ITI training, week eight
Thursday: Morning, trail run, 1:52, 10.1 miles, 1,847 feet climbing. Evening, weight lifting at gym. I stayed with Ann in Auburn, and set out in the morning for a quick run on the Western States Trail toward No Hands Bridge. This was one of those runs where every step felt effortless. I intended to go at an easy pace for three miles and then back, but when I finally looked down at my watch, nearly five miles had passed. I attributed my abundant energy to being back in balmy California (it was 51 degrees in Auburn), but I actually think my immune system is the one to thank for this one amazing run. Have you ever heard the theory about the big blitz of fighting a virus — right before symptoms hit, your immune system kicks everything into high gear, giving your whole body a burst of power? Just a myth? Probably. Traffic was horrendous for the final 150 miles home, with torrential downpours and many accidents. By the time I hit the gym after 9 p.m., I was feeling pretty bad, which I attributed to stress from the drive. As it turned out, I was coming down with a stomach flu that my niece and nephew in Utah passed on to me. I sputtered through my weight session, but did do three sets at the same weights as Sunday. (No, I didn't yet realize I was sick. Yes, I do wipe down with disinfecting wipes before and after using machines at the gym.)
Friday: Rest. Ugh. I was sick. Stomach flu is a short-lived virus, but relentless. For most of the day I was so nauseated that I couldn't stand up without feeling dizzy, so I slept through the afternoon. Still, I waited until after 7 p.m. before I finally admitted to Liehann that I was too sick to join him for a ride in the morning. At least I'd come out of my haze enough to eat my first meal of the day — bland vegetable soup and Sprite at a Vietnamese restaurant with friends (yes, I did use hand sanitizer.)
Saturday: Evening weight lifting at the gym. Okay, I still did not feel good on Saturday, but better. I made it through two sets of lifting. I tried a run on the treadmill, but only lasted eight minutes before I felt like I was going to puke. (Yes, I did double down on the disinfecting wet wipes.)
Sunday: Trail run, 1:35, 8.6 miles, 1,101 feet climbing. I slept for 10 hours and woke up feeling amazing. 110 percent. Actually, what happened is I didn't feel quite like death anymore, but by comparison it seemed so great that I figured I could tack on a bunch of miles to the 13-mile run Beat had planned and salvage my week. Ha. As soon as we'd run 0.1 miles, it was clear I did not feel amazing, and by mile four I was about to keel over. I took a short break to get the nausea under control and then jogged home. Overeagerness noted. No harm done, really. Stomach flu is not one of those illnesses that morphs into pneumonia if you're too overeager. But pukey runs are not particularly fun.
Total: 12:32, 38.1 miles ride, 25.3 miles run, 11,077 feet climbing. Beat thinks it's a good thing I got sick and ended up having a light week. He lectured me the other day about "junk miles" — the derogatory term for what I call "volume training." Seriously, I hope to propel myself across Alaska all day every day for upwards of a month, and if I can't handle 20 hours a week of moderate-intensity efforts, then I have no business attempting this. This is my opinion. I do need to build strength, but volume is what builds endurance. Some people build endurance with lower amounts of higher-intensity training, but this has never been my practice and I'm not even sure how it would work for me. When I was training for the 2014 Iditarod, I mostly logged weeks in the 15-20-hour range, and rarely had rest days. I was pretty happy with my endurance for that event, but as always I was disappointed with my insufficient strength and lack of specificity (I had pulled a sled so little in training that I had difficulties with my hips and hamstrings, and shin splints because 350 miles is just a long damn way to walk in 7 days.)
As always in this sort of endeavor, it's never about how fast you go, but how slow you don't go. If I can establish a solid forever pace and maintain it for hours and days with minimal bodily breakdown, I'll have achieved my version of ideal fitness. The body can adapt to long-duration, limited-rest efforts. You see this in practice with thru-hikers: those who start fit and don't overdo it early tend to get stronger as they go. Setbacks such as the stomach flu notwithstanding. I hope to have a better week, next week.