One minute you feel like a million dollars, like late afternoon Saturday when I headed out for a run up in Boulder before a Christmas party at some friends up there. Then, halfway home from the party, it happened. You know what I'm talking about - that feeling out of the corner of your mind that something isn't right with your body.
Sure enough, I tossed and turned Saturday night and woke up feeling like garbage on Sunday morning. Not terrible enough to stay in bed mind you, but rather that general crappy feeling that tires you out quickly and robs you of your breath. A general ache throughout all of my joints. (and no - I didn't drink all that much or engage in too many h'ors d'oeuvres that I should have known better of to avoid. I was 'good' for the most part on Saturday!
I debated running Sunday (I was scheduled to do 15). I finally headed out and decided I would run an easy 10. It actually made me feel a little better (as running often does). Even did 8 or 9 wind sprints towards the end up a steep hill, which felt good. But the endorphins only lasted so long and by evening I was feeling lousy again. At least Monday was a day off.
Today (Tuesday) I was supposed to run 8 (it's a recovery week) - but I was having trouble rallying and finally made a call that it would be better for my body to have one more day of rest to really kick this thing.
Now that is a sound decision. Any coach would have probably told me the same thing (I worked a full day today too and was up late last night watching the lunar eclipse). I had no business further stressing my body and risking letting this thing take hold. But that doesn't matter to the 'Sarge'.
Let me now formally introduce you to the 'Sarge'. But first hide the children. Shed yourself of any self-doubt. He can smell guilt. When you are hunched over, dry heaving your innards out after a particularly tough hill repeat, he'll hover over you, growling in you ear that, "... perhaps on the next repeat there dumpling you might try skipping like a 5 year old girl. Because anything would be faster than that last little pathetic attempt was. My god, at one point I thought you were actually going backwards."
The 'Sarge' is my inner drill sergeant voice. He's a mean SOB, and happy to play that role. His tenor and demeanor are consistent and unforgiving. He would make the character Clint Eastwood played in Heartbreak Ridge cower and cry.
So true to his nature, after ransacking my self-worth for deciding to miss a workout, the 'Sarge' looks for other moments to deride me throughout the day. Like this evening when I was considering eating a Hershey kiss from the Christmas candy stash. No sooner to I put my hand in the bag than The Sarge growls, "Absolutely not fat boy. You don't deserve it. Put it back immediately and leave it for you wife. Unlike your sorry excuse for an athlete, she made her swim workout this morning"
I took my hand out of the bag and slunk away.
Now of course I can psychologically work through it. My brain doesn't truly believe the inner antagonist (in the end). But it's effective. It ensures I'll get to sleep early tonight, and drink plenty of fluids so I can get out and do an easy run tomorrow and start getting my feet back under me.
He's an effective training tool - the 'Sarge'. A habit borne out of many years of cycling and running when the weather outside was less than ideal, or the day was wearing on me mentally. He'd listen patiently to the pleading voice, "It's too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dark. My body is too stressed. One day off won't hurt... blah, blah, blah" - then, after scrutinizing the validity of every argument he dutifully barks,
"OK, listen up Daisy. If you're quite through whining like a puppy trying to dislodge his squeaky toy out from under the couch - haul your sorry ass out of bed, throw on your gear, and get out there and put in a solid effort - you sissy little jack wagon!"
And that generally does it. 15 minutes into the workout and I'm glad for the 'Sarge'. He has saved me many times from slipping into a excuse ridden progression to being a squishy couch potato.
Yes, I know. All of Sarge's scathing synopsis of my manhood and worth as an athlete aside - I know that fitness isn't borne out of one workout. Rather, fitness is a wall of workout bricks, layered one tier on the other, the recovery 'mortar' binding them together.
And in the fairness of it all - one missed workout and the wall doesn't collapse. It persists. And that thought gets me over the shame of missing a workout and let's my body rest when that's what it needs.
It's OK, he's purposefully designed to be one dimensional like that. That's his bag.
Mine is to log off, get some sleep, and not disappoint the heartless curmudgeon tomorrow. Or there will be hell to pay, and yet another dainty girl's name bestowed upon me. Which would hurt less if I wasn't a guy.