Posts tagged ‘Running’

May 1, 2015

Seven Years Running

April 22nd was my 7-year runniversary—i.e. the date I first started training “for real” and signed up for my first half marathon.  It’s been an amazing journey of 8,500+ miles, much sweat, and non-negligible amounts of blood and tears thrown in.  Seven years ago I was fresh out of grad school and just starting my professional life as a starry-eyed model-builder in Frank Gehry’s office in Los Angeles.  I’m now a licensed architect and a partner in a small firm in New York specializing in exterior wall design.   In many ways, running has shaped my adulthood—it has been the constant through the stresses and growing pains of my career, personal life, and multiple cross-country moves.  It’s been the backbone of more than a few friendships.  And every year on April 22nd I have celebrated all of that by going for a run that’s just for me.  There’s no workout structure allowed, no treadmill, and I try to go somewhere scenic as my schedule allows.  This year I had to postpone a few days, as I was resting the mysterious toe-squeak injury, but on Friday I ran home from work the long way—around lower Manhattan, through Battery Park (in full bloom), and over my beloved Brooklyn Bridge.  It was glorious.  (And I mean glorious in running terms, which is to say, beautiful, but with severe chafing of my collar bones by my backpack straps. And I almost got hit by a bike, and then a car that was running a red light. But let’s focus on the positive.)

Since then, this week has been really up and down. I feel like I’m really walking the knife edge of overtraining, and a slight breeze may push me over the edge.  Last night I was so tired I was on the verge of tears, and then this morning I banged out a six mile tempo run at 7:40 pace like it was nothing.  The root of the problem is that I can’t find a triathlon training plan designed for someone with a good level of fitness, lots of running experience, and zero swimming and biking skills.  Because I’ll be rolling straight from NYC Tri training in July to NYC Marathon training, I want to maintain my running base as much as possible, while putting in a lot of hard work to bring my swim and bike up to snuff.  That has so far resulted in me doing almost every workout hard, and doing two-a-days four or five days a week.  I realize that this plan is unsustainable.  This week I backed off one each of my swim and bike workouts to an easy pace, and definitely felt better.  Still, I need to find a good training balance that doesn’t leave me a quivering, irritable mess by the weekend.

In what may be a fortuitous turn of events, the Runners’ World training log I’ve been using for 7 years is going to cease to exist next week, so I’ve had to migrate all my data over to Training Peaks.  I have the premium free trial tools right now, so I’m taking advantage of all the fitness and training assessment data to sort things out.  I have the Harriman Sprint Tri in two weeks (agh!), and then I’ll be focusing on the Olympic distance in July.  Goal #1 is to make it to the starting line (and the finish line) healthy and fit.  In the coming weeks I’m going to be paying extra attention to nutrition and sleep, and am resolving to try (harder) not to let life interfere too much with either.

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March 4, 2015

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I’m late in posting, but this week has felt largely like a rehash of last week.  It’s been pretty much run, bike, swim, snow, ice, slush,  repeat.

To further the déjà vu, last Thursday’s tempo run was the same as the previous week–1 easy, 5 at 7:49 pace, 1 easy–with no evening workout.  Friday was a cardio rest day, but I did strength training in the morning.  Saturday I usually do an easy run for my morning workout, but was eager to get back in the pool to continue working the drills from this week’s swim class.  After 45 minutes in the pool my stroke was feeling great, and I believe I also isolated the cause of my swimming endurance problem.  It’s a minor detail, but it seems that I’m not actually inhaling in any meaningful way when I breathe.  I’m not really sure what to do about it yet, but acceptance is the first step, right?

After Saturday’s swim I had a light lunch and then hit the trainer for my first aerobic-targeted workout on Trainer Road.  It was 90 minutes of easy-ish spinning, and other than getting a bit saddle sore, it really wasn’t bad.  I had some errands to run and a pile of laundry to do, so the rest of the afternoon was quickly consumed with that.  I went to the Murder By Death concert Saturday evening with Long Run Buddy, which was super fun, but also had us out way too late.  LRB had a 5K in the morning and I needed to get the Caveboy off to the airport and then bang out a 15-mile run.  5:30 AM came around much too early.  For the run I planned to run a loop of Central Park, then cut west to the Hudson River path and run south, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and back home.  It was the closest I could approximate the NYC Half course without the street closures, and I figured having the bridge climb at the end of the run would be a good challenge.  Per my training schedule I was aiming for 8:30 pace, which was faster than I’d run any of my long runs so far, and 15 miles was the longest I had run since the Brooklyn Marathon back in November, so I was a teensy bit very nervous about this one.    I’d checked the weather the day before and it showed pretty perfect coditions–clear skies and a high of 40, so I threw on tights, a long sleeved race shirt, my Ice Breaker hoodie (love!), gloves, and my sunglasses and hopped on the subway to Central Park.

InconceivablePB

The park definitely felt colder than 40 degrees and the sky looked a bit ominous, but I was undaunted.  I started out the run feeling great.  I was light and fast and it was inconceivable I would ever get tired.  My pace slowed on the Harlem Hills more than I would have liked—and I say “my pace slowed” and not “I slowed my pace” because I felt like I was still running fast.  It’s just that I wasn’t.  Still, I cruised down the back side of the hills and pushed through the rolling stretch that makes up the north west section of the loop.  By the time I exited the park at Columbus Circle and headed for the Hudson River path it had started to snow and I was having to stay focused to maintain the 8:30’s.  The river path is flat and I hoped that once I dialed the pace in it wouldn’t be too hard to maintain.  Other than stopping for a few quick photo ops of the frozen Hudson I did manage to cruise along, roughly on pace.  I knew I’d lose some time and momentum when I cut across the island to the bridge though, and predictably, the climb there felt hard.  What I had not predicted was the ½” of snow that had fallen in the time it took me to get from Central Park to the bridge.  The pedestrian section of the bridge is basically a wooden boardwalk, so in addition to dodging oblivious tourists taking selfies I was also slipping on every step.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a concrete running surface as when I reached solid ground on the Brooklyn side.  Happily, the downhill stretch (or proximity to home) gave me a second wind, and I was able to bring in the last couple of flat miles at 8:15’s.  It was a welcome surprise when I checked the Garmin and saw my average pace was an 8:34.  I arrived back home cold, chapped, and wind burned, and was grateful for a hot shower.

Photo Op.

Photo Op.

I cleaned up, made lunch, and was feeling good until my digestive system suddenly decided to go on strike.  I don’t think it had anything to do with the run necessarily—my stomach had felt fine the whole time I was out.  I curled up on the couch for an hour, but I still had a bunch of chores to get done before I was back to work on Monday.  Other than a headache and the tummy troubles I didn’t actually feel terrible, so I decided just to power through it as much as I could.  Of course, the problem was that I needed to get some calories and hydration back into me, and that was proving to be a challenge.   After several hours, lots of tea, and a couple of yogurt and kefir cocktails, I felt a bit better.  I got the important stuff on my to-do list done and did manage to eat a small dinner without repercussions.  I probably only ended up at net 500 calories on the day, if that, and went to bed at 9.

I woke up Monday morning tired, hungry, and fighting what I used to refer to in college as my “tired sore throat.”  I would get it without fail if I pulled a couple of all-nighters during finals, and now it’s become my red flag that I’m overtraining and getting run down.  Once again, I skipped my Monday morning strength training in favor of more sleep.   Tuesday I felt much better and the 5×1000 intervals went off without a hitch, so I’m chalking up the Monday fail to lack of sleep and calories.  We had yet another snow/freezing rain/regular rain event yesterday, so getting to swim class was a bit of a swim in itself.  Class was mostly kick drills and one-arm pulling, which felt weird and awkward and I kept forgetting to breathe (more so than usual).  Then I’d remember about the breathing when my lungs started screaming and completely forget that I was supposed to be paying attention to my arm position, which was unfortunate since that was the whole point of the awkward endeavor.  This morning I upgraded myself to the medium lane and still ran into feet, so something must be working.

December 15, 2014

Still Limping

After a lot of rest and Advil last week, my foot was actually feeling a bit better by Friday.  I have an appointment tomorrow with a podiatrist who specializes in runners and triathletes, but by the weekend I was hopeful that it might be a moot point.  On Saturday I could hop without wincing, and I even wore footwear other than my running shoes to dinner.  On Sunday I had a bunch of errands to do, as well as a pile of laundry and cooking for the week.  I swam in the morning and then spent a good portion of the day on my feet.  By evening I was visibly limping again and my chiro friend asked me if I had considered the possibility of a stress fracture.  I had, of course, but mostly to convince myself that if I had one, my foot would probably hurt more than it does.  After two weeks with no improvement, though, it does seem like the most likely scenario.  I’m also pretty sure that the fact that I can actually feel my third and fourth metatarsals inside my foot is not a good sign.  I imagine that I’ll get a definitive answer tomorrow, but just in case, I stopped taking the Advil (it can impede healing of fractures) and ate an extra bowl of bone broth soup last night.  Either way, it looks like I might be spending more time training in the pool than I originally thought.

December 5, 2014

No Pain, No Gain

After I finished all the cooking last weekend I savored a few minutes of quiet and sat down with my gmail calendar to plan my next few months of training.  I love lists, schedules, and thinking about interval workouts, so planning the next race is pretty much my favorite thing.  My spring A race is going to be the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in March, but I’m also signed up for the Fred Lebow Half Marathon in January, which is where I had set my immediate sights.  I’m also gearing up for triathlon training in the spring, so I was looking forward to starting to incorporate bike and swim workouts as a two-a-day option for winter training.

Surrounded by a pile of training books (as well as multiple Chrome tabs), I crafted a fairly intense few months of morning runs and evening bike sessions, with swim classes starting up in January.  I enthusiastically kicked all of this off with brick workouts or two-a-days every day over Thanksgiving weekend.  I was feeling like a total beast—or at least enjoying imagining the total beast I would be after a month of biking drills.  Everything was going great until Sunday, as I was finishing an 8-mile run. I noticed some mild soreness in the top of my left foot, but chalked it up to the new shoes I was still breaking in and jumped on the bike another 45 minutes to round out the day.  It was still a little sore on Monday, which is my rest day.  I figured the day off from running was just what I needed, but decided to go ahead with 30 minutes of one-legged pedaling drills in the evening.

Tuesday I hit the gym bright and early, ready for my first official interval session of the training schedule.  Such opportunity!  Such promise!  Such stabbing pain behind my toes!  I stopped, stretched, tried again, and ended up quitting after a quarter mile.  I haven’t actually stopped a run because something hurt since, oh, 2010, so that was a big deal.  “It’s great that I’ve started doing bike workouts, though,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll just do spin intervals instead.”  45 minutes later I was dripping sweat and pleased with my workout as well as my positive attitude and willingness to do something other than run.  I stepped off the bike, tried to put weight on my left foot, and nearly fell over.  After limping around a bit and stretching I was able to walk almost normally again, but it was clear that whatever was wrong, the bike was making it much, much worse.

After a visit to Dr. Internet, I’ve diagnosed extensor tendonitis.  It’s often caused by pressure from shoes that are too tight across the toe box, and I’m quite sure that my bike shoes qualify.  Tight calf muscles can also contribute, and some aggressive tiger tailing that night did release some alarmingly tight muscles there.  I’ve been icing my foot in the evenings, which seems to help for at least an hour or so following.  After 3 days, though, walking still hurts and running doesn’t feel like a remote possibility.  I also obviously can’t bike, and strapping my feet into the rowing machine seems like an equally bad idea.  I did a solid strength training session yesterday, but I’m at a loss for other cross-training options.  If nothing else, this may motivate me to sign up for a pool membership this weekend.

I’m trying to stay positive–at least this happened in the off season and not right before a race–but having such limited workout options is making me a little crazy.  I’ve also realized that no matter how good of shape I’m in right now, I’m still a newbie at cycling and I’m probably in for a lot of the same frustrations I had when I started running.  Learning new things–it’s awesome, right?  This is all going to be worth it?

September 24, 2014

A Very Long Run and My Paleo Power Smoothie

Sunday I had another 20-miler on the schedule and decided to reverse my usual route to avoid getting caught in the climate change march.  Perhaps to underscore the theme of the demonstration, the weather had turned unseasonably muggy and I was eager to get an early start.  

My run started with a loop of Central Park, then south along the Hudson River Greenway, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to Prospect Park. The uphill climb from the bridge was a bit of a slog, but when I got to Prospect I felt like a new person. I was at 17 miles at that point, and I decided to run the full loop and finished on the uphill, just for added fun. I was about 2 miles from home when I finished, but my legs still felt pretty good and I decided to keep running the rest of the way. I have to say that cutting the ‘unknown’ mileage on race day from 6 miles to 4 seems huge psychologically. We’re T minus four weeks to Baltimore, and I think I’m actually more excited than scared.

Now for the smoothie that fueled all those miles… My go-to recipe has evolved and over the years I’ve tweaked it to really optimize for long run fueling. The basis is black cherries, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.  The anthocyanins they contain protect connective tissue and may actually be more effective than aspirin as a pain reliever.  A few years ago I started using peach instead of banana for a little sweetness, as it’s lower in sugar and also high in potassium.  I recently replaced whey protein with gelatin, which has been getting lots of play in paleo circles recently.   In addition to providing about 6g protein per tablespoon, gelatin also protects joints and aids digestion.  The ginger root has been my latest tweak, both for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its stomach-settling abilities.  For the liquid component I usually go with almond milk, but depending on your run pace and ability to digest fat on a run, you can swap in coconut milk.

I know there are a million paleo smoothie ideas out there, but I think this is worth adding to the mix:

Modernist Cavegirl’s Paleo Long Run Smoothie

1/3 – 1/2 cup frozen black cherries

1/3 -1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 of one frozen peach, sliced

1/4 cup full-fat yogurt (if you abstain from dairy, throw in more peach for texture)

1 tbsp gelatin

~1/4″ – 1/2″ grated ginger root (I keep it in the freezer)

1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut or almond milk

Throw the ingredients through ginger root into a blender with about half of the coconut or almond milk.  Slowly blend, adding more liquid until desired consistency is reached.

 

 

August 20, 2014

Run for the Hills

Last week’s schedule went like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Intervals – 4×1200 @ 7:13 pace
Wednesday: Easy – 3 @ 9:30ish (should have been 10’s)
Thursday: Tempo – 10 @ 8:47
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Easy – 4 @ 9:30ish (should have been 10’s)
Sunday: Long – 15 @ 8:59 (9:07 was goal)

 

The intervals were good, I had a lovely run to work on Wednesday, and Thursday I had to fit in a 10-miler.  I ended up running in the general direction of work, ditching my backpack along the way at the gym, and then running another 3.5 out and back to get to 10.  Around mile 5 I passed my long-run buddy going the other direction to his office, which is the sort of thing that makes me love the small town that is the New York running community.

 

As of this weekend, I am officially 8 weeks out from the marathon, which still feels like a long time.  Once I factor in the Dirt Dash, the Bronx 10-miler, and the taper, though, there’s really only five long runs left.  I’ve been trying to do a training assessment every few weeks to make adjustments, and my current consideration is whether to add more hill training.  I’ve been reading race reviews for Baltimore on Marathonguide.com, and the word “hilly” keeps coming up.  That in itself wouldn’t really concern me so much, but the fact that one person described it as “worse than San Franciso” does.  I ran the SF first half (i.e. the hilly part) twice, and it was brutal.  That kind of scared me straight and, being a numbers person, I decided to do a comparison with hard data.

 

Comparison.csv

According to Map My Run, the Baltimore course only has 536 feet of accumulated gain.  The SF first half has 1,052 feet, and the 20-miler route I’ve been running in New York has 852.  That seemed generally encouraging, but when I actually overlayed the elevation profiles, Baltimore does look a lot worse than my long run.  I also know that I’m much better at rolling hills than long, slow climbs, and I think it’s time to remedy that.

My general plan at the moment is to start substituting hill workouts for some of my interval days. To be honest, I’m not particularly jazzed about it.  I love the track, and although I feel like I’ve made my peace with hills this season, I am nothing close to a fan.  I do, however, want to be as prepared for this race as I possibly can be, and that means addressing my weaknesses.  Like a grown-up.  There’s also the added bonus that in addition to building climbing strength, reducing the punishment of track repeats should allow me to increase my weekly mileage a bit over the coming weeks, too.  I know it’s win-win, but I’m still kind of grumpy about it.

This morning I headed to my local hill of choice–Columbia Heights, which runs from DUMBO up to Brooklyn Heights.  The stretch I used is about a tenth of a mile long at 3% grade, so nothing crazy, but it was enough to make my quads burn.  I had an easy 2 mile warm up through Brooklyn Bridge Park, then did 6 repeats at what I’m guessing was about a 8:40 pace, and then 2 miles back home.  Ideally, I also need to find a long, slow climb I can run fartleks on as well, but I may have to make do on the treadmill for that.  I’m sure that will be just as much fun as it sounds.

This week goes thusly:
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Hill Repeats
Wednesday: Easy – 5? @ 10:00
Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:47, 1 mi easy
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Easy – 5? @ 10:00
Sunday: Long – 16? @ 9:07

Also on the to-do list: Learn to love hills.

June 30, 2014

Week 3 Recap

A few months ago I decided that I really wanted to get serious about incorporating some lifting into my training.  I’ve never done any formal strength training and I wanted to make sure I did it right and learned the proper form, so I signed up for monthly personal training sessions at my gym.  I’ve dubbed my trainer Kali the Destroyer for her brutally intense workouts, but she’s really helped me to pinpoint my weaknesses and target the muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries. I usually schedule my sessions with her with as much recovery time before my long run as possible, but thanks to my travel and work schedule, I ended up meeting her at 7AM Friday morning.  I am generally intensely sore for a couple days after a strength session, so I knew going in that I would not be fully recovered before my long run on Sunday.  I asked KtD that we go easy on the legs, and she took me through a few inclined squats for some hip-strengthening and then cooked up an unholy combination of upper body and core work for the rest of the hour.

Saturday morning dawned painfully, but thankfully I had already booked a 9AM massage. As painful as it was, I think it really did accelerate the recovery process a bit.  My core and arms were completely shot, though, and I was glad I had planned to take Saturday as a rest day.  We did a lot of walking around the city, but otherwise I just tried to hydrate well and stretch periodically.  Sunday morning I was up at 5:30 and out the door at 6:40.  It was already 70 degrees and sunny, but thankfully the humidity was pretty low.  I had 17 miles at 9:32 pace on the schedule, and I decided to start with a flat out-and-back in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  It would have been nice to finish on the flat instead, but the shade there is minimal and I knew that by running it early I would also avoid most of the crowds.  As I got warmed up it became apparent that I was, as expected, still pretty sore from Friday.  My arms were less of a concern, but I was definitely feeling my core on every grade change.

From Brooklyn Bridge Park I headed up Union to Prospect Park.  I texted the Caveboy my progress at that point, which turned out to be a useful benchmark since my Garmin filled up with data a few miles later and started autopausing intermittantly for the remainder of the run.  I guessed it was about 6.5 miles to the top of Prospect, and each lap of the park is about 3 1/3 miles.  I planned to do 3 full laps (which I promised myself would include 3 solid climbs of the Mt. Prospect hill at the end), and then would have about half a mile of downhill to finish, with another mile or so walk home to cool down.  The park laps actually went by fairly quickly, and, although I was definitely working harder in the heat, my cardio effort felt good throughout.  I was stopping for water breaks at the start of each lap, and it seemed that every time I started running again my core would tighten up and then gradually relax as I ran.  My watch was missing what I guessed to be almost two miles by the time I finished the last lap of the park, and I tried to do some conservative mental math about where I should finish.  I thought I had about .75 miles left, and after a quick walk for water I started down Union toward home, feeling pretty good and still holding my form together.  I don’t know if it was the downhill or just fatigue setting in, but after about a third of a mile my lower abs went into some kind of tired spasm.  Every inhale and every step hurt.  I slowed to a walk for 30 seconds and then started up again, determined to finish out the last half mile.  It seemed bearable for a minute or so, but then the spasm returned.  I continued to run-walk, grinding out the last bit slowly and painfully.

As it turned out when I checked MapMyRun later, I had actually finished the 17 miles near the top of the park, and ended up running about 17.6 all told, so technically the complete ab fail happened after the scheduled run was over.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like that level of muscle fatigue on a run before, and it was a good reminder of what could potentially happen in 26.2 miles.  That said, I’m pretty sure this was due to the complete shredding of my core on Friday, so I’m not overly concerned about a repeat performance right now.  Today I feel shockingly better than I did even before the run yesterday, so it does seem that I’m bouncing back quickly.  I have intervals tomorrow, but if I don’t feel 100%, I may cross train instead and push the runs out a day.  This week I have my first 20-miler of the training cycle, so the name of the game is recover, recover, recover.

ModC

June 18, 2014

Improvising

20140618-110724-40044093.jpg

I went to work on Monday thinking I had a fairly quiet week in the office ahead of me. A few hours later I was going back home to pack a bag for Florida. We were testing an exterior wall mock-up at a lab in West Palm this week, and due to a shift in the schedule, I needed to be there at 8:00 the next morning.

Luckily, this week of training is one of my flex weeks, since we have a 10K race on Sunday. I had planned to do a repeat of last week’s workouts with a few adjustments, but given the travel I would content myself with whatever I could fit in. I spent all day at the mock-up yesterday and finally had time for a run around 5:30. I pulled my running clothes out of my suitcase, but couldn’t immediately find find the jog bra I’d packed. I knew I had put it in, so I ended up unpacking everything, checking and rechecking the pile of clothes, and even feeling around under the lining of the suitcase in case it had slipped through a loose edge, all to no avail. I have no idea what happened to the bra. I distinctly remember debating which one to take, folding it up, and laying it on the stack of clothes. After that it’s a complete mystery.

I debated my various options. If I went out to buy a bra, I’d miss my window to run. I could scrap the run altogether and go for a swim instead, but not knowing the schedule for the rest of the week, I really wanted to get one in while I had the opportunity. My only other option was to improvise something. I hiked up the straps on the two bras I had brought, but both on, and jumped up and down experimentally. Not too bad. I was undoubtedly going to sweat through all of the undergarments I had packed, but I had a workable solution. Off I went.

I was concerned how I would do in the heat and humidity, but it really wasn’t as bad as it might have been. I managed 5 1/2 miles at 9-minute pace, which felt more like a tempo HR in the heat. Today I’ll try to get in either an easy run or a swim if time allows. Until then, I shall hydrate.

June 13, 2014

Week 2

SecondGuess

The theme of this week has been all about second-guessing.  It started on Monday when I decided to reread the cross-training section of RLRF in the hopes of figuring out how hard I was supposed to be doing those sessions.  I soon realized that I own the first edition of the book, and the app is apparently based on a more recent edition.  The book advocates mostly hour-long, lower-intensity aerobic workouts.  The app, on the other hand, has me doing 20 or 30-minute workouts with frequent, short bursts of high intensity.  I’ve read the studies on the effectiveness of this type of training, so I’m fine with the theory behind the change.  My concern, however, was that at the intensity I was doing the cross-training, my poor undertrained non-running muscles were going to end up chronically sore or injured.  Since the book was no help, I then searched for “Run Less Run Faster cross train intensity,” thinking that Google would surely know what to do.  What I found was a number of articles and blog posts dissecting the ways in which the RLRF cross-training approach is flawed, and advising runners to use the program as I had been all year–substituting easy runs for the XT days.

That, of course, had me at hello.  The only thing keeping me from swearing off the spin bike in perpetuity is that my SI joint had started to ache after last week’s long run, and I’m worried that I could be starting down the path to another IT band injury.  In any case, I now had competing theories that 1) Cross-training prevents injury caused by excessive running mileage and allows greater aerobic training volume overall, or 2) Cross-training causes injury by replacing necessary ‘time on the legs’ with sessions that overwork under-developed muscles.  I ran my best season ever this year by going with door #2, but I do need to seriously consider the risk of injury if I increase my mileage.  It was quite the quandary.  Luckily, I didn’t have to figure it out until Wednesday.

Tuesday I did the 4×800 intervals at pace and was happy that they were way less difficult than the 16’s last week.  My SI joint continued to ache a bit after the speedwork, though, which was how it had all started last time as well.  I’ve been doing a strength training routine that’s supposed to prevent IT-band injuries every day since the Brooklyn Half, but since the problem seems to be rooted in my SI joint, I decided to research exercises for SI-joint stability as well.  I found what seems to be a solid routine here, which I’ll now be alternating with the IT-band days.  My hope is that strengthening the area will take care of the problem altogether, but I don’t want to exacerbate things before I’m able to build strength. On Wednesday morning I was still unsure whether to run or cross train when I left for the gym.  In the end I decided to run easy until I felt any sort of twinge, which took about 3 miles.  At that point I switched to the bike and did the 20 post-warm-up minutes of the XT workout.  (Either best or worst of both worlds, depending on how you look at it.)

Thursday’s tempo went well, particularly since the paces are much slower than I was used to in the half marathon training.  After 7 miles, though, my SI joint was definitely aching and a few hours later my glute on that side felt sore and a bit tender.  I decided that this morning’s session would definitely be on the rowing machine, which would hopefully give me fresher legs for Sunday’s long run and also give the SI a break.  (Oddly, as sore as it was yesterday, it felt 100% fine today, which is strange, but somewhat encouraging.)

I’m still not completely sure what to do about the cross-training.  I’m leaning toward eliminating one day of it in favor of an easy run, or I may just keep it flexible, and just decide based on how I’m feeling.  I’m also thinking that since it seems to be the speedwork intervals that particularly set off the SI, I may rework the schedule a bit to compensate.  I’ll need to really look at the tables to judge, but the marathon plan seems to preference faster interval sessions and slower tempos that run closer to race pace.  I’ve always found faster tempos to be hugely beneficial, so I may change it up so that those are more in line with half marathon paces, and then take the intervals down to a less punishing level.  On the up side, next week the Caveboy and I are running the Queens 10K, so I’ve made the weekday training essentially a repeat of this week, with the race instead of a long run.  That gives me the option for a break after the 15 miler this weekend if I need it, and I’m going to book a massage right now.

-ModC

May 6, 2014

Finding My Way

Tuesday: Intervals – 5x1K @ 7:21 pace

Wednesday: Easy

Thursday: Tempo – 2 mi easy, 3 mi @ 8:04 pace, 1 mi easy

Saturday: Easy

Sunday: Long – 8 mi @ 8:48 pace

 

Somewhere around mile 8 of my long run on Sunday it occurred to me that I actually respect myself as a runner now.  I wasn’t really sure at the time what that meant exactly, but I knew something had shifted.  It isn’t easy to pin down.  It isn’t about finally being able to run a particular pace, although it has everything to do with the progress I’ve been able to make this year.  It’s not really about dedication and hard work, because I’ve always been committed.  It has a lot to do with PR’s and getting out of my comfort zone this season, but what I would consider the turning point came in a race where I didn’t PR.  What I realized Sunday was not that I had improved my self-image as a runner, but that I had one at all.

I should, of course, know better.  I’ve read a number of sports psychology books over the years, and the model is pretty much the same: We all put perceived limitations on ourselves and it is very difficult, both physically and mentally, to break through those barriers.  The stress response arises when we encounter a situation which requires more than we believe we can deliver.  The cascade of physiological fight or flight responses then ensue, all of which can further interfere with our ability to perform.  For many people (myself included), the realization that this is happening creates further stress and then you’re off on a vicious cycle of stress -> physical symptoms -> poor performance -> additional stress…

The hard part, of course, is breaking the cycle.  I’ve tried visualization, meditation, relaxation, and my old stand-by—reading a ton of books on the subject.  While they were all very pleasant activities, I never felt like I was fundamentally changing the way I thought about things, or what I believed about my abilities.  Self-talk cheerleading is not something I’ve been able to pull off, and I suspect that, like actual cheerleading, the activity only brings out my general sarcasm.
 
I’ve been trying over the past few days to deconstruct what finally clicked for me, and I think it really comes down to finding something I could actually believe in.  For me, that was the way I was training.  The thing I really love about RLRF (and I promise I’ll do a post soon exclusively on this topic) is that it very clearly maps out each workout to get you to your goal time.  If there’s one thing I do trust, it’s empirical data.  Once I could see my training run paces improving, I could buy into the system, and ultimately, trust myself to deliver.   Basically, if I can do the training runs at the proscribed paces, I have no reason to think that I can’t run the predicted finish time for the race.  
 
I still have the occasional bad workout, and when I do, they still stick with me longer than I would like.  I continue to worry that if I take too much recovery time between races that I’ll lose my speed and my confidence with it.  I worry that that tendency will lead to injury.  I’m sure that I’ll always be dealing with my confidence and nerves to some extent.  But I do feel like I’m able to enjoy running in a way that I never have before, and I’m actually kind of proud of myself.
 
-ModC