My Fall-Apart Week(s)

I don’t know how I’m going to do this.


I’ve thought that before. I know I have. I get deep into a training cycle for a big race, and then I hit a point where everything goes to hell. Something that’s been working stops working. Social obligations keep interfering. Some part of my body starts to hurt in a way that isn’t normal. Whatever it is triggers a collapse that’s a combination of both mental and physical. My carefully-made plans for training fall to pieces.

(Oh, who am I kidding? My training plans are never planned carefully!)

Usually I get there and I think, “This has happened before. I can get through it.” And by the time I get to race day, it’s a distant memory that I’ve glossed over in my mind. I proudly recall training for my race. I grunted through the pain, figured out how to make it work, and persevered. I forget that along the way, I nearly broke.

But this one feels different. I don’t feel like I’m “nearly” breaking, I feel like I’m broken. I need to say it so I remember it, because I can just about guarantee it won’t be the last time I feel like this.

I officially started training for my 100K at the end of June. It was hot. I trained through July, and it got hotter. I was adding more miles, which meant I was running longer into the day. The longer into the morning I ran, and on to the afternoon, meant higher and higher temperatures every week. August continued the same.

I bought a new ice chest to replace the mini-sized one I’d been using for a couple of years, and started filling it up with ice, ice water, cold drinks, and cold, juicy snacks (lots of orange slices). I ran short loops of 3-4 miles over and over and over again, filling my hydration pack about halfway full of water and ice each time, and extra bottles with water I carried for the sole purpose of spraying on myself to cool down. I packed ice in the chest pockets of my vest and in my bandana each time I returned to my mobile aid station (read: car) to cool down.

Why short loops? Mainly so I could consume and unload all my water relatively quickly each lap. I could have carried more and run longer loops, but your water gets hot fast. Even loaded with ice at the beginning, it starts getting pretty warm after about 4 miles. You go much longer than that and it gets downright hot.

I have a good system. Just about as good as I think is possible to come up with. But even with all that, it’s still miserable grinding out miles at noon when it’s 95º and climbing. I did it until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then I broke down.

My second-day runs have been virtually nonexistent because the Saturday long runs wipe me out so hard, I just can’t make myself get up early enough to avoid another scorcher on Sunday. So I end up missing it, week after week.

I seriously can’t stand the thought of going out for another long run in the heat.

I’ve got to keep training, but I don’t know how I’m going to do it.