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Fuzzy Math

Posted May 31 2009 11:50pm
Admin note: I'm going to need another day or two for a National Spelling Bee recap; I'm finding it quite challenging to sit through seven hours of taped coverage when I'm only averaging about four and a half hours of sleep per night. Sometimes the body just wins. In the meantime, another fatigue-related post ...

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Actual e-mail exchange between a running partner and me during the middle of last week:

Him: How many miles are you running over these two weeks?

Me: I’m hoping for 80 this week, and 65-70 next week before tapering. I’m a little tired lately.


I usually track my weekly mileage from Monday to Sunday - for no significant reason other than that’s the way I decided to do it many years ago – and I generally don’t spend too much time worrying about reaching a certain number from week to week. I just figure that if I run as much as I’m able to from one day to the next, and one week to another, the numbers will work out where I need them to be.

That’s why it took me by surprise when my oxygen-depleted brain started rearranging days and numbers and mileage in the midst of a slow two-hour run on Friday. Maybe it was trying to make sense of how tired I felt, and why this week became exponentially harder to drag myself out the door with each passing morning.

And it took me by even greater surprise when I started doing the math: If I switched the days around and counted the week from Saturday to Friday, my mileage total was a bit higher than I expected.

It was higher than 80. Even higher than 90. And 100. During that seven day stretch, I ran 108 miles.

At first I was certain that I was counting the numbers incorrectly - that it must have been some fuzzy math that was a byproduct of chronically fatigued gray matter. So I recounted after I came home, and again in the middle of my work day, and again during a long set of my swim workout (Like how I threw that in there? I'm still swimming a couple of days per week, too). Every time, the numbers came out the same.

So, um ... did I say I was a little tired lately? I should probably clarify that to say that I'm a LOT tired. Exhausted, really. That's not to say that there's anything wrong, or that I'm in a situation I'd rather not be. It's simply a means I've chosen to accomplish the result I'm going after at the end of June.

The funny thing is, having full awareness of the mileage I'm posting seemed to make me even more tired than I was before knowing - like the way you don't fully notice the pain from a sunburn until people start saying, "Wow, you're really getting burned!" This whole training period has been a slow boil of sorts, building so gradually that you might not notice except when it becomes highly dangerous.

I only have a couple more weeks of heavy training ahead of me, so the light is definitely glimmering at the end of this particular tunnel (I know, that's three consecutive sentence analogies - but sometimes I just can't help it). However, to ensure that I get there in one piece, I'm making a couple of modifications to my training plans: I'm going back to my Monday to Sunday schedule, and I'm going to try not to count the mileage anymore.

It probably won't give me any more energy, but I think it might make me happier - because this feels like one of those situations where ignorance is bliss.

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Footnote: The following song doesn't have anything to do with the post, but I'm posting it for a couple of reasons: 1) I'm LOVING the new Green Day album, and 2) I'm just feeling generous. Here's a live version of one of my favorites, "The Static Age" (click to play):

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