More struggles, but also some silver linings

I realize that whining is not a great character trait, and that it’s also not much fun to read or respond to… since one ‘d be called insensitive for telling the whiner to shut-up and deal with it, and the obligatory “hang in there, keep the chin up” is annoying to write and doesn’t really mean much to the whiner, either.

So you don’t have to write those comments and I won’t whine. I just want to write another post about the harder parts of training to accompany all the posts where training is going well, because once marathon time comes around, I know this period will provide me with more mental strength than anything else.

This past week was another week of trying to keep the training up-diligently. Training for any race requires determination and diligence. The consistency, after all, is what makes us better- not the individual efforts. Still, there’s a difference training for the event with the sports one chooses above all others versus with the sports one does to replace that one sport.

I’ve chosen to use spinning and bicycling to replace running, since my bike and a spinner at the gym are the two most accessible tools for me at the moment. It helps that bike can get me all around the city and country side, and I can train with destinations to help the time on the seat go by faster. Still, it nags at the back of my mind that I’m not working on my endurance on my feet. A four and a half hour ride on the bike means I can carry myself pretty well on an iron horse, but I have no idea how my feet will hold up 20+ miles.

However, it helps that the hardest part of marathon training is getting the aerobic fitness up. Sprinters are able to transition to longer distances, as far as muscles go, in a few weeks. It’s the ability to get the air pumping long and fast enough that takes more time. So, I keep that in mind as well, and that gets me to push myself harder on the bike, even when I feel it’s pointless.

I’ll admit, I may be pushing myself too hard. I read recently that one shouldn’t try to get one’s heart rate into the max zone too long, too often. With several interval, hill sessions in a row, I noticed myself struggling on a fartlek ride on Thursday, and took it easier on Friday again. I’m tallying up 150+ miles for the week, which is fun for me to see. Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me won’t consider that a solid week of training, but changing my mentality is something I’m working on, even while writing this.

I’ve been buddy-taping toe, and it’s been easier to walk on. I can even walk on sand now, which was nearly impossible because of the pain a week ago, and short spurts, across the street when the light is about to turn red, cause no pain at all, which is a good sign. However, it’s only been three weeks and once the tape comes off, the toe is aching, so I’ll wait a bit longer. I’m in the tricky part of an injury where the pain is bearable and one wants to test one’s limits. I just don’t want to test and regress in the healing. I’m too close to the marathon for that.

One thing for sure, this too will pass, and I’ll be able to enjoy the thrill of running again, soon. I’ve taken off too much time (four weeks on Tuesday) to jump right back in, but I’ll balance running and cross training for a week or so before replacing bike/spinner workouts with the runs again. I hope to be able to taper according to plan. But this injury has also trained my patience muscle a bit more, so I’m willing to see what happens.

I recently switched gyms and started TRX training, which offers a new set of challenges, and I like to think I’m strengthening my body- making it stronger for the marathon than following my training plan would have done.

So, as one can see, I have enough to write about, even if I’m not currently running. I’m also doing what I can to keep the München Marathon a reality. No one can say I’ve given up, and I’ll just have to keep that in mind over these last days/maybe week(s) as the injury finishes healing.

I also have to stop being marathon training obsessed! But as anyone who trains knows, it’s pretty life consuming. Still, I’ve been having interesting times outside of that, so I will probably post something there again soon. I need all the distractions I can get!

Happy Sunday,

Dorothea

Advertisements

To start again 

I need to get this out in cyber text before I forget the feelings I want to share about it: it’s training time again and sometimes one needs to recharge before hitting “reset.” 

Writing from a bus with free wifi on my way from the Baltic to Berlin. Can’t catch catch all my spelling and grammar on my tiny iPod screen. Apologies for any misteaks ;) 

Since taking off my compression socks in the landing plane in Düsseldorf, Germany last Tuesday, I struggled with the next step. I mentioned in my last post that I signed up for a marathon in München on Oct. 9th (I’ll be running the same day as some of you running Twin Cities, or Chicago), but other than figuring out my plan (a modified ASICS sub 3:30 plan that I’ll have to link at a later date for anyone who doesn’t want to open a new Google tab), I wasn’t excited about the race. In fact, until yesterday, I really didn’t think I was ready to begin training today. Call it jet lag, or burn-out (not that I was training, but I pushed myself a bit hard the last weeks before leaving, [even with no real reason]), I just didn’t want to run last week. So I didn’t. I ran the day of the flight (Monday), seven miles to get to the beach one last time, and then again on Sunday, but with no motivation and an urgent need for the bathroom.

 I didn’t run before Sunday because I was working hard at moving and cleaning, and because running in the morning would have felt like death (1AM blood pressure). PSA: some coaches advise one day of rest or easy running per hour of time-zone difference before going for workouts again.

But maybe I also subcounsciously knew that I was about to commit to four months of training. I guess I felt I might as well use the last week I have beforehand as a break.

It was meantally and physically a good choice. While Sunday’s five miles were rough, it told me I didn’t need to push any runs before today. I took two more days off and had a blissful non-running existence.  Then magically, luckily, perhaps quite logically, when I woke up today, I was ready for six miles easy. Done at an 8:17 clip, it was the confidence-inspiring way I like to start my season. Here’s to fall marathon training!

And now, just like that, I’m motivated again. Of course there are no garauntees that it will be that way for 16 weeks, and 6AM is sometimes no better than 1AM, but at least I’ve started… And I’ll see it through to the finish! 

Good luck and good speed to any and all others (marathon training and otherwise). Just think, we also have summer Olympics to motivate us through key workouts.

Dorothea 

random early morning thoughts on running today

Blogging before coffee or tea should be treated with the same amount of wariness as blogging after a few White Russians, no? Thank goodness I did have some coffee, pumpkin spice flavored, if you’re interested.

But I felt the urge to post something before my last longer run before the marathon in two weeks, mostly because I’m procrastinating on getting out there.

My alarm clock first rang about an hour ago, at 4:25. Needless to say, that was a joke and my hand hit the “turn off” button around 4:55 (it didn’t feel like it was that long while half-asleep). But I’m up now, and should be getting ready to leave in about five minutes.

Today, 15 miles are on the schedule, and while I know I can do it and will be done around 8 AM, I am also slow on getting up and at ’em this morning. This is one of those times where I have to really motivate myself to just go and do it,  but writing this seems to be working!

It’s 52 degrees with 83% humidity. overcast and not that unpleasant, really. Actually, it’s perfect running weather, and I’m grateful. I wanted to apologize with my kind of immature gloating of FL weather in my last log. Of course I hope everyone had a safe week and that all the heating clothes/powers worked well!

Okay! It’s time; better unload the system (you know what I mean) and hit the road.

A Different Kind of Patience

This is a fairly self-therapy post in which I do some whining. Sorry in advance!

Many runners use words with “P” as part of their personal mantras: practice!, persevere, persist, patience, “it’s okay to perspire,” “keep the pace…” “move through the pain.” A lot of time, we think of patience in running as having the strength to wait for the right moment to sprint, or taking the “ability to hold out” meaning of patience as it’s definition. However, many runners who have been injured know  that patience is not so much what we have during the run, but what we need during recovery to stop ourselves from running too soon.
“But I just ran a PR, I can do fast, why do I have to wait?”

Clearly, there’s knowing one should be patient, and being able to practice it. I think I was too impatient following my half-marathon mid-December, getting back to walking a lot within a day, and running by the fourth day after the race. I should have waited, and my feet told me so after my almost 6-miler just five days after my race. I had done some damage, made it worse by running again so soon, and now I’m afraid to start again for fear of having given myself an injury.

Clearly, I should go to the doctor to get the foot that’s causing me trouble diagnosed. I am just worried that I already know that the doctor will tell me to stop running, and I’m afraid it’s for a period longer than I’m willing to stop. Instead, I’m considering that I have the worst (stress fracture), and taking the necessary steps from there. [disclaimer: in all likelihood, what I have is “just” a reaction and compounded soreness. If I were in serious pain, I would go see a doctor]

Rest: obviously, I need to take a break from running, or spending a lot of time on my feet. Not running is easier controlled than walking, since I need to be able to get places. I haven’t run for two weeks now, and I figure if I take one more week off, I should be able to gingerly move back into it. It’s been three weeks since a hard run, or daily running, but I know I should probably stick to my plan of three weeks completely off. That’s where having patience comes in. I need to remember that even if the foot feels fine walking, or a few minutes into the run, I don’t want to know what happens when it starts hurting again, or how long I have to wait to start again… so I wait.

Waiting: I am using the time I would usually run to take care of my feet. I used a callous remover and got my heels back down to their normal texture and size. I soak my feet in warm water and rub them in with creme. I try to ice them. I have been taping my arches when I walk for longer periods of time. I try to keep my feet walking normally, and ignore the pain that makes it tempting to do a weird foot twist. I roll my feet over a ridged roller and a small, hard ball. For the rest of my legs and body, I still foam roll, try to do calisthenics, and get a lot of biking in. It’s weird going from 50 miles a week of running to 0, but I can use the extra time right now anyway to work for school.

what about playing soccer?: Am I stupid? Admittedly, yes, a little. I am thinking about it. Should I though? Probably not. I’m going to wait at least as long as I will wait before I start running again.

Wish me luck! Realistically, I know I can take off three more weeks and still have moderate preparation for the marathon at the end of April. If I want that even to be an option, I need to be patient now. That’s my mantra.

The benedictine monk of running. Following the calendar gods

Sometimes, I feel like running moves beyond a hobby/lifestyle in my life to the binding force- binding in the sense that I am bound by the rules ingrained through years of practice and discipline of following them. Sometimes, I’m annoyed that:

I can’t stay out late on a Friday night without thinking about how it will affect my Saturday long-run routine.

I can’t drink in the evening without thinking about how it will affect my morning run or my performance in general.

Any time I do my hair, it’s only lasts for a day, until my next run.

If it’s raining all day, I have to run in it. If it’s freezing, I have to run in it.

If I really don’t feel like running but physically can and have the time, I run.

I follow the calendar gods and if a run is scheduled, I run.

Though I wonder if this is necessarily the best attitude to have. I know there are people who say that one should think of running as a gift, and think “I get to run.” However, when one is a long-time runner, it’s easy to be driven into a “need/have” mind-frame. One is consumed by the plans and the discipline. I think it’s good to take a step back and recognize that the reason one runs can be because it is the quickest answer to depression, feelings of over-crowdeness, the desire to be alone, and to expend some energy. Despite what seems like a lot of negatives, running is a very positive thing.

So today, despite the 50 degree, drizzly, overcast weather and my inertia settling my weight in my chair, I’m going to head out. I’ll probably spend most of the run thinking about what I’ll make myself for lunch. But maybe I’ll be able to appreciate the fog rolling over the Elbe. At any rate, by the time I come back, I know I’ll be happy I did it.

No long run this week. Going for 7-8 miles. Hope you have a good Saturday!

Cheers.

Race Recap- Much ado about nothing?

After waiting until almost the last minute to sign-up for this race and building it and its preparation up for two days, I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed with the result.

22:33 for 3.16 miles (yeah, the course was a tiny-bit over)

Official results aren’t up yet, so I don’t know how I placed for the females. I just know that I got second in my age group and 28th overall. (edited to update that I actually had 31st overall, [out of 495] but 4th place for the females)

The morning started well. I woke up one minute before my alarm rang at 3:40 AM, albeit with sweat running down my back because it’s just so darn warm here, had a good carb-rich breakfast (the banana-date-nut bread tasted good cold too!) and some coffee, made it to the race in time for a comfortable warm-up at 9 mpm pace, and generally was feeling good and positive. So, when the run didn’t go the way I wanted, I had to think about what may have gone wrong.

There are a few things to say about this result, starting with the fact that it’s a minute off the time I wanted to run. Thinking about it though, while I made a few mistakes, I figure that I ultimately don’t need to be disappointed in myself. I ran hard. I can’t remember how I finished, whether I beat the girl I was hunting down for most of the last mile or not, so I know that I never made the conscious decision to let her go. I pushed myself as hard as I could, and if the result is what it is on the clock, it means that I could have run better but I also could have run a lot worse. The weather likely had a lot to do with my performance. It was more humid than I remember running during training and it wasn’t just me whining. I had trained sufficiently in hot weather, and my body has become very conditioned to keeping itself cool. I sweat a good liter each time I run, so I know that my blood volume decreases substantially on a regular basis and my body has learned to function in it (see last week’s run updates). However, today I was even more soaked through, which indicates to me that the humidity was more the problem. I knew I’d have some trouble after my damp warm-up, but so much else went right this morning that I didn’t think the humidity and heat would be an issue. Maybe there’s just only so much that mental mindset can do to overcome physiological discomfort and limits. Maybe I could have pushed the limits more to the point of passing out, but I was pretty far gone after the race. The cool-down run was tough, and my perceived effort was higher than the time I ended up with.

To make this point more valid (and perhaps make myself feel better), let me point out this chart put together and depicted in the Running Times.

DEW POINT (°F) RUNNER’S PERCEPTION HOW TO HANDLE
50–54 Very comfortable PR conditions
55–59 Comfortable Hard efforts likely not affected
60–64 Uncomfortable for some people Expect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
65–69 Uncomfortable for most people Easy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
70–74 Very humid and uncomfortable Expect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greater Extremely oppressive Skip it or dramatically alter goal

Now, when I write that the dew point was 78 degrees, I guess it’s easier to understand that there was a lot I was up against. It was that bad, and I guess not PR conditions. At least I didn’t skip it!

That being said, I made a few mistakes during this race. The first mistake was relying on my watch for pacing. This was the first time I raced with my TomTom Runner, and I relied on it for my first mile to let me know whether I was keeping myself in the goal pace of 7:00-7:05 for the first mile. What I didn’t account for is the lag in response to a change in pace. I started off fairly fast in the first 50 meters with a 6:20 pace. However, I quickly let off when I realized that and settled into a comfortable pace…too comfortable, it turns out. I ended up 7:20 for my first mile. This meant that if I wanted to break 21:30, I’d have to do a lot of catching up. I think I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to catch-up, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.

My second mistake was having music on my MP3 player that was not all positive and upbeat. I never realized how music could have a negative effect on running until today; usually, music makes me feel upbeat and willing to put in extra effort into my workouts. However, some of my songs on the MP3 that didn’t bother me in training were really negative when pushing hard during the run. For example, Linkin Park’s “Pts. of Athrty”:

Forfeit the game
Before somebody else
Takes you out of the frame (frame)
Puts your name to shame
Cover up your face
(You) You can’t run the race
The pace is too fast
You just won’t last

You like to think you’re never wrong…

I don’t even think I need to explain why those lyrics just ruined mile 2 for me. I ended up skipping the song after spending a while trying to see something motivational, determined in the lyrics, but it was too late. I can be wrong sometimes I couldn’t help think that I was wrong about thinking I could get close to my PR today. However, thankfully Incubus’ “Dig” was good. It spoke to me in a way that I needed during the last mile.

So when weakness turns my ego up
I know you’ll count on the me from yesterday
If I turn into another
Dig me up from under what is covering
The better part of me

I knew the last mile would be hard going into this, and so hearing these words made the struggle to keep going worth it. If anything, thinking about the lyrics and what they meant to me distracted me from thoughts of quitting. The verse “count on the me from yesterday” struck a humming running chord inside of me, since the “me from yesterday” was the me I was trying to be today. The “me from yesterday” was a cross country star (albeit for a really mediocre team) and I’ve been eyeing my 21:15 PR for a very long time since I ran it in 2006. I still think it’s in me to run that time or faster… I wasn’t impossibly far off last year in two races with 21:37 and 21:42. So while running today, when I thought of “dig me up from under what is covering the better part of me,” I considered it a cue to me to call on my better self, the one that wasn’t going to give up on this run even though I knew I wasn’t going to break 21:30. I didn’t know until I crossed the finish line that I wouldn’t even break 22 minutes (I ceased to look at my watch after it buzzed for the last 2 minutes…it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since all I would have been able to do at that point was to give my best), but I am glad that I saw it within me to keep fighting. It really was uncomfortable running, and I was breathing hard, and I probably looked as unattractive as … but I was going to finish this race with effort and pride because that’s what I had set out to do.

Interestingly enough, I saw the “me from yesterday” in the eyes of an old cross country teammate that I randomly ran into after the race. It was a most pleasantly bizarre experiences. We exchanged a few words, then she went off to find her sister and I went off to do my cool-down run, but it was a sort of ray of sunshine, though I’m not entirely sure why. I could have tried to find her again after my cool-down, but I was still overcoming my disappointment about my race and though I like her and could have, for old times sake, gone to accept my second-place age group award while she accepted her third place, I just wanted to leave and get home. But now if I ever see her again, I can explain to her what was up and we have this memory of high school cross country in revival together.

Finally, to close this post (and I hope it doesn’t seem like an awkward shift, since I did just spend a lot of time talking about myself), I wanted to remind (myself and) the reader what this run actually was about and what it means, when it comes down to it. The other runners and I ran in honor, today, of the victims of September 11th. I’m sure there were at least a few family members there of those who died or were injured in the attacks. There were members of my city’s fire department at this run, decked out in full fire-battle gear, sweating it out much worse than any of us were. When I imagine how the fire fighters and rescue and response personnel ran to the towers on 9/11/2001, well… I can’t. They were incredible in their response and in their sacrifice. So when I look at my run today and my disappointment, I feel slightly ashamed.

This memorial consists of the beautiful relief showing PA, the Pentagon, and of course the World Trade Center towers. There’s also a piece of steel from one of the towers.

I will say, however, that I took a moment to stand in front of the memorial that the starting line was at, and I thought about what this run would mean to any of the people in those building on that engraving, if it even meant anything. I realized for the first time (please don’t judge me) that there were people in those buildings who were probably training for 5Ks, half-marathons, and marathons, hoping for PRs, and that they never got to run those races and get those PRs. In many ways it’s similar to the Boston Marathon attack, except people don’t normally associate 9/11 with runners. So I ran in honor of a runner today, to honor their memory not just as a victim of 9/11, but someone who maybe would have liked to run this race. I want to think, we gave him/her a race worth running.

Intervals, doubles, and rest days

I haven’t been very good at keeping up my blog, but I’ve been having good running weeks–enough to think that going to the race next Saturday is a good idea after all! My mileage is staying consistently at or below 35 miles per week, which doesn’t sound like a lot (and it’s not, if we’re talking marathon training), but it’s good for 5K race-prep, and the workouts I’ve been doing are definitely more intense than I would be doing during marathon training. 

I stupidly ran around 1300 last Sunday, which as anyone can tell you is the hottest part of the day. Combine Florida heat with Florida humidity and an 11 mile run, and you can start imagining the state I was in at the end. I basically had to peel my running shirt off over my head. 

funny-wet-cats-1

Now, imagine something even less attractive and more sun-dazzled, and that was me.

As if that experience wasn’t enough to convince me, this week I did my two heavy tempo/intervals runs around noon as well, and ended up hanging my clothes outside before I got into the house. I had to brace for the cold air-conditioning each time too, and it doesn’t sound as pleasant as it sounds. 

Daily Weather History & Observations- What I’ve had to run through (looking at the range between the avg and the high, since I usually ran around noon or 1300): 

2014

Temp. (°F)

Humidity (%)

Aug

high

avg

low

high

avg

low

24

93

86

80

85

67

52

25

93

87

81

88

74

59

26

91

88

84

67

62

52

27

91

85

79

74

62

53

28

90

86

82

76

69

63

29

93

86

82

79

67

55

30

93

86

81

77

66

55

So, on Sunday, I rounded out the week with an 11.3 mile run. Monday was a rest day on which I really just walked a bit around my home-university’s campus. Tuesday was tempo interval day, but I skipped it and did a light run instead (sometimes this happens before TOM). I just wasn’t feeling up to it by the time I got around to it at 1700. I also didn’t want to do a hard workout so late in the afternoon and have trouble sleeping. But Wednesday, I had all day and after a carb-heavy breakfast decided to do that tempo workout. According to the plan I pilfered from my college running coach, I was set for 3 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 2 min. jog recovery that I turned into 4 min.s. Woops. No wonder I was able to keep the pace at or above 7.8 mph consistently. Part of that also had to do with the fact that I was on the treadmill at the gym and had air-conditioning, albeit a struggling, weak fanning system. I reverted to some old habits that I picked up last year during training, and that was to make my run to the gym my warm-up and the run home the cool-down. This meant that I could use the interval setting on the treadmill to complete the actual workout with water and sweat-absorbing towels nearby. I picked up this habit because I didn’t have a GPS watch then, but now that I have my TomTomRunner, I can do intervals anywhere. Problem is, in the early afternoon in south Florida one wants to be nowhere outside… Being inside for part of the run, even though I ended up soaked through by the end anyway, at least enabled me to get in 4 miles for warm-up and cool-down and complete 5.4 miles for the tempo intervals. 

The tempo workout Wednesday was good, followed by a solid easy run on Thursday. Friday was interval day and because I was lazy and it really was TOM, I ended up not motivating myself to go out until half past noon again. But I did the same thing I did Wednesday, where I ran to the gym and did my drills and intervals there. The workout this time called for 20 x 45 secs FAST with 1:15 minute jog recovery. I initially set my run pace for 9.0 mph and my jog pace for 6.1 mph, but found myself upping the pace each intervals because it felt too easy. After a quick water break halfway through, I set the pace for 9.5 mph. It was definitely harder, but bumping it up every so often to 10 mph made me feel like a bad-ass. 

picture wtfcontent BADASS

Any run where I have witnesses to how hard I push myself makes me feel like a badass. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy running on a treadmill at the gym.

Of course, I am aware of the critique of running on treadmills for regular training runs and high-intensity runs, and I also know that it’s not a habit I want to develop again. The constant changes in speed without the natural speed-up, slow-down can be damaging long-term to muscles and bones. I also know that the speeds I run on the treadmill, especially short-term for 45 seconds, are not actual representations of what I can run on the road (as in, I probably would not have run that fast, heat and humidity aside). The treadmill’s belt works in a constant forward-pulling motion on my feet, meaning I use less energy to propel myself forward when I propel myself off the ground. I’m aware of that. Still, I enjoy my treadmill intervals sometimes because it helps break up what is otherwise a very long run. Friday’s run ended up at just under 10 miles, and then I did doubles after a break for lunch. Total for Friday was 12.1 miles… and so as you can see, this is how 5K training differs significantly from longer distance training. Basically, the interval and tempo runs days are longer days, since the training is designed to make you prepared for more intense speed rather than enduring speed. I see it as something that MYABR. 

So after Friday, which I wasn’t horribly beat-up after (a positive development in my training), I had a cross-training day by working in the garden all day (trimming trees and hedges, pulling weeds, raking, and carrying bags to the curb). I don’t know if gardening quite counts as cross-training, but I was using more core and arm muscles than in running, and it was less anaerobic. Plus, it got my heart going a few times and I got to get all sweaty and dirty. :-) 

Today, Sunday, I may go out for a run 6 miles or less. It really depends on how into my work I get. Hope everyone had a good week! 

Sore Mornings and Workout Updates

You know you’re a runner (or someone who spends way too much time on his/her feet) when you wake up in the morning, step out of bed, and wonder why your feet/legs/knees don’t creak, mumble, or moan. That’s because as a runner, you’re probably used to putting serious stress on your lower appendages (funny how the activity that we sometimes do to relieve stress causes a heck of a lot of it… about 2-3 Gs for at least 100 ms every second of a run; read the physics of it here). This kind of stress repeated daily throughout weeks and months will likely result in a build-up of issues that can no longer be recovered in an evening of rest like they used to (or can be expected from Wolverine).

Imagine how much fun being an athlete would be, if you could heal within seconds.

Therefore, waking up with, for example, sore feet, sore knees, knees that creak going up and down the stairs…at least for the first ten minutes in the morning, becomes a fairly common recurrence.

What causes morning soreness?:

These symptoms are obviously caused by things like hard workouts, raising the number of pounds in the gym, shoes that no longer provide the same kind of support that you need due to extensive mileage, the onset of an injury that you should keep tabs on and perhaps research/look for advice in a more credible source, tripping over the coffee table in the middle of the night, that sort of thing. But there are some other causes as well that can be regulated and the regulation of can these other causes can help mitigate the amount of soreness felt the following morning.

How to prevent morning soreness:

Stop running. :-)

Shoes/surface- Make sure the shoes you run in and the surface you run on are appropriate for your training and the state of effort you are putting in. Sometimes when shoes have been exposed to too much heat or have too many miles on them, they lose the support they’re supposed to give.

Avoid running in heat and humidity/use ice baths- this one will be surprising to some of you who live further north and think 75 degrees F is warm to run in. As someone who knows 90 degrees is manageable, I also know that nature can serve as a natural ice pack. When running in cooler temperature, the healing effects of ice and cold water baths can occur while running and also help relieve pain. That’s why, while running when it’s cold can be miserable and comes with its own set of problems, at least terrible soreness won’t be one of them. If/when you run in warmer temps, try to take an ice bath and/or use ice packs shortly after your run… within an hour or so.

Epsom salts- I don’t use these myself, but I’ve heard they are pretty good to smoke (just kidding), I mean, soak in.

Foam rolling and massage- I’ve been slacking on this myself lately (probably why I woke up sore this morning and felt inspired to write this post), but taking the time to roll out the muscles in the evening before going to sleep can really help clear out lactic acid or whatever (not sure about the science behind this) and does effect how you’ll feel in the morning.

Sleep- make sure you get enough sleep before and after the day of a long run. The sleep beforehand helps ensure that you’re recovered from recent workouts and the sleep afterwards helps recover. Every person is different, so people need different amounts of sleep depending also on their activity level, age, and genes. However, everyone needs to sleep more than the four hours that some people get.

Eat- a little bit of carbs before a run don’t hurt, but it’s important to give your body the fuel for recovery too. I don’t eat sugar, so I can’t use the standard post-workout pre-made smoothies, but I do try to make sure I get in some fruit and some protein (maybe peanut butter, popcorn, sliced ham) within 45 minutes of the end of my run. I’ve found that I’m hungry after a run anyway, but even on the rare occasion I’m not, a forced bite to eat helps prevent the fatigue and soreness later on and the next day.

Drink- Of course, runners tend to make sure they drink enough throughout the day to have something to sweat out in their workout, but it’s very important to have those H2O molecules replaced after the run. I think (again, not sure about the science of this) that the water helps clear out the muscles and replace used water, but it definitely helps in the recovery process.

I’m sure there are other tips (and you can comment below, to share!) but these are mine for now.

Conclusion to sore mornings

Oh, unless you experience this yourself, you may think that people who experience morning soreness must be injured, and while these people are likely to develop an injury soon, most of us don’t plan on developing an injury anytime soon. Consider people who weight lift, or how you feel after an intense interval session… the body is pushed beyond limits, and these ruptures in the limits need to be healed. When the healing takes longer than the 8 hours of sleep (quick plug: make sure you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep!!), obviously the pain is going to be there. Those of us in a bit of pain every morning are just stuck in a training cycle and can look forward to pain free mornings only when that cycle is over.

What else would come to mind when I have happy feet?

Workout updates

So, lately I’ve been in a training cycle that made me wince this morning when I got out of bed. I think I mentioned before that I saved my training plans from college cross country, and it basically prepared me to almost break my PR last fall. I still think I have it in me to break 21 minutes AND 20 minutes (and 19… but let’s just dream about that for now), and so I am training as well as I can, when I can. Right now, the plan calls for five and half hours of training a week, so it’s not too demanding on top of my studying for MA exams, but the intensity of the workouts is definitely more than I’ve needed for marathon training. I get most of my runs done in the morning, have a day of tempo intervals with doubles in the afternoon, an easy run, a day of short/fast intervals with a double in the afternoon, two easy days, and then a long-ish run of 70-80 minutes. It’s harder than marathon training, and yet somehow I prefer two weekly sessions of intervals and temps (for example 5 x 5 min. @ 7 mpm) over a long three hour run.

This week, my rest day was on Monday. I didn’t go for a bike ride after all; as the day went on, I decided to just take it easy. Why workout on the one day when the calendar gods don’t ask anything of you, right?

Tuesday, I had four intervals of 6 minutes at tempo/race pace. I did these in the morning and fasted, which was rough, but while I was a bit slower on the last two intervals, I was running outside in 90 degrees at 87% humidity, so I know that, by having put in effort, I was fulfilling the purpose of the run. No doubles this week because it’s a recovery week (wee!!)

Wednesday: an easy run of 45 minutes. It was in the afternoon though, after a day of vigorous house cleaning, so something went wonky in my sleep cycle and I didn’t fall asleep until 4 in the morning :/ Completing my intervals Thursday on such little sleep would explain why I was sore on Friday.

Thursday: after a tired warm-up of 20 minutes during which I was trying to convince myself to run for an hour, much less complete the scheduled interval workout, I managed some drills and strides and felt ready to go. I did ten times 2 min.s at 8.3 mph and faster. My ninth interval was for 9.3 mph, and the final one maxed at 10 mph. The recoveries were 1 minute at 6.1 mph… and I noticed that I was actually able to do the recovery runs (without jogging) because I was consistent about starting off slow at the start of each interval spurt. I’m getting stronger! So ya.

Friday (today): An easy run of 30 minutes preceded by a rigorous bike ride. A post on the benefits of cross training later!

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Priorities

Sometimes I wish, as I’m sure many other runners do, that I was a professional runner. At least then I could tell people that my training run was homework, my naps were business meetings (as I’ve heard Ryan Hall call them) and my races were presentations. As it stands, I have to deal with people treating my running like a hobby, something that can be left alone and then picked up again when the timing suits. Unfortunately, while running is a hobby in that it doesn’t belong to my professional or academic career, it is more a lifestyle than a hobby, but try telling that to someone who doesn’t run.

My cat’s mileage, and that of my family.

Being a runner isn’t so difficult when one lives on ones own. On can run when one wants to without interfering with social time, meal times, shows on tv that one doesn’t care about anyway, and responsibilities. It’s not just working ones lifestyle around these times, but also the fact that running takes up a lot of time. An hour with the family or an hour that one needs to complete a report or homework. equals a hard interval session. While runners are out doing their run, family members and/or friends are getting work done, doing chores, or getting in their afternoon nap. Then, when the runner returns from the run, she finds out that the rest of her family is ready to do something together, but she would like to get some work done too. There are only so many hours in the day and when running and the rituals surrounding it (warm-up, foam-rolling, showers, ingesting a pound of pancake mix) take up 1 or 2 hours of the day, there’s less time to do other things. When a runner tries to make extra time by waking up earlier, she is sacrificing more than comfort. She is sacrificing a bit of health… after all, runners need more sleep to recover from activities that are more strenuous than the average non-runner/athlete does.

So, despite running being one of the best things someone can do for him/herself, it is constantly relegated to third or fourth place on the list of priorities. I’ve missed training runs because of family emergencies, extra heavy work weeks, exams, or even just missing the window of opportunity that renders even starting the run pointless. due to other activities with the family or friends running late.  I’ve missed races because family members had made plans to meet with friends of the family, go out to a special dinner, or just wanted company. I won’t pretend to say that all these other things were necessarily worth missing a race (missed training runs are less lamentable) and there is a bit of resentment that comes with being a runner in a non-runner household.

On the other hand, I know where my priorities are and I know when to give up a run or a race. It requires me to be a less selfish person, and in the long run, it has made a “better” person.