Peaking Too Early and Racing Size

On a scale of things that can go wrong in a training cycle, outside of injury, peaking too early is the bane of my existence.

For example, last year when my goal race was Twisted Branch in August, I definitely peaked at Many on the Genny two months earlier in June. Look back now, I don’t regret it because I had a great time at that race. However, I should have taken the warning signs that my season was done at that point, and rested. I might’ve avoided the slight injury and burnout that has plagued me since that fateful DNF in August.

I digress. Good news is, I am actually coming out of my trail running avoidance mindset, and can see myself returning someday, even if it’s just for fun.

Who am I kidding, I love competing so when I line up at my next one, I’ll be ready to crush.

Right now, I am loving the roads and my training. It’s just so fun to go fast. Painful, but thrilling.

A few weeks ago, I noticed I was sad. Just in a funk for no reason I could see. Then I looked in the mirror.

Dang, I looked like I should be peaking next week, not in a few months.

I was already at my race weight and size. Not a good thing.

I don’t like to be here this early in the season, because it’s too close to the injury line. It’s also exhausting to not have extra in the reserves. I don’t have extra emotional energy either, which explains my random sadness. I simply don’t feel as intensely, and that makes me upset.

When I noticed this, the worries began to crop up, because I could feel injury coming if I did not address the issue. What was I do to?

Well, in a few words, EAT (more carbohydrates), REST (take more naps), TRUST THE TRAINING (follow the plan)

I took stock of where I was, made dietary changes, took time to mentally and emotionally relax, talked about it to a few confidants, and then I just let it go. I trusted when I knew in my brain, continued to follow my training plan, and just stop thinking about it.

Thankfully, I am feeling more relaxed about it at this point, do not feel I am on the road to injury/burnout and am not peaking early. A bit more energy reserves (more cushion for pushin’) and taking time to do things that fill me up, rather than mentally exhaust me.

I have a few more opinions on race weight.

In my experience, it’s not a number, but a feeling. I feel fit. I feel confident. I feel ready. This lasts for a short period of time before a race. What I described above was being body-wise there, but not ready physically or emotionally. I need time, a season of workouts, mileage and tapering, to get to race weight fully.

I was only half there, and not the good half. I’ve always said, better 10% undertrained than 2% overtrained. This also applies to weight and fitness. Better more weight and energy in the tank than less, especially this early in the season when adjusting to mileage.

I do not think there should be a number to hit, but I do think that your body will feel a certain way when it’s ready and that might be a certain size. My experience above did not make me feel ready, I actually felt not in my body, not really sure of myself, but sure that I was not fueling or resting enough.

So I changed. This wasn’t the size I needed to be at this point, and therefore it would do more harm than good. In my opinion, I do not want to be at my racing size for longer than I need to be, because that would be detrimental to my long term health.

It may not be the same for anyone else, especially men who seem to be more resilient in this manner. This is my truth and so when I need to, I fix it. I catch myself (hopefully) before it’s too late.

I will conclude with this thought; too long I’ve thought that being a certain weight would make me my fastest, when that simply isn’t the case. Maturing in my running and personal life means recognizing that weight means nothing, getting fast means being whatever size my body wants at that particular time, not stressing over the details and always make sure I am getting enough to eat.

I think I can do that.

Ellie Pell