Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

Back To It

I didn’t run a single step between November 17th and December 1st. I walked some, I might have dashed across a cross-walk, but no running for the joy of running. Late in those two sedentary weeks, my body felt bloated and my mind felt cluttered. It was driving me slowly insane not to feel confident enough to go for a run. I never quite grasp how important running is for my mental health until I have to go an extended period without it.

This Monday past, I packed my green gym bag with a technical shirt, sports bra, running pants, socks and shoes for the first time in a long time and committed to starting my plan to get faster.

I am going back to the beginning, back to where I started. Couch to 5k. When I started running in April of 2010, it was in the basement of the parking deck of my office. I was too embarrassed to be seen doing it in public, so it was slow, sweaty walk/run laps in the darkness of the deck. At the very beginning, even the 60 seconds of running in the first week was too much for my terrible conditioning. I think I had to spend two weeks on every single week of the plan for a while, and I think I was hung up on week 5 with a 20 minute run for 3 or 4 weeks before I succeeded.

But ultimately, I did succeed and of course finally found my way out of the darkness of the parking deck and into the light of day. And I eventually went a lot farther than a 5k, too, but never at any speed much better than maybe an 11 minute mile.

I want to run faster but have not had much success just trying to speed up with the normal types of ways to get faster, all of which are variations on just run faster and run up hills. I remember that C25K worked for me and so I think it would work for me again, just running faster. So Monday, I put myself on the treadmill and walked at 3.2 mph for 90 seconds, and then sped it up to 7.0 mph for 90 seconds. Wash, rinse, repeat until 25 minutes are up. This was actually Week 2 of the plan, but my conditioning is good enough that I was able to skip Week 1 altogether. So 7.0 mph was challenging without being crushing, but I was glad too when I got my walk breaks.

Wednesday, I decided I could walk faster on my walk breaks so I set the slow speed for 3.5 mph and kept my run speed at 7.0. I was not sure how the run would go considering I had roller skated for 90 minutes the night before, but it went fine. I will finish Week 2 of the plan today at lunch.

Are you surprised that I feel a bit intimidated by next week’s plan? I will have a couple of 3 minute runs at full speed. And the Friday after Christmas, if I can keep up with the plan, there is a 20 minute run at speed. That is not just intimidating; at this moment, it just seems flat out impossible to run an 8:30ish couple of miles on the treadmill without stopping.

Now it is not currently my plan to suddenly become a 8:30 minute miler. It is my plan to get closer to a 9:30 to 9:45 minute miler. But since I am doing this on the treadmill (so I can easily control my pace), I am training at a faster than goal pace to compensate for the easier to run on surface. It is only a theory that this will work; in a few weeks, I will start running outdoors again and that is when I will see whether my theory translates to faster outdoor runs.

Stay tuned. It should be interesting.



Every action must also have an equal and opposite reaction.

Isn’t that the Third Law of Motion? Seems like an appropriate quote today. Yesterday was a day of joyful post-race exuberance. I searched for new races to run. I read up on full marathon distance training. I hugged a couple of people, showed off my race medal to a few others, shared race experiences with others who ran, and got asked again and again how it went.

Today, the Third Rule seemingly must be obeyed. Blue. Low. Down. Lonely. Unhappy.

Ah, how could I possibly have forgotten about post-race blues?

My intent to fight back against them today had been initially to go to the gym and work out (not run, sadly; my knee is still very sore and stiff). Then I was asked to go get something on my lunch hour for the office (I am in the half and half creamer club and it was my turn to buy half and half). That would have made for a nice walk in the sun, so I shifted to that plan.

And then I got caught up in an epic, lunch hour-consuming project for work, and here I sit, angry at an attorney who isn’t even aware he is being thoughtless, frustrated that my plans were overturned, and mad that I let myself get derailed without fighting back.

I know I will feel better in a day or so. I know this is a temporary mental state (just like yesterday’s over-the-top feeling was, too).

The MOS Plan and What Now?

(This has turned out to be a massive brain dump and I am posting this because I have deleted every single other post I have typed recently; a quick way to get into the habit of muzzling oneself.)

I am being almost literally crushed by the sheer volume of paper on my desk that needs to be scanned into our shared drive so the attorneys can all access this discovery.

So on that note, let me take a few minutes for some “me time” and blog, instead!

As is typical for me after a major race, I have gone radio silent. Not that I haven’t typed up probably a dozen blog entries since 3/16, but for whatever reason, I either find I don’t want to convey what I typed or what I typed doesn’t convey what I actually mean.

The week after the race, I was so jazzed about it that I almost immediately signed up for another half marathon taking place on April 13th, the Dismal Swamp Stomp. I felt amazing, knew I was in great shape, and I wanted to run a flat course and see what time I could come up with.

Real life sent me crashing back to sanity and I have relented from that madness, but I haven’t quit pretending I am training for it. Last Saturday, 15 minutes short of exactly one week post-Instant Classic, I was back at City Stadium with the hardiest of the former Shamrock Training Team who felt like coming out post-race. I put in 6 surprisingly fast miles and came home thrilled. This year’s post race recovery has been a dramatic 180 degree turn around from last year’s recovery. I am hoping to manage to get 7 miles in this Saturday morning before real life requires my immediate attention.

Like I promised myself before the race, I have also gotten back into the weight room, getting back to my Michelle Obama Shoulders lifting program. It is exactly what it sounds like; a weight training program designed to give me an awesome looking body from the waist up.

Bench presses, push ups, deadlifts, rows, military presses, shrugs, raises, and so forth. Some planks and birddogs, too. At least that is one half of the MOS plan. The other half is diet, where currently, I am failing miserably. I’ll get that under control eventually. I’ll get there, just not today.

So what am I driving at? I don’t have a specific goal. I want something but I can’t quite figure out what it is. I know I want to get stronger, fitter, faster. I want to blow last year’s time at the Dauber Dash straight out of the water. I want to have arms and shoulders that are worthy of wearing sleeveless shirts.

Bah. I don’t know. My dander is up and I feel the need to do something out of the ordinary. Maybe I should take up BotN/ACL as someone suggested? Maybe I should just go back to SCA fighting as my husband suggested? Maybe I should look harder at that MMA dojo as the She-Bitch in the back of my brain keeps suggesting? I don’t know. If the suggestions I keep getting are any indication, maybe violence is the answer?

Maybe I just need to focus on getting my shoulders to look like I want them too and getting my miles under 10 minutes?

Recovered, Finally

It has been almost 2 weeks since the half marathon, and I confess to have sputtered.

The physical recovery was less intensive than the mental recovery. I ran 5 miles the day after the race to no ill effect, but mentally, I was lost in a haze. I was unhappy with my performance within 24 hours of the race, and my unhappiness spiraled out of control once I saw that I finished 50th out of 71 female runners.

I lifted weights in the first week after the race but became debilitatingly sore as a result.

When I went on my first “alone time” run, six days post-race, I clocked a 12:19 average per mile pace on a run that was less than 3 miles. I almost could have walked that route faster.

I spent almost every day since last Friday bogged down in a negative headspace. I took several longish walks to explore new parts of my city just to keep myself moving, when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep for a few years. I felt ruined. What had I done to myself? Had I wrecked my brain and my body? Had I trashed all the enjoyment I had once gotten out of running?

Today, I can answer honestly: No, I didn’t wreck, ruin, or destroy anything. I didn’t let myself or anyone else down either. I did what I set out to do. I ran the half, which turned out to be more challenging that I had anticipated, and I had really enjoyed the process of training for the race as well as running it. I loved every technical aspect of training for it. I loved the race itself; the quiet of the woods, the sites of the still lake and calm streams, the blue sky and fresh air, and not the first whiff of car exhaust. I loved it when it was over and once the immediate pain and discomfort faded within the first 10 minutes after it was over, I loved the wondrous sensation of accomplishment and satisfaction that the deed was done.

But, there is no way to say it delicately: recovering from the experience sucked.

It is common for me to slip into a funk after any major event in my life, whether it is autocratting a large SCA event, running a race, or even getting home from Pennsic. It seems that once a long-term goal is reached, especially one that is physically challenging, I sink deep into a funk that at least I can say is fortunately usually brief. A week or two at most, and I reach the other side.

This race was no different, though the low was very low, but then the high was tremendous, so turn-about should be fair play, I assume.

It did help lift me up that the Richmond Marathon and Half Marathon made front page news last week with the announcement that they were changing not only the sponsors for the two races (and I was actually relieved to see the McDonald’s Half change to the American Family Fitness Half), but they were changing the courses to have the races finish at the bottom of 5th Street, at the River, an area I love and run in regularly Downtown. It also pleased me tremendously to see that the entire course for the Richmond Half Marathon are all roads I have already run in the past while training for the race I just finished.

It also helped to find out about a mud race that my daughter could run in on April 22, near our house, and not only was she thrilled with the idea of running in it, we have been “training” for it together with short little runs. (It is so cute when she asks for a ‘recovery walk’.)

Finally, this week, a coworker asked if I was thinking of running the Carytown 10K on May 6. I said no at first, thinking I would likely be out of town that weekend, but now it appears I will be in town, and being an inexpensive and early morning race on a Sunday, it seems like it will be a fun opportunity to run a smaller 10K than the Monument Avenue 10K running this weekend (I am completely frozen by the idea of 40,000 runners and 80,000 people in the crowd!!!).

In short, my head is screwed back on straight, I set some new short term goals for myself, became reinvigorated about a longer term goal (November 10 is the Richmond Half), and today, when I hit the roads, I found my feet again, feeling good and strong, and just happy to be alone in my head with my heels hitting the ground again.

I feel like I am back now, but the learning curve has been steep and now I know what to expect for future long races. Maybe the next part of the learning curve will be to see what I can do to mitigate some of the fallout.