Monumental Training Snapshot: The Good Stuff

I’m 4 days out from the Monumental Marathon in Indy and I’ve found myself reflecting on this cycle the past few days. Yes, it’s been short. Yes, it hasn’t been without its challenges. And yes, it’s been quite the ride! I knew I was taking a gamble with a 12 week cycle after allowing the prepatellar bursitis to heal and I’m happy to say I’m feeling happy & lucky to be racing this weekend.

So, the GOOD STUFF of this training cycle!:

  • I was smart and patientfrom base building in June to dealing with injury in July and, finally, to committing myself to 12 solid weeks of training beginning in August. After some much-needed rest after Boston, I began building my base in June. I was super conservative and spent time cross-training and strength-training as I increased my mileage. I didn’t jump into tough speedwork right away and I felt strong running 14 miles as my long run before I fell the following weekend. I was incredibly sad and frustrated the week that I fell. I cried…a lot. After a few days of wallowing, I gave myself an attitude adjustment, got on the bike as often as I could (and as much as my knee would let me), and did what I could to stay fit. 3 weeks off running is no time at all in the grand scheme of things, but I’m very proud of myself for not being so stubborn to run through unnecessary pain. Not running for 3 weeks was the best thing I could do. Once the true training cycle began again in August, I remained flexible. I managed the pain of tendonitis (residual from fall + bursitis) in September. If I felt like I needed an extra rest day, I took it. If I felt like I needed to bike instead of run, that’s what I did. If I needed to shift a workout to the next day because I knew my legs didn’t have it in them, I did that too. Travel for work forced me to run when I could and accept when I could not. The big headline here is that I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it and not being a big baby about the things I could not control.

The range of motion in my knee went from this …. to this within 7 days of falling because I wasn’t an idiot & didn’t keep running on it. Win!

Moving…Kinda! #bumknee

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Tiny bit of progress! The bum knee can rotate easily on a spin bike with only a wee bit of discomfort now.

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  • I didn’t lose my mind! – I know! This is as shocking to me as it is to many of my friends. In 12 weeks, I packed up the old apartment, moved to the new apartment, traveled for basically two weeks straight for work (including a long weekend in DC with my sisters), and hosted family visiting Chicago several times — all while training. Moving apartments drove me to near insanity and I was seriously questioning my ability to function there for a week but hey! I’m still here! I’m alive! And we quite like the new place. BarkleeAnn does too…

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  • The best speed workout of the cycle was a workout I’d never done before. In week 5, I ran the first speed workout of the cycle where I felt strong and confident. 10 x 600s is no joke – I had FUN and I finished feeling accomplished, happy, relieved, and like I wanted to scream “cowabunga”! My splits were all between 2:15 and 2:20. It was a good week of training, finishing with my first 20 miler and a beer festival with my sisters. It had been years since we ran together. We ran the first 6 miles of our own long runs together – they are my favorite miles of that run. Looking back on the cycle, this was the week where I really started to think “ok, maybe it could all work out”.

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  • The best long run of the cycle was an 18-miler at the beginning of October. I felt like I could run for days – big confidence boost! I think this cycle has taught me to go with your legs when they tell you to GO. And today was one of those days. In the past, my schedule has dictated long runs with 2-3 miles fast finish. This cycle, I knew that that would be risky because I just needed to build my endurance without risking injury. But you take quality miles when you can get them, so I ended up running the last 6 miles of those 18 at 7:25/mi pace or faster. This was the best long run of the cycle by far and it was the confidence boost when I needed one, 4 weeks out from race day. It propelled me through peak week, just knowing that I was able to build my endurance and stamina in 8 weeks.
  • I was patient with my running, but quick to get help when I needed it. I visited my acupuncturist to help alleviate pain from tendonitis in my knee and my chiropractor when I started to feel slightly ‘off’ or lopsided. If I waited to make an appointment with either one of these women, I don’t think that I’d be going into Monumental pain-free OR excited – because running through pain is most definitely not my idea of fun. Those small fixes made me feel so much better each week and now, just a few days out from racing, I feel balanced and comfortable in my stride.
  • I’m proud of the big picture.

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I’m going into Monumental with a fluid time goal. Putting the pressure of a PR on myself doesn’t sound fun – I honestly want to run 26.2 miles and have fun doing it. I want to avoid being an idiot in the first half and I don’t want to be a wimp in the second. I want to tuck into a pack and run with others as long as it works out and I’m feeling good (I rarely run or race with others). It’s almost time to take a victory lap around Indy!

[If you’re interested in tracking me on Saturday morning, just enter my name “Jenny Poore” here.]

– J

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Monumental Marathon: Fast Forward to Taper!

So, last time I wrote, I updated week 6 of 12. Annnnnnd now I’m tapering. I guess that’s what happens when you run a 12 week marathon training cycle. You run run run run run for what seems like a few weeks and then it’s all over!

Here’s a brief recap of the weeks that you missed (note: a LOT happened):

Week 7: 4 runs, 3 spins, & 38 miles.

A big DERP. After monitoring minor knee pain for 2-3 runs, it became a problem (although still relatively minor). I’m 80% sure it was all residual from falling on my knee cap 10 weeks ago. I did not see a sports doctor because it wasn’t changing my gait and I was pretty sure that it was patellar tendonitis. I felt tightness under my knee cap toward the end of longer runs/workouts, but the pain came and went, as tendonitis tends to do. I managed 4 runs this week, but replaced recovery days with easy spins at the gym (3 hours total). I went from 53 miles in Week 6 to 38 in Week 7, so I threw the scheduled workouts out the window entirely. I managed 13 miles on my long run but was still annoyed by my knee the entire time. At this point, I was really reliving the same emotions of this exact week last year. Low point! I saw my acupuncturist on Wednesday – small improvement after the first treatment.

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Cranky knee. Low point!

Week 8: 5 runs, 1 spin, 1 full rest day, & 48 miles.

Weeeee! Ok, back at it — slowly, but surely. My knee was cranky again on Monday, so I was really looking forward to a second acupuncture treatment. And guess what? It must have worked! She needled the s*&^ out of my knee and the release points targeting it. Acupuncture has helped relieve pain in two running-related situations in the past year and I really recommend it. I’m also very lucky with my acupuncturist because she has a strong athletic background. She had major reconstructive surgery on her knee after playing soccer in college – and eventually found that acupuncture helped her heal. So, knowing that I was seeing somewhat of a “knee specialist” made me feel comfortable. It’s also relieving to have someone say to you “I trust you as an athlete & I think athletes should continue to do what is normal for them.” She encouraged me to push through discomfort (to a point, of course) and I’m glad I listened to her. I never let the discomfort go beyond a 5 out of 10.  I also started wearing a patellar tendon band around my knee to take some of the pressure off the joint while running (surprisingly, also recommended by Kelly, my acupuncturist). It worked wonders, but I was still really cautious doing scheduled workouts. I was in a MUCH better mood this week after doing a pseudo speed workout, a 4 mile tempo, and a FAST finish 18-miler on Sunday. I felt so good on my long run that I actually considered squeezing in another 20 (since I had only done 1 in the cycle so far). I decided not to push my chances and be happy with a really solid 18 with a fast finish: 7:26, 7:26, 7:26, 7:15, 7:22, & 7:06. — No one was more surprised than me at those split times! I think my plan of running every other day early in the week and giving my knee plenty of rest worked, judging by how great I felt that weekend.

:sigh.of.freaking.relief:

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Long run dessert, disguised as fuel.

Week 9: 5 runs, 2 full rest days, & 59 miles. 

PEAK WEEK! My knee was ready to GO just in time for peak week, thank goodness. I didn’t wake with any pain and I felt like I was depending a little less on the patellar knee band on each consecutive run. No knee discomfort this week.

Monday: Easy 6

Tuesday: 12 x 600 – 11 mi total

Wednesday: Easy hour, 7.66 mi

Thursday: 8 mi steady state – 12 mi total

Friday: REST

Saturday: 22 miles! 7:50 average, followed by an ice bath + Chi Marathon expo with Manny.

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Sunday: “REST” — Today was more like active recovery because I was spectating the Chicago Marathon like crazy all morning. I’m pretty sure my heart rate was high for several hours between anxiously tracking friends, getting to three different spots on the course, and blowing that darn vuvuzela. It was such a fun day!

All I can say is that this cycle has been quite the ride. Let’s recap, shall we?!

I fell with 100% of my weight straight down on my knee cap in Week ONE (ridiculous) of 16. I was less than a mile from home when it happened. I blame: 1) spacing out for 5 seconds and 2) massive Chicago potholes and treacherous sidewalks for the fall. Cue panic and heartbreak and worry. Followed by clear MRI (no connective tissue damage), diagnosis of prepatellar bursitis, and 2 weeks of prescribed time off. Inflammation went down with rest, ice, and ibuprofen but not sufficiently to run pain-free and still put in a good training cycle. The sports doc approved a cortisone shot, followed by another week total rest from running (3 weeks total). I became good friends with the spin bike — and was so relieved that I could still get closer to a runner’s high.

The return to running after 3 weeks off was pretty much glorious, but difficult and clunky and weird. I didn’t have any knee pain but continued to ice my knee cap nightly. I wasn’t committing to any solid tempos or speedwork in the beginning. I ran short tempo surges and slowly built up to steady states and short tempo runs. As with any injury, I still worried that my knee wasn’t 100% — even if it felt fine on workouts and long runs. I’m not surprised that I had some minor tendonitis after 6 weeks of pain-free running, considering how hard I fell on my knee, but I am surprised how quickly I seem to have recovered from it. Since last fall, I think I’ve become even more sensitive to small aches and pains – because preventing those aches and pains from becoming big, nasty ones is really important (and can be the deciding factor between running the race or NOT running it.)

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After 9 short weeks of training, it’s already time to taper. [read: holy crap] I think I did the best I could in a very short amount of time, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not freaking out about running 26.2. I’ve been reminding myself that I have a really solid YEAR of running in my legs and, even if Boston didn’t demonstrate my hard work, I still have another chance to enjoy racing 26.2 this year. I don’t normally run longer than 20 miles in training, but this cycle was anything but normal. My long runs were: 13, 15, 15, 18, 20, 15, 13, 18, and 22 miles. Just knowing that I have the ability to run 22 miles & only be slightly fatigued the next day makes me feel like I’m ready. It’s less than ideal, but I made progress in a short amount of time. Not to mention, life has has been absolutely insane this cycle. Between a lot of work travel, big projects, moving, & getting The Man to the start line of his first 26.2, I’m just proud of myself for making it out alive. We’ll see how it works out in a few short weeks!

Bring on the taper crazies.

-J