15 Long Distance Recovery Methods (And What They Actually Look Like in Real Life)

15 Long Distance Recovery Methods and What They Actually Look Like in Real Life

We all know that recovery is important. You have to stress, recover, and repeat to get fit & fast during a training cycle. But I always feel like people talk about recovery as if it’s some kind of sophisticated act of willing your muscles to feel relatively human again. When, in reality, it’s painful, not all that pretty, and usually involves some kind of teeth-baring agony if you’re really working hard. So, I’ve listed several fancy (and not so fancy) recovery methods and their literal “holy shit why does that hurt so much” translations for the long distance runner.

  1. Compression socks –> because squeezing both your muscles and your fat into socks that are 3-4x smaller than they should be feels really, really good (and we don’t know why but it kind of makes us feel badass)
  2. Foam rollin’ –> because why not roll around on the floor like a sloth for entirely way too long just because it hurts?
  3. Roll recovery –> basically, spring-loaded roller blade wheels with handles that inflict an inordinate amount of pain on your tender muscles. AKA meat/muscle tenderizer (and you’re too lazy and/or tired to roll around on the floor anyway)
  4. Legs up the wall –> Reverse that blood flow! And because that awkward bum-shaking shimmy that you do to get closer to said wall is actually hilarious after a 20 miler.
  5. Chocolate –> antioxidants, yo. (And because some smartass person once said: “Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. So, basically chocolate is a vegetable” …and I believe them 173.9%.)
  6. Beer –> Liquid carb-loading, because you probably already ate a bowl of pasta or an entire pizza today. Plus, it’s practically the nectar of the gods.
  7. Ice bath –> Because going to the edge of frostbite and back is worth it, damn it! If you can’t feel your crotch, you’re doing it right.
  8. Recovery boots –> To reach the point at which you discover that, in fact, your sciatic nerve does exist! And shit, you probably could take a blood pressure test from your buttocks. Also, because you’ve always wondered what it would be like to have elephantiasis of the legs.
  9. Active Release Technique (ART) –> Because you know you have “soft tissue” in there …. somewhere.
  10. Dry needling and/or acupuncture –> Your legs already hurt so what kind of damage could a bajillion tiny little needles do anyway?! Also, you do this because you get some sort of sick satisfaction of seeing your nerves pulsate and you’re really not sure why.
  11. Deep tissue massage –> Because you’re one badass chick/dude and a ‘relaxation’ massage with aromatherapy just won’t do. You value a massage therapist like a normal person values his/her best friend foreverrrrr.
  12. Trigger Point Massage Ball –> You seriously never thought you’d ever willingly sit on top of a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and call it ‘magic’. You buy the fancy ball anyway.
  13. The Stick –> You might as well use your grandmother’s old wooden rolling pin and call it a day. see also: meet tenderizer slash foam roller slash Roll Recovery.
  14. Your Couch –> Your most prized possession: you know, before, during, or after you commit to #1-13. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, really. See alternate: the floor, because it’s never felt so comfortable as it does after a 20 miler in 90 degrees.
  15. Chiropractic adjustment –> You’re a sick individual and you love hearing that snap, crackle, and pop. And you’re supposedly ‘aligned’ because of it.

Your ability to recover quickly is directly correlated to your willingness to commit to 1 or 15 of these methods, which usually results in looking like some type of fool to the general population. But you never said you were normal anyway.

What’s your favorite recovery method? And what kind of love/hate relationship do you have with it?

- J

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 5 of 12

Week5

Week 5: the week I started to feel my legs coming back around.

This week wasn’t nearly as stressful as weeks 3 or 4 but I was still traveling for work and then extended my stay in DC through the weekend to spend time with my lovely sisters. I flew out Monday and flew home on Sunday so I was in full “live out of your suitcase” mode — which, is probably a good thing because whatever wasn’t in my suitcase was still packed away in boxes in the new apartment.

On Sunday, I realized I had only been home for 3 days this entire month — but I genuinely enjoyed training in DC! I felt like I had quality workouts and my legs didn’t struggle through workouts kicking and screaming (well, maybe a little whining here and there).

Monday: OFF 

I had a run planned today but I was exhausted and had to tidy up a few things before flying out that afternoon. A rest day after 13 mi at GMP (and 18 mi total) the day before was probably wise anyway. Worked out for the best.

Tuesday: [9.24 mi total: 10 x 600 workout] 

This was the BEST workout I’ve had probably since before Boston. I haven’t really felt like myself lately – but that’s probably because I only have 4-5 weeks of consistent running logged since the bursitis healed. Consistency is beginning to pay off.

I’m sure the cooler temps in DC had something to do with it – it was a beautiful morning for a workout. I ran through the mall to Potomac Park and ran around Hains Point. I wish I had done my research the week before because I would have done workouts in the same place. It’s flat, fairly shaded, and a large portion of it is actually closed to vehicles. I saw plenty of cyclists whiz by and some speedy runners. I think it was also a bit cooler right on the water. This was my first 600m repeat workout ever – it’s interesting because my body knows how to run 400m, but extending it 200m was challenging. The goal was between 6:10-6:20 pace with 1:30 recovery jog between (30 sec walk, 1 min jog)

Splits: 2:16, 2:18, 2:17, 2:17, 2:20, 2:20, 2:21, 2:12 (woah nelly), 2:16, 2:22.

2014-09-09 07.59.12-1

Confidence boost!

Wednesday: [Easy 5 with client + Easy 5 solo]

AM 5 easy, 8:24 avg: Took a client for a run around the tidal basin and down the national mall this morning. Another beautiful rave run in DC! Legs were tired yesterday and a bit fatigued this morning but the shakeout helped.

2014-09-10 07.00.12

View of the tidal basin, with Washington Monument to the left

PM 5 easy, 7:37 avg: Another easy 5 after a long day of work. Stopped at the Jefferson Memorial and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just to people watch. Observation: there were groups or pairs of people that were obviously traveling together, yet they all chose to take selfies of themselves with each monument. I wanted to turn and yell “why don’t you just take each others’ picture?!”

Thursday: [9 miles, 7:40 avg - 6 mi steady state]

I slept through my workout this morning and had a full day of work. I was really looking forward to a solid 10-12 miles to start the day. Storms were expected later this afternoon so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run at all. Luckily, my sister was planning on going to her gym today anyway and had a guest pass I could use. We had dinner plans so I shortened the steady state from 8 to 6 miles. It was stupid hot and humid in the gym and I never really found a rhythm. It’s been awhile since I ran on a treadmill in general so I’m assuming that’s why I felt a little crazed. Still, happy to be able to get in a short workout. 2 up, 6 at 7:13-7:19, 1 down.

Friday: [Recovery 4.13, 7:47 avg]

Recovery 4 from my sister’s apartment mid-morning. Ran down Capitol Hill and then back up it! A homeless dude chirped “4 min miles, 4 min miles,…” as I jogged by.

2014-09-12 12.22.36-1

Saturday: [20 mi LSD, 8:24 avg]

First 20 done! Fueled by pizza, chocolate brownies and ice cream. My sisters and I all had long runs to do this morning. Lindsey T. was a wonderful tour guide for the first 6 miles. We ran from her apartment down Capitol Hill to the mall, then over the bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail, where we split off to finish our own distances. I ran past DCA and then back to the Mall before doing a loop at Hains Point. I really started to miss frequent water fountains between miles 4.5 and 13.5. It wasn’t terribly hot or humid (and there was plenty of cloud cover) but I stopped for several minutes at mile 13-14 just to make sure to get enough water and not bonk. The first 6 mi were 10 min/mi just chatting with my sisters and the last 14 were 7:30-7:50. The last time all three of us ran together was probably middle school. We talked the entire time and I couldn’t believe that we’d already run 6 miles by the time we had to split off.

2014-09-13 11.19.18

Loved this route!

2014-09-13 11.26.34

3 sisters, 42 collective running miles before 11 AM.

20 miles followed by a beer festival. It’s practically routine now: run 20 and drink beer for 4 hrs. Related: if you ever thought Korean BBQ tacos taste yummy, try running 20 miles beforehand. I practically went weak at the knees.

Sunday: OFF – back to Chi 

I’m really happy with how this week’s training went. I may not be hitting paces or feeling quite as strong as I have in past cycles, but I know my legs and motivation are starting to come around. I feel like after being 157% stressed last week, that this week was a big ‘refresh button’. 7 weeks to go!

- J

Monumental Marathon: Training Weeks 3 & 4 of 12

Playing major catch up over here, folks! It’s been hectic the past few weeks to say the least. The week of August 25th, I spent packing up my apartment and preparing for a move that weekend (no Labor Day relaxation for me). As if moving wasn’t stressful enough already, I had a trip to DC for work that’s been part of a big year-long project Monday- Thursday of the following week. I literally unpacked my apartment for 4 hours before heading to the airport and didn’t have a chance to even sleep in my new apartment until Thursday night. It’s like I don’t even live there….yet. :)

Pro tip: If you ever try to squeeze moving, work travel, and marathon training into a condensed time frame, you will need way more coffee than you ever thought you would need in a lifetime. Also, you will be hungry and tired for approximately 2 weeks. But hey, that’s just normal marathon training right?

So, here’s my attempt to recap two weeks of training!

Week 3 – August 25th Training Recap:

Week3

Monday: [Easy 6, 8:01 avg] Just an easy 6 around the neighborhood. Nice and cool-ish evening after the rain came through today.

Tuesday: [Speedwork 8.3 miles, 7:24 average] 1 mi, 4 x 400, 1 mi

This was a big reminder that I’m not in shape yet. Annnnd I’m in that phase where I’m trying to run paces I feel like I should be able to run, but I’m definitely not there yet. These paces are misleading due to stops to tell myself to “woah nellllyyyyyy”. (reverse pep talk? Is that what you would call self-talk to slow down?)

~3 mi up (bathroom stop)
1mi- 6:19 (wayyyy too fast)
4 x 400 with 2 min RI – 1:29, 1:33, 1:27, 1:30
1 mi- 6:25 (again too fast, but convinced myself to cruise a bit)
~1 mi down

Wednesday: [Easy 9 mi, 7:56 avg] 

Gorgeous, peaceful morning out there on the lakefront. I stopped a few times just to take pics (carried my phone so I could track bus home). It was especially calm and quiet because I ran without music. The legs are starting to notice higher mileage weeks.

2014-08-27 09.34.35

Thursday: [Steady state 9.44 mi, 7:27 avg]

Wahooo! Either my legs are coming back or the low temp & humidity really helped me tonight (hopefully both?!). Last week I struggled with a short tempo run and tonight, a steady state felt relatively easy. It actually turned into an impromptu progressive tempo because I was feeling so good – and I clearly celebrated in those last two miles. :)

2.4 up
Steady splits: 7:11, 7:05, 7:04, 7:00, 6:46, 6:46
1 down

Friday: “REST” 

Rest is relative. Packing and everything that goes along with it is exhausting. I’m so glad we started packing on Monday and gradually put everything into boxes.

Saturday: [15 mi long, 7:53 avg]

This just felt like a slog. My legs didn’t really bounce back after Thursday’s workout (and especially Wednesday’s hip strength session). I stopped a few times today just to stretch my hip flexors out – each time, it helped. It was unexpectedly hot today too. Probably should have hydrated more last night. Just a mentally and physically hard week I guess- but solid mileage! Gu at Mile 6 and 11 – plenty of water stops.

I was incredibly stressed and tired the rest of the day. The little odds and ends always take the most time when you’re packing. I thought we’d be done packing have time to relax by 7 or 8 pm but I was still packing at 10 pm. Still, packing beers helped. :)

Sunday: MOVING

The movers were on time and everything was loaded into the new place by 11:30 AM. It’s a long story, but we didn’t have a place to stay that night so Corey and Brad were very kind to host us. After a super hectic week, it was so nice to spend time with friends playing Would You Rather, drinking beer, and eating a delicious dinner.

2014-08-31 19.59.24-2

Unplanned dress coordination.

Week 4 – September 1 Training Recap:

Week4

Monday: 4 hours unpacking + flight to DC.

Monday-Thursday: work + flight home Thursday evening

Friday: work + near nervous breakdown + family arrives!

Saturday-Sunday: fun in Chicago + Chi Half Marathon as workout

(next Monday: flight out to DC for the week again)

This week was really tough. I had to shift around a few runs and do a double to get some easy miles in. I tried to get as much sleep as possible and still fit in plenty of training. I was super stressed out trying to manage some of the logistics after moving apartments – probably more difficult to do that long-distance than it would have been at home.

Monday: REST 

Tuesday: [Easy 6, 8:09 average]

I had about an hour between finishing the work day and meeting my sister for dinner. It’s HOT here this week – heat index was over 100 degrees today – so I ran on the treadmill for the first time in months. It’s a crappy hotel treadmill but it was likely better than running outside. I didn’t run from Saturday until today, so any kind of movement made me happy.

2014-09-02 21.37.29-2

Look what my sister showed up with! First time seeing it in person!

Wednesday: [4 easy miles in AM + 10 easy on Rock Creek Parkway in PM]

4 mi easy (around 9 min/mi pace?) Led some clients on a monument tour this morning. I’ve led a few runs with this client before and haven’t had that great of a turnout. I had 5 people come this morning! I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with me and more to do with how close the hotel is to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. We ran up the steps to Lincoln in a giant herd of folks at November Project. :) (crossing my fingers and toes that I can do a workout tonight)

2014-09-03 06.54.35-1

10 mi on Rock Creek Parkway: 7:32 avg. All hope is not lost on this week’s training! As much as I really did not want to go running tonight, I’m so glad I did. I’ve never run the Rock Creek Parkway before, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. I sort of knew where I was going and planned an out-and-back route to be safe. I had about an hour of sunlight left so that helped me churn out these 10 (I got back to my hotel at 9 miles once the sun set and went to the hotel gym for the last one – anything to get those miles in!) I had a fartlek planned with 10k pace surges but that was thrown out the window when I realized how hilly the parkway is. Basically just ran by effort up and down the hills and tried to keep an even pace. Will definitely run through there again.

2014-09-03 19.02.02-1

Big hill = moment to stop and take in the view

I’ve never done doubles as part of my training. Running 14 mi in one day wasn’t the easiest way to get the miles in but I enjoyed getting out there for the sunrise AND sunset today.

rock creek

Thursday: [Easy 5.4, 7:46 avg]

I was most definitely tired today, but when I woke up and checked the weather for Chicago for this evening, I figured I should get out there for an easy run before I fly home. It wasn’t even 70 degrees but still fairly humid. I did loopty loops around the mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. Lots of runners out there this morning! I really love running in DC. I’d always heard that Washington D.C. is a runner’s city but I didn’t really believe it until this week. It’s nice to have different options – the Rock Creek Parkway is a completely different run than the National Mall. As much as I love the Chicago Lakefront, it would be nice to have more options.

2014-09-04 10.24.54

Friday: REST 

I had planned to run today but I was a) super tired and b) super f*&^%ing stressed out from unpacking and setting up the apartment. I probably wasted a good 15-18 hours of my life talking to Comcast within 4 days and I nearly reached my breaking point on Friday morning. It’s not worth sharing here, but I’m sure 90% of Comcast customers have similar stories to mine. The good news? I finally talked to someone that could help me and our service was restored by 1 pm.

I had family visiting this weekend so I wanted to make sure the apartment was at least a bit like home before they arrived. We went to Piece for dinner and drank entirely too much beer at the Emporium Arcade Bar that night.

Saturday: OFF 

Shakeout was planned before Sunday’s half but spending time with the fam won out.

Sunday: [18 mi total- 13 mi steady state (close to GMP) at Chicago Half + 5 w/up & c/down] 

Manny signed up for the Chicago Half months ago and I realized this fit into my training plan really well. My schedule had 13-14 at GMP to GMP + 20 sec and I did a total of 5 mi as warmup and cool down. First 18 miler of this super short training cycle! I didn’t get my tempo workout in this week, so I guess this steady state replaced it! I felt pretty flat the entire 13 but that’s to be expected with no shakeout yesterday and poor sleep all week. My goal was to start out closer to 7:30 but I got caught up in the race atmosphere and ran 7:10-7:20 for the first few miles (definitely felt that later on!) I took my time at water stops (1 min) and made sure to pour water over my head in the later miles when it started to get hot. I’ve run this course once before as a training run and remember it being more fun- seemed boring to me this year. Still, it’s a well run race. Met up with Lynton K. and Pete afterward for a “delicious” Mich Ultra. After 4 shakeout miles, it actually did taste good but I’m convinced anything would at that point.

2014-09-07 11.18.53-1

A 12-week training cycle isn’t ideal but I think I’m making progress.

Phew! Tough cookies the past two weeks. I’m a bit disappointed that my training didn’t have as much quality as planned, but I was probably a bit naive to think that I would be able to fit it all in this week and still have plenty of energy for that small thing we call work. I really enjoyed running in DC and knew that I would be able to stick to more of a routine the following week. I have to keep reminding myself that 4 weeks ago, I wasn’t even sure if I could train for a fall marathon. I’m so happy that the bursitis subsided and I’m beginning to feel like myself again. I figure this cycle is just one big experiment anyway. 4 weeks ago, running an easy 13 miles felt like a 19 or 20 miler. I knocked out 18 with a solid workout on Sunday – progress! #realitycheck

Spoiler alert: my legs started to come back this week!

- J

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 2 of 12

Week2

 

Look at that! Week 1 wasn’t a fluke after all! Just as with most injuries, I think it’s hard not to hold your breath when you get back to running. You keep waiting for something to hurt because you were in a decent amount of pain just a few short weeks ago. But nope! I think it’s safe to say I’m in the clear and now it’s just time to get down to business. Week 2 was definitely tough, especially because breathing the soupy air that made its way to Chicago made running somewhat miserable. Perfect week to get back to workouts, huh?

Monday: Full REST

I was still in Michigan for a long weekend and I ran 13 miles the day before, so resting was necessary. I spent the day working in a coffee shop (that ironically used beans roasted in Chicago), having lunch with Man, and thrifting for decorations and new furniture to fill the new apartment.

Tuesday: [Fartlek 8.03 miles, 7:37 avg]

I call this one the ‘hairdryer fartlek’. It was so hot and muggy and gross that I felt like someone was blowing a hairdryer into my face the entire time. I ran 2 to lake, 4 lakefront miles with 30 sec @ 5k pace every 3 minutes, and 2 home. The legs had a decent amount of pep today after yesterday’s rest so that’s good! 

Wednesday: [Easy 7, 7:56 avg]

Easy 7 around the neighborhood this morning. I ran such a random route that I don’t think I could have even explained to someone familiar with the area. It was hot and humid out again this morning so I was happy to run on some shady streets. I stopped in a park halfway for a sip of water & it was glorious. 

I’ve been thinking about routine lately – welp, basically my lack of routine. I used to be really good about getting up around 5 or 5:30 AM to run before work each day. It’s likely because I have a flexible schedule these days, but I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to do that again. I normally wake up around 6:30 AM and then it takes me a while to get going before I even think about running (especially if it’s a workout). The weather has been motivating me to get it done early-ish, but I’m hoping to get back to the routine of starting my run by 7 AM on mornings when I don’t have meetings.

Thursday: [3 x 1 mi tempo/ 8.59 mi, 7:24 avg]

Annnnd speaking of a morning running routine, the rain thwarted my plans of getting this done by 7:30 AM. I sat around in my running clothes basically from 6:30 AM until I left just after 9 AM when the rain cleared. Woof. Humidity x 1000000 out there today. (temp 76, with 88% humidity = swimming). I didn’t really know what kind of tempo I would run today until I started. I settled for 3 x 1 mi at tempo pace. Considering I did 6 x 3 min tempo surges last week and I haven’t run a tempo in … I don’t know how long … this was a solid effort. Splits: 6:46, 6:52, 6:37 (with 1-2 min walk break between) It felt more difficult that I expected it to but I likely should have adjusted for the conditions. On to the next!

Friday: [Easy 5, 8:10 avg]

Woof. Humidity is here to stay, huh? Went out around 9 after doing some work early this morning. Knew it would be sticky out, but that doesn’t make it any easier. My glasses fogged up when I stopped at a stoplight. EVERYONE IS DOING THE SWAMPY SHUFFLE these days!

Saturday: [Long 15 mi, 7:45 avg]

I was dreading this one the moment I saw the forecast on Friday night – 71 degrees and 96% humidity expected.

2014-08-22 21.45.48

The lakefront was definitely cooler than inland and the fog/cloud cover kept the sun from peeking out too much. This is the best run I’ve had in a while — I actually felt like myself again! I ran 2 to the lake with The Man and then settled in to 7:30-7:40 really easily. My legs felt like they could have run 7:45s all day. I normally don’t run so well in the heat and humidity, but it didn’t bother me that much. I stopped at plenty of water fountains to douse my head and neck with water and I think that helped a lot. Gu at miles 6 and 11 (gotta love that salted watermelon!) I’m really happy this went well. I was shocked that out of the hundreds of people out on the lakefront that I only saw TWO people I know! 

We had plans to have people over on our rooftop in the afternoon, but the weather ruined those plans! So we went to “brunch” at 1 pm and bar-hopped afterward. I mean, if you’re not brunching at 1 pm and hanging out with the same crowd at 9 pm the same day, you’re doing it wrong.

2014-08-23 20.15.02

We absolutely love our rooftop and wanted to have people over to enjoy it one last time – before MOVING! We found a nice place nearby with more space so this next week is absolute INSANITY between preparing for a big work event (involving travel next week), packing up the apartment, moving, and trying to fit training (and sleeping) in there somewhere. I know it will be worth it, but it’s definitely going to be a crazy couple of weeks.

Sunday: REST

Lazy Sunday morning with puppy cuddles and a day full of worrying about packing…and then actually packing. 

2014-08-24 20.50.26

Look what I found! A training plan that I apparently printed in 2011 – when my ‘projected’ marathon finish time was 4:01. I must have printed it that spring before training ramped up and I’m 75% sure it was based on a recent 5k time. Just when you begin to think that you won’t have enough time to get fit for the next 26.2, the universe shows you just how far you’ve come. 

Anyone have some superwoman powers I can borrow this week…and the next?

-J 

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 1 of 12

Annnnnd we’re back to weekly updates! I know, I know…you all missed them so much. I mean, I know I missed the miles!

Last Monday was my first day back to running after 3 full weeks off. And I’m happy to report that the return was glorious and happy, albeit sluggish and awkward. This was totally expected and I had to remind myself that getting back into shape isn’t going to be easy and it certainly isn’t ideal leading into such a short cycle for 26.2. I’m going to keep plugging along and putting in the miles and will see what happens.

In Week 1, I scheduled some light speed and tempo surges to ease back into training. Neither one felt great but I’m happy to report that the only thing that really hurt were my lungs, not my knee or my atrophied muscles. :)

This is what 3 weeks off looks like. I LIKE SEEING THOSE BLUE BARS!

3weeksoff

Monday: [5 easy, 7:37 avg] 

I missed the lakefront so much and this run was so relieving. Despite not being in pain following the cortisone shot (and not in too much pain even before the injection), I still didn’t know how this would go. I was so happy to be able to say “I RAN TODAY!”. I’m sure I looked like an uncoordinated baby giraffe out there on the lakefront path but damn, this felt good. And despite the cloud cover, it was anything but gloomy.

2014-08-11 13.27.04-1

Tuesday: [8.19 easy with 8 x 30 sec surges, 7:53 avg] 

Second run – and again, absolutely no pain or discomfort! I think letting the bursitis do its thing worked. Back at it. Manuel A C. and I ran to the lakefront after work. The waves were huge today! (almost wish I brought my phone to snap a pic) I helped pace Manny through 2 mi of his tempo (which were comfortable for him and not so comfortable for me!) and then ran a few miles solo. I ran 8 x 30 sec surges in the last two miles just by feel with 1 min easy jog between. I started around 6:25 pace and was surprised to see a 6:07 pace for the last one once I finished.

It appears that I also lost the necessary callouses on my feet because I did not enjoy running in the Ride 7’s tonight. I even stopped to tie the laces to skip a loop so that I had more room in the forefoot. It helped a bit but I likely won’t wear the Rides for anything over 5-6 miles…or at least until my callouses return. :)

Wednesday: OFF 

As much as I wanted to run today, I knew I’d just be STOOPID for running 3 days in a row after taking 3 freaking weeks off.

Thursday: [9.5 mi with 6 x 3 min tempo surges, 7:44 avg]

Woof. Getting back into shape is painful. If there were ever a day to bring my phone to snap a pic/video, it was today. The Blue Angels were soaring over the lake to practice for the Air & Water Show this weekend. Really cool to watch & it kept me somewhat distracted from my pace through the workout.

I was clearly not ready for solid tempos yet (Week 1! ha!) so I decided to do 6 x 3 min tempo segments with 3 min jog recovery. First 2 felt like crap, next 2 felt tough but smoother, and last two felt like “weeeeeeeeeeeee!”.

0.43/6:54
0.44/6:51
0.44/6:48
0.45/6:41
0.45/6:40
0.47/6:28

Friday: OFF

Enjoyed my Friday night with a beer on the rooftop after work and a few beers with Manny that night. It appears that Friday nights without a Saturday long run can go pretty late.

Saturday: [Easy 6.1 mi, 8:05 avg] 

I ran off a mild hangover slightly after 9 am. After running and a few glasses of Nuun, I felt like a normal human being. I hopped in the car that afternoon for an impromptu trip to Holland, MI with The Man. The drive was nice, especially because Barklee wanted to cuddle.

2014-08-16 14.05.21

Sunday: [13 mi, 8:13 avg]

Long run in Holland. I originally planned on running anywhere between 12-14 miles. Considering how good the legs handled training earlier in the week, I figured 13 miles was perfect.  I ran the first 7 miles really easy with Manny to the beach between 8:40-8:50 and the last 6 between 7:40-7:55. My legs were happy to run in a faster gear at the end and I felt like myself again. It was 67 degrees with 91% humidity so the first few miles felt surprisingly sluggish. I took a (salted watermleon!) Gu at mile 7 and water at miles 4, 7, and 10. I didn’t feel wiped out after that and I wasn’t sore on Sunday. All good signs that easing into the long run and training was the smart thing to do!

2014-08-17 12.58.45-1

Guys. This stuff exists. Go buy it now.

Week 1:

5 runs

0 core (ha)

0 tragic pothole falls (haHA)

42 miles

BACK AT IT!

- J

Bum Knee Be Gone! Back To Regularly Scheduled Programming

3 weeks post-fall and everyone (including myself) is likely sick of me talking about the bum knee. The good news is that it’s run its course and I’ve been pain-free for about a week now.

The last update chronicled the progress I made within two weeks of falling. I was pretty optimistic about the inflammation in the bursa going down on its own and doubted that I would need the doc to give me a cortisone shot. After resting through the two-week mark (with a fair amount of pain-free cycling to keep me from going absolutely insane), I went for a 20-minute test run with Corey last Sunday. It’s tough to describe what it felt like but it didn’t really feel good and it didn’t really feel bad. Just “meh”. That’s not really the feeling I was hoping for. So, I emailed my doc that afternoon to let her know how the knee was doing and this was her response:

I think it would be good to get an MRI of the knee to confirm that there is nothing else going on. I would hate to do a steroid injection if there was an underlying fracture or tear.

I was a bit disappointed about it but knew the MRI was the right thing to do. And she heard my message about wanting to clear this up ASAP loud and clear because we were able to schedule an MRI for the next day and she just happened to have an available appointment on Tuesday. So, fingers crossed– all would be resolved (or at least we would know more) by Tuesday at 9 am.

Fast forward to the appointment. (cue nervous jitters in the waiting room) Prepatellar Bursitis was the correct diagnosis. I was so relieved. The doc showed me basically every image of the MRI and said that my knee looks really strong (no damage to ACL, MCL, etc). Apparently I fell squarely on my bursa and that cushioned the fall for my patella. Two minutes later she gave me a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and five minutes later I was sauntering out of the doc’s office with a goofy smile on my face.

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And then. I bought a white chocolate passion fruit donut to celebrate. Necessary.

The “bad” news? She prescribed more rest through the end of the week. So that would total 3 weeks of no running and a heck of a lot of frustration. The GREAT NEWS?! I was 95% pain-free by the next afternoon and I was finally able to sweat on the bike last week. I did 5 hours of cross-training and even did a two-hour session on Sunday to replicate a long run (1 hr spin bike, 1 hr open stride machine). For anyone that’s ever used the Open Stride machine, can we talk about how tough of a workout that can be?!

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Missing the lakefront path like crazy, but happy just to be able to SWEAT!

So, this is all to say, that TODAY I get to run! My right knee cap looks identical to my left knee cap (gasp!) and I feel like my normal self again. Like any injury, I’m still really paranoid that the pain will return. I find myself doing normal things throughout the day and wondering if my knee will hurt if I ____(fill in the blank)_____.  This injury has been anything but normal–and I may never live down what a clumsy fall that was. I’m going to stay patient the next few weeks and just see how running goes. As of today, I have 12 weeks to Monumental. And while I know I would be well on my way to a strong training cycle had I not taken this bad fall three weeks ago, I think I’ll give this cycle a shot.

Tell me your ‘falling while running’ stories!

- J

A PSA and the Chronicles of the Bum Knee

The “big fall” was just about 10 days ago. You know… the fall during which I literally bounced off of my precious patella. I have a PSA for the 5 people out there that actually read my blog: Pick up your darn feet and pay close attention to urban sidewalk potholes. While I feel like I should take some of my aggression out on the City of Chicago and it’s lack of attention to pedestrian walkways, I think a faster solution is probably just to keep my eyeballs peeled for craters in the pavement. Ahhh, the tough realities of an urban runner (On a related note: I’m not sure I would be cut out for trail running…).

So, there’s your advice of the day. Avoid one clumsy moment and you’ll forego a lot of pain.

The fall happened so quickly I don’t even know exactly how it happened. Man, I wish I could see video footage of that. I’m sure it was truly graceful.

The good news is that since the BIG FALL on Sunday, July 20th, I have made considerable progress. Every morning I’ve been able to wake up and think to myself, ‘hm, well the knee is moving better than it was yesterday!’.

Sunday: World of pain. Spent most of the afternoon crying and watching Orange Is the New Black. Enter cry baby status.

Monday: Mantra= “suck it up and get on the damn plane, Jenny!” I had a 4 hour flight to endure but I’m thanking my lucky stars for an available aisle seat. I spent the flight trying my best to bend and straighten my leg (you know, within the inches of leg room that we’re allowed on those metal cans flying through the air). I was in a considerable amount of pain while sitting and walking. I just couldn’t get comfortable. I had a hard time straightening my leg and pulling it backward. I attempted to do a normal quad stretch but the knee was definitely not ready yet. It was tough to really complain once I arrived in LA – “secret” trip, more on that later! 

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Tuesday: “Ok, let’s try to move this thing a bit more.” I woke up early and, while friends went out for a fun run/hike, I resigned to trudging to the hotel fitness center to rotate my knee on the bike. And this is how it went:

No, that video is not in slow motion. That’s the fastest my knee could go on Tuesday. It hurt but not so much that I felt like I should stop. At the end of my 32 minute workout “rotation”, the bike said I had literally moved 0.0 miles. It didn’t feel great, but hey, I considered any type of movement a good sign. I spent the rest of the day being goofy with a few teams from Saucony 26 Strong. Can’t wait to share some goofy pics!

Wednesday: A crazy busy week continued with a 3:30 AM alarm and a trip to the airport. This time to fly to San Francisco for work. By the time I arrived, I was feeling all sorts of weird from a few short hours of sleep. I had a full day of work but tried my best to keep my knee mobile. Any time I spent more than 30 minutes sitting in one position, my knee would tighten up and walking normally would begin difficult again. I didn’t have an opportunity to ice it during my work conference (excuses excuses) but plenty of hydration and ibuprofen throughout the day seemed to help.

This was Wednesday’s “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!” moment:

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I wasn’t able to bend my knee this far since the fall. Small wins!

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Because bruise pictures are all cool and gnarly. Here you are. It looked much worse on Wednesday but felt considerably better. Woot woot!

I collapsed into bed around 8:30 pm and felt like a brand new person when I woke up the next morning.

Thursday: Lonnggggg day of work. Again, I tried to keep my knee mobile throughout the day. Same as Thursday, it was fine once it was loose but really cranky if I left it in one position for awhile. I capped off the day with a bit of wallowing with Robin over beers and food. The running family is the best, ain’t it? I really wish we could have gone on a planned easy run but beer and food is always a close second.

Friday: Today was the first day since the BIG FALL that I felt like I could walk normally and sitting for longer periods of time didn’t seem to bother my knee as much. CUE HAPPY DANCE! The distraction of a long week full of fun and work was definitely welcome. 5 days of no sweat-inducing activities and I was starting to get a little antsy. The day ended with another long 4 hr flight homeward. And again, I thank my lucky stars for an available aisle seat and an empty seat to my left.

Saturday: All the sleeps and lazies. In a matter of 5 days, I had averaged just 5 hours of sleep each night. It definitely showed. I slept like a rock on Friday night once I got home and couldn’t be bothered on Saturday. I spent the morning sipping coffee and watching TV shows in bed. I doubt I’ll say this many times, but today was one of those days when I was happy to not have a long run. I’m not interested in running through pain and I was mentally & physically ready to sit on my a**. So that’s what I did.

Sunday:  Hey! Look! More progress! After my “spin” the previous Tuesday, I didn’t find the idea of getting on the spin bike all too appealing. BUT the inflammation in my knee had gone down a bit and I thought moving it for 30 minutes could only help it recover. And here’s how it went:

I was SHOCKED that I was able to move my leg that “quickly” (and I had to capture it on video, duh). It wasn’t painful but it was a wee bit uncomfortable so I stopped at 30 minutes. Like night and day to Tuesday’s “spin” session! So, 60 minutes of rotation and 0 drops of sweat for the week.

This is one glorified recovery week! It’s not exactly how I envisioned Week 2 of training for Monumental, but I remain optimistic about my fall goals. It’s just going to happen on a condensed timeline.

That brings us to this week, folks! I’ve been icing my knee for 20 minutes several times a day and taking ibuprofen regularly. I can now bend and flex my leg with only some slight discomfort. I did 30 minutes on the spin bike (very low resistance) on Monday and 45 minutes on Tuesday. Everything is moving in the right direction and I’m really happy that I’m no longer in pain. If you had told me on Sunday that I seriously damaged my knee and I wouldn’t run normally for awhile, I would have believed you. Now, I know that’s not true and I’m recovering just fine. It’s just going to take some more time.

I was able to see a sports doc this morning and the verdict is: prepatellar bursitis. Basically, the top of my knee cap is inflamed. She suggested that I continue to stick to spinning (or elliptical if it isn’t uncomfortable) through the two-week mark, which would be this Sunday. After that I can go for a test run and see how it reacts. Between now and then, I just need to keep icing it and taking ibuprofen to keep the inflammation down. I had a feeling that it wasn’t anything serious considering how much it’s improved in 10 days, but I feel relieved now that a professional has taken a look at it. The doc said that if the inflammation doesn’t go down in a week, we can try a steroid injection (but she doubts that will be necessary).

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It’s tough to tell in this picture, but my right knee cap sticks out further than my left. Inflammation be gone!

Conclusions:

1) Avoid urban potholes, you urban runners!

2) Rest, ice, and ibuprofen sometimes do cure all. (Well, that and puppy cuddles.)

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On the up and up!

- J