The Wonky Quad & My Thoughts Lately

I’ve gone back and forth about sharing an update on my leg for the past week. And the emotions have been all over the place in that amount of time. One day, I feel really confident that a marathon this fall is going to be a great experience. And the next day I’m wondering whether or not one will actually happen. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to injuries and it’s really easy to get sucked into particular comments. Luckily, I had a busy week of work including travel to NYC and it allowed me to be distracted just enough to put those thoughts out of my mind.

New York West Side Running Path

Even if I could only run 5 easy easy miles in NYC, the views were totally worth it.
 

But if you asked me right now “do you think you’ll run a marathon in either October or November?”, I would say that I am confident it will happen. I went to the chiropractor and the physical therapist this morning. For the first time in 2.5 weeks, I’m feeling like it might actually be possible.

My chiropractor does not want to see me for the next 3 weeks while I do a few weeks of physical therapy.  (she’s a great practitioner, so if you’re in need of one in Chicago, you know who to talk to!). My left hip has actually released significantly and today’s adjustment was the first one where I DIDN’T snap, crackle, or pop like bubble wrap. It’s the little things, ya know?

I went to physical therapy this morning and my therapist was able to release my quad with the Graston technique for the first time in 2 weeks. It hurt so good and I’m sure I’ll be a bit tender from it but that knot in my quad has been incredibly achy for the past 11+ days. I left his office feeling happy. Just to have even the tiniest bit of tension released felt like a huge treat. And he actually made me feel ‘normal’. Marathon training is never a cake walk but if you continue to push your body, you are going to have to deal with little nagging issues from time to time. And that’s okay. I can’t expect to run faster times and not experience some kind of breakdown. I’m just glad I’m level-headed enough to be smart about it. (If I had pushed through either the 11 mile steady state or the 12 x 400 workouts that were on my schedule last week, I might be writing a very different post right now.)

So, the PT thinks I have just a minor adductor strain in my left quad and that we can release it over the next 2 weeks. The rest I’ve already taken has allowed it to heal and it’s more comfortable on my easy runs this week than last. I have a massage scheduled next Tuesday, followed by physical therapy appointments on Wednesday and Friday next week. Light, easy running is the goal for now and I’m looking forward to running for more than 40 minutes at a time this weekend. I’m ALLOWED to run more than 5 miles, which means this weekend is going to be all sorts of sunshine and rainbows and happiness…which is just the way it should be.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you must watch it now. I think it might be required inspiration before every race from now on:

– J

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Grand Rapids 2013 Training: 4 Weeks Out

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This week was the week that….wasn’t.

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On Monday, I wrote about how I’m feeling pretty high maintenance lately. After some weird aches and pains started to creep up on me last Friday, I had a feeling that something was ‘off’. The chiro told me that my left hip is almost an inch higher than the right (due to muscle tightness, not anatomical) on Monday morning. She’s confident that a few adjustments and light massage therapy will help loosen it up and align them again. At the time, I still thought I’d be able to run my two big workouts for the week as well as Saturday morning’s 20-21 mile long run. Sure, I was sore and there were certain muscles that were giving me more trouble than they normally do but that’s just a given during marathon training. You control what you can and try to fix little problems as you go.

I ran 5.5 creaky miles on Monday night at Fleet Feet’s Pint Night. I wasn’t comfortable after a chiro adjustment and mini-massage on Monday morning. I was sore, but I figured the shakeout would do me some good, regardless of how it actually felt at the time. Tuesday rolled around and I knew a workout just wasn’t going to happen. I had an 11 mile steady state run on the schedule and after consulting with Coach, we decided to bag it and run easy. If the quad/IT band/adductor loosened up in the first few miles, I was free to run 6-8 very easy miles. If it didn’t, however, the plan was to stop and walk home. I ended up running less than 3 miles before walking 1.5 miles home. A whole new meaning to the walk of shame (much less on a busy street during rush hour).

I’ve never done that before. And while I’ve had little aches and pains that have prompted me to rest when I don’t want to in the past (minor peroneal tendonitis and left glute strengthening with some PT), I’ve never had to stop and walk home. Wednesday is always a rest day for me and on Tuesday evening, I was still optimistic that I would be able to do some kind of workout on Thursday morning (even if it wasn’t the 12 x 400 that was already on the schedule).

Thursday, same thing. I woke up and just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I went out for an easy run and, if it loosened up, I was free to run 6-8 easy miles. (At this point, I’m calculating how many total miles I’d be missing out on for the week. Once you go down that road, you can’t really go back.) I ran a 3.5 mile loop around the neighborhood and, while I could have gone for a 2nd one to make it a total of 7 miles, there was no point. The 3.5 didn’t feel comfortable and I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where something actually snaps or breaks or gives out, miles from home. For now, the discomfort is enough to make me slow down and be cautious before it *really* becomes a big problem.

Then, Friday morning. I decided on 45 minutes on the elliptical just to get the cardio I’d been missing all week. No pain or discomfort in the left leg at all. It felt good just to MOVE. I hopped off the elliptical and decided I’d try 2 easy miles on the treadmill just to see what the leg would do. Not even one mile in, I stopped.

Any kind of movement with impact makes the left quad lock up and the inner adductor starts screaming. I don’t really feel any soreness or tenderness when I walk. But the impact of landing on my left foot makes me feel like I’m running on a flat tire. So while the elliptical workout felt great, I walked home from the gym feeling even more frustrated because my leg won’t let me run one measly mile.

Needless to say, Saturday’s 20-miler didn’t happen and I did absolutely ZERO cross-training or running this weekend. And honestly it feels like I’m going through taper pains because both of my legs just hurt. They just want to GO. I’m restless and I seriously didn’t even know what to do with myself when I knew practically the entire city of Chicago was out on the lakefront running 20-milers before the Chicago Marathon or another fall race.

Between missing out on 3 key workouts and almost 40 miles for the week (only ran a total of 11), I may have to reconsider Grand Rapids.

I’m not giving up on the leg just yet but I’d like to go into the race feeling confident that my body can handle it, rather than push through these next 2 weeks of training before taper and wonder whether or not it’s going to be a good effort. There’s no point in suffering through 26.2 miles.

If it’s in the cards and the leg decides to love running again, then Grand Rapids will happen. (And if Grand Rapids doesn’t happen, I’ll still be there to cheer for Hillary, Manny, Jeff, and Chris. They deserve ALL THE BEER at the finish line and it would be fun to personally hand it to them.)

If all it needs is time before I get another couple of weeks’ work in, then I’ll run an alternate race this fall (not sure of which one yet).

And if neither of those options is going to happen, then I plan to have fun resting, cross-training, and getting strong for the winter cycle before Boston 2014.

I was feeling so frustrated last week about the fact that I can’t even run easy right now. Now I’m (kind of) comfortable with the fact that I just have to be patient and what will be, will be.

– J

Feeling High Maintenance

Over the past few days, I decided to DO ALL OF THE THINGS to “fix” some wonky issues that creeped up on me over the past week or two. My workouts haven’t been feeling all that great lately and while a lot of that is probably mental, there are a few twinges that made me think more about what I can do to prevent them from becoming bigger problems.

The left side is the weak side. It’s been that way for awhile. Last fall, after Twin Cities my left hip started to ache even when I wasn’t running and it got to the point where even sleeping on my left side was uncomfortable (initial sign of injury!). After 5-6 physical therapy sessions and a plan to keep the hips strong moving forward, I felt like I nipped it in the bud. All set for a strong training cycle before Boston. And despite just a few days when I felt like I pushed the left hip too much, I felt great leading up to Boston.

Fast forward to the past few weeks. Again, training is going well. I’m hitting paces and I know I’m getting stronger but I’m not feeling the way I’d like to at this point in training. This past Friday, I started to feel a twinge in my left IT band. I’ve never had an issue with it and, ideally, the hip strengthening exercises I  do should be helping to prevent injury. Beyond the IT band, I know my gluteus medius on both sides has been more sore than I’d like after hard efforts and long runs (because it felt the same way it had last fall).

Sure, a certain amount of stretching, foam rolling, and Trigger Point can take care of those little muscles that need extra attention. And I’ve been paying attention to them. But last Friday’s easy 4-mile shakeout was not fun. I ran it on the treadmill because I was too lazy to deal withs swirly winds that evening and I just felt like my left side was “off”. I felt a bit lopsided. I ran a very conservative easy pace and decided to just get it done, foam roll a bit that night, hydrate and hope that it would be okay for the long run the next morning.

Saturday’s run was 17 miles with the last 3 at tempo pace. Just like Friday’s shakeout, I got it done. I hit the paces I needed to and the last three were much faster than prescribed (I felt strong). I celebrated for a bit, but I would have celebrated more if it the run has just been more FUN. My left quad felt wonky on either side basically the entire time & I felt my adductor (inner thigh) straining more than I ever have before.

I already had a massage scheduled and thought to myself on Saturday afternoon, “Don’t worry. I’ll feel much better once I see the massage therapist”. Welp, I woke up to a voicemail from my massage therapist saying my normal appointment had been cancelled because there were plumbing issues at their location. DERP! I decided to book a sports massage and spend the extra money just to get the bodywork done at Cortiva Institute downtown. It’s a massage therapy school but you can also book with licensed therapists. I booked a 60 minute sports massage with Carolyn.

And I’m so glad I did. I had a great experience and I’m seriously thinking about switching therapists because of it. Carolyn worked on muscles that I’ve apparently been neglecting and ones that I didn’t even know were sore or tender in the first place. 60 minutes later and I felt much better.

But it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve always been interested in seeing a chiropractor. I haven’t had any major back problems in the past but I carry a LOT of tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck on a regular basis, which isn’t necessarily tied to marathon training but working at a computer all day long. A friend referred me to her chiropractor and I went for my first appointment this morning. And let me tell you, beginning the week with an adjustment (AKA SNAP CRACKLE POP!) was a fantastic idea. The adjustment literally took all of 30-45 seconds in several different positions but I did not realize how much tension I was carrying. The chiropractor said that my left hip is 3/4 inch higher than my right and that I’m essentially running with a flat tire (which is appropriate because that’s exactly what it feels like when it’s really fatigued). She also said that it’s higher because of tight muscles, so it’s not anatomical. …Which meant that I received a 30 minute massage therapy treatment right after my chiro adjustment.

I was laying there before my mini-massage thinking, “when the heck did I become a high maintenance runner?!” and “why does my body seem broken all of a sudden?!“. 2 massages, a chiro adjustment, foam rolling, stretching, and tons of water in essentially 2 days seems really aggressive to me, but we’ll see how it pans out during this week’s training. I know that this kind of pain didn’t just magically show up. It had to have been building for awhile. When the chiro asked me what level of pain I’m experiencing on a scale of 1 to 10 and I said simply, “3” she told me she’d go ahead and equate that to a 7 or 8 because I’m a marathoner. Legitimate.

I also feel like I’ve been fighting a cold for 10 days now. Last week I had a bit of a sore throat, but now my energy level seems low, so I’ve increased my iron and vitamin D supplements to see if that helps at all over the next few weeks. It’s been years since I had a blood test so I’m also going to do that this week (you know, because I haven’t been concentrating on my health at all lately. Heh.) Rule #1: Pay for your health, right? 

5 weeks out from Grand Rapids and I’m hoping these little things make a big difference in how I’m feeling going into taper.

Have you ever gone to a chiropractor? Are your hips uneven like mine? Do you need someone to massage your butt for hours just like I do? (If so, please share your stories.) 

– J

Grand Rapids Training 2013: 5 Weeks Out!

Grand Rapids Marathon Training Week 6

This week, I ran 45 miles

+ 2 core workouts.

+ 1 strength workout.

Monday:

5.5 easy miles, 8:10 average pace.

I had a lonngggg weekend. And my body was demanding a full night of sleep. I didn’t think it needed 11 hours of straight slumber but when I woke up at 8 AM and realized I had slept through my alarm, I thought , ‘welp, guess I needed it!’ (thankfully, I didn’t miss any work calls or meetings.) I delayed the run until late afternoon and went to the gym because of a heat index of 99 degrees. Yeah, Chicago just got the memo that summer is ending and it decided to cram it all into 2-3 days. Swass.

Last week, I decided to run all of my recovery runs Garmin-less but that’s kind of hard to do on a treadmill. 🙂

+ Core!

Tuesday:

10 miles with 30 sec surges, 8:03 average pace.

Another treadmill run. Record-breaking heat in Chicago today…in SEPTEMBER. It’s been awhile since I ran 10 miles on the treadmill. Observation: very few people stay on a treadmill longer than 20 minutes at the gym. The 8 x 30 second surges felt good, but I ran them likely slower than I should have (around 6:30-6:22). Does anyone else find it hard to run controlled on a treadmill? You’d think it would be easier but I always feel like an uncoordinated baby giraffe on that thing.

+ Core!

Wednesday:

Rest + Recover.

1 Hour Yoga: Some quality time with a Rodney Yee yoga DVD. Lots of hip openers. I’m feeling better already, although I think whatever I’ve been fighting off for the past 5 days has finally won. Sore throat–hope it goes away soon! I’m glad I spent an hour stretching and breathing. Feeling “blah” all day is no fun.

Thursday:

8 mile progressive tempo, average pace 6:56.

I could find a few reasons why this didn’t go the way I’d hoped, but I’m choosing to ignore those.

Good things: 

  1. I got my butt out of bed to run this workout before work. Win. (And oddly, more energetic than yesterday. Throat wasn’t worse than the day before.)
  2. I’m not sure I’ve ever finished a workout in the 6:xx average pace before. This is a good sign.
  3. I just wanted to cut the workout short and cooldown the last 0.5 miles but I decided to punish myself push it for 1-2 too many water breaks (which are mainly why I’m so frustrated with the workout—too many stops!)
  4. If I adjust the target paces for the misery index (134), a 7 min pace should have been more like 7:10. It’s the little things.

Left quad feeling a bit wonky. Yoga yesterday helped.

Splits: 7:47 (0.5 w/up), 7:12, 7:05, 6:54, 6:50, 6:45, 6:42, 6:29 (last 0.5)

I’m slowly working my way through Matt Fitzgerald’s book, Run: The Mind Body Method of Running By Feel, and this quote jumped off the page at me this morning:

“The capacity to tolerate suffering is as critical to success in running as are the various components of physical fitness. And like those physical adaptations, the capacity to tolerate suffering can and must be trained. The runner who is serious about realizing his full potential in competition must suffer for the sake of suffering in training.”

Lately, some workouts have felt like one big SUFFERFEST. I’m keeping my head up and working as hard as I can.

Friday:

4 mi treadmill recovery, 8:18 pace. Left leg just will not get with the program it seems. It’s been uncomfortable on a few runs lately but this was the first one that started to worry me. Ran a super easy pace and just tried to let it do its thing. I foam rolled and stretched while watching TV at night and hoped it would be better the next day.

Saturday:

17 miles with 3 fast finish miles. 7:42 average pace, with last three miles at: 6:58, 6:55, & 6:43. 

I started this run around 10:30 thanks to the fall temps we’re having in Chi this weekend. Ahhh, sweet sleep. Procrastinated while noshing on breakfast, drinking coffee, and reading Running Times. Finally went out with Manuel Alejando C. (WHO RAN 9 MILES, HIS LONGEST RUN TO DATE!). From the start, I knew the left quad would give me trouble. Thank goodness I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. Otherwise, I’d see if I could squeeze one in today. Hoping it’s not serious IT band issues and I just need to give it a rest. Ran easy 7:45-8:00 for the first 14 and then fast finish the last 3 mi. The target was 7:00-7:05 and somehow, the legs “turned on” and I ran 6:58, 6:55, 6:43. I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed this run but happy to just get through it.

Note to self: new shoes ASAP (!) + foam rolling every night this week. Also, I didn’t run my shakeout yesterday until 5 pm. Next time, I’ll run it earlier and let the legs recover for a longer period of time.

Highlights o’ the Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: The Kills- No Wow.
  • REGISTERED AND CONFIRMED FOR BOSTON 2014!!  After running it last year, I knew I’d be going back. I know everyone has their own reason for going to Boston. I’m excited to train for a race that will no doubt be special for many. Hopefully, it will be the experience that I wished I’d had last year. It’s going to be one big lovefest.
  • On Monday night, I was clicking through the channels and landed on Clear History on HBO. I watched it by myself and was literally laughing out loud through most of it (which is rare). I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Larry David but this movie was hilarious.
  • The Man and I went out for a midweek treat dinner to Hot Chocolate in Wicker Park. We had the carrot ginger soup, sauteed bean appetizer, eggplant parmesan, burger, and we shared a bottle of this year’s Allagash Fluxus. NOT TO MENTION the chocolatey goodness of dessert and a “half and half” hot chocolate (half hot chocolate, half espresso…..mmmmmm).

Pics o’ the Week:

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BOSTON 2014 Confirmation. Looks like I’ll be training through another brutal Chicago winter!

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A midweek treat with the Man at Hot Chocolate. Eggplant parmesan and Allagash Fluxus FTW

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The lakefront was beautiful (as always) on Thursday morning. #nofilter

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The honeycrisp have arrived!!!

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Ahhh, fall temps. I love you.

– J

Grand Rapids Training 2013: 6 Weeks Out

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This week, I ran 47 miles

+ 2 core workouts

+ 1 strength workout.

Monday:

5.3 miles, 8:08 average pace.

Considering I spent all weekend either sleeping or standing around drinking beer at North Coast, running was the last thing I wanted to do. And especially because it was a holiday and it already felt like a normal Sunday rest day, this was tough cookies. Didn’t even make it out until 7 pm but it was nice to run on a cool summer evening.

A port-o-potty magically appeared on the sidewalk literally right when I needed it to. Why can’t that happen all the time?!

Tuesday:

9 miles, 7:15 average pace. 5 mile tempo workout.

Meh. Craptastic tempo even though I thought tonight would be a perfect night for a cool workout on the lakefront. The splits don’t show it but there was stop & go action because I just couldn’t get my head in the game. It’s hardly ideal to stop on any run, let alone a tempo. Splits: 6:45, 6:33, 6:43, 6:47, 6:48. Target was 6:45-6:50. I have a feeling this would have gone differently if I’d focused on hitting 6:50 and pushed the last few miles if I felt like it. There was absolutely no kick in the legs tonight and unhappy with my shoe choice. Not even sure why I wore the Fastwitch considering I haven’t worn them much for tempos this cycle. Legs felt heavy and the shoes felt heavy for no apparent reason. Meh. On any other day, this could have gone the other way. (And I’m sure it will the next time I have a tempo on tap.)

2 pats-on-the-back and 2 side-5s with Mike M. tonight, adding to the “no chit chat” side-5 during the long run on Saturday. At this point, we’ll rule the lakefront by the end of September. (Also, side-5 with @HillarySpeaks at the end–hey girl heyyyy!)

Wednesday:

REST + Ramen + Relaxation. 

Oiistar Ramen

ALL THE REST. Well, except for 30-40 min of dyanamic stretches, hip strength routine, and a short core session before eating ALL THE RAMEN with Chanthana. Spent the day mulling over why the tempo didn’t go the way I wanted it to but a good friend told me to

Thursday:

19 miles, 7:48 average pace. Yup, before work.

I had to shift my long run this week because of weekend festivities (that wouldn’t be fun if I ran 19 miles beforehand). I definitely feel like a crazy person for doing this before a full day of work but I’m happy to get it out of the way and “recover” while working on some projects. (It also helps that this isn’t new territory for me. Ran 3 of my longest training runs for Twin Cities on Fridays because of a very busy fall schedule with family and friends. Gotta get it done somehow!)

This run actually felt therapeutic. I found more of a rhythm today than I have on other recent long runs. I wish I ran with my phone more often because there was a gorgeous sunrise along the lakefront with the choppy waves in Lake Michigan. I ran the first half without music because it was so calm and peaceful out there. There was plenty of cloud cover, but a slightly annoying crosswind the entire time from the east (apparently it’s supposed to be 90 degrees this Saturday so maybe shifting the long run was beneficial for more than one reason!). I stopped for water at 6.5, 10 (+Gu), 13, & 16. There was a slight tailwind for the last 3 miles and I averaged 7:35.

The legs didn’t feel entirely cooked & happy to get the longest run of the cycle done! Onward.

Friday:

5 easy recovery miles. Pace unknown.

It’s unusual for me to run the day after a long run but this week isn’t normal. It took me awhile to get going but the legs slowly began to loosen up and move smoothly. I ran without my watch and without music to take this as slow as my body wanted to. I’m seriously considering ditching the Garmin for all of my easy runs through this cycle. There’s no need to have data on recovery runs.

Saturday:

9 miles, 7:18 average. Steady state workout.

Swapped this workout with the long run this week because there’s a big difference between running 9 and running 19 before some weekend festivities. I’ve been trying to ward off a cold for the past two days and woke up pretty tired this morning (about 7.5 hrs sleep). I knew if I didn’t get this done today, I’d regret it. Wedding craziness this afternoon, so I’m glad it’s out of the way. Saw Charlyn C. during her final 20 (woop woop!) before Fox Valley. There were periods of sunshine but the breeze was nice. I stopped a few times just to splash water on my face. The legs wanted to run 7:10s instead of 7:20-7:30 but definitely still felt the burn. Last mile in 7:02 just for kicks. (That felt tough, but good.)

Highlights o’ the Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: I got nothin’! Sorry guys. Adding a song to my playlist didn’t even cross my mind this week!
  • Ramen at Oiistar — I had the Tikkamen (chicken tikka masala spice!)
  • A new fancy schmancy dress purchase. For a girl that normally doesn’t wear dresses, I’m quite excited about this one.
  • ALL THE PUMKING. Thursday was a really long day with the long run before work, a full day of work, and errands in the evening. By the time I finally made it home at 9 PM that Southern Tier Pumking  tasted like absolute heaven.

Pictures o’ the Week:

Riverwalk Chicago

Gorgeous Labor Day walk along the Riverwalk

Barklee Sweater

Immediate regret. $98 for a sweater with a Barklee look-alike? How could I pass that up?

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Mid-afternoon cappuccinos with the coworkers

Fresh Lilies from the Farmer's Market

Fresh lilies from the farmer’s market- smell so good!

PumkingSweet nectar of the gods.

naps in the sunshine

The sweet pup contemplating a nap in the sunshine.

– J