This week has been a quote-unquote easy week. However, I cannot say my body can tell the difference between an easy week and a hard week at this particular point in time. On Monday afternoon my body would have called this week hard. However, after yesterday afternoon's run, my physiology clearly said things were all right and that I was on the right track. Sure, my heart rate was a little higher than I would have liked it for eight miles, but I did the same loop I ran six weeks ago a minute faster, without stopping the watch at two intersections and felt better about the whole thing this time.
I could find a lot of excuses for why I'm not where I would like to be at this time of the year, but I have to agree with my coach's dictum: gains in distance running (and endurance sport) is as much a function of patience as it is of pace.
It's important to get out and do something, even if it isn't directly related to your main sport, as many days in a row as possible. Run, jog, bike, briskly walk, do jumping jacks...because, beloved, the concept of detraining is reality, as real as the rising numbers on the scale and the doctor's chart. Life gets in the way. Business gets in the way. Weather gets in the way. And worst of all, our own laziness gets in the way. My education psychology professor might have had it correct when he told us, one quiet spring evening in grad school: 'If you don't use it, you lose it. If you do use it, it breaks.' But I'd rather Super Glue it together than walk around the track looking for it a second/third/fourth time.
Triathlete/coach Chuck ("Chuckie V") Veylupek wrote something very politically incorrect in his blog, inspired by the attitude of some walkers on the track where he was training a neo-pro triathlete.
"The human body-yours-is the single most amazing instrument you will ever own. You will own it from the day you are born right up until the moment you die; it's the only "thing" you will own throughout that entire span. Don't be ashamed of your body, no matter what condition it's in. Learn to cherish it and befriend it, or the date of your demise may come sooner than you realize. Change your ways before it's too late, and though it may already be too late to ever be fully healthy, it's never too late to try. Diabetes Type II is preventable. Heart disease is preventable. Obesity is preventable. Cancer (to a lesser extent) is preventable. Bad health is preventable. Death is, um, delay-able. Walk on ladies, walk on. But do me a favor: don't despise Angela because she cares about herself more than you do. Your mumbles are as loud as each of your foot-strikes."
I have fun challenging athletes who have developed their fitness over time. I care about the entry-level runners who come to me, but with the fit athlete it means I can pull more tricks out of my little black bag without worrying if they will come up dinged from too much training. Retraining the detrained athlete can be frustrating, both to the athlete and the coach...most coaches would rather not see their athletes regress into that state. That's why many of them have little regard for excuses...doesn't mean they haven't used them at one time or another, but they know what those excuses do.
So, as Chuckie V said: Cherish and befriend your body. Keep it trained. Make your coach use their imagination when developing your next workout. :)