Hunger for Speed
But of late, I am beginning to ask myself: When does this hunger for speed actually become an unhealthy obsession? Where do I draw the line?
There are certain golden rules in running. One of them is staying healthy and injury free. Too often we hear of many runners suffering setbacks because of injuries. And I for one, have my fair share of them too, ranging from plantar fasciitis, Archilles tendonitis to ITB Syndrome etc.
One would argue that pain is a necessary part of growth. No pain no gain, so they say. But certain injuries can have long term repercussion. Are we ready to sacrifice that in the name of better marathon time? When does one accept his "limits"?
If you are aiming for sub4 or sub3 in marathon, training requires you to push beyond your comfort zone. You know that you need to increase your weekly mileage. Do more tempo runs and interval speed training. All these are designed to improve your endurance, raise your lactate threshold and increase your VO2Max. All very well. But they come with a price too. Fatigue, very often, eventually sets in and this leads to the increase risk of injuries, if you do not heed the warning signs.
I have learned to alternate my training with easy/hard days for fear of the effect of chronic fatigue and it's detrimental effect. But I must confess that there are simply days when you just feel extra motivated. Consequently, that "passion" nudges you to push yourself just that bit harder. You seek a better and faster 10km, 21km, 30km or even full marathon time. It's time trials after time trials. And this obsession with speed can seriously wear down the muscles, joints and ligaments.
I went through that phase in July after coming close to 3 hours in the Gold Coast Marathon. Images of going sub3 played constantly in the mind. I was drawn to faster and faster work out. Yet my body was just trying to keep up with the mind. Eventually, a pulled muscle and flare up of plantar fasciitis forced me to slow down. I had to totally stop running for a fortnight.
I knew in my mind what I ought to do. But the obsession or "passion" tells me to constantly push that boundary. i.e. If you can do 15km/hour, go for 16km/hour...It's like a tug of war. And there are days when I was never sure who would win. The rational side would appeal to your senses: You are in it for the long run! Take it slow! Just flow with the program! Be disciplined and be patient! Then there's that irrational and inexplicable "passion" that would come along and scrap all the plans, throw everything out of the window... and you just ended up doing an all out time trial!
The quest for speed has it's price. Even if you are ready to pay, one has to realize that there is really no "prize" at the end of it. Like all achievements, we can look back on it one day and tell our grand kids that we were once a sub 3 marathoner. It's all very dandy. But if they have to look at you then in your wheel chair or walking stick, you would have a very hard time convincing them that running is in fact good for them.
Having that "unquenchable" obsession is one thing. But more importantly, I need the discipline to keep it in check. Or else, I may be heading towards self destruct.
I hope you do the same too.