Log: March 20 through April 30th

Hi! I’m back with a rather unusual and long (but not unusually long, if you know me) update post where I try to help you (and myself) work through what I’ve learned over the past month and a half of silence.

Lesson #1: I can give up running. It’s not that I want to give it up now, or ever, but I’ve realized that if I couldn’t run all of a sudden, I can survive. That being said, lesson #2: it takes a lot to stop being a runner. I’ve been injured, I haven’t been training, I’m barely running, but I’m still a runner! I will always be a runner as long as it’s a way I look to spend my free-time and my number one hobby. And I don’t need anyone to agree with me for me to feel this way.

This may sound kind of bland for you, but it’s big news to me, and it’s a good intro to where I’m at now.

The graphic update: 

running
running running break break break running

It took a while for the 18 miler right before (or at the peak of) my injury to stop making every run after that look like a smidgen. Now, a 6 mile in my plan is tower that gets called a “long run.”

I go out for 1-4+ mile runs. Usually, I’ll still do a short warm-up run for strength-training. I’ve pushed myself for longer runs over these past two weeks, but still need to be careful about doing them too soon within one another.

Most of these runs have been fast. Fewer runs and fewer miles while still riding off some marathon fitness mean that almost every run has felt fresh. Giving myself the freedom to run fast when I feel like it, not when the plan tells me, means I never know how the run will end up. I also had some really great runs. For example, that “race” on the 27th was a run that started off so fast, I decided to see if I could hold it for a 5k. Turns out, I still have a 22:09 5k in me. And it was fun!

On the other hand, I can’t expect to log any PRs based off this… but I’m not looking to do that right now anyway, and it’s still a log!

The verbal update:

On the physical front, it seems like my body’s mechanics finally caught up with me. I have a wonky back (probably not helped by my notoriously poor posture) and wonky feet (definitely not helped by breaking toes and playing barefoot soccer). When I saw my doctor at the end of March, she did the normal “does this hurt” tests and listened to my symptoms. She figured my back was the problem, took an x-ray, and prescribed shoe orthotics and physical therapy visits. At the time, I was surprised that she didn’t x-ray my feet, and I didn’t think to tell her that while nothing she did to test my feet hurt, if I turn my foot on it’s side, I felt a pain there. I guess I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be turning my foot like that anyway, and that was the problem.

Since my doctor said my back was the problem and I had the go-to to continue running, within reason, I did get off the running break (it’s not in the chart above, but I did take about two weeks off running). I still have the pain in my foot though, and I haven’t been able to get the orthotics or PT yet, because my job status changed, and therefore also my insurance, so I think another visit is in order.

Tl; dr: I’m able to run, but I’m still having problems where my foot doesn’t feel great after every run, so I’m technically still injured and not diagnosed, and I need to see my doctor again.

On the mental front, I’ve had some major improvements. I can almost say I’ve had a complete lifestyle change in the opposite direction of running, and it’s, um, life changing.

I guess the best way to explain my running plan right now is “whatever works.” If my foot feels okay, I have time and I’m running just to run, I run. If it doesn’t feel okay, or I really have another priority, or I’m running just to burn some calories but for no other mental/physical benefit, I don’t run.

This is where the huge shift is. I looked at what running did for me in the past and what it actually should be doing for me. For the past ten years, running:

  1. Kept me sane, gave me alone time and a chance to do something unacademic
  2. Required me to constantly chose between running, family, and work
  3. Allowed me to procrastinate on my academics
  4. Helped me get some really great ideas for my writing
  5. Helped me control my weight
  6. Kept my immune, cardiovascular, and neurological systems in top-form
  7. Gave me massive appetite and excuses, so I often overate and/or ate unhealthily
  8. Gave me a natural high, gave me reasons to be proud of my body

While many of these are good reasons to run, what I needed running to stop doing were 2, 3, and 7.

I guess I should mention that what I was going through with my running was a huge (many times helpful) distraction in my life. However, for the past few months, I’d been given many hints that running was maybe not working for me in the same way anymore. It would distract me from my struggles with finances in Berlin, working part-time while working on my dissertation, remaining active in uni life, and it was fueling some efforts to meet a body-image ideal I’ve been chasing since college.

So, while I say I need running to stop doing things 3, 2, 7, I realized I needed to stop blaming the activity and look at the choices I was making when I went out for that activity. I realized I made those choices because a) I had set a goal (sometimes not reasonable given my other responsibilities) and would sacrifice too much to meet those goals and b) I was unhappy about something that I could look toward other solutions to help fix. Running is not the cure-all for my life.

Since March 9th or so, I haven’t been following a plan and therefore I don’t wake up with the mentality that running is my priority for the day. This may be self-understood for many, but there are many of you reading who may know exactly what I’m talking about. The pressure of getting the run ticked off the list for the day, getting that workout in, is something any of us striving for a specific race or running/health goal can feel. I had been feeling that way since before summer of 2015 and that was too long.

I’m going to just tell you a little bit about what I went through to get to where I am right now, but I also realize my post is already getting long enough as it is… you could just skip to the end, if you want.

I didn’t realize that I was putting myself under this pressure of constantly being in training until this latest injury. Since setting my goals in summer of 2015 to PR in the 5k, then PR in the half and full marathons in the winter, I was on a running high that made me want to keep training and keep racing, so I signed up for races in the fall of 2016. But when I broke my toe last summer, I still didn’t use the break (literally and figuratively) as a chance to step back. instead, I stepped up my cross-training to fully replace marathon training. This meant 2 to 4.5 hours cycling a day. I’m not even a pro runner! It’s not like I had that kind of time, but I couldn’t shut off the voice in my head saying I needed to get back into training in time for a fall marathon. So I went from crazy cross training right back into my training plan, where I left off, started too fast, too soon, and then injured myself again. When I realized I really couldn’t get the fall marathon anymore, I still totally wanted redemption. So, I signed up for two marathons in the spring and got back into training. Lo and behold, I got injured again. It took me a while, but that was finally the smack in the face I needed. I realized I couldn’t train anymore, and needed to reassess what running does in my life.

So I did.

weekly run stats

Since following the “whatever works” plan, I’ve been logging a heck of a lot less miles. But I also have much better feelings associated with my runs, and many more good ones. Somehow, I also haven’t miraculously gained 5 hundred pounds or lost my fitness. Sure, I couldn’t run a marathon right now and I’ve gained about 5 pounds. But those five are only seven above my medically ideal weight anyway, and they’re easy to hold with my normal eating habits, so I figure they’re healthy. And I’m not gunning for a marathon or any PRs now anyway.

It’s finally pass the date of the main goal race of the year, and I’ve decided not to run the marathon in June. I have an annual company 5k I’m still doing in June and a campus 10k in July that I signed up for the sake of having some running community event to attend, but I’m not training for them specifically and I’m going to try and keep all other races off the schedule until I’m secure in dedicating time and energy to training again.

Right now, I’ve pushed running back into it’s spot next to reading fiction not related to my dissertation, watching movies, blogging, and random adventures out in Berlin. Just where it should be.

I’m still keeping track of my running, because it’s a nice way to check in with what I’m doing with my time and how my body it feeling. But I haven’t decided if I still want to do a blog post every week or not.

That being said, all of you who are pursuing goals right now, more power to you! I’m still an avid cheerleader. :-) And I still live vicariously through you.

Cheers, and happy running. -Dorothea

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Log: March 6-19 (weeks four and not so five)

First of all, this is a late post and that’s a bit lame. In retrospect, I probably was reluctant to post about my first “failed” week, since I’m so used to writing when things are going well. But they’re not going well right now- I’m injured (even if still a bit in denial about it) and have a hectic personal and family life at the moment, but I figured I should update all the same.

Secondly, thank you to everyone who gave me tips for my heel pain. I tried all of them (not quite at the same time, of course) and none were bad advice. Thank you!

The problem is, no amount of  magic is better than the magic of pure rest. After completing the first three runs of last week alright, I still felt the condition of my right foot deteriorating, and I decided to do what I probably should have done as soon as I noticed a bigger problem- take a break.

I finally pulled the brakes two Fridays ago, because I realized the pain in my foot may not even be PF, and I was feeling discomfort in other parts of my foot as though I’m compensating, which is a bad sign. I didn’t think quickly enough to get an appointment before an unscheduled trip home, but I booked an appointment with a foot doctor (who is a runner herself) for as soon as I’m back in Berlin (in about a week). I’m not running until my foot has been checked out. I figure that whatever I have needs some rest anyway, and if what I have is more serious, I can get a head-start on the healing time the doctor predicts for me.

In the meantime, I also took a good, long look at myself and decided I this forced break is probably what I needed, and I need to be easier on myself.

As most of us do, I find being easy on myself very difficult. I’m a Type A personality, and even when I’m doing well in school, work, running, and in my relationships (or so I’m told), I never believe that to be the case. I always think there’s something I need to do better… and there probably is! No one is perfect! But that perfectionism mentality is pretty perfect in making one think one can be perfect- and that’s the curse of it.

There are personal struggles all of us go through, whether they be body image, relationships, work environment- basically figuring out what we want for our future and how we want to get there. I’ve had my fair share of these struggles,  but while I’m still young, I’ve lived long enough to know there are no quick and easy solutions and that I need to figure out what goals I think are worth taking the long route for.

However, I still look for the easy way out though in my work and in my eating habits… and I developed a few unhealthy patterns because of the resulting mentality. These past weeks of unscheduled rest days were daily reminders that I can and should have enough respect and love for my body to go easy on it for as long as needed, and I shouldn’t worry about the miles not run and the calories not burned, and I definitely don’t need to worry about the time not run…because there’s always a way to use time well.

So, until I’m cleared to run again, I’m not going to drive myself crazy with marathon training. Maybe I won’t even run any marathons until the fall, or this year. If so, the only person who really cares is me, and if I say I’m okay with not running, I’m sure I’ll find ways to be happy without it.

Of course, that being said, I know being active is a part of my lifestyle, and I am happy when I’m doing something even if it’s not running. But it doesn’t have to be intense or at the level of marathon training. I tried that last summer after breaking my toe, and ended up injured again anyway.

So, for now, things like swimming, biking, and weight training to keep some fitness and get some energy out is all I need. In the meantime, I also need to straighten out a weird relationship with food and exercise I’ve developed since last year, so it’s probably good to start at square “A” in training and fueling.

graph
These runs include: 8 x 800s at 3:30 or less with 400m recoveries, I had a 3:25 average and felt strong and controlled throughout. The heel was complaining afterward, but not as much as after long-run Saturday; an easy 7 miler with a fast finish; a 3 mile tempo run at sub- 8 mpm; and what was supposed to be an easy 3 miler that became reduced to 1, in order to preserve myself for my schedule 13 miles at half marathon pace. That didn’t happen, so I ended up with a tad above 22 miles for week four. Week five started off with a two one-mile test runs… and then a few strides at the park that weren’t so great either.

In short, yep, marathon training weeks four and five aren’t ideal. But I’m pushing myself out of the denial and depression and into some more positive thinking, because that’s just how I roll.

Hope daylight savings didn’t kick you in the butt too much and that training is going well for all you April marathon folks!- Dorothea

Running Log Oct. 17-23: Full Circle

So, it’s been a while, but I’ve decided I can finally be cautiously optimistic.

This is the first week where I’ve managed five days of running, and I had my first three-day block this week as well.

I’ve been a little more patient and a little more careful, and so far, I’m being rewarded with a slowly, but surely increasing mileage and fast speeds. Mind you, I’m not doing workouts yet. I’m just running fast when I feel ready to go fast. I’m not forcing my legs or feet to do anything they don’t feel 100% ready to do yet.

A little more than a month ago, I ran a 7 mile tempo run that was the straw to break the camel’s back, or rather, run to cause a stress reaction in the left foot. That run included an easy warm-up and the worst cool down hobble ever. It was an 8:23 overall with a 7:24 second mile.

Fast forward five weeks later, and I ran my first 7 miler of this new start. I started slowly like I have for all my runs since returning from injury, and slowly built up to a 7:12 for the last mile. Overall pace was 8:06 and while I’m a bit more tired today than these past weeks, things are feeling good. Even this little piggy *wiggles pinky toe* went all the way home.

sept-oct-2016
5.6  miles per week to 13.7 to 17.4 to 24.1

So far, so good.

Now, I have a few races on the horizon.

I know, I know; I wrote that I wouldn’t give myself the pressure of a race this side of 2017, but I couldn’t help it. I miss having a running club and the social aspect of races. I also miss the motivation of having a race to prepare for.

Still, I know it can be dangerous to have goals too soon, so I chose races that have new distances (not hard to do when everything is measured in kilometers rather than miles). I’ve got a 10,6k next Sunday on the 30th, an 8,6k on November 6th, and a 20k on December 11th. I was a bit worried that a 20k is too long of a race, but I have more than a month to build up to that distance. If anything, I just run it as a training run. That’s the plan for all these races, and honestly, I am not ambitious about these races at all. I have nothing I need to prove, these are automatic PRs, and I’m just going to do the best I can on those days.

Sound good? Thanks for following! On to a comfortably fun end-stretch for 2016.

 

Looking Forward: April 2017

Disclosure: I did end up running in Munich yesterday… running to catch my bus back to Berlin, that is!

Yesterday, thousands of runners started their Munich Marathon race, and I saw a few of them on my way out of the city. In honor of their run, and my almost-run, I did an easy 2.62 miles. My feet have been feeling good these past two weeks. Despite my toe suffering the wrath of my iPad, the hobbling was gone the next day, and the toe is slowly returning to its normal color. I did a few test runs last week- not more than a mile and always with rest-days in between. Things have been looking up.

The nice run yesterday, and the lack of any ill effects today makes me feel ready to slowly start again. I’m only thinking 10-15 miles this week and next, maybe 20 the following. Six weeks from now, I’d like to be able to run 30 miles, but I’m not going to push it. I’m also not give myself the pressure of a race this side of 2016.

However, on the 7 hour ride back to Berlin, I did do some race research, and found a few races happening in April that really caught my attention. The Hamburg Marathon obviously caught my eye, happening April 23rd. Unfortunately, the Darß Marathon is also happening that day, and I have a hankering to do a nice run in that beautiful landscape. Plus side: I already have a place there where I could stay that weekend. I also have a few friends that may feel like running the race with me. Downside: it’s a rather small race and it would mean I’d maybe miss out on a chance to run with some study-abroad friends in Hamburg.

The other thing is, there’s a marathon in Berlin happening the week before on April 15th. It’s also a small race (last year had only 91 runners, 21 of them women), and it’s a week before two other great races. This set-up is making me think I may shoot for back-to-back marathons for the first time in my life. Maybe I’ll make it on the marathon maniacs bronze-level list. Since it’s 28 weeks out, I am sure I could train sufficiently for this. I’m also excited about a new challenge. Depending on which race I would pick for the 23rd, I could make the first or second marathon my goal race. There’s a lot of possibility in looking forward right now…

These past two months have been an up-and-down of hope and pressure to be able to run the Munich Marathon. Now that the race can’t even be on my radar anymore, I feel like looking forward again.

Finally, fun fact: I turn 26 next April, which makes a marathon or two that month pretty much (a) mandatory event(s).

 

Is it a sign? It must be a sign. 

After nearly two months of attention heaped on my fourth toe, toe five decided it was its time in the purple limelight.


 If you’re tired of these feet close ups and poorly cut nails, then good; me too. I call that color “crimson curse.” On the plus side, isn’t toe four looking fine? 
Can you believe my luck?! That’s the damage a full-size iPad can do falling on its side on a toe. I just wish it wasn’t my toe that provided the evidence for posterity’s sake. I’m not even mad about the fact that running is put off for even longer… I’m just mad to be hobbling around again. I thought I’d done my share of hobbling this year! On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about this happening a week out from a marathon I’m no longer running. 

Maybe I should just wear boots everywhere.

Hope your Monday is MUCH better. 

A little bit wiser…

A little bit wiser after a lot of stupid. Fans of the expression are welcome to write it in the comments below: told you so.

I guess I thought I was immune to the rules of nature, and figured that after five weeks off running, I’d be able to return to an only slightly modified marathon plan. “That’s insane,” many of you would say. “You’ll regret it if you go too far too soon,” you would warn.

Well, now you get to say “told you so.” But I know that most of us, while gratified to see that no one is immune to the rules of nature, also sympathize with someone who suffers as a result of an Icarus-like flight.

Things were looking most excellent last week. The week before, I had tested with three runs no longer than 4 miles. Then I progressed a bit fast, but runs were feeling great, only mild phantom aches near the end of 6, 7 miles. I thought I was benefiting from my rigorous cross-training regimen. I even made it through a longer run with my only complaint being the huge blister that developed on arch of my foot. I think things would have been okay had I continued with easy runs, but stupid me, I ignored ALL the advice (nowhere- except maybe here* [of course, that’s the one I listened to]- is it recommended to start up with speed-work within two weeks off a major injury) and thought I was ready for speed-work. Not only did I do speed-work, but I did intervals and a tempo run within three days of each other, just like my plan usually asks for. But that plan was for runners not coming off a broken toe.

I know, I know, I know it’s my own fault that I’ve fractured my fourth metatursal, and that it’s time to accept that I won’t run the Munich Marathon.

And I have. I somehow found a groove to remain positive.

It helps that I can sell my entry to someone (there’s an advert on eBay, if you’re interested) and officially switch. It helps that I can still go to Munich and rebook the bus ticket so that I get back to Berlin at a decent hour as opposed to after midnight. It helps that there are so many other things going on in my life, that I can say “I don’t live to run.”

Once I can run again (this time, no pressure of a marathon to get back into it hard), I will run to live–but this time, let’s just step back and take the time it takes to heal and start back up properly, right Dorothea?

These past few days, since ending the tempo run in a limp, I’ve been doing a lot of pep-talking to myself. Anger, frustration, and sadness keep popping in my head, but then I just tell myself: “look, this is your own fault. You can’t blame anyone or anything, not even bad luck on this.” I was stupid. I am responsible for the actions that led me to injury #2 in just as many months, and I accept this responsibility and the consequences. I am a lot more responsible in other matters… though I understand how people could just shake their heads at this. Add a competitive personality to determination and grit, and you get a perfect storm of stupidity, sometimes.

So, it looks like I’ll be sticking to my habit of no more than one marathon a year, for now.

Now, post this, Dorothea! Otherwise you’ll still think you can run a marathon in three weeks! Just let. it. go.

(it’s hard)

*I think the suggestions for returning from an injury can be misleading. For example, in the article by Runner’s World “How to Return to Training After Time Off”, the author suggests that if you return six weeks out from the race, and the first two runs are fine, it’s okay to get back into the plan. The problem is, a plan usually includes speed work and those, happening too soon and too often back into the running, can cause a re-fracture of a bone. “The cause and type of injury ultimately determine comeback.” Yes. Also, listen to your doctor… but try to find a doctor experienced in the injury you’re faced with and the fitness you have. A podiatrist who works with a lot of runners is going to be able to advise you better than one who deals with little old ladies with fallen arches.

 

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

How to… aw, forget it.

I admit, when I started this post, I was struggling. Maybe it’s because keeping up a marathon-cross-training regimen is difficult, or maybe because it’s just impossible. How many marathoners PR after being injured? Are my goals unrealistic?

In another internet search (because google is my magic crystal ball), I found this article: “can’t run, can still train”. It made me feel a lot more positive. It also serves as a good slider for my recount of a workout I did today, to make up for the 8 x 800s I missed.

You can call me crazy, but I really love interval workouts. I love the anticipation as I head to the track, prepare my water bottle, and limber up. The warm-up laps and the dynamic stretches are like foreplay, and walking up to the starting line for the first interval always gets a spike of adrenaline going. Of course, the first interval is always easy, not quite max effort, but good time. Then, the challenge is to get through the recovery well enough to start the next one strong. I love to challenge myself to go faster each time, to see the miles add up without the same monotony of an easy or long run. I love the final interval where I know I don’t have any left, and I can give it everything I’ve got. Unfortunately, this is the third week I’ve missed my intervals.

IMG_1245

but here’s what: I wrote some job applications and went to the gym. There, I changed into my workout clothes, saw I didn’t have my headphone (damnit!) and got on the elliptical machine. I did 1,6 km (that’s a mile) at moderate to high intensity to warm-up, and then I went to the spinning room- thankfully empty.

No one had used this spinner since the last time I was there, so I didn’t even need to adjust it. I opened my clock app and opened the stop-watch, started it,  and spun easily for 90 sec.s. Then, I upped the intensity and went as fast as I could go… After about 1 minute, I upped the resistance, got out of the seat, and then also went as fast as I could go. I upped a little more and, got into sprint position and, you guessed it, went as fast as I could go. After 3.5 minutes of this fast stuff (and feeling my heart rate rise), I dropped the resistance and spun easily again. 90 seconds later, it was round two. I did this for 10 rounds and at the end of the tenth one, Skrillex “Bangarang” (seriously, that song makes me GO) came on my iPod that I was using as a mini stereo, so I did another 55 seconds to finish out the song.  I got of the spinner, stretched out a bit, and then went back to the elliptical for a 1,6 km cool-down. My heart rate maxed out at 167, so I think I worked decently hard enough while spinning. The elliptical doesn’t replace running at all- but nothing really does. Feeling self-pity, I hopped on the treadmill for a bit… I made it 300 meters before deciding: no, not ready.

So, I don’t have my aqua belt on me, I don’t have an ellipti-go, and I sure as hell don’t have an alter-g treadmill. I couldn’t even afford the cheapest treadmill on the market. The one thing I do have, though, is a gym I can go to and they have elliptical machines and spinners. I can use both of these to try and get my game on. Next time, I’m bringing my heart rate monitor, so that I can make sure my HR goes above 160 for 67% of the workout.

The remaining challenge left to conquer is that cross-training usually has to be done for more time than the running would have been. Considering that marathon training is already an incredibly time-intensive activity, trying to replicate the training with cross-training activities is almost impossible. For example, Tuesday was long run day- 20 miles. My plan called for accomplishing that in 3 hours. If I follow the advice of 1.5 times the running time, I would have had to workout for 4.5 hours. Um… that’s not really an option- but maybe, if I’m not running-ready in time for my next 20 miler in two weeks, maybe I can make it an option. That’s dedication for you, I guess.

I could have titled this post “how to get through marathon training without running.” However, since I’m still trying to figure that out myself, I’ll just leave it at: I’m trying.

 

 

Marathon training…without running

It’s me… I’ve been wondering if after all these months you’d like to read what I’ve been up to. I should be doing a life-update-post, but this one will be shorter.

So, I did two months of marathon training since my jubilant announcement about getting into it back in June. I had a lot of really great workouts, intervals always being more fun than the tempos, but the long runs were slowly building from 10 to 12 to 14 to 15 to 13 to 16… and my last long run was a 15.4 that was supposed to be 17.

Why shorter, you (may not actually) ask? Well, I’ve been taking detailed notes about my running to be able to log everything online again once I got online again (um, I had nothing better than an old eating journal)… and below you see how I was slowly having issues with my feet. It started with a small ache post run that went away over the course of the day, and then became a clearly identifiable point of pain, becoming more and more acute of a pain after each run. Usually, the day off between runs resolved everything.

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Unfortunately, during a particularly determined long run, for which I’d set up a circle route and had an aid station and everything, I was in pain for the last five miles of the run and knew I would have been crazy stupid to finish the run. I was out of time anyway, but I like to think I was being smart. The point is, I knew on August 2nd, I needed to take a break, and I actually didn’t mind too terribly much- just enough to question my decision every four hours – to wait until the following Monday (Aug. 8th) to run again. I had started my training plan on a Wednesday and therefore had time for the plan to catch up anyway, so that my long runs would be on Saturdays again (I had made them Tuesdays to accommodate family vacation plans). Unfortunately, before the week was up, I managed to do even more damage. While my right foot was feeling better by the day, my left foot had an altercation with the leg of a particularly sturdy couch and…

YEEAH. That was a day after. Immediately after the match (that I obviously won), the fourth toe was having a party about 2 cm away from third toe. Clearly, I could not run on that. In fact, I had trouble walking and still do.

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1.17 weeks later

Thus, while I guess I should be grateful that I had a better reason to stop running than a possible-stress-fracture-not-even-diagnosed, I also wish I hadn’t done this ante-up. It’s been harder to cross-train with this kind of injury, and I’m gritting my way through swims and cycles and hoping I’m not putting too much pressure on the toe and allowing it to heal.

Good news is, my right foot will be healed, without a doubt, by the time I can run again. Bad news is, I’m stuck taking off two weeks and counting from running…in the middle of marathon training and with more pain that the possible stress-fracture proved to be.

What’s a girl with a funny injury limp to do? Ask the internet, of course.

  1. Five Alternative Workouts 
  2. “You Can Race Well Off Cross-Training”
  3. Nine week plan for pool-running

I found a few useful sites giving me workouts and fellow sob-stories of training without running. Most plans promise those who follow them that he/she will be able to retain fitness. Ideally, though, I’m still building my fitness to prep for a sub 3:30 marathon (still my goal, until proven otherwise). I’m modifying the workouts I find based on former experiences on being coached in swimming and from going to spinning classes, so as long as I’m raising my heart rate five times a week, I feel like I may make it through this/these next week(s) and get back out in running shoes by the start of Sept.(?) to resume training.

For those concerned, the answer is “yes”; I’ll get a clearance diagnosis from a doctor before I resume running. There’s not point in starting to run again and end up out of action for the marathon Oct. 9. I got lucky that this injury happened with enough running training in my legs and early enough still to be able to cross train, return to running training, and be okay-ish prepared. If this sequence of injuries had happened this or next  week, I’d be in a little more trouble.

To keep myself moderately involved in the sport, and not want to shoot lasers with my eyes at every runner I see these days (I know, I know, it’s not their fault), I’ve signed up for a local running volunteer group and am going to volunteer at a few upcoming races…maybe even the Berlin Marathon!

Now that I’m back, I’ll be posting updates again (may or may not continue analog logging)- hope you continue to check in!

post script: I listened to the radio while writing this post, and in the past hour heard for the third time that Usain Bolt proved himself the fastest man in the world…again. Geez. I get it. He’s a fast guy! But only over 100 meters :p

;)

how to get smart

Or, more appropriately, “how to get informed about running.”

One thing I get asked all the time (or I wish I got asked, to justify all the time I put into random reading) is how I know so much about running and sports nutrition. Seriously, I’m the running partner who constantly gives unwanted advice about anything, set off by a mere statement about the knees, pace, coffee you had for breakfast, or amount of sleep you got. I can’t help myself. I notice it while I’m doing it, but I get so lost in trying to call up the random spark of knowledge, that I ignore the slowly growing look of disinterest on my partner’s face. This habit is not helped by the fact that I teach English composition. I’ve become bored-face immune.

Oh well. Sometimes, the advice is welcome though, and it’s usually up-to-date with the latest sports medical and psychological developments, even if I’ve never studied either one (could be a second career path though, for sure). How do you get this way, you wonder?

Well, it’s a development. For me, it started with a subscription to Runner’s World when I had my first self-earned money and no vital commodities to buy otherwise. These magazines came in monthly, and I read through them like my textbooks (and as a straight-“A” student, you can imagine that it was everything minus the highlighter and the sticky notes). I absorbed all the knowledge until I finally realized, midway through the second year (it was a two-year special subscription deal) that the information repeated itself. Even if a different workout was highlighted each time, or the type of shoes always changed, at some point, the magazine recycled it’s articles like a bad romance author recycles his/her story-lines (sorry, guys). Runner’s World magazine is great for the beginning runner, looking for a fun magazine to read by the beach. At some point though, it’s time to move on. What it is good for, however, is to get its readers introduced to the breath of running topics: types of workouts, types of attire, types of nutrition, types of terrain, VO2 levels, great races, who’s who in the running world, etc. Yet, the depth of which the authors get into the topics is limited, as I realized later, by the clientele. Most of the world are amateur runners, so therefore Runner’s World smartly caters to those readers (who don’t want or need to know about how lactic acid necessarily works at the blood cell level).

For a while, I was a member of MyFitnessPal. Most of my friends on it were also runners, and we exchanged a lot of notes about workouts and because I could see their food diaries, I also had an idea of how nutrition=workout satisfaction. The good runners really did pay attention to their nutrition (types of fuel)… it’s really not a simple matter of calories in vs. calories out. But from the wise masters in my version of the online community, I learned about other sources to read besides Runner’s World magazine, such as Running Times. Running Times is a sub-publication of Runner’s World, and it caters more to competitive runners (most runners are competitive, but here I mean runners who raced in high school and college, and/or who are hunting down sub-elite times (or like to believe they can, like me ;)).

I don’t subscribe to Running Times, but rely a lot on their website. I’m often brought there by my Runner’s World “quote of the day,” which gives me a daily quote and article to peruse. The quotes are all some variation of motivation (i.e. you’ll feel/be better if you run! It will be hard, but worth it), but the articles are usually the latest news in the running world.

Now, through WordPress, many of my fellow bloggers remind me about key running advice or share their personal tips about how to deal with things like cold- or warm- weather running. Those who post their workouts give me a good idea of ways I can tweak my own plans.

However, nowadays, most of my knowledge comes from google searches about particular concerns of mine on a given day. For example, if I feel a pain on the outside of my knee, I look it up and get a bunch of information about possible causes of my pain, and I continue clicking links until I’ve gotten all the “evidence” and then can pinpoint the “culprit” after eliminating all the duds (hence, my online research has become some kind of detective work, as could be true for everyone). This kind of work means I collect a wide breath of all the options, and in reading in-depth about multiple of these options, I learn about things that don’t affect me at the time, but I save these bits of fluff for annoying my running partners. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, my brain has room for these things (as found at http://45.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mc0hmeVCDV1ri1n45o4_r4_500.gif)

I read about what the best fuel is for a long run, a tempo run, trail run, how to handle high humidity, low humidity, what to do with little sleep, if you’re having a hard time sleeping, etc.

Of course, all this reading comes with the caveat that I don’t have the academic background or any real training in this field, but I have pretty sharp brain and know when to seek out someone who has the proper background and training (especially in matters related to injury and nutrition). A lot of it is trial and error anyway, since we all are different and have to figure out which set of advice works for us.

Still, I wanted to share some fun sources with you, in case you were looking for ways to fill up your time.