Monday, November 18, 2013

Why I am not going to stop.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not directed towards anybody in particular.  However, I have already started getting the "you should just stop running" and "running doesn't like you" comments, so I feel the need to bring this up as I enter my 4th week of training.

I have had my own string of bad luck when it comes to pain and injury during training.  Believe you me, no one is more annoyed about it than I am.  But of course I have, when I literally started doing this out of no where with no training and no previous athletic experience of any kind.  And the fact that every time I Google anything, loads and loads of websites dedicated to the issue with hundreds of comments and forum posts related to the subject come up on the search feed.  Clearly, I am not alone! I often post the "bad" or "frustrating" because this is how I learn from this. For every 1 bad moment there are 5-10 good ones, a ratio I am more than happy with. I'll make sure to post more of the happy ones.

Running is a solo sport.
True, there is a community of runners who are really awesome and helpful.  And true, I run alongside my amazing running partner.  However, she is not staring at my feet, monitoring my posture, in charge of my stretching or nutrition or making sure I drink enough water and sleep enough.  Yes, she will help push me forward and keep me in check, but physically, it's all on me.

Other sports have coaches and teammates and family members watching from the sidelines, telling you what you are doing wrong and what you need to work on.  There is no one following me around with a camera showing me what I am doing wrong or what needs corrected at that very moment. No one to tell me what my body is naturally inclined to do, what's normal and not, or what I should do next.  It's something that I have to do on my own.

Since the beginning, this has been me and me alone, and it isn't an easy process.  It's going to continue to be a learning experience, one I believe will truly get easier (it already has) as I continue on the journey.

Running is a test of patience, dedication, and strength.
If your son was in soccer, and he was having trouble with it, would you tell him to stop? Would you tell him it isn't the sport for him, even when he has a smile on his face? Of course not. You would tell him to keep with it, and that it will get easier.  That he can do it.  That he shouldn't give up.

I can do it too. I've already done more than I ever thought was physically capable and because I have these moments of frustration, pain, and weakness, it is more motivation and incentive for me push through and prove myself (and everyone else) wrong.

Running may not be my "natural sport," but it is:

  • My therapy. 
  • A test of willpower.
  • Proof that I can do anything I put my mind to
  • A release for all the stress I harbor in my neck and shoulders (never felt better)

I truly appreciate the support and encouragement, and I know that constructive criticism is only out of love and concern.  However, at least while I am in training, if you could please refrain from the "you should just stop" comments, I would really appreciate it, because it doesn't help me when I have races paid for, deadlines on the calendar, and a training plan in place. It adds to the frustration.

Thank you, and love you all.

Oh! And an update to last week's post: I actually do not think that my problem was my Achilles. I think that I actually bruised the inner part of my heel by striking on the treadmill when my legs were tired. The pain had radiated a bit so it was hard to pin-point the source of pain at the time, but as it has heeled, the root issue has been the one that remained sore, something easily healed with ice and ibuprofen. So yay! But, good to know as my Achilles has NOT been something I have really paid attention to, and it's getting added to the list of places that get stretched on a daily basis. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Well hello there Achilles, I didn't see you there...

So, I'm kind of really awesome at giving advice, and then not taking my own. It's like I can help others but just can't seem to save me from myself! I am trying to rectify that this time though.

I am currently sitting with my food up on an ice back.  Yep.  This time, it's my Achilles tendon on my right food that is inflamed.  I know this is not an uncommon issue for runners and the minute I started feeling pain I grabbed ice and got lots of rest.

Let me back up...
Friday, we did hill intervals as we did the week before, however this time we did the full 30 minutes and our include progressed as 4%, 5%, 6%, 5%, 4%.  Felt great, even though 6% was a little rough at 5 am.

Sunday's long run was moved to Monday and we both decided that 4:30am on a Monday was far too early.  So, we decided to split up the run: 3 miles at lunch, and 3 miles at the gym later that night.  This meant instead of 6 miles on the track, we were treadmill bound for both.  I had a chiropractor adjustment that morning, so I decided it would be best if I took the first run easy.  I ran at a 5.5mph pace and completed 2.9 miles in 30 minutes.  When we got to the gym that night, we jumped on the treadmill first thing.  I had had a frustrating evening so it was game on.  I hit 6mph right away, which I had done many times in the past, but for some reason, my inner calf along my right tibia was getting a bit sore.  It wasn't too bad so I didn't think too much of it, but it was noticeable enough that it caught my attention.  I probably should have dropped the pace or walked the rest, but I didn't, because I just assumed it was fine.  It usually is.  We started the leg workout, and when I got to single leg squats, I definitely noticed the pain in my calf.  I took down the intensity and treaded very carefully as to not injure anything. The pain did not get worse and just remained a slight dull pain, so I got home and iced it and taped it with KT tape, and then headed off to bed.

Tuesday morning, I woke up, and my calf was perfectly fine.  However, the pain was now right at the back of my heel along the Achilles.
Well, shit.  That was unexpected.  I grabbed my KT tape and added more to my leg, this time along the back of heel and up the calf, with a cross piece directly over the pain.  I assumed it would go away within the morning.  Except it didn't.  The pain was really bothering me by the time I got home that night (10:00pm), so I realized there was no way I could run on it in the morning.  Even if it didn't hurt, I needed to give it a little more time so the inflammation had enough time to heal.  So, back to more ice and more rest.  Repeat.

So my Google fu started.  I started looking up common reasons for Achilles inflammation:

  • tightness/fatigue in calf muscles
  • running sprints and hills
  • improper shoe support
  • Overtraining/increasing mileage too quickly
  • Hyperpronation

Ding! Ding! Ding! So, I know it isn't my shoes, and I don't think it was increase in mileage, other than the fact that I was on a treadmill and my form may have been off, or the fact that I had run earlier that day and my legs were a bit tired.  We had just done hills a few days prior, and my hips/hamstrings and calves were very tight.  Being the major tendon that connects the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles to the heel bone, and coincidentally incredibly tight already with very little blood flow, it's no surprise I pissed it off.

The great news is, I am positive I don't a tear or a rupture, but just some minor inflammation.  It feels substantially better today unless I am on my feet for a really long time.  The key here is that it is minor, and it needs to stay that way.  If I don't give it enough TLC, then the next 9 weeks are going to be torture.  So, until I can run with no pain, I am elliptical bound (grumble) to continue getting mileage and keep everything moving, alternating ice and rest and have started a bit of ibuprofen.  Hopefully I'll be back to myself in no time.

I need to figure out a stretching and foam rolling routine that I can integrate at different times of the day when I am not currently running or at the gym.  I need something to help keep everything loosened up when the muscles are not being activated.

Apparently, by the time I get my DPT, I will be a pro at sports medicine just from personal experience. :P


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 2! Reality check.

Week 2 was a bit tougher than week 1.  Since I was in CA over the weekend, it shifted everything slightly to make up for being gone on Sunday (which I touched upon here).  While my legs appreciated the reprieve from muscle soreness/fatigue, it changed my outlook on training for the week. It's hard to explain it, but I lost a bit of focus.

After Monday's run and condensed leg workout at the gym, we took Tuesday off as planned. Wednesday morning we headed out to the track.  We were scheduled for a 3 mile run, which we completed in 31:06, a 10:13 pace. Felt pretty good! (for 4am :) )

On Friday I met Christi at the gym at lunch for 20 min of interval training. We were informed that the course for the Half is deceptively hilly, so we decided to shift the focus for the day from speed drills to hill intervals.

Ideally we would have done 30 minutes, but we were a bit condensed for time.
5 minute warm-up, 6mph (10 minute pace)
2 min at 4% incline
2 min recovery run
2 min at 5% incline
2 min recovery run
2 min at 6% incline
2 min recovery run
3 minute cool down run, 6mph

We both felt like we could definitely go longer, so the plan is to take it up to 7%, and then gradually drop down at 6%, 5% and 4% intervals.  But it was a good start. I was able to maintain the same speed until I hit the 6% mark, and then I dropped down to 5.5mph.

Hills can make or break a runner.  They are often a runner's downfall, especially if they train regularly in flat terrain, like we do here in the desert.  However, I was incredibly inspired when I watched the 2012 Olympics, when Stephen Kiprotich used a hill to take the lead over his opponents and won the gold medal in 2:08:01 (by the way, that is almost 30 minutes faster than my HALF marathon finish time last It was AMAZING to watch as his opponents slowed down and he used that moment to propel himself forward in order to maintain the lead for the rest of the race.  It's something I will never forget and want to be able to utilize that technique in the future.  (Not that I'm racing anyone, but you know what I mean...)

Back to training...
Saturday was supposed to be cross-training. I had a very busy day scheduled and was going to be gone for the majority of it, and then we were hosting a BBQ that night. I had hoped to get my cross-training in on Friday night (Zumba) but I didn't make it in time.  Saturday, I was really tired (got home late) so I didn't get up extra early, so my cross-training was a loss for the day. To top it off, I made poor food and drink decisions throughout the day and got very little sleep, so my Sunday morning run was not only slow, but I felt nauseous the entire time.  Not exactly ideal circumstances.  To make matters worse, our 5 mile downtown run got shifted due to time constraints, so we decided to run 2 miles to the gym, run 2 miles there, and run 1 mile back. When we got to the gym, it was closed, so we ended up looping around.  We only completed 4.34 miles instead of the 5, which is better than nothing, but not the full mileage we were supposed to complete. I was very disappointed because even though we were both tired, I was feeling especially bad, and it was mainly self inflicted. I should have been more focused, more hydrated, and insisted on going to sleep earlier.  Oh, and I should have skipped the red wine.

When you are not feeling up to par, at least for me, and you lose sight of your running map, it mentally is hard to stay focused.  I like to know where I am running and how much farther I have to go in these moments. Since we didn't have that, it was not the most successful run we've had.  4.34 miles in 48:06, an 11:04 minute pace.

I think the most discouraging thing was that it hadn't been that hard in a long time.  It was a reality check. However, I think it was just what I needed to snap me back into shape:

  • I need to sleep more.
  • I need to hydrate more.
  • I need to stay focused.
  • I need to stop eating things that I am supposed to avoid, because my food intolerance and IBS just can't handle it. 
  • I have to remember the fun. :)
This about sums it up: