Race recovery/digging myself out of a hole week. I was pretty trashed from Sunday's race on Monday, and only slightly better on Tuesday. By Wednesday my running felt a bit better, and Thursday felt great, running-wise. I just felt horrible the rest of the time.
To explain in more detail, I sometimes get into an insomniac "funk" for lack of a better word. When I get into this funk, I have a lot of difficulty falling asleep, and nothing OTC or prescription in my medicine cabinet helps (no, I haven't tried Ambien). I also get tense and simply CAN'T relax, I struggle with concentration, and my resting HR gets elevated. And the more sleep-deprived I get, the harder it is for me to fall asleep - it's a really frustrating cycle. At the beginning of this cycle, I can run OK, but the further I get into it, the more I struggle.
What causes this funk? Well, a lot of things. I've learned that running in the evening, or any other moderate to hard exertion after about 2 pm, can trigger a bout of insomnia that is very hard to end. Training too hard also causes this, as does a lot of life stress.
And....looking at my past few days, I had:
a) a half-marathon that was very hard on my body, combined with
b) the stress of preparing to move next week (and oh yes, that's a LOT of work), combined with
c) some evening pool-running that probably wasn't the best choice, given a) and b).
Once I get into this funk, it's a downward spiral, since the less I sleep, the harder it is for me to sleep. Since I'm not sleeping well, I don't recover, and so I can't absorb my workouts - all I gain is more fatigue and possible injury.
And when I get into this funk, there's only one way to fix it. Rest. For as long as it takes. Which is the last thing I want to do in marathon training.
By Friday morning, I was deep into my funk, with several days of lousy or non-existent sleep. After discussing with my coach on Friday morning, I decided to skip that morning's workout. I also reviewed my work calendar, noted that there was nothing urgent scheduled, and took off work as well. Instead, I spent my day either watching DVDs on the couch or packing boxes, followed by a nice dinner out with my boyfriend. And sure enough, I actually fell asleep like a normal person on Friday night and felt like I had been rebooted on Saturday morning.
This was just in time for Sunday, and the "4-3-2-1 workout" - a long run with segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace, with an easy mile inserted between each. In the past, I've used my Garmin to check pace as I ran this workout. This time I decided to run it with my watch face blanked - I programmed my Garmin with the workout, so I'd know when each segment ended and also could review the splits post-workout.
I did this for a few reasons:
1) I race with my watch face blanked, so why not do the MP workout that way?
2) I've been worried that I have been running this workout too hard in the past, chasing paces rather than effort - running "blind" would help me with that;
3) if I was still fried/in a funk then running by effort would hopefully keep me from digging a deeper hole.
As it turned out, I averaged the paces I've been targeting all along. Quite a confidence booster, that.
Two lessons for the week: running by effort can be a huge confidence booster. And sometimes an unscheduled rest day is absolutely the best thing you can do for your training.