Posts Tagged ‘rest’

A Pause Before The Deep End

Yuck. My DailyMile training report for last week arrived in my inbox this morning with the dreaded phrase “Your friends miss your training. :-(“, which is to say I didn’t log any miles. In fact, I hadn’t logged a single mile since April until yesterday. I do hate receiving those types of reports, but I also purposely set aside my trainers for an extended time.

I have several reasons why I took a 3 week break. One was because I was simply flat out busy; work has ramped up and I have had to work through more lunches than normal. Another was because my allergies have been off the charts this season and I was coming back from my lunch runs feeling pretty awful. But one of my biggest reasons for a short break is that beginning June 1, running is about to become my whole life for about 5 months.

On Patriot Monday, April 15th, the day of the Boston Marathon, I signed up for the Richmond Marathon and the SportsBackers Marathon Training Team.

That was the last time I posted here, as well, and I didn’t mention it in my post. Signing up for the team and the race felt overwhelming and I wasn’t really prepared to talk about it yet. It feels big and scary still, but the start date is swiftly approaching and I keep probing the thought of running 26.2 miles like one touches a bruise just to see how it feels.

If the race itself feels daunting, the training efforts feel doubly so. What do you do with your time while you are running 20 miles for a practice run? How do you keep your brain at bay while keeping one foot in front of the other?

It also looks like we’ll have to contend with a scorcher of a summer this year. It is always hot and humid in Virginia in the summer, but if the forecasts are even close, it seems generally agreed that this year will be particularly bad. I am going to force myself to become an early AM runner. I have to. I ran a little over 2 miles yesterday in the 95 degree heat and by the time I got back to the office, I was a touch queasy, but my pace was way below where I had been in April (granted, the 3 week break wasn’t going to do anything to help speed me up).

Plus, there will come a point late in training where I will have midweek runs that are nearly a half marathon; I can’t do those on my lunch hour. By the way, I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea of running 12 miles and then hopping in the shower before heading into the office. I mean, that just sounds crazy.

But for all the enormity of the undertaking, all the nervous unknown, and frankly, a bit of fear, I am also very excited by the prospect. I am going to cover new territory within Richmond, I am going to find the mental boundaries I have about mileage are blown away and there will come a point this summer where a 10 mile run isn’t a “big deal” anymore. Won’t that be something?

(As an aside, you are getting this on my lunch hour instead of me logging much needed miles because the heat index is 100. That’s when I skip the great outdoors. I have no desire to make the news: “Jogger Found Passed Out From Heat Stroke On FloodWall”. So, yeah, better get started on that early AM running plan.)



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).

What Race?

Hey, I have a race coming up in less than 72 hours! How the heck did that happen???

Not for nuthin, but it does sort of feel like this race has crept up on me unawares. The 14 Mile Run loomed large for me the entire training period, and then right after that, I came down with a series of illnesses and injuries, and just getting (and staying) healthy has become my biggest focus. Race? What race? I am still hacking and coughing; thanks a lot post-nasal congestion.

What to wear? Who knows?!? Richmond is doing its normal meteorological mood swings, with today’s highs being in the low 40s, and Saturday’s highs being in the low 70’s. Getting a grip on how fast it will warm up on Saturday will play the biggest factor in my personal version of “What Not To Wear” (Half Marathon Edition). I have in fact completely changed my plan on race day clothing at 3:30 a.m., only 4 hours before a race. I am not wedded to anything until I walk out the door.

Like I opted to do in March, I am going to leave my beloved stop watch at home; it will be much better for my brain not to be processing numbers if the knee pain ramps up and the pace starts to click down. I am going to run in my old but very trusty Adrenalines. I am deciding about my fuel belt right now. On the one hand, it is darn convenient not to HAVE to slow at fuel stops, especially as it warms up. But not wearing it is very freeing and my arm movements are more natural when I am not trying to avoid smacking my forearms into my water bottles. Natural arm movements cut down on upper body muscle fatigue.

I will not check a bag this year. I understand that they have sorted out that little inconvenience this year, but honestly, it won’t be a hardship for Byram to bring me my heavy Navy hoodie along with him to Brown’s Island. That is really all I need. I had zero need for my wallet or my phone (not a smart phone so no reason to carry it) at any race I have previously run.

Friday, I took 4 vacation hours and I will go get my packet from the Expo, meander around there for a bit, and then probably swing by a GoodWill and buy the warmest clothes I can find that are half off for the week. These I will wear in that pre-race hour while I am waiting and shivering in the pre-dawn fog, to be discarded and donated to local homeless shelters right before we hit the start line. I might also try the trash bag trick, since I have heard it is effective, and the forecast is calling for fog and high humidity. Friday’s dinner needs to be a KISS meal. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Chicken. Broccoli. Rice or noodles. Lots of water. Not a massive spaghetti dinner. Not something new and unusual. Not even a trusted restaurant.

One nice thing: my lack of focus has meant that I am not in pre-race freakout mode like I normally would be. I am calm and just looking forward to the atmosphere of race day and getting this one done and on the books.

To Do:
Clean and decide about my fuel belt
Charge up iPod
Centrally locate all my technical gear and start deciding what to wear
Figure out post-race meeting spot
Locate if possible GU Salted Caramel gels (!!!)
Try to get more sleep (ha!)
Get warm donation clothes
Chill out and enjoy this race! It has been MONTHS since I raced and I am really looking forward to this one.

I probably won’t have time to write again. Check back for a post-race recap!

I Feel It In My Bones

I guess there isn’t much a run and a couple of mugs of peppermint tea can’t cure.

It was a rough morning. I felt like I was being crushed to death under paperwork and bullshit. I felt stressed, tired, and borderlining on hopeless. I didn’t want to go run, I didn’t want to put in the 4 miles I had promised myself. I didn’t have time, I had stuff I needed to do here in the office, I had attorneys who needed me.

The attorney here in the office running the IC on Saturday asked me if I was going out for my last run today around 1130 and assured me he would be going out even though he was in a similar boat as me. Well, if he could get out and go do it, then I’d best man up and get to it, right?

You can’t hone a knife on butter.

I went out, took my familiar long route around Brown and Belle Islands, and by the last half mile of those 4 miles, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. This was it, my last run until Saturday morning. The end of months and months of planning and training and thinking and running and and and and ….

I went out stressed, frustrated, anxious, drowning in my cares, and I came back and, embarrassingly enough, did a little happy dance (looked more like a touchdown celebration by an NFL quarterback, I guess) in the lobby of my building as the security guards and Capitol police watched in amusement.

I haven’t had much to say this week, which is unusual for me on the week of a major race. Truthfully, I don’t have anything new to say. I’ve been here, done this before. I am vastly less anxious than I was for my previous two half marathon distances. Not that I don’t have a checklist of to-do’s between now and Saturday, but none of it feels scary anymore.

Wash my fuel belt bottles, pick up 3 GUs from Lucky Foot when I pick my packet up on Friday, shave my damn legs so no one thinks they spotted a yeti running in Pocahontas State Park (they would have to nickname it Pokey, and really, no one wants to be responsible for that atrocity!), figure out whether it is ACTUALLY going to rain or just toy at rain on Saturday morning and decide what to wear, change out the battery in my MP3 player, pack a post-race bag with a sweatshirt and energy bar. Oh yeah, sleep should go on that list, too.

I have lots to do, but none of it is onerous; in fact, all of it (aside from shaving my legs) are enjoyable activities that bubble with the promise of an adventure. Which is exactly what I consider this race to be. An adventure.

I am in a really good place, mentally. This is the most prepared, most excited I have been for a race yet. I am not giving any space to the negative voices in my head that love to remind me of my pace, where I fall as a “competitor,” and all kinds of other unworthy thoughts. I worked hard for this and I know I will do well; I am making myself no promises about how well, nor am I setting any limits on what is possible. I know what I am getting into, that it is a hard thing, but a worthy thing. Unlike November, I don’t have to “Press on, regardless”; I’m not injured this time around. Unlike last March, I know explicitly what I have gotten myself into and have no unrealistic (or even realistic) expectations. I am going to have fun and do something a large portion of the people I know consider to be *just* on this side of Crazy.

Maybe I will think of something interesting to say before Saturday morning, but I expect to go radio silent between now and then.

See you on the other side of my third half marathon.

Picking Up Steam

It’s Wednesday – mid-week long run day. I have never, in any training cycle (and this is my third), done very well at getting my mid-week long run in. Today I am supposed to run 8 according to the schedule. Instead, I will run 7 today; 4 on my lunch hour and 3 tonight on the treadmill.

I am at the stage where my legs always feel tired; yes, one indication of overtraining. I think to myself, gee, I just need a little rest, but the time for resting my legs is in the past, and in only 2 and a half weeks, I can in fact rest them to my heart’s content (for a little while, anyway). But there is also a point where you have to overtrain to a degree. That is why we taper in the last week (for a half distance); to recover from overtraining, setting yourself up to be rested and ready to race without having lost any endurance. So I acknowledge my general weariness, my occasional snippy mood, my heavy legs, and my poor sleep, but I reject that it is a reason to stop and rest now.

I did a progression run on the treadmill yesterday – my 3 miles came in at a 10:06 average pace. I am getting closer and closer to a sub-10 minute average pace (on a treadmill), which is completely foreign but incredibly tantalizing territory for me. I deeply resent my slow natural pace and I acknowledge that it comes from an inherent laziness and the desire to avoid pain.

That being said, it is a little bit silly to be training for speed right now when what I need to be training for is more endurance. Being able to run 3 miles in about 30 minutes is all well and good unless you are trying to succeed at running 13.1 miles in hilly terrain. I know the benefits of short, faster distances, but I wonder if by slacking on my longer, slower, distance training (like those mid-week long runs), if that isn’t what is shooting me in the proverbial foot.

I am also surely overthinking all of this. It’s not like I am running Olympic time trials. I don’t care that I am overthinking it; I overthink almost everything.

Something I am happy to report is that my weight is finally starting to come down, thanks to some changes I have made in my life. I have lost 4 pounds so far, and that equates to nothing on my visible frame, but that isn’t why I am happy to have dropped 4 whole pounds. If a 2005 study on osteoarthritis can be trusted, every pound of body weight lost equates to a decrease of 4 pounds of pressure on my knee joint load. So theoretically I have taken 16 pounds of pressure off my knees thus far. Whether that makes a significant difference in my comfort levels or not remains to be seen, but I can guarantee you that weighing even only 4 pounds less won’t make anything worse on race day.

Now, I just need to shake the nerves I am starting to get about this race, along with the weight.

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.

12 Miles and 12 Days To Go

I tried but I just couldn’t talk myself into braving the cold snowy mist falling to go to the gym today, where I currently have no action plan or clue what to do next anyway. Instead, I will eat some lentil soup and blog.

Saturday’s 12 miler was drizzly, cool, and breezy; no thunderstorms or downpours or any other excitement. It really seems that 8 miles is my comfort zone, 9 to 10 miles gets into the bargaining zone, and 11-12 miles is the pleading, crying, laughing, singing out loud, cursing myself, cursing the race, cursing the distance zone. My fuel plan went great this time. I took a GU Rocktane (*blech*) before going out, a regular GU at about 5 miles, and a final GU around 8 miles.

Byram met me in the golf course parking lot right at about the 6.2 mile mark with more water for my bottle, an extra GU (just in case), a glass of ready-made Nuun (oh my god it was so delicious!), and a t-shirt to swap into from my cold weather jacket I had started out in. Just seeing him helped refresh me for much of the second half.

I bought myself the song, Shake It Out by Florence and the Machine that morning to help give me a little motivation and a long run boost. It worked. I listened to the song 2 or 3 times in a row on the last mile home, alternately crying and singing along as I went. I was tired, giddy, sore, unhappy, thrilled, and did I mention tired? I didn’t crash into the Wall like on the 11 miler from two weeks ago, but I was very emotional. I understand this is normal but I do find it highly unpleasant.

Following the run and a chilling out period on the tail-gate of the F-150, I came in to see my family who were all very excited for me. I foam rollered my very sore lower body and announced I would be taking my first ice bath, and gave warning that there would probably be some hooting and hollering along the way.

Ice cubes and cold water. I did it. I stayed in my clothes (honestly, I was too sore to peel anything off yet except my socks) and added a warm sweat shirt to keep my core warmer. The first two minutes were HELL; once I got my feet up out of the water, which also forced a gentle stretch along my legs, I felt better. I did a full ten minutes and then almost immediately took a hot shower, which may or may not have negated some of the value of the ice bath, but it sure felt good. I am officially an ice bath believer. It wasn’t easy or pleasant, but I am significantly less sore than usual.

Now, it’s time to taper. I am fighting a sore left calf muscle still so I have decided to let up off of lower body weight lifting for the next two weeks. Next week, I won’t do any strength training at all. This week’s training is pretty normal, 3,4,3 miles respectively for Tue, Wed, and Thur. Six miles on Saturday, which actually sounds amazing at the moment. Sunday, 3/11, I will do 4 miles with my friend who is getting ready for the Monument Avenue 10k on 3/31.

It is next week where things get weird. The team I have trained with and whose schedule I am following is running on Sunday, 3/18, where I am running on the 17th. Their schedule has runs set for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, all 3 miles. Maybe I will do Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday instead. That should work out nicely.

As time draws closer, I need to figure out what I will wear, what I will eat all next week, hydrate, and draw up a plan for Saturday, from what time I set the alarm, to how short or long my warm up jog will be before the race, to what my celebratory meal after the race will be.

I am not loving this No-Man’s land between winding down for the race and at the same time, having 12 more days to get through. I am anxious and sort of ready to go *right freaking now*.

I guess this is why no one seems to love tapering.