestly loved Ironman training so much, that I felt like writing it down somewhere other than in a workout log.

On Monday, instead of resting from a century ride and 2-hour run at altitude, I hit Masters in the morning and in the evening, had a trainer reunion (2 hours total with 2 x 20-minute intervals at 70.3+ watts). Tuesday was a 9.5 mile run with 3 x 12 minutes at tempo (7:30 pace). Wednesday started out with hill repeats on the bike and a short T-run, and then a 2000 yard swim with a focus on strength. On Thursday (after dropping Mark off early for Vancouver), two friends and I jumped the fence at a local high school track for some painful speedwork. I followed that up with a tough Masters swim. Friday brought a 2-mile ocean swim with a 2 hour and 10-minute run afterwards with Robert.

Saturday I rode 6 hours/93 miles hilly, and when I went to lace up my shoes for a 30-minute transition run, my feet protested. It was clear that if I was to continue this madness, they were going to go on strike.

Post swim and run coffee at Pannikin. I’m going to miss these mornings!

I’d noticed some ankle stiffness in the mornings over the past week, and minor pain across the top of my left foot during my Friday long run. But Saturday, every time my left foot hit the ground, pain shot through my whole foot and ankle area. I called it a day, knowing full well the consequences of pushing through a tweak, and grabbed my ice pack and Trigger Point gear.

Yesterday was supposed to be the last day of my big block, but I opted for an easy long swim instead. Then I hit a friend’s birthday brunch—and made my twice-a-year appearance on the beach—before heading home for more TP-ing, some gentle yoga (from YogaGlo, which I am actually really enjoying!), and an evening of work.

My super ugly feet and super pretty Mantra mat.

Today was a full day off. AKA: Plenty of time to morph into full-on Ironman control freak mode. “What if it’s a stress fracture?” “What if I can’t run until the race?” “Do I run through it?” “Of course not, are you crazy?” “It’s a 20-minute run it doesn’t mean anything.” “It’s a 20-minute transition run, it means everything.” “Maybe it’s Achilles tendinitis—call Leslie.”

Yep, rest days unleash the demons (and the cats, apparently).

I’m not talking about full-blown injuries, but the little curve balls the body throws that make you have to stop and think, rather than just blindly training on and on and on. And really, I shouldn’t be surprised— new tweaks and niggles always appear about a week out from a race for me. Maybe they’re nature’s way of getting us to slow down or the universe’s way of poking fun at our athletic bravado. Maybe they’re the antidote to our tireless momentum, bringing us to that much-needed halt.

They’re the ones that say “so this is what it would be like not being able to train or race.” Or “so you thought you were pretty bad-ass, hey?” They’re the ones that make you feel like a jerk for thinking (even briefly) that it wouldn’t happen to you, or for not being sympathetic enough to your friends who have real injuries.

Clearly, rest days leave me with way too much time on my hands to indulge my pre-race control freakism. Hopefully tomorrow’s early morning easy coffee spin will help keep calm my mind and soul, and maybe, if I’m lucky, bring some healthy movement to my achy little foot.

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