Knowing When to Say When

By: Cassie Henkiel 

Several weekends ago, I raced the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run 5K. Phew, welcome to summer! It was the first real hot & humid run/race of this amazing spring we’ve had here in ATX. Needless to say, many finishing times reflected those nasty conditions upon another small factor: the course was long (that can be another blog entry for another time). With my unsatisfactory finishing time and knowing where my fitness is, I was eager to get in a ‘redo’ sooner than later. Luckily, the Chuy’s 5k was scheduled for the following weekend and just so happened a cold front was blowing in at week end and looked as though racing conditions would be ideal for a great race.  Hmm, get in a hard workout Saturday or race a 5k? I was leaning towards racing for sure!

With 6 days prior to Chuy’s, I was eager to ‘redeem’ myself. That’s plenty of time. It’s not unusual for me to race a 5k, back to back weekends. No biggie. Well, as that week unfolded I had a crazy full schedule, more so than my usual. It was my birthday week, although nothing big along the celebration lines; no super late nights, too much to drink or b-day craziness. However, I definitely was off my regular weekly routine; a busier work load and had social commitments every night which is not my usual.

By Friday morning, I returned from my ‘easy’ pre-race run and it didn’t feel that ‘easy’.  I noticed that my breathing was more labored and felt like I was putting out a lot more effort that I should, for a pre-race ‘easy’ run.  Structurally, I felt fine, nothing felt tight or sore, I was just fatigued.  As my day went on, I could feel my fatigue even more.  By late afternoon, I called my coach and let him know….I’m out.  No Chuy’s for me in the morning.  What I need is a good night sleep and catch up on my rest!

Saturday, race morning, the weather conditions where ideal; clear, cool and calm. Of course, perfect conditions for me to get in my ‘re-do’ 5k from the Bun Run. I had no regrets, even with the amazing weather. I knew by allowing my body to catch up on rest and repair from my crazy busy week was more beneficial than, getting up at the crack Saturday morning and pushing my body to get a ‘better time’. Plus, I have a big race coming up June 8th , I want to be ready for.  This race is one of several I’m using as a spring board for an even bigger race in October. All the years of my competitive racing, there’s a method to the madness; plan out for a big race and build into it. For any one person, it can be in a season or through a multi-year plan. You can race yourself to injury or burn-out before ya know it. My advice is to plan out your racing season and not just haphazardly race, race and race. As a Master, I race even less than I did before, so I choose my races wisely.

So when in doubt, know when to say when!! Always listen to your body and not let your head, heart or ego get in the way.  As you age, rest becomes more and more important to any training program. Let me tell ya, that sleep in was pretty damn sweet! I don’t get to do that very often.  And hey, I ended up doing a long fartlek on the trail that Saturday morning and I still was able to take advantage of the amazing clear, cool weather.

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