Injury: My First Stress Fracture

The last post I wrote was a brief recap of my first few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, 12 weeks out from race day. Now, the race is just over 7 weeks away and I’m on day 3 of wearing a walking boot. I had an MRI done on my foot on Monday, a stress fracture in my second metatarsal was confirmed early Tuesday morning by my doc, and I picked up the boot the same day. I have 6 weeks to let the bone heal. If all goes well, I’ll be able to go for my first test run at the end of September, just 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon.

BarkleeAnn doesn't like the boot either.

BarkleeAnn doesn’t like the boot either.

This isn’t exactly how I pictured the rest of the year going. I was finally piecing together some good weeks of training, with solid speedwork and tempos. My mileage was steady, as it has been basically all year (between 40-50 mpw). I hadn’t even made it over 50 miles for the week yet. I was getting an extra boost of confidence by running speed workouts with others. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my left foot was slightly sore. It would come and go but the discomfort (not pain) didn’t stick around. I’m cautious about these types of things because I know it’s a bad sign when one side doesn’t mirror the other. I wore compression socks and iced it when it felt like it was tender. I honestly thought it was just a muscle or tendon issue. I even decided to do speedwork on the lakefront path instead of the track to avoid turning too much on my left side.

I didn’t think it was bone-related until I went for my long run while I was in Milwaukee. I felt fine the first 5 miles. Then, each mile after that didn’t feel great. It was a cutback run of 14-15 miles, but I called it a day at 12.5 mi. The next day, I had a feeling it was bone-related.

Tuesday was a rough day this week. Even though I was 90% sure I had a stress fracture even before hearing the results from the MRI, reading the email saying that it was confirmed was heart-breaking. I cried for a bit, pulled myself together for the work day, but all I wanted to do was sit around and wallow.

I really appreciate the comments and texts from friends and runners. The comments like “shit shit fuck fuck noooooooooo” or “whyyyyyyyy. This sucks!” are my favorite. Because that’s exactly how I feel and there’s really nothing anyone can say to make me feel better (temporarily!). I’m really sad and frustrated and angry about the whole thing but it’s been a weird mixture of all three so far. Don’t worry – it won’t last long.

I’ve had a few days to process it and get used to walking around in the boot. I’m able to cross-train by spinning (seated only) or swimming, but all weight-bearing exercises (including yoga) are out for the next 6 weeks. I’m going to give some mat-based Pilates DVDs a try and do what I can on the bike. My doc ordered a bone density scan [UPDATE: ““Bone mineral density is within normal limits.” Check!] and extra calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplementation, so those are immediate next steps as well. To some extent, this injury is easier to deal with than others because it’s very clear what I need to do in order to recover: sit on my butt for 6 weeks and cross-train in the ways that I can. Past injuries haven’t been so black-and-white and I was stuck in limbo between deciding to race or cutting the training cycle short to recover.

I’m glad I stopped when I did, that it’s not more serious, and that I saw a doc when I did. I think I’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to injuries since I committed to long distance running, about 4 years ago. I’ve pretty much only dealt with one overuse injury and one ridiculous injury to my knee after a clumsy fall. I’ve never even broken a bone in my body before. And now I’m dealing with my first stress fracture. I’m 9 weeks into a training cycle and the past 3 weeks have made me especially excited to tackle goals at Chicago in October. Big goals. Big scary ones. Now I’ll be lucky if I even get to the start line of half the distance in November or December. I know it’s a small, even miniscule thing in the grand scheme of things. Running long distance is such a mindfuck. You get so few chances to show how hard you’ve been working and then it all has to come together on ONE day, at a certain hour, with a certain mindset. This year hasn’t really been a stellar year for me in many ways – I was hoping it would come together this summer and fall. And it was. I was just dealt a bad hand.

Still, there’s an upside! I’m happy that I’m still able to sweat and try to mimic the effort I’d spend running on the bike. I’ll be strength training just as much, if not more, than I was before (with appropriate changes to certain exercises, of course). And that complaint that I always make about not having enough time to read? Poof. Gone. I’m going to read ALL THE BOOKS.

Also, I figure I either have 6 weeks to get a 6 pack OR 6 weeks to drink a many 6 packzzzz. I have a feeling those goals are not simultaneously compatible, but I think I’m up for the challenge, as always.

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Counting down the days

Run some miles for me and enjoy every step, my friends.

-J

  • If you’ve ever had a stress fracture, what has helped you get through it? (From sanity-savers to specific workout DVDs you’ve used)
  • What races should I set my sights on for spring 2016?
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{Currently} March 25, 2015

Reading: If there’s one book that I’ve read lately that’s made me want to get in bed at 8 PM just to spend a few hours reading, it’s this one.

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I’ve had this book on my shelf for a lonnng time and I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up sooner (probably because there’s always a massive stack of books just waiting to be read around here). I found the receipt from the book store at O’Hare tucked in its pages; turns out I bought the book in October 2013! It’s a fast-moving adventure about a 24-Hour Bookstore, it’s owner (Mr. Penumbra) and a sort of secret society that the new store clerk is trying to learn about. If you’re in a reading slump, I really recommend this book.

Practicing: Nerd alert! A few years ago, I became obsessed with sudoku puzzles. I happened to pick up a Red Eye a few weeks ago and flipped to the last page to complete the puzzle. And then I bought a desk calendar with a daily sudoku to complete. Clearly, I have some catching up to do since it started Jan 1. They say that the most productive people have a solid morning routine and lately mine has been suffering (beyond my consistent coffee addiction, of course). I’ve been doing my puzzle in the morning, along with 750Words (when I remember) and I feel like my brain is ready to start the work day — as opposed to jumping head first into work right after waking up.

Running in: a new to me shoe! I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Nike Pegasus in the past. I’d been looking for a new shoe since I started base-building in January and I jumped on a pair of Pegs for $69 on Nike’s clearance section in February. (Who could resist that price?) So far, I’ve put 90+ miles on them and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve been running most of my long runs in them and some recovery runs. They’re heavier and more cushioned than my longtime favorite, the Saucony Kinvara. I’m not a fun of ‘pillowy’ recovery shoes (the Saucony Triumph really didn’t work for me); I like to feel the road/pavement. The Pegs have a good amount of cushion but I can still feel the road. I even wore them for a tempo interval session and felt like they could be a decent racing shoe if you’re into something a bit heavier.

Eating: with new friends at Underground Social Society. The Man and I are trying out new things this year. It’s probably because we had some crazy cabin fever this winter (and one can only watch so much HGTV before going insane), but we’ve been looking for unique things to do and places to see. He heard about Underground Social Society from a bartender/friend. The concept is smallish, intimate, 6-7 course dinners that are only put on monthly (for now). You subscribe to updates for their next event on their website. The next email will be for the event, along with details on the theme and instructions on how to researve a seat ($50 per person). The theme for this dinner was Asian and was titled “Chopsticks Only”. You receive an email the day before the dinner with details on the location. And then you just show up! We went this past Sunday and had a blast — and we might have had too much fun for a Sunday night, because Monday morning was most certainly difficult. The group that founded it all met at Little Goat – think badass people that just their ‘customers’ to experience a new way of dining and interact with different types of people. The menu was insanely delicious and the cocktail pairing was spot on – and I don’t even like gin. 🙂 I’m introverted when it comes to groups where I don’t know anyone but everyone was so open and inviting. By the end of the night we actually felt like we had been close friends with the people we sat next to for more than one-two hours.

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Excited and nervous about: racing! The Shamrock Shuffle 8k is this weekend! I keep forgetting it’s race week, to be honest. At this point, I usually have some idea of what I’m wearing and what kind of pace strategy I’ll use. Haven’t thought about either of those. I just finished a stamina block of training and this week is the first week of speeeeeed, so it’s probably best that I go into it with zero expectations. Annnd then! Cherry Blossom isn’t that far away either. I’m getting my legs back and I’ve had several encouraging workouts the past few weeks – ones that make me feel like I’m back to where I was this time last year. Last week’s 60 min progression run and 15-miler felt smoooooth & fluid. It’s also encouraging to have spring temps come around every now and then. Chicago is on a weather roller coaster between winter and spring lately but I can deal with 40s for long runs each weekend. (Crossing my fingers that the forecast for Sunday changes soon though — supposed to be 30 degrees, with real feel of 17, including 20 mph winds from the south. DERP!)

Whatcha been up to lately?!

– J

{Currently} January 8, 2015

The last time I posted was over two months ago?! How the heck did that happen? Between the holidays, getting sick for a few weeks, running the Honolulu Marathon with my sister (and spending a week in paradise), I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. I’m sure everyone is feeling the same way these days — in Chicago, we’re mostly feeling cold and depressed about the crazy negative temps and too many treadmill runs.

Reading: All The Light We Cannot See. My mom recommended this book to me before I left for Honolulu. (And along with the other 2 books I bought for the trip, not one of them was read!) I’m about halfway through it and I’m sucked in. I like books that flip between two different view points — and you know that at some point the characters’ lives are going to intersect. The chapters are short, but you really get to know each character – and the writing is absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen this book on a lot of ‘Top Books of 2014’ lists so the ending has to be good, right? I’m also going to make more of an effort to read regularly this year. I read almost 30 books in 2013 and only 12 last year – not sure when the habit kind of dropped off, but I’ve felt like snuggling up with a good book lately and started to make a list of books I want to read this year. [If you could recommend ONE book to anyone in the world, what would it be. Yes, just ONE.]

Dreaming about: Spring of speed! After 5 consecutive marathon training cycles (Twin Cities 2012, Boston 2013, Grand Rapids 2013 [injury], Boston 2014, Indy Monumental 2014], I decided to take this spring to focus on shorter distances. It’s been so long since I dedicated a cycle to a half marathon and I’m excited to see what happens when I do. My PR at the NYC Half last spring was so much fun and I have a feeling I have more speed in these legs somewhere. I’ve been lucky enough to PR my half as part of marathon training the past few years. I’m all signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago, Cherry Blossom 10 in DC, and the Bayshore Half in Traverse City, MI. I’d like to throw in a 5k or 10k at some point, but that may be difficult to squeeze in, especially with the weather conditions in Chicago. We have a fair number of short distance local races in the spring, but ice and snow are always a concern and I’d like to avoid injuring myself. 🙂 I’ve been working on putting the final touches on my training plan. Hope it’s a smart and tactical plan without being too conservative. I’m slowly easing back in to running regularly. I took a full 2 weeks off all exercise following Honolulu. I didn’t have any motivation to get back to it quickly and I know that I put more stress on my body than I ever have with 6 weeks between my PR at Monumental and Honolulu. My knee (the infamous knee!) was cranky after Honolulu and I totally babied (baby’d? LOLZ) it to let the inflammation settle down. I’m focusing a lot on core and strength work, and adding in 4-5 runs per week for the next month. I’m hoping my patience pays off and I feel 100% ready to dive into speed work and tough tempos in February.

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Can’t stop laughing about: this video of my nephew on Christmas Day. He’s a pancake lover and he had us all cracking up. I mean, that little shoulder shrug totally says, “oh man, these are yummy!” doesn’t it?

Can’t get enough of: Live DJ spin class at my gym. Seriously, I feel like every time I go to this class I have a near religious experience and all I wanna do is hug people and give high-5s. The instructor and the DJ are (I’m 97% sure) dating and I swear I wanna be their best friend. Mandee, the instructor, is no-nonsense and she pushes you without being all corny about it (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had a bad spin instructor). It’s a really difficult class despite being 50 minutes and I’m excited to squeeze this into my training plan when I can the next couple of months. There was no way I could commit to this class every week if I were training for a spring 26.2, so I’m excited to make this routine. Anyone else always choose Bike #26?

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Playing: Scrabble with The Man. We used to play this all the time, the first few years we dated. Back then, I think we played it so often because we were poor college students and didn’t have money to go out (much). My family always played it when I was younger and things could get quite competitive. (That’s you, Mom.) Manny and I are making a routine of playing it on Friday nights. Helloooooo game night. He actually beat me by 3 freaking points last week because he blocked a FORTY-EIGHT POINT WORD that I had queued up! Rage. I’ll get him next round.

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Reminiscing about: Hawaii. We flew back from Honolulu 2.5 weeks ago but it feels like it’s been months (time warp = holidaaaaaze). I’m not sure I’ve ever been so relaxed before. It was such a fun week with both of my sisters, Manny, Chanthana, and Kim. We left feeling like we did everything we wanted to do, like we didn’t miss out on anything. I promise to do a proper recap of both the marathon (#6!!!) and the rest of the trip soon – there’s lots to share (namely, how freaking proud I am of my sister’s 26.2 debut in crazy conditions!)

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What have you been up to?

-J

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!

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Moving…Kinda! #bumknee

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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.

Training_Log_-_Strava

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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

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.)

MonumentalTrainingEscapades

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

Monumental Marathon: Training Week 6 of 12

Week6

Ahhhh, it felt so good to be home this week. I felt like I could finally focus on catching up on sleep and make the apartment feel more like a home as opposed to a random place where I’ve slept a few nights this month. I unpacked my office (finally) on Monday and working in my new space each day this past week was refreshing. The apartment is flooded with light in the morning – it makes waking up with my cup of coffee that much easier. 🙂

Because I was less stressed about the new place, I think I was also less stressed about training. The added relief of running my first 20 miler last weekend made me feel like I could really focus on quality workouts. Annnnd the PERFECT weather in Chicago lately was pretty nice too.

The glaring hole in my training lately has been a lack of both core AND strength work. This is a huge red flag to me because this is when I usually tend to break down. I’m committing to both this week and hope to avoid the DOMS waddle as much as I can. On the other hand, I have been foam rolling every day and stretching more than I have in recently weeks.

Monday: [Easy 8.1 mi, 7:45 avg] 

Legs had some pep and ‘pop’ (in a good way) today. It was a grey, gloomy day but a perfect one for an easy run. After about two weeks of running in hot & humid D.C., a cool lakefront felt like a big treat (and contributed to a relatively speedy easy run). It’s amazing what kind of clothing people think they should be wearing when it’s 60 degrees outside – shirtless dude in shorts was followed by a woman with ear warmers, two long sleeve shirts, and leggings on. IT’S NOT WINTER, PEOPLE! But I guess, you’re prepared?

Tuesday: [Speed: 10.07 mi, 4 x 1 mi] 

More progress! I take it as a good sign that I actually had FUN during this workout. My goal was to run the mile repeats at 6:15-6:30, so between target 5k and 10k pace. I think I’ve done 5 x 1 mi at 6:25 average before but that was probably a year ago. (And I knew that 6:15 per mile would have been pretty much ridiculous, so I settled on anything between 6:20-6:30.) I’m really happy with how this went and it was the perfect evening for a workout on the lakefront.

Splits: 6:29, 6:12 (poop break = mid-mile rest = speedy split), 6:19, 6:23 – 3 min recovery (45 min walk, remaining jog)

2.57 up, 2.2 down

Wednesday: [Easy 10, 7:54 avg] 

10 easy on the lakefront tonight. I felt like I had a ‘workout hangover’ this morning after the previous night’s speedwork so I didn’t run in the morning as planned. Longish work day and some relaxing at home before heading out around 6:30 pm, which is really late for me. It’s definitely getting darker earlier these days. Hurumph. It was so dark by the time I finished that I ran down the middle of my quiet street to avoid cracks in the sidewalk. I’m clearly learning since the bursitis fall, people! (This was myirst run in the Saucony Cortana – really like them, probably because they just feel like a heavier, more supportive Kinvara.)

Thursday: [10 mi, 7:17 avg with 3 x 10 min @ HMP-ish]

I guess this went well? I dunno, wasn’t really feeling it. Intervals were all on pace, but I just didn’t feel energetic today. 4 consecutive day of running and almost all 10+ miles, so being tired made sense. I was monitoring minor knee pain and iced it after the workout. Ran 2.5 to the lake, 3 x 10 mi at HMP-ish with 3 min jog recovery, and 1.9 home. Splits: 6:44, 6:41, 6:38. I had to give myself a big pep talk on the first one just to get through the headwind going north. Woof. Tailwind was appreciated on the last one!

Friday: OFF 

Much-appreciated rest day!!! My mom drove up this afternoon before seeing family in the suburbs on Saturday. We got mani-pedis and went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner together. It was a nice, relaxing evening. 🙂

Saturday: [15 mi, 7:41 avg]

Beautiful and relatively cool morning out on the lakefront this morning. Manuel A C. had his 20 miler and he absolutely crushed it with a solid negative split. He sauntered into Starbucks where we planned to meet like he was just out for a stroll. My 15 went well, although I was still monitoring some minor knee pain. It originally started on the inside of my right knee but later in the run it shifted to the outside and felt like IT band tightness. It didn’t get worse really, just noticed it off and on. The planned rest day Friday helped and Sunday is another rest day. Not too worried about it but it’s a little discouraging to feel these little pains pop up. I took an ice bath after the long run and iced my knee several times on both Saturday and Sunday. I felt really good at the end of the run, surprisingly. The last two miles were a fast finish: 6:58 & 6:52. I basically spent the rest of the day on the couch watching movies (post- long run insomnia yo!) , drinking beer, and eating pizza. First lazy Saturday in a long time!

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I stopped in Fleet Feet to buy a #RunChi t-shirt finally! And then I sheepishly tucked two magazines into my shopping bag. File this under: “I normally don’t look like this.” See also: “That will never happen again!”

Sunday: OFF

Complete rest day. Ahhhh. This felt heavenly. I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30 on Saturday (watching The Lorax, no less) and, after dragging myself to bed, woke up at 10 AM. I haven’t slept that long straight through in a long time and I desperately needed it. I felt like I was cracked out on Saturday, but a brand new refreshed person on Sunday morning. 12 hours sleep + donuts ‘n coffee + brunch with the CT and Corey + football & beer with friends = perfect lil’ Sunday.

Because this is such a condensed training cycle, I know my legs are taking more of a beating that they normally would in a longer cycle. I’m really taking it day by day so that I don’t do something stupid and blow up. I’ve had a bit of deja vu lately because this exact week last year was when my left adductor started to cause big problems and resulted in me not running the Grand Rapids marathon. Thanks to TimeHop, I relived the “big breakdown” through tweets of the past. (I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.) I’m doing my best to put my head down and put in the work so that I can have a great race this fall!

-J

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Loved this route!

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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

A Fall and a Big Bump

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This isn’t exactly how I saw the first week of official training going. In fact, I was pretty excited about the work I put in last week and I was going to cap it off with a 15 miler. I started late after a lazy Sunday morning. The Man and I have been running the 2 miles to the lakefront together as a warmup before our own long runs. It makes the trip to the lake more fun. There’s a section of this street that I’m always careful on. I cross a small set of train tracks, being careful with my footsteps. And, after that, there’s this section of gnarly pavement. It’s been this bad as long as I’ve been running this section (which is about 1,500 times in the past 3 years). I wasn’t paying attention this time. I’ve run it so many times that my brain must have switched off.

My left toe clipped the ledge of this “sidewalk pothole” and, with 100% of my weight, I fell straight down on my right knee cap. Cue immediate pain and lots of tears. It hurt like hell and I was just sitting there howling. Manny said I bounced I fell so hard. And thank goodness he was with me. With all the adrenaline after falling, I thought the best thing to do was to loosen it up… by jogging slowly the 4 blocks back home. I had blood running down my leg and I couldn’t stop crying.

I spent the rest of the day being a big baby, icing my knee, and watching episode after episode of Orange Is the New Black. An hour after the fall, it was really swollen and I had a very, very limited range of motion. Bending it or straightening it didn’t feel good.

Two days later and some of the swelling has gone down. I can bend it very slowly (still painful and uncomfortable) and it feels better when I keep it loose. If I sit in one position for awhile, it gets cranky. A 4 hr flight on Monday was less than ideal.

So, what do I do now? I am traveling this entire week and won’t be home until late Friday night. If it’s still this painful, I’ll head to the doc. I’m encouraged by the fact that my range of motion has improved from Sunday-Monday. I’ve been icing it every couple of hours and taking Ibuprofen regularly. I can’t help but wonder if it’s something serious but I’ll take it day by day and see how I feel at the end of the week.

Note: I find it somewhat hilarious and ironic that a Chicago pothole has caused this fluke injury.

-J

Squashing the Post-Boston Blerch

Oh hey there! It seems I either forgot I have a blog or had no inspiration to write. I think both happened, to be honest. 

Now that I’m a month removed from the sting of Boston, I’m beginning to get more excited about running and racing the rest of this year. I spent a few weeks feeling pretty bummed about my race. It took me awhile to process and, I think, for good reason. Marathon training and racing can be so tough because you have to work your a** off in order for the fitness gains to follow and then you still have relatively little control over how the race actually goes. Not to mention you spend months avoiding even entertaining the idea that you won’t meet your goal — you have to think you will run your goal time when you spend hours, days of your life training. Because that’s how you get through it. You hope and believe it will happen.

And then, when I didn’t run my goal time, I let myself feel bad about it for a relatively short while. And now, just this week, I feel excited to just … run, with no real attachments or concrete goals. 

On Thursday, I went to a spin class in the morning. I haven’t gone to a class in awhile and I was looking forward to creating a pool of sweat under the bike. It was just what I needed. A longggggg hill along with plenty of sprints & jumps — and an hour later and I felt like a million bucks. And then, I realized that The Man had a workout to do after work. And I thought, “yeah, I could join him”. So, we ran to the lakefront together and started his workout shortly after. We ran 4 x 3 min “surges”. I let him set the pace on the first repeat and then we alternated. (So I guess I’m now I’m a rabbit-coach-girlfriend.) And damn! That dude can run! I wasn’t expecting to see a “6” on my watch that day, but it appears he has a lot more pick-up than I do these days. Note: He may or may not have given me the middle finger on one of those repeats. But this only means that I’m doing my job as Coach, right? I’m not sure I’ve ever gone to a spin class AND run in a single day before. It was my first ‘workout’ since Boston – and while it felt a wee bit creaky, it felt so good to run fast again. 

Sunday’s run was even more fun. I didn’t really have much of a plan, but I thought I’d run 10-12 miles. I had an extremely lazy morning after sleeping for approximately 10 hours (what kind of heaven is this?!) before heading out. It was a GORGEOUS day, fairly warm with a breeze off the lake. The lakefront was BUSY. It’s officially the season of dodging tourists on Segways (I must have seen 50 of ’em on this run) and yelling at cyclists that are riding slower than I am running (no, I’m not kidding). I promise I was happy to see a busy lakefront but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let a few curse words fly. I ran 2 miles to the lake with Man and then ran south. After mile 5, my legs started to feel super energetic. I had so much ‘get up and go’, I was shocked. By mile 8, I felt amazing and I thought it would be fun to see what the legs could do the last few miles. My last three mile splits were 7:01, 6:50, and 6:34 (say what?!), so I basically ran an impromptu 11-mile progressive. CUE RUNNER’S HIGH. I’m not sure where the pep came from but I’m glad it returned. I was beginning to think most of my runs would continue to feel like running through sand.

Annnnnd because I’m just letting the good times roll, I signed up for the Soldier Field 10-miler this weekend. I’ve never run a 10-mile race before, so the automatic PR will be joyous. I’m planning on skipping the free post-race beer and heading to a beer fest that afternoon instead. Run hard, beer hard right? 

Speaking of beer, here’s a fun fact for you:

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So, post-Boston “blerch” has been squashed & I’m looking forward to a fun summer and fall. Who’s with me?

-J