On race morning, I went out a little conservative, holding a judicious pace up the long climb to Corral. I felt good, and took off down the Backbone trail reeling in Guillaume and Seth. Things seemed to be going alright, but as I hit technical patches of trail, my toe winced and caused me to run on the sides of my feet. So, when I hit a fateful piece of rutted out sandstone before Encinal Road, I rolled it damn good, a good 160 degree sprain.
Photo by Billy Yang
To put it in perspective, being a forefoot runner and trying to avoid you big toe is like being a pianist and not using your index finger. You can get by, but you're dramatically held back. So, one might say that this toe injury was the root cause of my ankle sprain today.. But, a quality audit would proceed with the 5-Why statement and then ask, why did I stub my toe?
On the day it happened, I was tired and flustered, and trying to fake a good 20 mile run. Asking why again, I'd have to come out and say that I wasn't focusing enough on my running, and asking why again, I'd say I was taking it for granted. I was achieving fitness last spring that seemed to be indicative of advancement to the best fitness of my life. The kind of abilities that I was proving real talent and prowess to myself.
However, training is like a race, and no one gets points or trophies for being the first to the top of a climb (okay, there are KOM purses, but they're dumb, so stop doing that RD's). So, if I had the endurance to run all day after running 5 hundred mile weeks, then where was the strength training to make my knees tougher, the speed work to make me for efficient in the flats, the rolling and stretching to avoid injuries. Instead, I kept my head down and kept running more endurance miles to the point that my adrenals stopped caring (they were literally like "meh" for the first 50 miles of the biggest race of my life).
I think once I over-trained, I lost momentum and stop trying to innovate and figure out ways to keep going fast. To be perfectly honest, becoming a better runner through running a lot of miles is like painting a picture with just a ton of paint. Yeah, you can paint a picture, but it's going to turn brown. I think initially it's part of the most obvious equation that makes new ultra runners good from the outset. After that, the miles take their toll and they cause a uphill stride to be a little softer, turnover a little slower, and a downhill to be a little more cautious.
For me at 28 years old, 7 years in the sport, 40+ ultras, 50,000+ miles on my legs, I'm not exactly ready to retire and accept injuries. Sure, it makes sense why stuff happens when I'm tired or not focused, but it's not enough to convince me that I won't set much more PR's.
With that, I'm going to bed, getting up, cross training, working on a training plan, and moving on. Motivated.