In a similar manner, I’ve known of athletes in a variety of sports to develop a slight injury, a roaring hang-over, or become sick (or all three) days or weeks before a competition and yet have a personal-best performance. They were forced to rest. This physical anomaly has been coined the “Zatopek effect.” Sometimes the body must say “enough” in order to regain form….a forced rest can produce a fully rested competitor ready to perform at a peak level.
During the first annual running of the Tuscobia 150 miler last December, the author became incredibly sick, injured, and hung-over (and unloved) and thus was able to only train at a very limited volume leading up the Arrowhead 135. His much better than anticipated finish at this year’s Arrowhead can thus be partly attributed the “Zatopek effect” as well as his astute understanding of Durkheim’s work (supplemented with copious intake of Bell’s Hopslam Ale). But enough about this bit player, the real practitioner of Zatopek Dogma is the writer’s training partner and second place finisher at this year’s Arrowhead. He simply does not train slow and he does not rest (ever) and all the while, he maintains the most amicable of temperament. It is both maddening and delightful to behold. To be honest, before coming to understand Durkheim’s work, the essayist secretly held out hope that the youthful Zatopek-like zealotry would backfire on his training partner, that the full-throttled approach to training would bring about a cataclysmic bonk and that such an end would provide a lesson to the zealot, that the older, feeble one could lecture the stronger on the importance of rest and tempered training schedules. But alas some organs are “more equal” than others, some organs are destined for greatness while others are used for elimination purposes. Yet there is comfort in knowing one’s place in the universe.