After three good weeks of training, the wheels started to fall off. I'd been waiting for "the other shoe to drop" and knew it was just a matter of time.
Yesterday, I had quarter-mile repeats on my schedule. I didn't feel like doing them. In fact, getting out the door to run anything at all was a problem. The signs were there: stiffness, soreness, apathy.
The previous week had been a major improvement, but mostly from two hard runs done indoors. Tuesday's 10 miles were fine, Thursday's was difficult toward the end. I had planned a similar run outdoors on Saturday, but the weather was bad, so I moved it to Sunday (which wasn't nearly as nice of weather as predicted) and ended up cutting that one short. Two days after that, the sum of the runs was too much to run hard again.
I dropped the number of repeats I planned on doing, then moved the workout to a hill, so I could run slower and get the same benefit.
The hill was slick. A layer of ice, some patches of soft snow. I'd have to be careful on the downhills.
During the warm-up, it didn't feel right. This wasn't going to be a good day, but I didn't want to bail out of it completely by just running slow repeats for 90 minutes.
Last August, I was doing 10 repeats of the hill in 1:54-2:04 each, with 2.5 minutes downhill, heart rate peaking at 183.
First repeat yesterday, I started falling apart half-way up and ran 2:05. Not bad, but my chest felt tight and I worried I'd have my first asthma attack of the year. 2.5 minutes down. Second repeat in 2:13. Next 2:14. Then 2:11, 2:15, 2:16. Heart rate never got above 165, but I couldn't push any harder.
I was done. Started the cool-down and planned to finish with 8.5-9 miles in 90 minutes (still up and down the hill). Recovery miles were 10:30, 11:20, 11:41. Dead on my feet, I quit a mile early.
I went home and spent the day trying to convince myself that it wasn't a bad workout. Given the weather. Given the slippery terrain. Given the hard week before it.
Eventually, I came to accept that it was a bad workout. It happens. I just need to recover a bit and not let it turn into a bad week.