Yesterday I shared with you my Race Theory #1. Today I share with you my second race theory – that races (or significant runs) alternate between good and bad. That is, if you have a really good race or long training run, your next race or run will be bad, and vice versa.
The theory seems to be intuitive in the sense that if you push hard during a run, by going fast or long or both, your next effort might not be as successful since you’re still recovering. But I’ve found that it goes beyond what it should in terms of recovery. If I have a really lame last long run before a marathon, even with a three-week taper afterwards, the marathon will go more smoothly than when my last long run is perfect. It seems to be true whether the reason for my lame run is due to heat or digestive issues or something more serious like injury or fitness.
One reason I might feel like I cycle good-bad is that simply having this theory will make me notice these things, but I also think it’s because I have a very short-term memory for running. If I have a bad, hard run, the next run will seem easy and good by comparison. Then for the next run I’ll only remember that good run and I’ll feel like this particular run is a real slog, and why can’t I seem to ever catch my breath? Then the next run I’ll expect to feel like an overheated sloth, but it’s actually not so bad, actually this is really great, this is why I run! And then the next run I’ll head out all cheery until I’m faced with the specter of death after only half a mile and jesus why is this so hard and does the air feel extra heavy today? Wash, rinse, repeat.
I shared this theory with a couple friends several months ago, and I think I’ve almost semi-convinced them of this good race/bad race theory. Now we’re all looking to tank a run or race before our next big effort, and tanking a run is something at which I’m pretty expert. My heartburn run this past weekend is clearly preparing me for the Pizza Run this Saturday, and I’m sure to have an extra-Blerchy run before Beat the Blerch. What sort of terrible run will I have before Chicago? Or does all of 2014 count?
Do you have any race theories? Will you be watching the Men’s Final of the US Open tonight? Are you still enjoying the Song of the Summer “Fancy” in September? Share in the comments!