03 December 2007

On the risks of overtraining

Heaving bosom, pounding heart, flushed complexion - that's me, after a lunchtime run with Rachael last Friday week. Is training with her going to help me to personal bests, or kill me?
She assured me that, with a half-Marathon on the following Sunday, she didn't want to exert herself. Good, neither did I. A couple of the Excisemen were running the same race as Rachael, but what they called "tapering" involved no running for the preceding week, which as I observed in an email to one of them sounded more like abstention. Well, I suppose one's notion of a taper depends to a large extent on what one was doing in the first place.
To be fair to myself, I had aborted the the previous day's run after half a lap of St James's Park and headed back to the office to find the inhaler that I had seen no reason to use before setting off. On Friday I was straining to get the air - the cool air? - into my lungs in sufficient quantity, and apologised (in short stacatto phrases as breaths permitted) to my companion for the lack of conversation as we neared the end of the Mall. She reduced the pace a little, and I was probably going faster than was wise - and I did probably crank the pace up again after that, although once we had reached the top end of Green Park things were working reasonably well.
Rather than waste time with Hyde Park Corner, we did a second lap of Green Park and on the way down Constitution Hill Rachael wanted to do some strides - three sets of 30 seconds each. I told her I'd watch, though I soon joined in and we arrived at the bottom of the incline with only two sets completed and me in dire need of a breather. Although I guess the rest between sets should have been 30 seconds itself, I bought myself more time by suggesting we did the final one in Birdcage Walk.
Looking back, those strides were one of those running occasions when everything feels as good as it can be. All the mechanical things were going smoothly, the effort required felt as if it were well within my capability, and the speed was - by my standards - fast. I worried about interfering with Rachael's preparation for her half marathon: she's not one to turn up at the start and hope it will be OK, like I do - at one point, as she asked me whether I'd ever done an event that I had hardly even heard of, I told her perhaps I'd prepare a list of those I had done to save her asking in future, which on reflection could sound a little harsh, and that certainly wasn't intended. Worse still, I realise now that I did the same to her, which is how she came to be doing the Bridges race this month. Anyway, when I saw she'd run that half in 1:21:44 I knew I didn't have to worry about that. More to the point, I should worry about the effect on me of even the lightest training with her.

1 comment:

rach_e said...

Those runs will soon become effortless I promise! Just wait for the warmer air to arrive and they'll be NO more breathing problems. I had to can an early morning interval session yesterday as I couldn't get the air in fast enough!