originally posted on stephandbenbruce.com

As I returned to more running, the stomach pain did ease up. It still lingered but it was manageable and it was back to business as usual. After one week of no running and one week of easy mileage, I was back to running everyday for a week. Then it was the first mini workout. A Ben Rosario special! Well let’s be honest, it isn’t really a special workout. Almost every coach uses it in some shape or form. A Fartlek, one minute on, one minute off for a total of thirty minutes. Fartleks are good to use after a break or early in a training cycle as there is no exact split to hit. So instead of trying to hit 400m in “x” time, you can simply run by feel. You can turn this workout into a lot of different things, but in this situation it is meant to be simple. You go kind of hard for a minute, then jog for a minute. Repeat a bunch of times and hopefully by the end you are a little tired. You get the legs running fast for the first time in a while, and above all you are excited for the next workout. I will spare all the details, but the short story is I started with my wife, another sub 2:30 marathoner women Diane Nukuri and Singapore’s marathon record holder Soh Rui Yong. I figured I would get in a few with them, then start moving faster over the 2nd half of the workout. There are not many times I get to do at least some of a workout with my wife, so I was pretty excited. However, I still felt my stomach and ultimately didn’t feel smooth. So after ten one minute “on’s” of the Fartlek, I called it. I really didn’t give much thought to it being a bad day. It’s not like I took off my shoe and threw it across the street in rage. In fact I was not worried at all.

[Moving forward a couple of weeks]

I went and saw Wes Gregg at Hypo2 and he also wasn’t too worried. A Minor abdominal strain was his evaluation. He gave me some exercises, said don’t run if it really hurts, etc. My body started to improve, mileage went back up to 100+ a week and I was hitting decent paces on workouts. Things were really trending up! At this point, coach Ben and I decided that we should aim for an early October marathon. Twin Cities and Chicago are the two best choices for that time and with fellow NAZ Elite Teammate, Aaron Braun, planning to run Chicago, either choice I made would mean a training partner for most of my workouts leading into the marathon. Progress had been made and as quickly as I was ready to join Aaron for a real workout, the wheels came off again. It had been five weeks at 100+ miles, with great workouts coming along. Six miles at 5:25 had become twelve miles at 5:25 in just a two week period (remember this is at 7000ft elevation!!). Other workouts accomplished were 15 x 1k, 3 miles plus 8 x 800m, and the above mentioned 12 mile steady state. Then the big one! A sixteen mile marathon pace workout at 5:20 to 5:25 pace. I ended up regressing and only managed eight miles at 5:27 pace. I could have kept going but honestly I realized I still just didn’t feel right. I wanted so bad to run the marathon at Chicago or Twin Cities, but when I stepped back from things it just wasn’t going to happen. In such a perfect example of splits not adding up to fitness, I knew it was time to make a new plan. Coach Ben asked if we could meet after this failed sixteen miler. I think his text said something along the lines of, “I know it’s your birthday, but can we have a chat? I’ll be at The Coffee Bean for the next 4 hours.” As I headed to the coffee shop I knew what he was going to say: “October marathon is a no go!” I had nothing to fight with. If I truly believed I simply had a bad workout and it just came on the wrong day, I would have pleaded my case. But there was no case to plead. I knew it and coach knew it. The hardest line to swallow during our meeting was Ben saying, “We tried, I mean, you really tried to make this work, but the last thing we want to do is waste a marathon.” He was right. A marathon is a long way and you don’t want to waste a big training block and an incredibly HARD effort on a marathon when you are not ready. Not at this level. So I headed home thinking, happy birthday to me, hoooray! Actually I didn’t go home right away. I didn’t know where to go, so I drove to a few spots I run by all the time looking for a place to just hang with my thoughts. I even drove back to the starting point of the failed workout in the morning. Eventually I made it home, mind drifting all over the place. Not really knowing what to do I closed myself in my room, asked Steph to take care of the boys for a bit and worked on writing training for some of my own athletes for a couple hours. I eventually decided I shouldn’t waste away my birthday locked in my room, so I hung out with the boys for a bit, got a babysitter and headed out with some friends to play shuffle board. Thanks to Kyle (Kellyn Taylor’s husband) providing a steady flow of beverages I ended forgetting about running for a bit. Although Kyle has a super fast wife (2:28 marathoner) he doesn’t run himself and in my current situation it was good to have a non-runner around to hang with.

Full disclosure: everyone else in the party was a runner.

So there I was the day after my 35th birthday with two days off from running on my schedule. Then a TBD after seeing Wes Gregg again. This was not how I saw all of this ending, but in a way it was a bit of relief that I could let this training cycle go, make a new plan, get 100%, then plan a new one. I can’t really be mad at the running gods. I have had a very healthy career and even this injury hasn’t been that bad, just bad enough to force me to take a step back and push the reset button. Let’s hope the body reboots itself quickly.

*Pictures by Sarah Cotton