Tuesday, January 27, 2015

26.2 with DONNA Training week 9

My goals for this week were to run my first back to back days of the new year and break the 30 minute mark.  Happy to report I accomplished both goals and am starting to feel like my old self (always nervous to say that during injury recovery). With February on the horizon (that was a quick January!), I am focusing on endurance.

Now that I am running more regularly, time to start racking off my Miles for Dollars donations! As promised, I am running 1 mile for each dollar donated that week. Up first is Frank from Run 50 Plus. Huge Thank You to Frank for his awesome support! Though Frank and I work around the corner from each other, we've only had the chance to meet once during his first half marathon, Galloway 13.1. Frank ran an amazing 22 races in 2014(!) and recently PR'd the 10k! I've managed 12.2 of your miles this week and will complete the other 14 next week!

Monday: First back to back running days of the new year. Happy to report that my legs felt fine and I wanted to run longer. Patience is a virtue (and it's not my favorite one).
Actual: 3.1 miles running (9:32/mile pace)
My other favorite pint. 
Tuesday: Back on the bike to shake out my legs. I can feel them getting stronger as some of my cross training activities are not as challenging as when I started.
Actual: 30 minutes cycling (18.4 miles/hour)

Wednesday: Another good run and my first run over 30 minutes for the year! It made me smile.
Actual: 3.6 miles running (9:33/mile pace); Strength training (squats, lunges, arms)

Thursday: Legs felt a bit tired today so it was cross training for me and lots of stretching.
Actual: 30 minutes Elliptical

Friday: I was ready for a rest day.
Actual: Rest

Saturday: I rested again. I need to make a concerted effort to spread out my rest days as I am building back up. I felt the need for another rest day.
Actual: More rest.

Sunday: Longest run of the year! I felt fine throughout the run and afterwards. Happy to be getting back in the swing of it!
Actual: 5.5 miles running (9:33/mile)

Fun links of the week:
100: Head/Heart/Feet: This movie looks awesome and friend who has seen it said it was great. Keep an eye out for it in your area!
Some Tips for Urban Trail running from Trail Runner Mag

How was your week? Any races to report?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Five: Slow

As I ease back into running, I've been making a serious effort to keep my runs slower and to slowly build up my mileage. This isn't something that comes naturally to me as I usually run on feel, so I've come up with a few things to help me learn to slow down.

1. A new playlist. I don't know about you, but the beat of my music has a solid influence on the turnover of my feet. I've even made a specific speed playlist for days I want to push it a bit. Well, now I'm also the proud owner of a slow playlist. Filled with ballads and slow jams, my slow playlist helps me zone out and relax. Favorites: Slow Cheetah by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Slow Dancing Swaying to the Music by Johnny Rivers

What? This doesn't make you want to run?

2. Run with a Buddy. This is not to say my buddies are slow, but when you are trying to chat or gossip about work, you can't help but slow the pace up a bit.  It's also nice to company when running.

3. Use the treadmill. The treadmill allows me to set a speed and forget about pacing. Sure, it's not the most exciting of runs, but the control factor is super handy when you are trying to regulate your pace.
4. Slow beer. They say you only get out what you put in right? Well, with that in mind I've been trying out New Belgium's new beer Slow Ride in hopes that a slow beer in will help with slow miles.  Worth a shot.
I really like it. No, I don't say that about all beers.
5. Put on your big girl pants and just do it. To be honest, I just keep reminding myself that it's the smart thing to do and I'm not giving myself another option.  My goal from now until 26.2 with DONNA is to work purely on endurance and strength, without pushing pace at all. The race won't be a goal time race at all, so just getting to the start line healthy enough to run is enough for me. There is plenty on the course to enjoy and that is what I keep reminding myself.

What tips or tricks do you have to keep your pace light?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Treats for Tatas

I've never done a "What I ate Wednesday" post or blogged about recipes even though I love food and we spend a lot of time crafting meals at our house. Today I'm going to break with tradition and talk a little about food, but to mix it up I'm calling it "What You could eat Wednesday".
I say could, because it only takes one simple step for it to happen. :)
Do we have any fans of cookies here? Oh, good, because I'm having an on-line bake sale. This week as part of my fundraising for 26.2 with DONNA, I'm thanking every donation of $20 or over with fresh homemade Treats from scratch, delivered to your door.  Umm hmm. Who can say no to that?
Lemon poppy-seed biscotti anyone?
Wait, you don't like cookies (I'm judging you a little)? The Treats for Tatas offer extends to homemade candies and bar desserts as well. You can also have your treats mailed to someone else if you rather share them.
Sea Salt Caramels anyone?
So this is "What you could eat" if you decide to join in. All this week, not only will you get a warm and fuzzy feeling with your tax deductible gift, but you will also get treats. I'll send each person an email to get their address and treat selection at the end of the week. Remember, if you donate anonymously, it's really hard for me to send you Treats! Many thank you to everyone for the support!

Offer good on any donation through midnight on Sunday 1/25/2015.

Stay tuned! Additional fun coming in the weeks leading up to race day!

What is you favorite cookie or treat?

Monday, January 19, 2015

26.2 with DONNA Training Week 8

While I work on easing back into running, I've thrown my training plan out the window. I'm sure this shocks no one after missing 3 weeks of it. I'll be playing it day to day as a ramp back up and set a new schedule when I feel ready to use one.

Monday: Felt fine after Sunday's run but decided to play it safe and cross train for a few days before trying it again.
Actual: 35 minutes cycling (20.23 miles/hour)

Tuesday: This week marks a month until the 26.2 with DONNA festivities kick off!  I am so excited! While I won't be racing obviously, I will still be running and enjoying all the events. Time has really flown by!
Actual: 30 minutes Elliptical, Strength training (squats, lunges, lower leg exercises)
 Pretty excited to earn a few of these medals! Less than a month to go!
Wednesday: This one felt good. It's that dangerous moment during recovery when workouts start to feel good, but you know you still have to take it slow. Honestly, it's the hardest part! I told myself at the beginning of the week I was only allowed slow 3 mile runs this week and I'm sticking to it.
Actual: 3 miles running (9:32/mile pace)
Well, there goes my motivation for speed training.
Thursday: All the ellipticals were full. Thanks New Year's people.  I'm all rah-rah about you working out and trying new things until it affects me.  I hopped on the bike instead.
Actual: 35 minutes cycling (17.73 miles/hour)

Friday: Today marked a fun moment in my running career. It was the 10th anniversary of my very first half marathon (Houston January 16th, 2005), which was my first big race. I wish I had a photo, but it was in pre-smart phone days. I do still have my bib and t-shirt. To give you a glimpse of how much running has changed since then (and how much I have changed for that matter), I didn't even know what a gel was at that point, I had never run longer than 9 miles (which I did the week before the race in 70 degree heat with no fluids), I wore soccer shorts, a new shirt, and a fleece during the race (which I didn't drop until mile 7 when I gave it to a friend), and when a guy asked me during the first mile if my goal was to break 2 hours, I said sure because I didn't even know what that worked out to for a pace.
Actual: Legs were tired so I decided to rest.
If you like the cotton t-shirt you should have seen the 80's style finishers sweatshirt.
Saturday: Today we celebrated Christmas so I was busy drinking cocoa, opening presents, and spending time with the family. Didn't get in a run, but fun was had by all.
Why yes, I did decorate a cookie like a running shoe. And then the Jayhawk ate it.
Sunday: Back on the treadmill. This run felt good enough that I decided it was time to try out running on consecutive days.  A little bummed to be running inside on a beautiful day (50s and sunny), but I'll take running pain free over anything else!
Actual: 3.1 miles running (9:32/mile pace)
I've never been so excited to run on the treadmill.
Now that I am starting to log some semi-regular mileage, I will start addressing my Miles for Dollars donations next week! I didn't want anyone stuck sponsoring gimpy mileage. :)

How was your week? Anything exciting to report?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A full shin update

I realized in all the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, the holidays, being sick, being injured, etc, I never full explained what was going on with my shins and what I did/am doing to address them. So here's the nitty gritty for those that are interested and for my own memory.

As December progressed a few things were going on. I was logging some solid mileage at a good pace, with not many 'easy' days (or at least no easy enough). I was running on feel and many of the runs didn't feel too challenging, but mentally, I knew I needed to slow it down before trouble started. I decided to back off the miles a bit during the 3rd week, but it was probably too late.  During my run that Thursday, I felt a sharp pain in my shin. I figured I had misstepped and kept a careful eye on my gait (I was on the treadmill). Unfortunately it happened two more times. It was a very sharp, specific pain right in the tibia. Judging from the symptoms, I at minimum had shin splints, but potentially also their evil cousin the stress fracture. I freaked out and got off the treadmill, went home, iced my shins, and drank a beer for good measure.
Though it may seem drastic, my response was to shut it down completely and begin treating myself for shin splints (Note: it was the start of the holidays, so Doctor's appointments were hard to come by). I knew my legs would benefit from a break and any potential injury would require it.  Initially I had just planned to take a week off, let my legs rest, and then evaluate if I was really injured or just over trained.  Unfortunately with the addition of a bad head cold, that time off got extended. To be honest, I don't think I was ready to run after a week off anyway. I was still having a lot of tightness and periodic pain (not as bad as the initial pain). Though my pain was nothing that was keeping me from walking, it was enough that running a 10 miler was a bad idea. Additionally, I am on my feet a lot at work, so cold turkey on the exercise was the only way to ensure I was getting some rest.

Once the head cold subsided, I was actually rather nervous to run and decided to focus on strength and cross training both to help me get back into the swing of it after the head cold, but also because my legs just didn't feel ready to run. At some point I settled on a test run at 3 weeks at which point I would either start easing back into running or visit the friendly ortho for a bone scan. Here are the ways I kept myself busy during that time.
1. Switched to cross training. For three weeks I did nothing but the bike and the elliptical. I tried to maintain my normal workout schedule. It took me a few days to figure out how exactly to get the best elliptical workout (it was rather comical at the start) but my goal was to mimic my running motion to maintain my upper leg strength and cardio without the impact on the lower legs. On the bike I focused on my RPMs to get a good cardio workout and the elliptical I tried to keep the strides between 160-180 (similar to a running stride rate).

2. Upped my strength training. Regardless of the injury it's always important to think about the entire kinetic chain. Body parts don't move in isolation, it's a team activity. If one part is weaker and not doing it's job, the rest of the parts either pick up the slack or suffer. I focused on squats, lunges, hip work, and ab work. I also added in some single leg work (both strength and balance) because we are never really on two legs while running.

3. Increased recovery activities. I iced after big workouts, wore lots of compression to encourage my shin muscles to stay attached to the bones, stretched, rolled, focused on lower leg flexibility, and took extra calcium to help with bone strength. Anything I could do while resting was fair game.
4. Focused on flexibility. I broke out the yoga book and start to incorporate lower leg and foot flexibility items multiple times per week. I also did several simple exercises that can be done at your desk/in line at the grocery store/while cooking including tracing out each letter of the alphabet with your foot, balancing on one foot, toe scrunches with a towel, and calf raises.
While I don't think I'm out of the woods yet on this one, I've got a good game plan and feel confident at this point that my issues stem from soft tissue injury. I will continue on with all of these activities and slowly add in running as my body allows in order to make sure I don't progress to the dreaded stress fracture.  While taking three week off from running wasn't exactly a picnic (esp when I fun running field trips planned), I was proud of myself for recognizing the need for the time off and staying focused on healing things now to prevent longer and more challenging time off later.

Here are a few great resources

4 Exercises to prevent Shin splints from Runner's World
Ironstrength Workout from Runner's World
A Great explanation of Shin splints, stress fractures, and compartment syndrome

What do you do when you think something is 'off'? Are you a fan of rest?

Monday, January 12, 2015

26.2 with DONNA Training Week 7

Hope every one's new year is off to a good start. After a semi-planned week off due to shin pain followed by bonus days off due to plague severe head cold, I started back last week with lots of cross and strength training. Never fun to be tied to the gym during the New Year's resolution rush.  I continued on with the crosstraining this week and even went for my first test run in 3 weeks (to the day because I am a huge numbers geek).

Monday: Nothing really to report. I had a case of the Mondays.
Planned: XT  Actual: Rest

Tuesday: I got stuck on one of the stationary bikes that didn't have a TV (why does crosstraining make me more whiney?), so I turned to my running speedwork playlist. Works well on the bike too!
Planned: 6 miles  Actual: 30 minutes cycling (19mile/hour ave)

Wednesday: After lots of awkward, I've finally figured out the best elliptical setting to mimic running, I think. I've got it so I'm doing the equivalent of 10 minute miles. It helps to have a relative idea of what kind of workout I am doing as I flail around on the thing.
Planned: 8 miles  Actual: 32 minutes elliptical

Thursday: The big day! I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous to test out my shins. Going for a test run meant answering the question of if the time off was worth it. If I was still in pain, I knew the road back would be even longer and more complicated. The run was pain free and I carefully kept track of how my legs felt for the 48 hours following. It was a huge mental boost.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 1.5 miles running (9:35/mile pace); 20 minutes elliptical
I don't think I've ever been so excited about a 1.5 mile run.
Friday: No major pains to report, but I am taking it slow and steady.
Planned: Rest  Actual: 30 min elliptical, leg strength training

Saturday: Time for a rest day. I'm being conservative for the next few weeks to not undo all the hard work and benefits of my time off from running. 
Planned: 10 miles  Actual: Rest
Sunday: Everything felt fine in the 48 hours following Thursday's run, so I was back on the treadmill to start easing back into it. I kept the pace very easy and will continue to keep the mileage and pace light for another week as not only my shins but the rest of my soft tissue gets use to running again. The run felt comfortable and I was very excited to see that my cardio didn't suffer too much over the time off!
Planned: 6 miles  Actual: 3 miles (9:32/mile pace); lots of stretching and rolling
I haven't forgotten about my Miles for Dollars promise. Now that I am slowly back running, I will begin addressing them! Thanks everyone for the support and patience!

How is 2015 going for you? Are the New Year's crowd descending on your gym?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Goals for 2015

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and fabulous New Year's. The Jayhawk arrived home on New Year's Eve and then was asleep before 9 (ah, jetlag) so no crazy celebrations for us, being in the same time zone was good enough. A lack of silly hats and celebration doesn't mean I'm not excited about what's ahead in 2015. As I am slowly piecing together a racing wishlist and plan for the year, I took the time to develop a few new goals and challenges for the New Year. I like to have concrete goals each year (goals like "Do this more" or "Improve at that" never works for me) and while I don't hinge the success of a year on them, goals are a way to move outside my comfort zone and ensure that I'm always experiencing something new.
1. PR the 50k. I had so much fun training and running Snakebite 50k last year that I'm doing another one this year. I've got several options picked out and will settle on one once I finish my winter training. Last year I focused on finishing a 50k and this year I want to run a stronger race. There is plenty of room to improve on my time and with some smart training, a PR is a great goal.

2. PR the 5k. Ug, I know. I hate the 5k. But I also know I'll never bother to race one unless I make it a goal. Without the lure of donuts, donations, or beer, I avoid 5ks like the plague and that is exactly why I am putting it on my goals list. This goal is outside of my comfort zone and even makes me make grumpy faces. Hopefully with a little more effort and focus, I can grow to embrace the utility of the 5k. Note: this doesn't mean I have to start to like them.

3. One adventure a month. Though I didn't get to complete all my field trips and new items during my December challenges, I really liked the idea and had fun planning them. I decided to finish/modify the challenge for 2015 by having the goal of one running field trip or adventure each month. It can be a new location, new running buddy, or just a totally different way of approaching a run. My hope is that it will push me to mix it up and explore things outside my usual routine.

4. Have fun and smile. Always important to remember that I run because it's fun and enjoy it so much. Everything else is just a bonus.

 Here's to training hard, smart, and with a smile.

Do you make running goals? What do you hope to accomplish in the new year?
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