Monday, September 28, 2015

Week in review Sept. 21-27: Ending with another aborted long run =(

I had high hopes after my uneventful 3-miler Saturday that my long run would be just as uneventful. A perfect day would have been to complete 18 miles feeling good. Sadly, I got about 2.5 miles in before the searing pain in my right knee started, and I had to walk/jog back to my car.

I knew it could go either way and I tried to mentally prepare myself for both three hours of running and 10 minutes of running. I didn’t even really want to drive out to a nicer trail in case I had to cut it short; I felt it would have been a waste of time. On the other hand, I knew spending three hours running around my neighborhood would be mind-numbing.

In the end, I shouldn’t have bothered. After the pain started, I knew I was done for. I’d walk for a while, jog for a bit, and walk again when the pain came back. I was feeling OK going slowly by the time I got back to my car, and I briefly considered trying for another few miles the opposite way. Alas, the pain returned just as I reached my car at mile 4. I was pretty much mentally checked out by then, anyway.

So, what next?

My running schedule has been all over the place lately. This past week, I had taken five full days off before the test run Saturday and the aborted long run Sunday. Two weeks ago I had a nice, easy 6.5 miles early in the week, was busy for a few days, and had to cut that Sunday’s long run short, too. Three weeks ago I ran 16 miles with the only sign of a problem showing up in the last mile, and had even run some fast-for-me half-mile pickups two days before! Was it the pickups? Was it the 16-miler?

Five full days of rest didn’t solve the problem so this time I’m going to rest even longer. If not running one step between now and marathon day means I can finish the race, that's what I'm going to do. I'll probably wait at least two weeks and go from there.

In the mean time my plans is strengthen, rest, and hope for the best. There's not much else I can do at this point. The window for putting hay in the barn has passed and I just have to hope it was enough.

For posterity:

Run: Twice, both on the road, for 7 miles in 1:10:23.

Yoga: Twice, both self-guided, for 30:00.

Pre-hab: Twice, hip exercises, for 35:00.

Weights: One session of body/heavy weight moves, for about 1:15:00.

Total: Seven sessions in just longer than 3:30.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I just went for a run...

Three miles. I survived.
... And it went OK.

After I had to limp home 2 miles into my long run last weekend, I rested all week with the idea of a few test miles today. I even bought an IT band strap to hopefully help hold things in place. Not gonna lie -- I was really nervous heading out today.

I survived. I had a few twinges in my IT band, especially when I was going around a curve or hopping up on a curb, but never any actual pain.

I'm not going to get overconfident, but I'm reassured that all this rest did me some good. I'm going to try to get out for one last actual long run tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week in review Sept. 14-20: Ugh and ouch

Not much of anything this week.
It was a discouraging week. Running-wise, I got off to a decent start with a nice, easy run Tuesday evening. But then I had commitments after work Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday. I had a nice, quick run with my crazy dog on Saturday, and after that, believe it or not, lifted some weights!

And then I went out for my long run Sunday, started experiencing searing pain in my knee about 1.5 miles in, and had to limp home, discouraged and frustrated.

I can’t help beating myself up a bit about this. July, I ran the most miles I ever have in a month, and was feeling cocky. But what I WASN’T doing was stretching, my pre-hab exercises, and paying closer attention to my shoes, which I’d run in for far too many miles.

My SI joint got out of whack, and I’m sure as a result threw off my kinetic chain. And now my IT band and I are both paying the piper.

So as of today, coincidentally, I have 26 days until my fall marathon. I have been doing a lot of yoga, doing my hip-strengthening exercises, and obsessively Googling and worrying. I did take the mutts for a long walk yesterday and my knee felt fine. I am going to force myself to take at least the rest of the week off running, and then reevaluate.

Last week included:

Run: Three times, all on the road, for 11.75 miles in just under 2 hours. Ugh.

Yoga: Three times, all self-guided, for a total of just longer than an hour.

Weights: One video immediately after a 3-mile run Saturday (so I skipped the warmup) for about 50 minutes.

Pre-hab: One hip-strengthening session of about 15 minutes.

Total: Eight sessions in just longer than 4 hours.

I’m not happy about last week but I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve actually gotten a lot of cleaning and organizing done, and the dogs are happy with the extra walks, cuddles and belly rubs. Most importantly, I have to remind myself that this is one race, I want to live to race another day, and I need to be healthy to do that.

Monday, September 21, 2015

I had to cut short my long run yesterday. =(

But I had pancakes anyway.
I was looking forward to my long run yesterday. It was "only" a step back week of 12, I had gotten to bed at a reasonably early hour for a Saturday night, and I had bribed myself with pancakes on my return.

I got about a mile in and the outside of my right knee started feeling twinge-y. Was it just tight? Would it loosen up? I kept going, slowly and cautiously. It got worse. I stopped to stretch. It didn't help. I called it quits at mile 2.25 and limped home, defeated. And you're darn right, I ate the pancakes anyway.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Of course I don't want to actually injure myself, but I do want to run this marathon in a month. First thing on the agenda is to rest the stupid thing for a few days. Then maybe try a few easy miles and see what happens. I had run three easy the day before, so maybe I need to be taking at least every other day off running? Maybe it was inflamed from the weights video I had done the day before?

Either way, it's frustrating and I'm annoyed I have to deal with it! Ugh!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

I'm alive, but not doing much running

Stretch, stretch, run, stretch.
I'm alive, although I've only run once this week. Not for lack of trying -- I took Monday off after my 16-miler Sunday, and had evening commitments Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday. I really tried to fit in a run around them, but it just didn't work out. Sad face.

Moral of the story: If you volunteer for one committee, you'll be drafted to at least two others. Another moral: Friday night high school football games are fun and you should go to a couple and enjoy them.

I actually got some pre-hab in this week. I bought another set of stretchy bands to keep in my office, like, three months ago and never used them. Between meetings and phone calls on Tuesday I squeezed in a set of hip-strengthening exercises. Hooray!

Now, Saturday morning, I finally have breakfast and coffee in me but it took til nearly 10:30 a.m. I'm off to the farmer's market, and I'll get in my run and hopefully some weights while the game is on. Multitasking!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week in review Sept. 7-13: More running, less stretching

Lots of running, a little stretching.
This past week was a weird week, and my “training” was all over the place as a result.

Monday, I did my long run from last week, as it was “only” 13 miles and I didn’t want to do one other thing that day if I didn’t want to. (I ended up having a lovely time at a family barbecue later that evening.)

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I had commitments that went a bit longer than planned, so I didn’t have time to run. However, both days I did squeeze in a quick yoga session.

Thursday and Friday evenings I was back in my running shoes with a zippy/easy run Thursday (what a difference humidity in the 30%s makes vs. in the 90%s) and a decent speed run Friday – a few fast-for-me half-mile repeats until it started down pouring.

I didn't do any training Saturday, instead spending most of the day in the garden and making tomato sauce from that garden.

Sunday was a big day with 16 running miles and some yoga later that night. My run went OK. I held a decent pace for me, but on the last mile my IT band locked up my knee. It's still pretty tender today. The same thing happened on the last mile of my 13-miler. So, is this going to happen at mile 15 of my next run, or in the last mile? I can struggle through a mile with a tight IT band, but not 10.

By the numbers: 

Run: Four times, all on the road, for 43.5 miles in just less then 7 hours.

Yoga: Three times, all self-guided, for just longer than an hour.

Total: Seven sessions in 8 hours.

Not a great week, but I got some decent running mileage in at a decent speed. Sadly, like every other non-millionaire out there, I'm limited by hours in the day and can only do so much.

It's getting down to crunch time. I don't know how I'll do on race day, but I'm hoping I still have a good few workouts left in these last five weeks.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A little bit of speed! And getting rained on AGAIN.

I haven't seen a 7 in a LONG time.
My back and legs have been feeling good enough that I practically skipped out of the office to do speed work last night. It's been at least two months since I've done anything more structured than a quick few miles, so I settled on half-mile repeats as a safe middle ground.

It was challenging to do them in about four minutes but I was holding my own and pretty much descending each one, so I was happy. I got through four and wondered if I could hold another. Of course, it was about then the clouds started coming in. Damn it, not again! I did one more, my fastest one yet, and finished just as it started sprinkling. I took it as a sign -- no sense in pushing too hard on my first speedy run back, not to mention risking slipping on wet leaves and breaking my neck in the process. I jogged it back in the rain, hiding out under a grove of trees for a few minutes when it got really bad, but making it back to my car safe although wet and muddy.

My hip feels a little tender today but I'm walking around fine. I had planned on taking the day off running anyway. (Plus, my shoes need to finish drying out... again.) So far I've had a lazy morning of sleeping in, going to the market, lingering over breakfast, cleaning out my email inbox, and walking the dogs. It feels darn good.

A long run is on the books for tomorrow. We'll see if I can handle 15-16. The forecast calls for 49 degrees in the early morning (!!!!!) but I'll probably wait til later in the day when it's a still-enjoyable 60-ish. After that, I'll have a better idea on whether or not this speed work is anything to get excited about.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I'm having trouble adulting lately

Light week so far. Ugh.
You'd think that with the short week this week I'd be in a great mood, but I've been down the last week or so. It's been one of those weeks where nothing seems to be going right.

The good news is my back is feeling better. But I haven't had much chance to actually run. Monday was a brutal 13 miles in ridiculous humidity. Tuesday night I had an errand that lasted longer than expected, and Wednesday I had a different personal commitment. I did have to stay late at work today, but I was going to run come hell or high water! My 6.5 actually went well.

I was excited to take my smaller dress pants out of the closet a month or so ago. Sadly, I just had to put them back and get the bigger pants out again. Getting down to race weight is not going well. WHY are french fries so delicious?

I am discouraged because I am not making progress on my to-do list. I was thrilled that my husband and I started installing shelves in the living room that had been laying around for at least a year. A week later and we've installed ... that one shelf. I need to make doctor appointments, spend a good few hours in the garden, even sew a button on a shirt. I just can't seem to find the time.

And I'm worried about my upcoming marathon. Do I try to re-build back to 20? Do I take a shorter taper if it means I do another 20-miler two weeks before? Do I settle for another 18-miler and hope for the best? I'm 99% sure a sub-4 is out of the question, but should I try for a PR?

Gah! Sometimes I wish I was a kid again, when the biggest worries of my day was what was for lunch and who would play with me on the jungle gym. Now I have to worry about silly things like spending 8 hours of my day at a job and my body getting more decrepit. Getting old is no fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week in review Aug. 31-Sept. 6: Some running and some stretching

Run, stretch, repeat.
Well, summer is officially over. In Michigan, summer went out with a bang with temperatures tying for the hottest day of the year. I celebrated by doing my long run. Smart!

I had big plans for the day but the heat kept me mostly inside after my run. I had the chance to barbecue with family, where I ate a few too many hot dogs, shared back-to-school stories, and had fun swimming and relaxing one last time before fall. Yesterday was the first time I was in a pool and not swimming laps in a very, very long time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a quick review of last week:

Run: Four times, all outside, for 21.75 miles in about 3.5 hours. My back still isn’t 100% and it was humid and gross all last week, so my averages are slower than I’d like to see this time of year. Also, I had two evening commitments, blew off one easy run to hang out with my mom all day, and postponed a long run. It was one of those weeks where I had a lot going on and running suffered a bit, but… it was all worth it, I think.

Yoga: Six times in 15-30-minute mini-sessions, for a total of just longer than two hours. I also try to do a quick figure-four hip stretch at my desk (just putting one ankle on the opposite knee and leaning forward for a few seconds) once an hour or so. Although my hips and hamstrings are looser than they’ve been in a while, I’m still pretty tight and stiff. Occupational hazard of being a runner, I guess.

Other: Nothing.

Total: 10 sessions in about 5.5 hours.

Not a great week, but not terrible. Solidly "OK." If I can keep my mileage going for the next few weeks, I'm sure I can finish my fall 26.2. Will I be any faster than last year? That remains to be seen.

Off to do some more stretching.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

New shoes! And, it's not fall weather yet

I'm not dead! I have been trying to catch up on all those little life things that pile up with you're busy training all day.

I finally picked up my new shoes. I had to special order them to my local running store because I have ginormous feet and don't like the color pink, which was all they had in stock. I am looking forward to having cushioning to absorb my run stride OTHER than my poor joints.

Fall is not here yet. It was nice and cool for a few days, and then summer came back with a vengeance. Several times this week by the time I hit the running trail it was well into the 90s. Thursday evening, I played "race the storm" and lost. (And got wet.) This morning, it was cool, but the relative humidity was ridiculous. Pick your poison.

I had a work event Wednesday evening followed by a personal commitment, I got my hair cut after work Friday, and yesterday my mom was in town and I didn't feel like doing much. So it won't be a very high-volume week. Plus, I'm putting off my long run until tomorrow, since I don't have to do anything else that day if I don't feel like it. So, don't expect any amazing weeks in review any time soon.

I'm still plodding along and stretching, and my back is feeling better but not great. As long as I can keep re-building slow mileage before marathon day I'll try not to panic. But it's getting down to the wire and, not gonna lie, I'm getting nervous. I'm starting to have the conversation with myself about what's acceptable to me and what's not -- walking? a personal worst? switching to the half? -- but I'm going to put off any big decisions until after my next couple long runs.

For now, I'm going to relax and enjoy the long weekend. Happy Labor Day to my American friends!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A quick August in review

I don't feel like adding up all the hours I trained in August. It was a lot, but not as much as July, and then not very many by the end of the month. I know: Bad blogger. But I'm tired and right now, going to bed sounds more appealing to me than doing math.

So, let's look at some cool Daily Mile charts:
Swim mileage for the past 13 months.
August wasn't bad for swimming. I got in the lake a bunch of times, and although I missed a few sessions for my sister-in-law's wedding early in the month, I was pretty consistent mid-month until my race. My times are nothing to write home about, but I ended the season on a high-ish note of a few repeats below 2:00/100 yards, which is good for me. I'm chipping away at my times, very slowly but surely.
Biking by month for the last 13 months, and by week for August.
Biking was about on par compared to last year. I was in the saddle for less time, since I've only been doing an hour on the trainer at a time, and last year I was averaging 1:15 per session. I did do one more road ride than last year. My speed isn't shooting up but, like swimming, I'm chipping away at it, slowly but surely. I'm happy knowing that I was on par for about a 5-minute PR from last year's 70.3. That makes me feel like something is working and I just need to keep doing that: working.
Running by month for the last 13 months, and by week for August.
Running; oh, running. My favorite discipline, the one in which I am most likely to go long, and the one that is most likely to cause me issues. After a record-setting month of 187 miles in July, the high (for me) mileage, complete lack of stretching, and old shoes caught up to me. My SI joint went completely out of whack about a week and a half in.

I took about six days off and came back gingerly, although I couldn't go for too long. It was probably very good for my back that my 70.3 turned into an Aquabike because of lightning. After a few more days off running, throwing away my old shoes and doing LOTS AND LOTS of stretching of the hips, I was finally starting to feel like myself again by the last week of the month. A bunch of easy runs after work and a decent 10-miler on Sunday rounded me out at 101 miles for August.

The time off running, as well as the end of my swimming and biking for now, means I really have done a lot of yoga these last few weeks. I even lifted weights once. I plan on keeping up with the more strict stretching routine through this marathon cycle at least. The short sessions of about 20 minutes each night are a perfect way to wind down the day and work out the kinks from that day's run.

September is already off to a good start with a decent run and some stretching earlier today. Hopefully I'll have good things to report a month from now.