Week 14 Training (April 2-8): rests, birthday run, and a half marathon

There were a few highlights this week, but overshadowing the whole thing was generally feeling crummy. Didn’t I say I probably wouldn’t run until Thursday? Should have stuck to that… But who knows? Maybe a half marathon race was what I needed to reset and get back into gear for these last two weeks before the marathon.

graph

If you recall, I’ve been struggling through runs since the 22-miler. Really, I think it started when I ran a 1:41 half and then eight miles the next day (stupid, stupid!). But I took it really easy in week 13, and this week was a continuation. Despite having some decent runs every other day, none of them were the kind of effortless, fast runs I’ve had through week 11 of the cycle. Either I’m feeling marathon fatigue, feeling the taper, or warding off an injury. It’s probably the latter, but I keep telling myself it’s the former.

Still, all things considered, this was a good week! Or so I keep telling myself. This close to the marathon, positive self-talk is the best weapon I have against a breakdown in body and spirit. :-)

I traveled from Florida to Berlin on Tuesday and purposefully pushed the pace a little on Monday, knowing I would take a day off. I landed on Wednesday (trips from US to DE are usually overnight) and after unpacking and a nap, headed out for 8 miles. They were tired miles, but still felt decent. 9 mpm are normal after an international  flight, right?! On the other hand, I probably should have just used the extra day off, because Thursday, which was supposed to be a glorious birthday run celebrating 27 years of life, I couldn’t wait for the run to be done. I ran paths I hadn’t run before, though, and felt okay about it afterwards, but it was the slowest run I’ve done in a while.

Still, sushi and quiet celebrations seemed perfect afterwards.

Then came the shocker (though I anticipated it):  The Berlin Half-Marathon was happening on the 8th of April, and my brother wanted me to run in his stead.

So Friday and Saturday were standard pre-race fare: day off and 2 mile pre-run with strides.

See, my brother had expressed an early (October) interest in running the Berlin Half-Marathon, since colleagues were running it as well. Since he is not normally the active instigator of running or races, I held myself back and followed his cues on registering and training. Well, the registering never happened in time. By the time he got around to wanting to do it, the tickets were sold out (December?). So plan B: look on E-bay. I had switched my entry to the Munich Marathon in 2016, so I knew there were always people looking to buy or sell entries online. However, the annoying thing about the Berlin Half-Marathon (and I imagine the full that happens in Sept.) is that the entries are non-transferable, which means that what we were doing was kind of illegal. Apparently, the costs of having someone manage all the changes are too high for the SCC race-organizers. Psh. Whatever. It’s lame, because people can’t run for legitimate reasons and the race in also non-deferable, so if people can’t run, they are forced to either lose the money or, well, have someone run for them. The organizers even have a no-tolerance policy for packet pickup: the person registered MUST be the one picking up the bib. This means that a certain amount of coordination is needed as well. At least the SCC Event organizers got rid of the color-coded race bibs. The non-gender specific bibs would make it easier to find someone to race for (it also helps to find someone who has a name that is given to both boys and girls).

At any rate, since I was also interested in maybe running, I put out the call for me and my brother, got a few replies, and then decided I actually wasn’t keen on paying 60 Euro for a race two weeks before my “A” race. So I found a nice young lady who couldn’t run because of a confirmation happening in North-Rhine Westfalia, got everything organized for my brother to exchange starting packet and money on April 6th, and then watched my brother plan to train, fail to train, and wind down to race week with a pitiful look on his face. He really figured until last weekend he could maybe wing-it. But it’s 13 miles, I kept reminding him, The longest he’s done in the past two years was 5 miles. So he took my offer to run it for him after all. I’d pay half. So I ran the Berlin Half for 31 Euro.

map of Berlin half marathon

The course really is as advertised. If you recall, I’ve actually done the route from the TV at Alexander Platz through the Tiergarten to the Golden Else many a time, and I live in Berlin now, so some of the sites the race boasted for internationals were pretty standard for me. Still, it’s not everyday I get to run on the streets themselves! With other runners! And the weather was gorgeous!

It wasn’t all sun and awesome sites/people though. Since the girl I was was running for my brother for hadn’t done a half before, she/he/I ended up in block F, which was the last group to run. So while my net time was 1:51:26 (more on that in a few lines), my total time was 2:30:51!!! Seriously, I spent over 40 minutes standing around/slowly walking forward. My tracker had me at 17 miles for the day, and a lot of that was the small steps forward. But I could live with a delayed start. I could also live with the human obstacle course. I forgot that ending up further back meant ending up with runners with slower paces. I added 400 meters to the race by doing diagonals across the course, looking for gaps. I haven’t done a run like that in a while- and honestly, I don’t have to do that again anytime soon. I like being able to catch my stride and keep it, early on. Also, I was annoyed that the race took 6 hours out of my day… but I shouldn’t complain about that too much. Volunteers spent 5-6 hours on the course (I should know, I almost volunteered). It was a good last harder effort before my marathon.

The race itself was okay. I ran about an 8:10 pace with one restroom break and, as I mentioned, did a lot of lateral running, which I felt today in the legs. I can’t explain why I feel worse today than I did after the 20 and 22 mile runs, but I’m chalking it up to probably coming down with a cold and the post-jet lag and the continuing battle with sore butt and hamstrings. I used kinesio tape for the first time on my back and right leg, and got some weird looks because it’s not really a thing in Germany. I still haven’t decided if it actually works or if it is a placebo, but it worked as a placebo for me!

And the race atmosphere was on point yesterday. The people were happy, the sun was shining, and no attacks happened… though, ****. It’s a pretty dark world if one of the thoughts during the pre-race jitters in a crowd of happy, life celebrating people on a glorious sunning day is “what if something were to happen?” Thank goodness nothing happened yesterday. Though it’s not that it didn’t run through my head- and I had prepared for it. Five years ago, especially before Boston, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the dangers of running in someone else’s name. Yesterday though, one of my concerns was being able to be identified should anything happen. There was a space on the back of the bib for personal information and emergency contact info- you can bet my name and bro’s contact info were there is clear, bold letters. Okay, okay. I think it’s enough with the negativity, already.

If the Berlin Half-Marathon had been my goal race, the energy yesterday would have carried me to a PR, probably.It was incredible! But since I was using effort to not go fast and not injure myself, I was more mellow than anything. Had a few great moments, though! I am a little concerned about the effort it took to hold even a 8:10, if I’m aiming for 8 mpm for the marathon, but I won’t worry about that now. Now, it’s two weeks to the marathon, serious taper time and I’m going to try and get these niggles taken care of and out of the way by then. No stupid business!

Medal and Daffodils

I wonder, if marathons had been a thing in the 18/19th century, if Wordsworth would have run.

Cheers, and happy running,
Dorothea

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Week 12 Training (3/19-3/25): Oh look, it’s taper time!

You know how there’s a fine line between marathon training niggle and an injury that could wipe you out of the race? Well I’ve been walking it like a lightweight who’s had one drink too many.

But I made it through peak week! So now it’s all about making sure I don’t do anything stupid before the race.

graph

My race, the Darß Marathon (more on that later, when I have too much time on my hands because: taper), is the same week at the Boston Marathon and the same weekend as the London Marathon, so by the time I get to write about it, readers will have probably gotten their fill of marathon recaps. Hope you save some reading eyes for me, though!

But first, I have to run the race. And if it were tomorrow, there’s no way I’d be doing it. My hamstring just wouldn’t put up with it.

It started on Monday during intervals. While I’ve been putting up (see body, I put up with so much from you, why can’t you just work with me a little more?) with a pain in the butt for a while now, which the doctor confirmed is actually a back issue, it looks like I’ve been altering my form a bit to get the range of motion prevented a bit by the tight piriformis muscle caused by the tight back muscles. So now my hamstring has apparently been working double duty, and it started to hurt after the long run Saturday before last. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve also been missing my normal gym cool-down routines (I’m home for three weeks) and my normal amount of sleep, but that’s a new paragraph.

See, people who say 8 hours of sleep aren’t necessary clearly don’t put their bodies through so much stress that needs to be recovered from in order to get through the next day. Given marathon training, I know I should have been getting more than the 5.5 hours average I have been… but the jet lag combined with family schedules that don’t include my running plans has meant I’ve been getting less than what I really need. I also haven’t been stretching or foam rolling properly after my runs, because while I have a foam roller at home, it’s 3 years old and the cheapest thing on the market. It’s also about half the width and cushion as the one at the gym, so I’m really missing my gym roller! I also miss the wide expanse of floor space that I have at the gym! But those are excuses. Really, I should have been smarter about the post-run routine.

I also should have been smarter about the running and listened to my body more. I should have taken Tuesday off, or at least not pushed for the 9 miles in the morning, and the 5k in the evening. As one can see in my chart, I took Wednesday off, which is my usual tempo run day, and I ran Thursday instead. This is because Tuesday was the no-good-dirty-rotten-run-from-sauna-land. While the north had snow storms that rendered them a winter-wonderland in Spring, south Florida had a tropical summer with oppressive humidity that gave everyone and their dog a headache. But I was up at 5 AM, doing that 9 mile run on my plan, and it was the hardest run all training cycle.

But oh! I forgot to finish talking about Monday. Before Tuesday, Monday was actually a good interval session. I had dropped down from 5 to 4 1-mile intervals, and my recoveries were 0.5 miles, not 0.25, so I didn’t exactly follow the plan, but I did get the average of 7:03 mpm, so I guess it’s alright? I don’t know. I was glad to get it done. And the hamstring still put up with it, so I thought I was okay.

I guess I ignored the signs of over-training: tiredness and no motivation, because I thought it was just my TOM, and I already noticed a soreness in the hamstring on Monday that seemed to still be fine afterwards. I don’t know. While I pulled the brakes on Wednesday, I probably should have pulled them much earlier.

But then Thursday was a great tempo run! Right on target with 7:30 mpm for 3 miles and I felt decent again. This meant that I was overly optimistic about all the other signs to just take the rest of the week off.

The final (really heavy) straw was probably the 22 miles … and then garden work. You know how people advise you to not do any strenuous activity after a long run? Well, I should listen to advice more often.

So, tl; dr: I’ve got a light injury, which I think is a hamstring strain, and the only way to make that go away is to take a break. My back may be happy about that too. Still, I hope it’s just for a few days and that I’ll at least have some running to report in a week.

Either way, it’s 27 days to the marathon and officially taper time, so it’s all downhill from here. My plan originally wanted me to do 20 miles next Saturday as well, but for now, I’m just happy if I run at all. and I probably will. Just need to be patient.

I guess I could ask, have you ever done something stupid while training that you know you probably shouldn’t have done and then regretted later? It’s pretty lame. I can’t even be mad at anyone!

On the bright side, training was great until now, so I guess I’m pretty grateful that all the hard work is done and I was pretty lucky to be able to enjoy most of it.

Hope you have a good week. Happy running!
Dorothea

Week 11 Training (March 12-18): In which I fly

No, that’s not meant metaphorically. I flew home to Florida on Thursday of Week 11 and still manged to follow the plan. It helped that I didn’t have to get creative this past week for SquadRunner missions, and I can say I had a good week.

graph

I only ran four days, making up for the 6 I ran the week before last, and they were all easy. I had just run a half-marathon “race” after all. The legs needed some rest, and after failing to stretch and foam roll properly on Tuesday, I almost thought I wouldn’t get through the rest of this training. But I remedied that mistake on Wednesday and Thursday had a fun 23 hours on the road, landing in my bed about 4 AM German time after getting up at 3 the morning before. But it’s all good. I made it safely to the US and through the week, using Friday to get used to warmer and more humid running weather and Saturday getting through 2 hours of running in the dark before finally being rewarded with a glorious sunrise over the east coast the later miles.

Saturday was the first 20 miler of the season (totally uneventful except for all the public restrooms being closed and a weird pain in the foot miles 16-17 that disappeared again), and I’ll probably do at least one more, if not another one this coming weekend, before heading into taper. Taper! I have a few miles to go before that starts, but it will be a light at the end of the tunnel these next two weeks.

Happy running,
Dorothea

Week 10 Training (March 5-11): in which I make choices

This week I’m just going to show you how my crazy brain works. I call it runner brain, where anything seems sensible if it benefits the training and means getting the runs and miles in.

My runner brain went into synapses-firing mode Saturday morning  when I finished packing for the trek that the commute to the BAFF race location, running a 13.1 race, shower and refuel after the race, and commute back home would entail. I was standing there, ready to go, when I checked the Berlin public transportation app one more time. Oops. One of the S-Bahns wasn’t working according to plan. I wouldn’t get to the one stop I needed to get to on time in order to board the bus that would take me to the final destination, and therefore wouldn’t make it to Marienwerder, which is about 30 miles north of Berlin*. So, no race for me.  I was a little relieved, since I was already rethinking the plan when I discovered on Thursday that I wouldn’t be home until quarter of 6 PM, since the buses only run once every two hours. I’d packed some work, but this change did mean I could actually shower and get some work, like taxes, done at home.

So now what?

I had a few possibilities… none really satisfying, but one has to do the best with the circumstances one has. My priority was to take advantage of my mini-taper and pre-race fueling, and to get the serious effort out today. Also, I really wanted all the mission points that SquadRunner offered-which meant I had to plan something that would enable me to run 13 km the next day, so no über long run. Planning around mission points has  probably the crux of some of my difficulties in running planning lately, but in the end, I have nothing to blame but my own competitiveness. In theory, I could have run 45 minutes yesterday to complete one mission, then do a long run today to cover the 13 km for the mission, but really, I just didn’t want to lose too much of my Sunday. Saturday’s are for the hard work. “Still, looking at the weather report, Sunday is the nicer day…”** “okay, stop it, Dorothea. Don’t let a little bit of rain stop you.” “And I could just postpone the race effort, maybe find another race somewhere else…” “Dorothea! Stop! It’s week ten. The plan says week ten. Let’s just do this.” My melon committee had a field-day yesterday.

I decided I had two options, given my two preferences:

  1. I could run on the treadmill in the gym, which wouldn’t get me a proper race effort time… but at least I’d be motivated to stay on pace and have a supported run…plus, I found this treadmill pace chart that, while showing insane speeds for a 7:26 real effort (I’d have to hold 13.5 km/hour), could help me feel better about pushing myself to the pace that I’m looking for. This is, after all, a test run. It’s to see where I’m at in my fitness. Also, it would keep me out of the annoying drizzle that also decided to pop up today.
  2. I could suck it up that it’s drizzling and I won’t have competition, quickly set up a loop near me, bring my own fuel, and dig deep to get the motivation I need to hit the paces I need. I was looking for a sub- 1:37 race, but would have be happy with anything under 1:40.

While working through my options, however, it dawned on me that I don’t have to kill myself for this. A good compromise could be a 10 mile race effort (again, aiming for sub 1:15) and then the easy 8 miles tomorrow.

3. I could do a repeat of the 10-mile trial run a few weeks ago.

So I set out for 10 miles with only a pack of Powerwhatever fuel and my music, three layers and warming up with a mile. The warm-up felt stiff, but I felt good. And then I started. And then I decided, around mile 2, that I felt so good that I should just continue for 6.5 miles before turning around and get a half-marathon effort after all.

race effort

It wasn’t a supported run, of course, and I had to rely on my own gumption to get through those last miles (which also happened to be uphill). But I have to say, self-talk works really well. I kept telling myself that if I couldn’t do it now, how could I expect to pull it off during the race in April? And I also figured that I needed the 13.1 effort in my training, which caused me to dig slightly deeper than the 10 mile would have, so that’s why I decided to do it anyway. And the best part? No injury!

So long story short, it all worked out in the end. It wasn’t my best or worst half-marathon, still in the top half of results! But for my next marathon, I think I’m hiring a coach. Figuring out all these things for myself takes a lot of time. I think I’m ready to just do what someone tells me to do.

And that was only one day of this week, but the rest of the week seems mild in comparison. Though, admittedly, it was the highest mileage I’ve done in a over 3 years.

graph

Monday: 5 miles in the AM, 5 in the PM with 2 1 mile intervals. They were decent at 6:32 and 6:40. I’d have liked to be faster, but I was also keeping it easy to be prepped for the race on Saturday.

Tuesday: 11 miles easy. This was partially on the plan and partially a compromise to be able to stick to the plan for the rest of the week and still get 30 km overall between Tuesday and Friday (mission points were at stake!)

Wednesday: super easy and tired 5 miles. Just needed to get them done.

Thursday and Friday: Rest!! and an easy 3 mile before weights. Really wanted to keep these days restful and easy in order to ensure good running chances for Saturday.

Saturday: already said enough about this. Just one more thing to add: looking at the results and given my total time yesterday, I could have placed 1st overall for the women. coulda woulda shoula. Also, who knows if I would have paced myself the same way. It’s all good.

Sunday: a super easy 13 km in sunlight and t-shirt and shorts and just ah. So nice. Also still kept a 9 mpm without meaning to-guess I am getting a little faster. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a rest day…

Hope you had a great week, too!
-Dorothea

*in retrospect, my brother pointed out to me that I’d misunderstood the app… the S-Bahn wasn’t running through, but a bus transport system had been temporarily set up. If I’d left 10 minutes earlier, I would have been fine. Major woops. Thank goodness the race only cost 10 €, otherwise I’d have been really mad at myself.

** today really was a beautiful day. The first shorts and t-shirt running day of the year!!

Update on training, week 8 (Feb 19-25)

^ this right here is why I could never be the layout person for a magazine. I just can’t make up my mind about how I want to format my posts. But you get the general idea: update on training, another week, and in case you’re confused about which week, I spell it out.

But this week is special! It marks the official halfway point to marathon training, and you know you’re seriously “in it” when you start using any opportunity to bring the topic of marathon into conversation with anyone you meet, even strangers. Week eight, woo hoo!

Officially a “fall-back” week in the training, I think it went pretty well. I didn’t have any long runs and the bulk was easy running. I did, however, have a pretty intense 10 mile time trial that I can’t wait to tell you about.

But first:

graph

gasp! Only one rest day?! And a run after an almost race? What?

What? is right. I also have no clue how the runs next week will look like and how I will feel. This week actually marks a diversion from the Runner’s World training plan that will go on through next week, since I have to adjust for a short trip I’m taking next weekend. And my SquadRunner team will know that I adjusted the second half of this week for the mission points. :-) I did get an extra 190 points from the adjustment, and I think I did it intelligently enough? Basically, the plan called for 5 tempo miles on Wednesday, a rest on Thursday, and 3 easy on Friday. Instead, I did 1 easy mile and 1 tempo km (to see just how fast I can run) on Wednesday, and 8 miles on Thursday with a 24 min. 5k thrown in. Then Friday was a rest day. There will be a time when I don’t need a mid-week break. This week is not that week. I wanted to have some chance to recover before Saturday, and honestly I just really like having one day of work each week where I can just go to work in a relaxed way without having to worry about getting the run in first.

And then Saturday…

but wait. Actually, I want to preface this by saying that I have a weird soreness deep in my gluteus maximus that Dr. Google diagnosed as piriformus syndrome. Sound familiar to any of you? This is the same hamstring thing I mentioned two weeks ago, but now I’m not sure it’s my hamstring. I really felt it during the 200 meter intervals on Monday (which were a lot of fun! It’s nice to just kick it out really fast once in a while), and then more so yesterday during the 10 miles. The weird thing is, it doesn’t really hurt. It just feels tight and I feel like I can’t get my full range of motion. I guess it’s good it doesn’t hurt yet, but I also want to figure out what it is and treat it before it gets any worse. In the meantime, apparently what I may have can come from sitting too much, and while I don’t think that’s my problem (if anything, I can’t sit for a single moment gosh-darnit Dorothea sit down and stop wiggling!), I’m going to be a little more proactive about it and see if I can figure out some of these weird yoga moves Dr. Google is recommending to prevent this thing from becoming a major pain in the you-know-what. Oh, and of course I’m calling my doctor tomorrow to schedule an appointment for ASAP. I’ll ask her about the weird foot bump then, too. (edited to add: I really did make an appointment and will find out on Wednesday what the deal is).

Okay, now about Saturday. I don’t know. It’s not that I went to an actual race and it doesn’t count as an official PR, but since it is my first consciously timed 10 miler and I met my goal within 5 seconds, I’m calling the PR. I was aiming for a sub 75 minutes, and I think that if I had been officially racing and known my times while running (I only ever knew my approximate pace), I could have done it. And even if I didn’t, I’m pleased with the way I motivated myself to keep pushing through the last miles and execute a run on my own this way. I can use this as a mental boost for the half-marathon in two weeks and while I didn’t feel amazing, I got it done and met my own expectations. Plus, it was an outdoor run and the sun was shining, which was actually also true of today’s run as well, so today I went out for a bonus 5k that turned into a little more because it was just so gosh-darned gorgeous (did you notice my southern roots, yet?). The mission points also had something to do with the unusual Sunday run. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and then determine whether that was a good idea. I may take the rest day tomorrow, instead.

Other than the butt issue and continued niggles here and there, mostly in the feet, a few in the knee–all that I’m prodigiously fighting against with stretching, foam rolling and avoiding every single crack in the side-walk–running is going very well.

Next week is another week of an absent long run. I can’t decide if that’s a no-go in marathon training, but I also figure if Hanson’s plan runners get away with a lot of mid-distance runs, then so can I! I’m planning on doing  regular amount of running (6-10 miles) that will tire me a little out, but not injure me. On March 5th it’s back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Hope you had a good week! Happy running,
Dorothea

 

update on the seventh week of traaaaaining (Feb 12-17)

First of all, can I just say that I’m glad I don’t always have to wake up at 5 AM to do a long run on a Saturday morning? That was a bit rough. But it did mean that I was done with my running before 10 AM, so of course it’s not all bad.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do my training posts. There’s a fine line between too little information and too much, and I’ve been walking it like I’ve had a bit too much to drink, so… yeah.

graph

As my chart shows, this week it was all about building mileage. Rather than a tempo run on Wednesday, the plan called for 7-miles easy. Compared to Tuesday, it was of course not that much. Following Tuesday, however, it felt like a never ending slog. I struggled through the last miles and was glad when I could rest on Thursday. This week, there were no urges on Thursday to go for a run. If anything, I was dreading having to go out for 19 on Saturday. But I did it! And maybe taking the band-aid off while still half asleep made it that much easier to put the long run I was dreading behind me. It was pretty difficult and I was ready to stop after mile 10. But I also guess that if I didn’t feel that way at the end of a 3 week build cycle, I wouldn’t be doing the training properly!

All told, I pulled off 46 miles this week without injury, even if I’ve got some niggles and may have overstretched my left hamstring a tiny bit. Hopefully today’s rest and stretching/foam-rolling routine will put that right.

And for some bonus details (not sure if these are interesting for you or not), here were my intervals on Monday:

Distance Duration Pace Notes
1 0.25 mi 1:35 6:20
2 0.25 mi 1:30 6:00 at 1 incline
3 0.25 mi 1:33 6:12 at 1 incline
4 0.25 mi 1:32 6:08
5 0.25 mi 1:31 6:04 at 1 incline
6 0.25 mi 1:31 6:04 at 1 incline
7 0.25 mi 1:30 6:00
8 0.25 mi 1:32 6:08 at 1 incline
9 0.25 mi 1:31 6:04 at 1 incline
10 0.25 mi 1:28 5:52 last “official” interval with the 1:30 jog recoveries
11 0.25 mi 1:22 5:28 after a quarter- mile jog

Granted, these were on the treadmill, but I’m happy with the way the interval session went. Part of the reason I went for one extra mile on Tuesday was riding off the success of the intervals. The other reasons I went the extra mile on Tuesday were that the plan had originally called for 10 (I had changed the plan to 9 in a moment of weakness), and I was boosted by my teammates in SquadRunner. It was probably good I stuck to the Runner’s World plan, because the idea is that I do challenge myself. I’m trying to listen to my body though, to make sure I’m challenging myself within reason. The last thing I want is to get injured again.

Looking ahead, I have a “fast” 15-miler to complete on the 24th, but this week is also a drop-down in distance, so I hope I’ll see some benefits of training so far! I also got new shoes (Brooks gel-Glycerin), so I’m looking forward to the “new shoe” feeling and reporting.

That’s it as far as I’m concerned. But I hope your winter (or summer, if you’re down under) running is also going well!

Cheers, Dorothea

 

training week six update

This week was a week of reviews. I reviewed the benefits of consistency, the blessings and curses of trail running, and the fact that runger that can become all-consuming (or should that be “become all-consuming”?) if one doesn’t keep a close eye on one’s nutrition.

But first of all, in major news, I’m part of a virtual running team!

squadrunner

Last Sunday, I was invited by Paula at Never a Dull Bling to the SquadRunner team her husband, James at 50 in 50 Marathon Quest,  captains. A week later, I’m fully involved in the aspects of SquadRunning- daily quizzes, missions, boosts, and generally being part of a team that supports each other’s individual goals, but also seeks to kick other teams’ butts. ;-)

I have’t been part of a team since the one semester I tried cross country at my university (Fall 2013-before my blogging years). I guess one could say I’ve been a lone-wolf since high school sports, but there’s always been some running community I attached myself to- none the least WordPress’s community of runners (in which Falyn, another new teammate, also participates)- and now it’s team Runnin Down a Dream.

And because the team name is based on the song, you now get a link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1D3a5eDJIs. Tom Petty, RIP.

So yes, that’s news! I’m super excited by the idea of missions. It makes the running seem more valuable than it is for just me and my training. However, I have to be careful about the slight pressure I feel to accept the missions and then do them. Because of Friday’s mission, I extended my easy run to cover 45 minutes. I don’t know if it was ideal that I did an extra 1.5 miles, but the fact that I didn’t want to do too much more than the 4 miles of my plan did make me keep them really slow- so I guess that’s a plus! And it got the team 65 extra points. And it didn’t affect my long run yesterday, so so far, so good.

But as for the reviews: training is going very well. My body seems to be adapting to the schedule of intervals, easy middle-long run, tempo run, rest day, easy, and long. Albeit it’s only been 6 weeks. We’ll see how it goes next week where the steady increase of mileage caps at 45 miles before an easier week of 36.

Basically, as many plans go, the plan cycles easier weeks every four weeks. I build every week for three weeks, and then have an easier week. Next week marks the last “build-week” and then, the week after, I get a bit of a break that ends in a 15 mile tempo run.

graph

But I’m getting too far ahead of myself! This week is the topic of discussion, and I should report that the hill intervals (done on the treadmill because it was Monday and cold and I was a wimp and didn’t feel like scoping out an appropriate hill) went well, and I enjoyed my run under the Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday.

Then, Wednesday came around and I didn’t feel human. I’d guess I was operating on a calorie deficit caused by the long run Tuesday and not having the time or nerves (I had an important presentation on Tuesday) to refuel properly. I paid the price Wednesday with low blood-sugar that I finally appeased with a chicken wing and breast from the local market. I actually follow a mostly vegetarian diet and avoid meat, but I just felt like I needed this. Turns out, it helped… but I still haven’t gotten over the ethical ramifications of that satisfaction. I recalculated my daily metabolism and saw that it is definitely higher now. I learned an important lesson on Wednesday that I really need to make sure I eat enough now that I’m fully in marathon training.

But this leads back to the first review: the consistency of training is working. On Wednesday, I also found the tempo run doable. I did cut off a mile (three instead of four) to not wear myself down too much, but I found holding a 7:30 mpm quite pleasant. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t welcome the rest day on Thursday, but I did feel as if I could have run if I wanted to, which is a good indication of my fitness. I am strictly adhering to rest-days this training cycle, though, because I know my body needs them and I’d rather feel too good to have a rest day than feel like I absolutely need it.

I already talked about Friday- one of the easiest runs in a while- and Saturday, well Saturday was good. But I was very lucky!

See, trail running is great. The soft running surface provided by trails are a boon for the legs when impacting them over 10 or more miles. There’s also enough happening on the trails that one always has something to see, do, or watch out for. It makes the miles go by so much more quickly. However, that same needed focus is also a curse, because the moment one takes one’s eyes off the trail, gets distracted by adjusting running belt straps or whatever, one takes a wrong step and goes KABLAM all over the trail. That was me yesterday. However, I was very lucky that the extent of my injuries were a slightly sore ankle, a nice big bruise below my knee, and dirty gloves. The fall happened within the first 2 miles of the long run, and I questioned my own sanity when I was seriously considering testing the legs on 16 more miles after that fall. Yet the initial assessment was mostly positive, and since I could run without pain (maybe a dull one from the bruise), I figured what the hell.

Of course, given my multiple tests of luck so far this training cycle, I do wonder when it will run out… but I’ve also tried to be smarter than in previous years (a much better pre- and post-running stretching/foam-rolling routine).  These are just some more small lessons in being careful.

Speaking of careful: I bought myself a new pair of shoes to be able to cycle some fresher kicks as the miles continue building on the other two.

Aaaaand, I think that’s it! I think I covered all the major points I wanted to cover with this recap of the week. If there’s ever a question of what I’m doing, or what the hell I’m doing, I’d love to see it in the comments!

See you next week. In the meantime, happy running! -Dorothea

p.s. a sub-note for niggles I want to keep an eye on: there’s a soreness in my right hamstring that I mostly feel when climbing hills that could develop into something if I’m not careful-should start looking into some massage therapy here in the area. Also, weird bump developed on top of foot that I’ve asked my podiatrist about before- and she said, if it doesn’t hurt, don’t worry about it. But it is starting to feel uncomfortable, so I’ll ask her about it next time.

Okay. Now I’m really done.

Training Week Five update

This post brought to you by song of the day: “Runaway” by Bon Jovi. And yes, it is a song used in the Stranger Things soundtrack album; and yes, I got the soundtrack because that was one of the awesome parts about that show. “Runaway” is a good song to have come on at mile 9 of a long run.

Moving on, the running gods must have decided to finally take some pity on me, because not only did the foot issue turn out to just be a sign that I need to replace my shoe inserts, but I also got in a good week of running. Actually, this was the best week I’ve done in almost a year. graph

Those pretty colors mean that I got in all the workouts my schedule called for, and I managed to keep my easy runs easy and the long run “slow.” Nutrition was also an “A” and generally, I’m grateful to be healthy at week five, and surprisingly not too tired this afternoon.

As I mentioned last week, I was worried about my foot going into Monday’s fartlek. So, I started off very conservatively. I felt some twinges through the first two miles, and it flared a little at mile 2, which was right by an U-Bahn station. I stretched it out and decided that I would try to run one more block, and if it was an issue, I’d get on that subway. The next block came and went, the next station came and went, I reached 3.5 miles and still nothing. So I just completed the fartlek (for someone who has such a hard time with staying on pace, you’d think I’d love fartleks… I don’t) and was happy to head back up the stairs to my apartment without complaints and having done the full run.

[side note: don’t you love it when the computer tries to mark “fartlek” as incorrectly spelled? And I used the word “fartlek” as often as I possibly could]

I then proceeded to replace my orthotic shoe inserts, which thankfully were ready for pick-up Monday. I guess I could have realized sooner that while my shoes weren’t too high in mileage (300 on each), the inserts most definitely were! That was probably my problem. After the new inserts, things just kept feeling better. The rest of the week went smoothly with my only worries being the standard concern of having the time to get the runs in around my schedule.

Everything is looking good this week around, so I won’t waste too many words. I do want to note that my sleep has been pretty messed up since Wednesday. It could just be stress from an upcoming presentation I need to prepare, but I’m going to keep an eye on it, since, as is said, sleep troubles are a sign of over-training.

But yes, good news mostly and hope to come back here same time next week with similar news. It’s supposed to snow more next week. Since I got 4 of 5 runs outdoors this week, I hope I can continue the trend of outdoor running. There’s also my first hill-workout of the cycle on tap for Monday and another 41 miles planned. I’ll be back to report!

Happy running and resting,
Dorothea

Training Week Four update

when you’ve got eight significantly more important things to do, and all you want to do is write about running…

Yep. It’s marathon season, and I’m already in the vortex of planning my day around running, etc. At least the training plan provides some stability, eh? And I do have to say that going for months on a “whatever works” plan has made me a little more relaxed about the training. I do still want to follow the plan and meet the paces, but I also no longer think training should be my top priority and if I end up having an off-day or getting injured, I do believe I can just accept it and move on with my life.

That being said, old habits die hard and I’m going to have to have a more solid plan for when I start to feel a potential injury, because I will probably try to run through it. Yesterday before and after the 10k time trial (strangely, not during), my left foot started doing some weird plantar issue stuff, but it’s not something I’ve felt before. I’m hoping it’s just a fluke from switching up my shoe inserts and that my fartlek run tomorrow goes as planned. However, if I feel pain tomorrow during the run, I have to tell myself to hop on the next underground home! I’ll then take off through Wednesday, and see what the foot feels like.

In the meantime, I want to reflect on the last week.

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The week started off really well at 6 AM on Monday cranking out 6 x 800s. I had a 12 hour day at the uni planned, so if I didn’t run in the morning, it wasn’t going to happen. Sunday night at 11 PM, I had no idea if I could actually get up in time, but coming off a mostly restful weekend, I was animated to get out the door and felt proud of myself for averaging about 3:10 with 400m recoveries before 8 AM. I liked the feeling, but I don’t know if I like it enough to repeat it unless absolutely necessary.

Tuesday was a similar schedule, but an hour later (so 7 instead of 6), and I did my 8 miles easy. These felt good and may have been too fast, but I told myself it would be fine. I should try harder to go easier when the plan tells me to be slow. This is a goal for the coming week.

Wednesday was a 3 mile tempo run, and while I woke up thinking there was no way in heck I could pull off 3 miles in 23 minutes, my body surprised me. It was also delightfully “warm” (10 degrees Celsius), so I enjoyed running without gloves and a hat again.

Thursday and Friday were uneventful, just following the plan, and Saturday was “race day”.

Really, it was just a time-trial, since I don’t have the time or money to race right now, but I promised myself doing it at the gym on a treadmill was just as good. To compensate for the lack of outdoor factors, I put the treadmill at 1.0 for every alternating mile. Of course I had my drinks and a fan, and didn’t have to worry about the elements, but I don’t think it ended up being as much as an advantage as I was telling myself on the way to the gym. In the end, I think I could have done better outside.

I was so convinced that this was going to be an easy 10k. I even thought I could break 44 minutes and I was so smug with myself about being able to pick my own time to run and not rely on a starting gun and doing things at my own pace…

Turns out, I kind of crashed and burned. I ended up running 6.24 miles in 46:31. 3.24 miles were at 1.0 incline and the other miles were at 0.0 incline. I took 8 or 9 (I forget) walking breaks and just generally, … just ew. If it weren’t for my 10k run New Year’s Eve, I would despair right now.

On top of that, my the bottom of my foot started hurting during the warm-up. The pain went away as the speed increased, but then I had to pause at the first mile of the trial to stretch the foot out. During the rest of the trial, the foot felt fine. I struggled in everything else, but the foot felt fine. Then, during the cool-down, near the last quarter mile, my foot really started to hurt. I stopped and did my stretching and foam rolling. I noticed my calves and fascia were extremely tight, but I’ve had PF before, and this felt different. Oh geez. When I got home, I rolled my foot a few time over the massage ball. I don’t know if that helped or hurt, since the foot continued to feel sore, though decreasingly so, throughout the evening. This morning, I can’t even be sure if my foot ever hurt. I’m just going to take it easy today on walking and stretch the foot out again and bit and see what happens tomorrow. Again, if I feel pain, I am committed now to the plan as above!

Putting the time-trial into perspective, I guess I did fine; I’d had a tough week mentally and physically. Three long days at the Uni, some intense speed sessions, not averaging enough of sleep, and then, yeah, my period coming early should have all been considered before the 10k to expect less results than I got. I also didn’t make the smartest choices about recovery, which is another thing I’m going to work on for this week.

I can take this time-trial as a test not just of my fitness, but my training altogether. Fitness wise I know, based off the intervals Monday and my slowly dropping resting heart rate, that I’m where I want to be. But training-wise, there is so much room for improvement. I need to work on keeping my easy runs easy, fixing my daily schedule to ensure I get at least 7 hours of sleep (8 hours is, of course, the goal), and not drink Friday nights or within 24 hours of a hard workout. [Truth time: being on “whatever works” was kind of nice, because I didn’t have to stress about the alcohol I drink. Now that I’ve seen first hand that I’m struggling with the speed, I think I’m going to have to commit to giving up drinking sooner rather than later. Sigh.]

On top of aaaall of that, I seriously need to start working on pacing. My paces, even on a treadmill (smh), are all over the place. The Runner’s World plan has some steady-state runs in it and I need to use these and my long runs to figure out how to set a pace and keep it. My 10k reminded me of my biggest flaw during my BQ marathon. I’m still doing this weird thing where I start off conservatively, because that’s what everyone warns about, but then I’m so anxious to make up the difference about midway through, and I feel so good, that I just spurt ahead. Not the greatest technique, since I end up burning out before the last mile(s) and starting off slow doesn’t do anything for me in the end anyway. So, yeah. Add this to the things I want to improve on this training cycle.

Well, yep, that’s an update! Hope your training or off-season is going well. :-)

Happy running! -Dorothea

 

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.

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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