Monday, April 02, 2012

All Spark

"I just can't do it, Captain. We don't...have...the power."

That's what I've been feeling like for the last couple of months.  I simply do not have the power.  I'm currently running and riding slower than I have in years - including when I came back after a year off due to surgeries.  I don't know what's going on, but it's frustrating.  I haven't had a "good" run since the fall, and while I finally have gotten back on my bike, it's just not going well.  Even swimming seems to have plateaued, I guess expectedly, because at some point you're going to have to assume there will be diminishing returns.  Gone are the 30k weeks without spending much time elsewhere, where every swim was a good one, and here are the swims on tired legs, where my times are not improving, and I feel stagnant.  The only takeaway is that on even my worst, most tired days, I am able to get through the workouts and intervals, which previously I don't think I could have done.

April is here now, but in reality, I have nearly 3 months until the end of the spring season.  3 months isn't much time to GET into shape, but when you carry a base of fitness like most year-rounders should, 3 months is an eternity to sharpen and get race fit.  Even now I still have 5 weeks before the start of tri season, which is a lot of time. 

What I'm more concerned about than just being slow, or not feeling like I have power, is how my body FEELS.  It feels shattered.  I haven't done anything comfortably or without pain in years now, and yes, I realize that's just going to be a part of what happens when you suffer an injury like I have, but it's no easier to deal with.  My left hamstring/piriformis seems to fail on me pretty regularly.  It doesn't bother me much on the bike, but running, it hurts all the time.  It seems to deteriorate as I approach an hour of running, or after 2.5-3 miles of harder running.  Meanwhile, my right hip flexor/groin area is also not functioning properly.  Both of these are combining to impact my ability to drive my legs when I'm running.  The hamstring isn't as much of a problem on the bike, but the hip/groin thing is. 

As I was watching Transformers (Michael Bay version) the other day, I realized what I need:

An All-Spark.

I just need something that will recharge me, zap me back to normal, restore my life energy.  The number of times I've heard, or said, it's because I'm getting older - absolutely false.  At 30 years old, I shouldn't be this run down.  Engine's fine, chassis is a little bit up.  I feel like the Millenium Falcon.  I'm still the same person that ran a beautiful Philly Distance Run last year, so I have to hold onto hope that I can get back to even just where I was a few months ago.

Part of my realization was that my maladies are likely caused by severe muscle imbalances.  Pedaling, running, and swimming make you strong, but don't give you strength.  I've noticed that, particularly in the endurance races, it's often the athletes in their late 30s and even into their 40s now that are making waves.  If you look at their schedules, most have families, time-consuming jobs, that will limit their training.  But they're performing as well, or better, than they were in the past.  Some part of it is that they're more focused, and not overtraining, like they were before, but in talking to some of them, you see that they're strength training.  Through high school and college that was always a part of my routine, and I never felt better.  So I've reinstituted real strength training, and that's leveled me this past week as I adjust to the soreness, particularly in the legs.

I'm counting on leveling out some of the imbalances I have in my legs, which isn't something I can do all the way, on account of my out-of-whack knee, but I have to try. 

In other news, following my great first weekend of March Madness, my bracket was mostly demolished in the Sweet 16.  I shouldn't say demolished, but I dropped quite a bit.  The way does theirs, I cannot win my group now, and I'll have to settle for just another mediocre-ish year.  But in my money pool (CBS Sports) I am in the lead, and the best anyone can do (one guy) is tie me.  If Kansas wins tonight, I win.  If Kentucky wins, we tie, and then it comes down to combined points for the game.  I guessed 148, he guessed 157.  Based on the scores through 5 games, the scores have not been near 80.  So it's going to be close.  I don't honestly believe Kansas is the better team, but it's March!

Anybody that put Kansas in the Championship game was probably doing so on account of name.  They were a #2 seed and I didn't consider them to be in the top 5 teams of the Tournament.  Nevertheless, in this game of points, we have to take some chances, and because they're kind of like Michigan State was in the early 2000s, I never count them out.  When I looked at all the potential matchups, I legitimately believed it would be Kentucky and Kansas.  It looked doubtful throughout the entire Tournament, as each team faltered at some point, but in close games, the better team should always win.  And, both did.  So now here we are, 4 years after Kansas, coached by Bill Self, beat Memphis, coached by now-Kentucky coach John Calipari.  In 2008, it worked out great for me, but in the closest of games.  The last time Kansas played in a Championship game in New Orleans though, it didn't end so good for them, on the great play of a Syracuse one-and-done named Carmelo Anthony.  Kentucky has a great, soon-to-be-one-and-done freshman in Anthony Davis.  "Anthony" isn't the only thing they share, as each player has the capability to lead their team to a great win.

So I don't believe that Kansas is going to win tonight, but the worst I will finish in my pool is 2nd, and I think 1-2 get paid, so I would take it!


Dart said...

The All-Spark = Hanging Tough with Joey and Donnie & gang. I'll give you a bandana - you bring the boombox.

Stick with the gym and strength work. Daniels Running formula says stick with a new "stress" for minimum 6-weeks before a) achieving full benefit of the new stress and b) increasing intensity of the new stress to avoid injury or fatigue or etc.

I did about 12 weeks in the gym this marathon cycle, mostly all legs, very little core, and virtually nothing upper body, that ended not long after club challenge, and I PR'd the half the first week out of the gym.

Dart said...

1/14: Charleston Marathon (15th overall, 3:03:43)
2/26: Club Challenge 10 Mile (103rd, 1:04:54)
3/11: Shamrock 5k (42nd, 17:52)

Not the performances you want, but keep in mind you entered 2012 after the #30 for AGE30... And of those 30, how many were super bad ass distances? Quite a lot - 2IM, 4 Half-IM?, Half marathons, Olypic Dist., etc.

Keep your spirits high brother - racing beats us up. You're strong, and fit, and in pain. Stay focused; NEver, never quit.