August 25, 2008

What it's Worth

As I'm stuck in cross-training land, I can't help but wonder - what is it really worth? Sure I'm retaining at least a percentage of my cardio fitness and that should help me get back into training without starting from scratch, but it's hard to compare the injury training with real-life training. For example, I spent an hour on the elliptical this morning, kept my heart rate high the entire time and felt like it was a pretty tough effort. Yet the mileage equivalent according to the machine was a pace slower than a 10-minute mile. I could have run much faster and further in the same amount of time. Biking on the trainer is the same. It doesn't really compare to real biking so you just have to take it for what it is.

I rebounded from a long injury hiatus during marathon training two years ago and was still able to complete the race, albeit in total misery. I'm not sure what this time off is going to do to the rest of my training and ultimately my race, but I'm hoping I won't have yet another miserable run. Paula Radcliffe was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the femur in May, yet she continued to train for the Olympic Marathon with cross training including swimming and water running. She only had 3.5 weeks of actual running before the race and she held out for awhile, but eventually fell back and finished 23rd in tremendous pain. She said she felt great cardiovascularly but her legs just couldn't hold out. She is one of the best distance runners ever. If cross training didn't work for her, how is it going to work for me?

I've mentioned before how many athletes, including myself, dread their running workouts and struggle with motivation. I sometimes question why I do it. But the second I am unable to do it, I miss it terribly. I was feeling that way this morning while I plodded away on the elliptical reading a recent issue of Runner's World (what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment). Then I came across this article about the embarrassing questions all runners have, but never want to ask. After reading about intestinal distress and running-induced incontinence, the elliptical started to seem like a nice break. I realized I'll have plenty of time to abuse myself with the remainder of my marathon training and my race won't be miserable. My time might be miserable, but I'll no doubt enjoy the experience as I always do.

Distance - 5.83 miles
Time - 1:00:00

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