For the last 4 weekends I've run 18 miles- a 1 mile jog followed by a 17 mile out and back. My times have been dropping progressively each week- until today.
I could tell immediately that this was not going to be a good run, and my thoughts turned to all of the contributing factors. Why was my breathing more labored than usual?
1. Inadequate recovery from previous workouts
2. Lingering cold, and not yet 100%
4. Nutrition- muscles not fully loaded with glycogen
4. Environment- wind, heat, humidity
5. Weight gain- this could be extra clothing and not necessarily body fat
6. Actual decline in fitness
7. Onset of serious illness not yet detected
8. Just one of those days
In my case, 1,2, and 8 are the most likely candidates. Even though yesterday was an easy jog, the day before that was a pretty hard effort, and I may have needed 2 recovery days. I am still feeling flat from a cold, and unlike last week I wore an extra layer of outerwear. I also used a heavier pair of training shoes (following my intervals I noticed some slight foot pain so thought a little extra protection would be a good idea).
Last week, I hit the turnaround in just under 58 minutes. Today it was 61 minutes. Rather than force the pace, I decided to finish with a moderate effort, running the second half in 65 minutes.
Compounding the problem was some friction (hot spot) developing on my left arch. I rarely wear these shoes, and by the turnaround I knew I would have to do something to fix the problem.
For this reason, on long runs it's always a good idea to carry a band aid or 2. When I don't have one I usually start to look for something alongside the trail to put inside my shoe and protect the hotspot. Eventually I came across an old wax cup that did the trick.
The only consolation on this run is I believe recovery will be quick. The other is the realization that you just can't expect to see a weekly progessive drop in times week after week. Fitness does not work that way. Just like racing, sometimes it just isn't your day in workouts either.
total= 18 miles