What’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve decided to try something new on the blog today: I’m joining Amanda’s linkup for Thinking Out Loud. I’ve been thinking silently for too long; time to set those thoughts free!

Thinking-Out-Loud2

In my recap of the last few weeks’ training, I was pretty frank with my emotions about how training has been going, and I really appreciated your encouraging comments.

My feelings then shifted to guilt. Why should anyone feel sorry for me? I’m training for a marathon, albeit not without challenges, IN PARIS. That’s such a privilege and I’m grateful for it.

So today, I’m thinking out loud about plans and perspective.

Happiness is the difference between expectations and reality (or is it?)

A friend who went to the University of Georgia said this to me to explain why UGA football fans are disappointed with (and fire their coach after) a 10-win season. It made some sense to me. (But I wouldn’t consider it a truth to live by. We would aim low in everything, right?)

I don’t think anyone signs up for endurance events expecting to get injured. Sure, we know there is a risk of injury, but we probably all think we have the super special formula to stay injury free. We expect to be able to go out, train consistently, and perform our best. Expectations.

I have no idea how I made it through my first marathon training cycle without an injury. Luck is the best guess I can venture. I didn’t know any injury prevention secrets I don’t know now. Dumb luck happens, and all we can do is enjoy it.

In reflecting on this, or any other situation that comes with plans or expectations, I don’t think we should feel guilty if we’re upset that reality doesn’t live up to those expectations. Yes, there are horrible diseases and wars in the world. No, that doesn’t invalidate anyone’s disappointment with having a running injury. But keeping it all in perspective is good practice.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Another friend posed this question to me in my mid-20s when I was freaking out about contemplating some challenge at work.

No, really, what is the very worst thing that could happen? Would you lose your job? No?

I’m a perfectionist, so this perspective shook me up. But, it wouldn’t be the way I want it! I might not get an excellent performance review!

My friend sat with me and forced me to come up with the very worst-case scenario, then proceeded to help me see how my hugely-stressful-thing really wasn’t worth the anxiety and stress I was giving it. There’s a big difference between taking pride in your work and letting the pursuit of perfection (or aversion to risk) rule your life. I was in the latter category for a long time.

Now whenever I feel myself getting stressed/frustrated/anxious/fearful, I ask myself what’s the worst thing that could happen. And as far as I can tell with Paris, the VERY WORST thing that could happen is I go to a beautiful city with a bum knee and cheer on my friend who’s running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I can cope with that situation.

I’m still spending a lot of time doing everything I can to keep myself on the marathon training wagon, because an even awesome-er scenario of running a marathon in Paris with a friend is still a real possibility.

St. Jude marathon finish

The moment right after I finished my first marathon. I want that feeling again.

(I wanted to end this post with a 90s-rapper-style shout out to my fellow perfectionists, but I am way too old and CPAish to get the tone right…it sounded sooooo dorky.)

Anyway, let me know in the comments if you’re someone who struggles with the lofty expectations of perfectionism. Do you have any tips to keep things in perspective?

Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 7-9

The recap in which training gradually falls apart

I’ve gotten behind on these training recaps. I’ve had more than usual going on personally and professionally – some good, some bad, none expected. I had already written most of the week 7 recap, so it’s more detailed than the others.

Week 7: 1/25 – 1/31

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + 4 strides + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:00/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Um, totally forgot the strides, but it was a gorgeous day for a lunchtime run. I decided to go ahead and deal with the nuisance of getting a running photo, which I promptly forgot to Instagram.

atlanta beltline running

So I’ll add my graffiti running photo to the Internet’s collection.

Seriously, this was more of an ordeal than it was worth, and I seriously wonder how people who Instagram running photos multiple times a week do it. #shareyoursecrets

I went to the gym for my strength workout, and it was – unfortunately – a day to get the opportunity to check off new feats of strength to see how strong you’re getting! Unfortunate because I get way too competitive with myself in these kinds of situations and work harder than I should considering I’m also training for a marathon. So shortsighted. Anyway, the feats of strength were related to variations of squats, strict pull-ups, and bar dips. I did a lot better with dips than pull-ups, and right now I’m just not limber enough to do what’s next for squats, which is a full butt-to-heel pistol squat. After attempting the feats of strength, there was a workout to challenge the muscles I had just worked to failure – pull-up negatives, rows, stuff like that – so it was hard. Even lunges with racked kettlebells made my arms feel like chicken wings.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day

HOLY MOTHER OF DOMS. There was not one direction that I could move my arms without nearly recoiling from the soreness.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

The thought of swinging my arms for just an easy run would have brought me to tears, so after a full day of lecture-style training with a nasty headache, no way was I getting through a faster workout, even if it was a relatively easy cutback-week workout. No unplanned rest day has ever been such a no-brainer.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 5 miles w/ 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace, 2:00 jog recovery + rehab exercises + mini-strength

Annnnddd we’re back. I didn’t get to this workout until after dark, so I decided to take it to the treadmill in my office gym. The faster portion was fine, but the other miles were so boring.

I didn’t have time to get a proper strength workout in, and my upper body was still pretty angry, but I did a mini-strength workout focused on lower body after my rehab exercises. My office gym has a few kettlebells, so I did 3 sets of 20 kettlebell swings, 3 sets of 10 kettlebell deadlifts, 2 sets of 10 goblet squats, and 2 sets of 10 Bulgarian split squats.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I thought about skipping the rest day and taking this run really easy, but I ran about one minute and decided my body needed the day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:25) + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 9:52/mile + 4 strides

Slacked on the Myrtls. GUILTY.

I’ve had a couple pairs of shoes wear out on me lately, and since I’ve had an injury recently, I decided to head over to see what the pros recommended shoe-wise.

I don’t want to take over this post with the nitty gritty of what went down (although I learned some interesting things that may warrant a future post), but a proper video analysis at West Stride confirmed what I expected – mostly neutral/slightly supinated gait. I tried on a few pairs in the “daily trainer” category, and to my surprise I ended up in the Brooks Ghost. I’ve previously tried out Brooks shoes from the Pure line, which never really felt quite right on my foot. But the Ghosts were the shoes that felt so comfortable on, fit like a glove, and allowed me to go through a comfortable stride without feeling like I had to really “muscle through” any part of my stride (unlike others I tried).

IMG_6905

Sunday:

  • Plan: Yoga
  • Actual: 12 miles w/ last 3 @ GMP (9:21/8:59/9:09) + 26 minutes core + 15 min stretching-oriented yoga

The elusive marathon pace. I’m not of the mind that “I ran faster, yay me” because I don’t feel like I’m ready to run a whole marathon at those paces, so I kind of screwed up the point of the workout by running faster than I should have. But it did feel nice at the time.

During the GMP miles, I felt my shorts chafing my right thigh, but decided to sacrifice my skin for the confidence that would come with executing my GMP miles. I implore you, please never do this to yourselves. One week has passed and my skin is still not 100%. Once I was finished with the run, I looked down and saw blood all over my right thigh. This wasn’t just a slight chafe.

silver comet running

You didn’t think I was going to show a bloody chafe photo, did you? I’m far too queasy to ever see blood on purpose.

Week 7: 23 miles

As for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I did 3/4 of the planned core/rehab/Myrtl routines on my schedule.
  • Sleep – B: I hit my 8 hour goal every night except one, but I didn’t feel rested. Most nights, I was waking up in the middle of the night and I’d have a hard time going back to sleep. By Thursday, I was exhausted and went to bed before 9pm, which may have helped me “reset” – I haven’t had serious sleep interruptions since then.
  • Nutrition – C: I’m going to have to find a reliable way to track my fruits and veggies. I didn’t do it this week. I know I had some good days, but the point was to actually keep track.
  • “Body maintenance” – B: I did the bare minimum of stretching and foam rolling, and I checked the box with Sunday yoga, but after moving my schedule around I wasn’t up for much more.

I didn’t track these resolutions over weeks 8 & 9.

Week 8: 2/1 – 2/7

Monday:

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + rehab exercises + strength

Felt some discomfort near the bottom-inside portion of my left thigh, close to my left knee. UGH.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Rest

I was at work late (unexpectedly), then saw my late night as an opportunity to let whatever was bothering me on Monday’s run rest and heal.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo, :90 jog recovery + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest day

I had a morning dermatologist appointment, and I told the doctor I’d had my eye on this spot on my chest. He said it didn’t concern him much, but he’d do a biopsy to be safe. This was my first skin biopsy, and it took more skin than I expected. When the nurse gave me care instructions for the wound, one of the explicit instructions was to keep it dry for a day.

Me: So, does that mean I can’t go for a run?

Nurse: Well, do you sweat when you run?

Me: [head drops] yes.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 7 miles w/ 3 x mile @ tempo (8:35/8:32/8:28) + rehab exercises + strength

Left quad pain was still there, maybe at a 3/10 on the pain scale.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Chiro + 3 miles @ 10:08/mile + Myrtls

I got in to see my chiro that morning, who worked on the area and diagnosed insufficient quad strength as a contributing factor. He gave me an exercise to do, which I could do at my desk (it’s just using the quads to straighten the knee from a bent position).

My run did not go well. I had to stop around the end of the second mile to stretch/massage that spot in my quad. It started bugging my left knee a little bit as well. I skipped the strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 1.6 miles @10:42/mile + lots of foam rolling

Since I’d moved my tempo run to Thursday, the plan was just to get in 3 easy miles and some strides. I stopped as soon as there was discomfort – no point in sabotaging the long run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 15 miles + core
  • Actual: 15 miles @ 11:04/mile + core

This run was horrible on so many levels. 1) I didn’t feel fit at all. 2) that spot in my left quad was bugging me for the majority of the run. 3) I was angry at everyone and everything because of 1&2. (How dare that asshole on the bike pass me so quickly? Brag about your modern technology a little more, jerk.)

In the last 6 miles or so, I made a concerted effort to be positive. One thing I noticed was that my right ITB didn’t hurt at all. That was the best thing I could come up with (and it was indeed a good thing!)

I got home and alas, my right ITB felt like the last two months of rehab hadn’t happened. Mega pissed. Mega discouraged. I don’t have anything positive to say, other than I’m glad I have other things going on right now to distract me from how training is going (or, not going, as the case may be).

IMG_6879

Current mood.

Week 8: 30 miles

Week 9: 2/8 – 2/14

Monday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Nada

Right knee at ITB insertion point hurt just walking around. Lot of ice. Lot of foam rolling. Panicked call to the chiropractor’s office.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: Chiro + rest

My chiro was out of town, so I got squeezed in to see his partner, Dr. Glass (who is so nice – I really love their practice). Dr. Glass wasn’t as concerned about the whole situation as I was, seeming to think it was just a setback. As he was testing my hip range of motion while I was lying on my stomach, it was so obvious that my right hip isn’t moving nearly as well as my left. The difference was pronounced.

I got some homework which is just a simple variation on foam rolling + static stretching, but I really like it. The idea is to sandwich some light static stretching into your foam rolling – so if you’re rolling your quads, take a break in the middle and do 5 5-second static stretches, then resume rolling. As for hip mobility, Dr. Glass’s recommendation was just to do a few leg swings intermittently throughout the day. So simple. That I can do.

He recommended a test run Thursday, and to do my long run on a loop so I could stop if needed.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3-5 @ tempo + rehab exercises + strength
  • Actual: Rest

I considered going to the gym and cross-training, but after staying late at work again, I decided to focus on rolling and stretching. Oh, and I found out Jeff had the flu. Influenza B. So there was some care taking involved.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 3 mile test run @ 10:30/mile + rehab exercises + PT

This run didn’t feel too bad. I could sense that my quad pain was worse the more I flexed my knee, and I also felt a dull ache under my left kneecap post-run.

I had a PT appointment, and holy smokes did that spot in my quad freak out when he needled it. I felt cautiously optimistic that it would really help.

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtls
  • Actual: Rest day

I was pretty sore from the needling. Much needed day off.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:15/mile + strides + Myrtls

I really got after the foam rolling and stretching post-run. I felt ready to take on my 16 miler after this run.

Sunday:

  • Plan: 16 miles + core
  • Actual: 8 miles @ 10:37/mile + core

I normally actively avoid repeating loop routes for a long run, so the loop I chose was one I’m not terribly familiar with, and it really wasn’t ideal (unavoidable road camber + too much opposing traffic to get off the side of the road). I called it quits shortly into the 9th mile. My left quad and right ITB had been feeling angry, then my left ITB started hurting. I felt like collapsing on the ground in dramatic fashion, but I would have probably hurt something else picking myself up. So I just stopped running and walked the rest of the way back.

None of the pain was horribly acute, and if it had been a race, I absolutely could have kept running. My level of discomfort felt about like last week’s run did, which sidelined me for several days. I hope that by cutting it short, I gave myself a fighting chance to get back on track with my training. What I did last week didn’t work, so I’ll just try something different and hope for the best.

Week 9: 14 miles

Right now I don’t have anything positive to say about training. I don’t want to train for a marathon anymore. If I were training for the Publix Marathon or something else close by, I would absolutely throw in the towel and let all this junk heal properly before training for another race. Any hopes of a PR in Paris are wild dreams right now. All I can hope for right now is to be healthy enough to continue training, finish the race, and stuff myself with croissants, cheeses, and Bordeaux when it’s done.

Paris Marathon Training – Week 6

Ahhhhh, the return of the federal holiday and the four-day work week. This week was set up to be great on both ends. It began with a long weekend and ended with a dear friend’s wedding. And all the training in between!

Week 6: 1/18-1/24

Monday: 

  • Plan: 3 miles easy + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:25/mile + rehab exercises + strength training + chiro
john lewis quote

This quote from Rep. John Lewis is painted on a wall just down the block from my apartment. I love being in an environment where I’m reminded of the work we have before us to reach the true ideals of our country’s founding – for everyone, not just land-owning white males 🙂

I have a real fondness for MLK Day for a couple of reasons: I live in Dr. King’s old neighborhood, and about 90% of my running routes go past the MLK Historic Site. I love seeing all the tourists and catching snippets of the history they’re getting on their tours of the site. I guess you could say that being in the neighborhood keeps the importance of the civil rights movement on my mind. Also, I extra-love MLK Day because I never got MLK Day off during my time working in public accounting, because busy season. Practicing CPAs, all my love to you these days. Stay strong and treat your body as well as you can. If you have to cry, I’ll be with you in spirit in the last bathroom stall.

My street was closed off for the MLK Day March. I couldn’t drive to my normal flat route, so I took a hilly route out my front door instead. It was an okay run, but afterwards I knew my ITB still wasn’t ready for the hills. The discomfort wasn’t intense, but it felt like I’d regressed in my recovery by a couple of weeks.

My chiro did some much-needed work on my right hip and knee, and unfortunately there were some new nasty spots in desperate need of release.

I tried to take it a little easy with strength training that evening since I’ve been struggling with DOMS into Wednesdays each of the last couple of weeks. The workout was heavy on back/arms/core, and it included LONG negative push-ups (20 seconds! It took me until the third set to get the timing right), alternating one-arm kettlebell swings, leg raises against a resistance band (love), and my very favorite new exercise – I’m actually considering writing a post to commemorate my love for this one – half Turkish get-ups with a press.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Cold, windy, dark, unremarkable run. Except that I rocked this awesome navy-on-navy outfit under my reflective vest. With Monday’s gym workout being somewhat core-heavy,  I streamlined the core work to focus on the types of movements that weren’t a part of Monday’s workout.

cold weather running outfit

You’re welcome for the running fashion advice. #notafashionblogger

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (90 sec jog recovery) + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ 2 x mile @ tempo (8:36/8:30) + rehab exercises + strength training

We got some cold, rainy weather in Atlanta so I decided to take this workout to the treadmill. I so appreciate how this training plan is easing me into the longer tempo runs that I know are coming. This was a pretty fun, satisfying workout that didn’t leave me beat.

I felt like I recovered from Monday’s strength workout better than expected. Maybe my body is adapting to regular strength training. This workout was pretty tough: 5×5 deadlifts (I’m adding weight cautiously, so after the warm-up I did 2 sets of 105 and 3 sets of 115), man-makers, jumping split squats, and Tabata kettlebell swings (a surprisingly tough workout for just 4 minutes!)

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: Rest day + PT

All the needling yet again. He hit all the usual spots (right hip, glutes, quad) and got into my left hamstring and calf (OWWW calf needling). I’ve had a gnarly spot in my right outer quad close to my knee that almost made me jump when it released. I’m hoping that’s a sign of good things to come!

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:20/mile + travel to Dallas

I squeezed in 3 miles on a really iffy hotel gym treadmill in between landing in Dallas and my friend Laura’s rehearsal dinner. We got stuck in a nasty security line situation in Atlanta and didn’t have time to grab lunch to take on the plane, so I had a JD’s Chippery cookie before my run. No warm-up, no Myrtl routine, no strides.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 14 miles + core
  • Actual 14 miles @ 10:14/mile + nap

I had a nice run around White Rock Lake in the cold and sunshine. The only downside was there were more hills on the east side of the lake than I remembered, and I definitely felt that dull ache in my ITB come and go throughout the run.

white rock lake running dallas

I skipped the core work for a nap, ate a lot of Mexican food, then spent the evening celebrating the Bruders!

dallas wedding

the happy couple + adorable flower girls

college pals

college pals

dallas arboretum wedding

pretty bride

It was such a fun wedding – we danced most of the night to a fun band (even though they didn’t play any TSwift…I will forgive them.) Laura had college friends come in from all 4 time zones and more than one continent! She is that kind of person and friend – it’s not at all surprising that many friends would make long journeys to celebrate her. I loved every second of hanging out with this fantastic group of women, and as my friend Carly said, I wish we could do this every weekend!

The groom’s cake was Mexican Chocolate cake – yum! – and in addition to wedding cake there were also donuts. Who doesn’t love donuts? Between the dancing and the 14 mile run, I hit a new high for steps on my Fitbit – 37k steps. *pats self on back*

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Travel home

I was really exhausted form the weekend and took not one but two naps. I did make some  food to kick off the week (with lots of veggies!), so I wasn’t entirely worthless (just mostly worthless).

Week 6: 30 miles

Not the best week for my resolutions to run healthy in 2016:

  • Rehab/core work – B minus: I got in all the rehab exercises, but I skipped core work after my long run in Dallas.
  • Sleep – B: I didn’t meet my 8 hour/night goal (I was around 7.5 hours on average), and I woke up in the middle of the night nearly every night.
  • Nutrition – C: I lost track mid-week of how I was doing against my fruit/veggies goal. I know I had some good days, but C seems like a fair grade given that I don’t know for sure how I did.
  • “Body maintenance” – B plus: I skipped yoga for the second week in a row (oops) and didn’t foam roll on my weekend away, but I did well with stretching/foam rolling during the week, and I had my chiro + PT appointments.

When you go out of town over a weekend, do you typically get your long run in beforehand or do you fit it into your trip? 

Do you try to have decently coordinated running outfits, or do you just grab what’s comfortable and weather-appropriate?

Paris Marathon Training – Week 5

Week 5: 1/11-1/17

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: 30 min easy spinning + rehab exercises + strength training

I planned my time perfectly, then forgot to bring my resistance bands to do all my rehab exercises between spinning and strength training. I did what I could before my strength workout – which included deadlifts, plyometrics, and some arms – then did the rest of my rehab exercises with bands once I got home.

In a quest to eat all my veggies, I made this Asian-inspired brown rice & quinoa bowl – the idea came from this NYT Food recipe but I added several things: most importantly, shiitake mushrooms sautéed with minced garlic and a little salt.

kimchi rice bowl with egg

I turned on the College Football national championship game and had a grand old time foam rolling and going through a few yoga poses. So my national championship game watching experience was…totally normal.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 9:36/mile + strides + core

I’m really not sure what happened with this run. I was sore from yesterday’s jumping split squats and squat jumps, and was super relaxed for a nice easy jog. From my effort, I wouldn’t have been surprised to look down and see 11:00 miles, so I was pretty surprised to see 30 seconds off my normal easy pace. My effort at the end got a little more labored, so I think I should have backed off more at the beginning.

adorable cat photo

This rascal loves core work time, if only to interfere.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

All the DOMS. Decided to switch Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:23/8:54/8:36)

I ran after work, knowing I’d finish in the dark. I ran the same workout last week with slightly faster paces, although both were in the ranges that my plan called for.

I think I ran this week’s workout better than last week’s, even with the slower paces. I stayed more relaxed/controlled, and I had more gas in the tank when I finished. I saw my current Garmin pace get down to 8:05/mile in the last half mile (oops), backed off, and cruised the last quarter mile to the end. I felt great afterwards.

BUUUUT then I got home AND I was so hungry AND so I made dinner AND so I forgot my beloved rehab exercises. **sad face**

Friday:

  • Plan: 3 miles + 4 strides + Myrtl routine
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:14/mile + 4 strides + rehab exercises

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual 12 miles @ 10:36/mile + core

After moving my tempoish workout to Thursday each of the last two weeks, I knew this one would be a little tough. It was. But it was a really beautiful day, and I did a full 25 minutes of core work at home later, which was a big win.

long run silver comet

Sunday:

  • Plan: Optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: Not a damn thing.

It was a holiday weekend and I felt like garbage. My Fitbit registered precisely 2000 steps. I did nothing.

Week 5: 25 miles

I saw some improvement in the resolutions I’m tracking for this training cycle:

  • Rehab/core work – A minus: I got in all the rehab exercises and core work, but I was lazy with the rehab exercises one day.
  • Sleep – A: Last week, I wanted to be more consistent with staying near my 8 hours/night goal. This week my sleep was on target according to my Fitbit…with a Sunday nap in there to pad my stats.fitbit sleep tracking
  • Nutrition – A: I hit my fruit/veggies goal like a champion! (I ate over a pound of spinach. It may have been overkill.) I had a smoothie after nearly every run, which made it so much easier to hit that fruit/veggie target. And I had just two meals from restaurants all week! Having friends with kids who invite you over for home-cooked deliciousness helps with this.
  • “Body maintenance” – C: I skipped yoga when I wasn’t feeling great, and I also missed an appointment with my foam roller. On second thought, do I get a “D” here?

How about you: do you have trouble getting enough fruits and veggies? Either way, let me know your secrets to getting your nutrition right. 

Paris Marathon Training – Week 4

If the work week is an endurance event, then the holidays really zapped me of my work-stamina. Wednesday felt like it should have been Friday, and that’s my week in a nutshell.

Week 4: 1/4-1/10

Monday: 

  • Plan: 30-60 min cross-training + rehab exercises + optional strength training
  • Actual: chiro + 40 min strength training

Last week, when I posted about how not planning enough time got in the way of my doing all the “little things” to keep myself injury-free, this was the day I was thinking about. I didn’t plan my day well and didn’t get the work done that I needed to do. The strength workout was a lot of shoulders/chest/triceps/back/core.

For the third chiro visit in a row, I got a resounding vote of confidence from Dr. Eng to keep up the good work and run all the miles. I’m starting to really notice how much better my hips, glutes, and quads feel with the work he’s been doing and my rehab exercises. He introduced the idea of getting on more of a “maintenance” schedule where I come in once a month. I think I could get on board with that idea next month, but right now I see the biweekly appointments as a security blanket – I know he’ll take care of whatever’s bugging me at least every two weeks.

Tuesday:

  • Plan: 4 miles easy + 4 strides + core
  • Actual: 4 miles easy @ 10:06/mile + strides + core

Just a nice easy, sunny, chilly run at lunchtime. I love winter lunchtime runs. I felt the slightest tinge of ITB pain after my run, so I spent some extra time foam rolling and in pigeon pose.

Wednesday:

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo + rehab exercises + yoga or strength
  • Actual: Rest day

My core was pretty sore from the last two days’ workouts, and when some unexpected appointments took up a part of my day I hadn’t planned for, I decided to switch my Wednesday and Thursday workouts.

I noticed that when I take the train to run errands (like grocery shopping), I get quite a few extra steps in my day. My Fitbit registered over 13k steps – which, with my desk job, is pretty good for a rest day.

Thursday:

  • Plan: Rest day
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ last 3 progression to tempo (9:12/8:50/8:23) + rehab exercises + PT

Another chilly lunchtime run, gray and a little foggy but really nice weather, and the workout went off without a hitch. I remembered to stay relaxed during the workout – sometimes I get anxious about workouts (I realize that is crazy, but it’s true).

Piedmont Park oval atlanta

As usual, I went to the PT with a lot of tightness through my right hip and outer quad, this week so much that my right leg pulled to the side when I fully relaxed it. He needled my right quad, piriformis, TFL, glute med (where I’d been feeling some soreness), and both my right and left psoas – those little boogers have been knotted up for over a year. I REALLY felt it in my right glute med for the rest of the day.

Friday:

I didn’t want to move my long run to Sunday, so I added in a rest day to help myself recover from Thursday’s workout. And I do love Friday rest days.

The end of the week finally came, and we celebrated by staying in with homemade veggie pizza and a movie.

Saturday:

  • Plan: 12 miles + core
  • Actual: 12 miles @ 10:45/mile + core

WOOF. This run was awful. It started out feeling funny and just never got better. I’m of the superstitious belief that if all your training runs are magical, your race will probably suck…at least that’s what I tell myself after days like this. I’m glad I got it done and I was extremely glad when it was over.

silver comet mableton ga

I bought two Powerball tickets with the spare change in my car, and managed 8 minutes of core work before throwing in the towel. Later, we had a busy night celebrating one of my favorite people’s 30th birthdays (happy birthday Sarah!!) and seeing off one of Jeff’s grad school classmates, who got a job with a construction software company in Silicon Valley. It was a much later night than I am accustomed to.

Sunday:

  • Plan: optional cross-training + yoga
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:09/mile + 15 min yoga

I slept in and was lazy most of the day after the exhausting Saturday. I made further strides toward perfecting the breakfast pizza – one egg on the crust and another broken over the toppings. I barely made it out the door before dark for the run, but I managed to get it done just before the sun went down.

breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizza v2.0: mozzarella, egg, thinly sliced potato, caramelized onion, mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, sautéed spinach, Italian sausage, and more egg/mozz.

Week 4: 25 miles

I have mixed feelings about this week of workouts – it was just an okay week. I also had mixed results with respect to my 2016 resolutions:

  • Rehab/core work – C: I was 1 for 2 on rehab exercises, and 1.5 for 2 on core work (I cut Saturday’s short). But I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t gone through the exercise of breaking it all down and coming up with these resolutions, there’s no way I would have done any core work on Saturday.
  • Sleep – B: I made my average of 8 hours/night, but that included one 10+ hour night and a couple of nights when I came up more than 30 minutes short. I’d like to be more consistent.
  • Nutrition – C-minus: I only got my servings of veggies 3/7 days, and fruits just one day. I’m really glad I started tracking this, because it’s an area that I can definitely improve. (Is it just me, or is it harder in the winter?) I did eat just 5 meals out during the week, which was better than I hoped to do.
  • “Body maintenance” – A-minus: I could have done more yoga, but overall I was consistent with seeing the chiro/PT, foam rolling, and doing what I can to stay loose and limber.

How was your week of training/workouts? If you set any resolutions or goals, how are they coming along?

The Process Behind the Goal: 2016 Resolutions

Internet-running-friends, I have loved reading about all your goals and resolutions for 2016. They are awesome and ambitious, and while I find myself dreaming along with you, I’m a little jealous.

2015 brought me more injuries (2) than PRs (1, by 19 seconds). Sure, getting injured sucks and I wish it had been different, but I hope 2015’s lessons will endure far beyond the 12 weeks those injuries kept me away from running.

I have one important goal for 2016: to make it to the finish line of the Paris Marathon healthy. More generally, I want to steer clear of running injuries entirely so that I can run more consistently and hopefully get faster long-term. (ETA: I would like to PR in the marathon, but that goal is so secondary to getting there healthy that I don’t consider it important by comparison.)

Goals are great – yay goals! – but how make them happen? I bring you the unlikely inspiration for this post, who popped into my head as I was waiting for takeout.

The devil himself.* And his process.

nick saban process

Photo credit: ABC 33/40
*Joking aside, I think he is a great coach and not actually the devil, but I’m obligated to dislike the guy. My brothers went to Auburn and my boyfriend to Tennessee.

For those of you who just got a little lost, Nick Saban is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, and the winner of four national championships. He’s been kind of successful. And he attributes this success to the “process.”

“[The Process] basically means just focusing on the little things and not getting wrapped up in the big picture.”

– Barrett Jones, former Alabama offensive lineman

That quote perfectly articulates how I want to approach my training to meet my goal for 2016. I went through a few basic steps to craft my own “process:”

  1. Listed out all of the “little things” that were important to meeting my goal
  2. Identified the most critical items based on importance and/or those I was least likely to do, to come up with a manageable number of items to focus on
  3. For the “little things” I deemed critical, I reflected on the underlying causes of why I’d struggled with them in the past
  4. Determined steps I could take to address the past struggles: my personal “process”

My 2016 resolutions are each of the items critical to achieving my goal. The “process” is my roadmap for achieving success with each resolution. Without further ado, here they are.

Strengthen the weak links

In 2015, I discovered that I enjoyed strength training, with an emphasis on fewer reps and heavier weight. One or two days a week, I’d run in the morning and strength train in the evening. The more I enjoyed feeling like a badass from lifting heavy things, the less I enjoyed the basic core/pre-hab work by comparison. I deluded myself into thinking that the strength training would take care of those areas too. Maybe that works for some, but I learned the hard way that I need to keep doing my clams and glute bridges religiously.

Often, I wouldn’t allow for enough time to fit in these essential “ancillary” exercises. GUESS WHAT? This just happened to me yesterday. Maybe one day I’ll learn. To change this bad habit, I have to accept three things: 1) these exercises are essential, 2) they take extra time, which is time invested in my health, and 3) I have to plan for that extra time.

RESOLUTION: do rehab exercises at least 2x/week, 15-20 min of core work at least 2x/week
PROCESS:
– do exercises as run cool-down. (Or if I’m truly strapped for time, do a couple exercises as a cool-down then the remainder while watching TV or something.)
– add 30 minutes to the total time I plan for each run.

Sleep like a champion

In the past, I haven’t struggled to get enough sleep, but I’m including it as a part of the “process” because it’s so important. After being chronically sleep deprived for nearly 6 years in my old job, I treasure the feeling of being rested and refreshed. I generally sleep about 8 hours when I don’t set an alarm, so I just want to keep that up.

RESOLUTION: average at least 8 hours of sleep per night, add more if necessary as training increases
PROCESS:
– limit caffeine to before 3 pm.
– cut off TV before 10 pm.
– finish eating by 9 pm (I tend to be a late eater, so this would be an improvement!)

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

Although I would like to lose a few holiday pounds, this resolution is more about making sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need than it is about cutting back.

I don’t like labeling foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”. I’m of the mind that foods exist on a spectrum of nutritious to…not so nutritious, and true “healthy eating” comes from eating a mix of foods that together meet all our needs. For further reading on this topic, I can’t recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s Racing Weight enough.

I’m focusing on vegetables and fruits, because I’ve been inconsistent about getting enough fruits & veggies in my diet. I don’t like tracking food, so the less I plan to do, the more likely I am to succeed.

Don’t worry, I’ve carefully crafted this process to accommodate my love of pizza.

RESOLUTION: eat a balanced whole-foods diet
PROCESS:
– track servings of fruits & vegetables: 3-4 servings of each per day (veggies can be put on pizzas and eaten with salad).
– limit myself to 7 meals/week at restaurants by staying on top of grocery shopping & food prep

Give love to hardworking muscles

I am an admitted hater of foam rolling and stretching. I’m also not an expert on which body aches and tight spots are serious and which ones aren’t too much of a concern. I am, however, an expert at ignoring issues until they become injuries. All of this shall change.

RESOLUTION: proactively identify and address tight/weak/sore areas.
PROCESS:
– foam roll/stretch every other day or more as needed. if necessary, self-bribery with beer or TV is acceptable and encouraged.
– see sports chiro/PT at least monthly or as needed
– practice yoga at least once a week

I just re-read all of these process points, and dayyyum, that’s a lot. I have been doing some of these things – just not consistently – others, not at all. It’s entirely possible that some of these resolutions are too ambitious, and others not ambitious enough. Time will tell, and I’m willing to make adjustments as I see room for improvement.

Because I think that each of the four resolutions are essential to my goal of running healthy in 2016, I’m going to keep myself honest in these areas by tracking them in my weekly training posts.

How about you – is there an area of running/life that is important but hard for you to stick with consistently? 

Do you set resolutions or goals at the beginning of the year? If so, what’s on tap for 2016?

RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Weeks 12-13

After having a couple of months of a training slump, in week 11 I began cautiously using an approximation of the 10% rule to get my training (specifically my weekly mileage) back where I planned for it to be. Here’s a quick snapshot from my super-cool Excel training log showing how my weekly mileage looked up to this point:

average weekly mileage

In my last post, I mentioned these three guidelines I’m using to tweak my plan until I get caught up:

  1. Cut mileage from recovery runs first, then easy medium-distance runs
  2. Run at a ridiculously easy pace for all runs except fast workouts
  3. Be hyper-sensitive to listening to my body and be willing to cut back at the first sign of anything wonky

And here’s how it went:

Week 12: 35 miles

Monday, 10/5

You know the drill, rest on Mondays. I also woke up at a time suitable only for vampires so I could fly to Houston for work. Very sleepy. All day.

Tuesday, 10/6

  • Plan: 8 miles; 3-5 @ tempo + 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace (2:00 recovery); core; strength training
  • Actual: 4 miles easy

I switched my Wednesday recovery run with my Tuesday workout because I was pretty tired from the travel, and I’m trying to be really cautious as I increase mileage. We had a really busy work week, so I got up way before the sun and ran with a coworker. I did three sets pushups after my run/before work – I’m trying to get better at them – but not a full blown strength session.

Wednesday, 10/7

  • Plan: 4 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 8 miles; 3-5 @ tempo (9:03, 8:34, 8:38) + 6 x 1:00 @ 8:40/mile average

My Garmin acted up a little on this run; I think the first mile in the tempo run and some of the 10k pace repeats registered a little slow, but maybe it was the humidity. Either way, it felt like a good workout. After that workout and a long day at the office, I was pretty beat.

Thursday, 10/8

  • Plan: 7 miles + 4 strides; hips/glutes; strength training
  • Actual: 6 miles easy; quick strength circuit

I ran with my coworker again and didn’t adhere to my running-super-easy plan. I also totally forgot to do the strides. My team worked hard this week and finished our work early, so we left the office early enough for me to squeeze in a 25 minute strength session at the hotel gym – I did three sets of dumbbell squats, bench dips, Romanian deadlifts, pushups, and planks.

Friday, 10/9

REST DAY. I HAVE MISSED YOU, MY LOVER. Sadly, my flight was delayed.

Saturday, 10/10

  • Plan: 14 miles
  • Actual: 14 miles

I joined my pal Amanda for 14 miles of her 18 mile training run – in the rain, again. It happened to be her “worst long run” of this training cycle, so we had some walk breaks sprinkled in the run. Amanda wouldn’t have minded if I’d run on without her, but since I’ve had such a bad training cycle, I wanted to stick around and tough it out with her. She was really strong and never gave up. Having the experience of gutting out a tough run is, in my view, an underrated component of the mental aspect of training. She did great, and I know she’ll be tough in the late miles of Richmond.

Because of the walk breaks, I approximated that this run counted as about 12 miles of running toward my weekly total. It’s a rough guess, and probably a conservative one.

Sunday, 10/11

  • Plan: 5 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 5 mile recovery run

I didn’t feel nearly as fatigued as I normally do after a long run, so I set out for my recovery run on the flattest route that’s close to my house. A mile into my run, I ran into my old neighbor Kat, who is a part of our annual Savannah half marathon group. We started running together and catching up – did I mention that she is pretty fast? – so I did a couple miles in the high 8:00s, which is decidedly NOT a recovery pace for me. Still, worth it.

Week 13: 37 miles

Monday, 10/12

Rest day. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Tuesday, 10/13

  • Plan: 9 miles: 3-5 @ tempo; 6 x 1:00 @ 5k pace (2:00 recovery); core; strength training
  • Actual: 9 miles: 3-5 @ tempo (8:41, 8:55, 8:36); 6 x 1:00 @ 8:17/mile average; strength training

Holy hard workout. It finally stopped raining in Atlanta, but it was about 100% humidity. The half-mile gravel loop I chose for the workout had a couple of giant mud puddles for extra fun! (Sarcasm intended.) The workout itself went fine – I ran by feel and came pretty close to hitting the paces I wanted to, but the two hilly miles home for the cool-down were so hard. I ended up walking up the steeper uphills because otherwise there was nothing cool-down-ish about it.

Crosswalks at 10th & Piedmont, rainbow striped for Pride weekend

This was my first day deadlifting since I had the SI joint issue a couple of months ago (although deadlifting wasn’t the cause of the issue, it is a similar movement to many of the things that were aggravating my SI joint). I stuck to a relatively easy 105 lbs for 5 sets of 5 and really focused on form, specifically keeping my core strong throughout the movement.

Wednesday, 10/14

  • Plan: 4 miles recovery
  • Actual: 3 miles recovery

I just barely got three miles in. I ate an ill-advised pre-run snack and my stomach was having none of it.

Thursday, 10/15

  • Plan: 7 miles + 4 strides; glutes/hips; strength training
  • Actual: 7 miles + 4 strides; strength training

I returned to basking in the calm gloriousness of easy running, then had a really good time at the gym that evening. It was one of my favorite workouts in a while.

  • Squats: 3 sets of 10 @ 110 lbs
  • Circuit 1: 12 minutes of clean, squat, lunge (ladder up 1/3/5) – I used two 26 lb kettlebells – it was pretty challenging.
  • Circuit 2: 10 minutes of 10 TRX rows, 12 kettlebell rows, 1.5 Turkish get-ups (the half get-up is just getting your hips off the floor then going back down)

Friday, 10/16

REST SWEET REST DAY.

Saturday, 10/17

  • Plan: 15 miles
  • Actual: 3 mile recovery run

I planned to move my long run to Sunday because Jeff threw a party for his grad school classmates Friday night. A really big group came out, representing 10 or so countries. A few of them said they’d never been to an American party. It was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, I went to Tom Foreman’s book signing at the Georgia Tech bookstore. (If you haven’t read my interview with Tom, or my review of his book My Year of Running Dangerously, check them out!) Tom and his wife Linda are wonderful people. After chatting with them at the signing, I felt like I’d known them for years. Tom is really funny, interesting, and easy to talk to; and I could have talked to Linda for hours. If you have the opportunity to meet Tom at an event, DO IT! Follow him on Twitter and/or Facebook to see if he’ll be in your area.

  
One of my favorite parts of meeting the Foremans (besides Tom’s stories from his time in ABC’s Moscow bureau), was when Tom and Linda found out that my friend Amy is running the Marine Corps Marathon, they found out exactly what she’d be wearing so they could look out for her and cheer. This gesture perfectly represented the running community at its best: supporting each other, no matter how famous, fast or slow, old or young. I love it!

I was planning for 4 miles, but by the time I got out for my run, I had friends coming over in less than an hour, so 3 it was. Oops.

Sunday, 10/18

  • Plan: 5 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 15 miles @ 10:15/mile

I went back to the Silver Comet Trail, where I did most of my long runs last year training for the St. Jude Marathon. This run was less challenging and a bit faster than most of my long runs from the last cycle, so I think(hope?) this is a sign of progress.

What’s your favorite strength or cross-training exercise? Can you work it in while traveling, or do you cut yourself some slack?

Have you read My Year of Running Dangerously yet? If so, let me know what you thought of it!

RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Week 11

My travel season has (mostly) come to a close, so I suppose it’s a good time to update the blog with recent training.

In my last training post, I mentioned that I completely skipped a tempo run – on purpose, not because I didn’t have time or was injured. I was sick of dreading them, sick of struggling with them: I needed a break. Doing this let me focus on the fun of training (I was in Boston, my absolute favorite city for running) and put the struggle out of mind for a bit.

In hindsight, I wish I’d done this sooner, because it had a really positive impact on my mindset.

Another issue I needed to tackle was reconciling where I actually was with my training vs. where my plan had me. While I’d been adhering to the plan with regard to long run mileage, and I was mostly on track with midweek workout mileage (which is my second-longest run of the week), I hadn’t been getting in the total weekly mileage that my plan called for.

 weekly mileage

With my training being ALL OVER THE PLACE, partially due to my recent habit of moving long runs, I did some averaging to figure out what the “big picture” looked like. My two- and four-week rolling average mileage was 29 and 28 miles, respectively. I think that gave me a good idea of the weekly mileage on which to anchor the coming weeks.

average weekly mileage

My plan for week 11 called for 38 miles – probably not a smart jump in mileage for me, since it’s been nearly a year since I ran that kind of weekly mileage. Looking at my plan, I realized that with approximate 10% increases in weekly mileage, I could get back on track in about 4 weeks.

Because there’s nothing magical about the 10% rule, I still wanted to exercise caution. We all know that being undertrained and healthy is so much better than getting injured trying to hit an arbitrary mileage goal. So in a nutshell, here’s how I planned to approach these weeks:

  1. Cut mileage from recovery runs first, then easy medium-distance runs
  2. Run at a ridiculously easy pace for all runs except fast workouts
  3. Be hyper-sensitive to listening to my body and be willing to cut back at the first sign of anything wonky

Without further ado, here’s how week 11 went:

Week 11: 32 miles

Monday, 9/28

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

Tuesday, 9/29

  • Plan: 8 miles; 3-5 @ tempo + 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace (2:00 recovery); core; strength training
  • Actual: 8 miles; 3.5 miles tempo (8:49, 8:41, 8:36, 0.5 @8:31/mile) + 5 x 1:00 @ 8:20/mile average; strength training

I started the tempo slow because I’ve been starting tempos too hard and derailing the whole workout. This time – go figure – it felt too easy, so I tacked on another half mile at tempo pace for a little confidence boost. The strength session focused on chest and triceps. I skipped my quick core routine…again [insert blushing face emoji).

Wednesday, 9/30

  • Plan: 4 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 45 minutes easy spinning

I replaced this recovery run with an easy spin session to reduce my overall weekly mileage while keeping the “quality” sessions unchanged. WHY DO I HATE THE $%@&ing SPIN BIKE SO MUCH? I love competitive spin classes, but easy spinning is my personal hell. Le sigh.

Thursday, 10/1

  • Plan: 7 miles + 4 strides; hips/glutes; strength training
  • Actual: 6 miles SOOO EASY + 4 strides; strength training

Not to get all hippie on you guys, but I missed the near-meditative state I get into when I run really really really easy. Why is it so hard to run easy? It’s the best! I skipped the hip/glute stuff (stuff like bridges, banded clams/leg raises/lateral walk) because I am lazy and didn’t feel like it.

Friday, 10/2

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

It’s so easy not to work out on a Friday. I really love the Monday/Friday rest day plan. I’m going to keep it. Jeff and I left for a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate my 30th birthday. We a great trip – Chicago is such a fun city.

The most unique thing we did on our trip was the architecture boat tour on the Chicago River. This was a really interesting tour, especially hearing Jeff’s perspective as an architect himself.

View from the mouth of the Chicago River

Saturday, 10/3

  • Plan: 14 miles
  • Actual: 4 miles easy

I wanted to run along Lake Michigan, but it was raining and I hadn’t packed any running gear for cold rain. When we got back to Atlanta that evening, Jeff and I went to a friends’ house for a cookout. It was already kind of late (7ish), so I decided the best way to both run and hang out was to run to their house. I was a little damp from sweat and rain, but I was glad I got to both run and grill out with friends.

Sunday, 10/4

  • Plan: 5 miles recovery
  • Actual: 14 miles @ 10:27/mile

I ran the first 6 miles with my friend Amanda, who is training for the Richmond Marathon and was running 6 as a recovery day. It was raining and gross – the run wasn’t exceptionally great, but it wasn’t bad either. Considering how this cycle has gone, I’ll happily take a not-bad run.

Have you ever fallen off the wagon and had to alter a training plan?

What do you think of the 10% rule? Abide by it or ignore it?

What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago?

RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training – Week 7

Week 7: 25 miles

This week was planned to be a cutback week, although in relation to the past few weeks, it’s really not much of a cutback.

My plan was originally to race a 10k on Labor Day, and this week’s plan was built around that race. I decided to skip the race and got some much needed rest.

Monday, 8/30

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

I had the best Japanese ramen of my life for dinner at Ippudo

Tuesday, 8/31

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 6 x 2:00 @ 10k pace (2:00 recovery), core, strength training
  • Actual: 7 miles w/ 7 x 2:00 @ 10k pace (I can’t count)

It was pretty hot and humid in New York, and running in Central park (hello hills!) made it feel like I was running back home in Atlanta.

This particular morning, I had a bit of a beef with the New York Hilton – they don’t have coffee pots for guests to have in their rooms (not even upon request), and there isn’t any coffee available in the hotel before 6 AM. The executive lounge doesn’t open until 6:30 AM.

I like to have a cup of coffee about 30 minutes before a run as a preventative measure for stomach issues, so this was irritating. If I’d known to plan for it, I could have gotten out and found a coffee shop nearby. Since I’m so accustomed to staying in Hilton properties and having coffee available anytime, I didn’t plan to wake up a little earlier and locate a spot in advance. So my run began a bit late.

During my 2 mile warmup, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and my coworker who is presently training for Ironman Florida ran past me. It was fun seeing a familiar face and he was running so fast, it motivated me even more for my workout.


My splits were all over the place, since I was running based on effort up and down the Central Park hills. My worst (9:31/mile pace) was up Harlem Hill, and if I’m being honest, I probably should have backed off even a little more. Splits (pace per mile): 8:20, 8:04, 8:16, 9:31, 8:16, 8:20, 8:41.

I also started feeling a tightness/discomfort in the arch of my left foot during this run. Google convinced me that this is the beginning of plantar fasciitis. I definitely don’t want full-blown PF, so I started showing my tight calves a bit more love for the rest of the week. (Even to the point of stretching my calves while waiting for Shake Shack in Grand Central Station.)

Wednesday, 9/1

  • Plan: 3 recovery miles
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 9:53/mile

 
Thursday, 9/2

  • Plan: 6 miles; strides; strength training
  • Actual: 5 miles @ 9:46/mile

I got a late start on my run, so I had to cut it short to make it to work on time.

From my hotel in midtown Manhattan, I went to the west side to run along the Hudson River just past 12th Avenue. It was nice and flat over there, and would have probably been a great spot for a workout or tempo run. I ran south from 55th Street, but going north would have been the better choice for scenery.

That evening, I went to a beer garden and watched the first college football games of the season with coworkers. I’m always so excited when the season starts. I started my weekend of picking games 5-0 against the spread, but ended up 9-6.

Friday, 9/4

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

I’m really good at following easy instructions. Rest on a travel day? No questions asked.

My rest day role model.

Saturday, 8/29

  • Plan: 5 miles w/ 6 x 30 sec @ 5k pace, core
  • Actual: Rest

All the travel and eating unhealthy caught up to me. I skipped my run and came close to fainting at the DragonCon parade. It was the last day to register for the 10k I’d been planning to run on Labor Day, and I made the decision to skip the race. I just wasn’t excited about running this race. I think racing – paying to run(!) should be exciting or fun, and I wasn’t feeling either. If I’m not going to enjoy a race, I see it as a waste of money.

Parade start


My favorite character in the parade

Sunday, 8/30

  • Plan: 3 miles; strides
  • Actual: 10.5 miles @ 10:37/mile

These long runs just keep getting worse. I chose a route that I hadn’t run before. I knew it would be hilly, but the hills were beyond what I expected. 4.5 miles in, I was ready to quit. I got to the bottom of a hill, looked up at the steep grade ahead of me, and turned back.

I bargained with myself for the remainder of the run. I’d planned to run 11 miles total, but until I got past the really nasty hills, I was just telling myself I’d do 9 – out and back. I took a couple of walk breaks when my heart rate felt higher than it should. I ran into my friend Amanda on the Beltline, and I gladly stopped to chat! The run wasn’t pretty. I guess it was better than no run at all. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Takeaways from the week:

  1. I probably need to calm down on the delicious/unhealthy foods. It’s the most obvious thing I’ve been doing differently since I started feeling sluggish and my runs – especially my long runs – have been going worse and worse. The other possible factors are travel and that awful cold I had last week. No matter the cause of my bad runs, I do need to eat better.
  2. I didn’t do any of the strides/core work/strength training that I was supposed to do this week. Finding the energy and discipline to do get it done while I’m in this rut is hard, but I’m cheating myself by not doing these things. [*self pep-talk ensues*]

In other news, I just registered for the Paris Marathon next spring! I’ll be running the marathon with my pal Amy, and we’ll girl-trip it all around Europe before and after the race. I’m calling it active recovery.

RnR Savannah / St. Jude Half Marathon Training: Weeks 3-5

Consistency hasn’t been the forte of my last few weeks. I’ve battled SI joint pain of varying intensity, tough work weeks, and illness. I’m doing my best to adapt to the situation and hoping things will return to normal soon.

This recap includes three weeks, because I’ll be honest, blogging is the first thing to go when life gets a little crazier than normal.

Week 3: 22 miles

Monday, 8/3

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

Tuesday, 8/4

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace; 2:00 rest; core; strength training
  • Actual: 4 miles @ 9:46/mile; 2 sets of 20 kettlebell swings; Myrtl routine

I felt like I was coming down with a cold, so I decided to put off the harder workout and push forward an easier day. Since I was also skipping my planned strength training, I got in a couple sets of kettlebell swings after my run. I felt a little unstable doing swings in my Hoka Cliftons (I typically wear a more minimal shoe for this kind of activity). In the evening, a pain I’d been having in my lower back really seized up. To the touch, I had a knot the size of a lima bean. I curse myself for swinging in max-cushion shoes.

Wednesday, 8/5

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace; 2:00 rest; core; strength training
  • Actual: rest and corrective massage

All day, my back just felt like owwwwwww, even just walking or sitting. I got a last minute massage appointment, with fingers crossed that the therapist could unlock whatever had seized up in my low back.

I learned from the therapist that my SI joint was the source of this pain. The issues with my SI joint had further underlying causes, including tight spots in my adductors and obliques. The massage helped release these spots and took the edge off the pain coming from my SI joint. The therapist also gave me some homework: glute activation exercises (proving I’m still a work in process), and spots to self-massage.

Thursday, 8/6

  • Plan: 5 miles; strength training
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace; 2:00 rest; strength training

I finally got the workout in! It started out pretty easy and ended up tough but doable. Pacing was pretty consistent among the one-minute repeats, between 8:20-8:30 pace. I’m pleased with it, since pacing shorter workouts hasn’t been easy for me in the past.

In the gym that evening, I was nervous to re-aggravate my SI joint so I didn’t go a full 100% effort. It was a good day: squats, pistols, TRX rows, assisted pull-ups, weighted lunges, hanging leg raises, and one arm kettlebell swings.

Friday, 8/7

  • Plan: rest
  • Actual: 3 mile recovery run

Had I done the fartlek workout Tuesday, I would have done this recovery run on Wednesday, so I decided to plug it in on my Friday rest day for a little active recovery.

Saturday, 8/8

  • Plan: 9 miles; core
  • Actual: 9 miles @ 9:15/mile; core

I met up with Jessica for a group run with MARC. I enjoyed the group atmosphere, met a lot of nice people, and had a good run. I kept trying to slow myself down to a 9:30+ pace in accordance with the training plan, but I ran faster than prescribed while still feeling comfortable on the run. I’m not going to read into it; I think it was just a day when I felt really good. I’ll take it.

Sunday, 8/9

  • Plan: 3 mile recovery run
  • Actual: Travel, dinner, and rest

I packed up for another week in Boston. My flight was delayed 30 minutes at the time of departure, made up the delay time in the air, then we were delayed nearly an hour on the ground in Boston waiting for a gate.

My view for an extended length of time.

I’d planned to do my 3 mile recovery run before dinner, but with the delay, my hunger, and my unquenched desire for Neptune Oyster House, I opted to go straight for dinner. It’s gotten so hard to get in Neptune that I specifically planned to go on Sunday night when I’d be dining alone without coworkers. I had some delicious oysters, several (too many) delicious glasses of wine, and their lobster roll makes little angels sing inside my head. This is a meal that is worth skipping a recovery run for.

the BEST.

Week 4: 15 miles

Monday, 8/10

  • Plan: Make up Sunday’s 3 mile recovery run? Or rest.
  • Actual: Rest

I’m just going to be real here, I was a little hung over first thing in the morning.

I drank a bunch of water, slept another hour, and was a champion for the first day of what proved to be a tough work week.

Tuesday, 8/11

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace, 2:00 rest
  • Actual: 5 miles @ 9:29/mile; 4 strides

I slept horribly on Monday night, so yet again, I pushed up an easier running day on my harder workout day.

I didn’t do my evening strength training as planned because we had a team dinner. We went to Bricco, which may be my new favorite Italian spot in the North End. A couple of coworkers and I went family style with a bunch of dishes, and everything was great. Two thumbs up.

The meatballs are awesome.

Wednesday, 8/12

  • Plan: 3 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 4 miles with friends, untimed; core/hip strength

Miles with friends on the Charles River Esplanade are the best. I followed up the run with a core circuit and some hip strength work.

The day just kept getting better from there. For lunch, we went to Sam LaGrassa’s deli (the corned beef and pastrami sandwich is great but HUGE!), and we picnicked in Boston Common on a gorgeous day.

After work, a colleague and I booked it to Harpoon Brewery. If you like beer/the brewery scene, I’ve got to recommend this to anyone visiting Boston. The atmosphere was great, I liked the beer, and the pretzel with IPA cheese made me extremely happy.

Thursday, 8/13

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace, 2:00 rest
  • Actual: Rest

I really regretted not going ahead with this workout on Tuesday. I also regretted not resting enough over the week…WHO AM I KIDDING, it was a great time. But with a big day of work ahead of me, I decided to put my focus there and run in the evening or the next day.

When the work day was over, all I wanted to do was take a nap and go for a late run. So naturally, when my friend/coworker Heather suggested we have a glass of champagne to celebrate getting through the week…YES PLEASE. A glass of champagne turned into another delicious dinner at Bricco and a cannoli from Modern Pastry. So much for those plans.

Friday, 8/14

  • Plan: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace, 2:00 rest
  • Actual: 6 miles w/ 8 x 1:00 @ 10k pace, 2:00 rest

I got the workout in eventually. It was beautiful and the run went great. Other than one repeat that I ran a tad too fast (8:12/mi pace), the rest were all in the 8:20-8:30 range.

I always pack a carry-on for work trips. This particular day, I didn’t feel like dragging it through security, so I pulled a rare move and checked my small bag.

When I got to the Atlanta airport, I saw my bag on a crowded carousel, stacked above a couple of other bags. I reached awkwardly to grab it, and felt almost a cranking sensation in my SI joint.

It hurt to walk, sit, even shift positions while lying down. Normally a tosser/turner, I had to lie completely still while sleeping because the slightest adjustment of my hips sent my SI joint pain into fury.

Saturday, 8/15

  • Plan: Rest or 3 mile recovery run
  • Actual: Rest

I woke up feeling as miserable as when I went to sleep. I couldn’t do anything bending at the waist – I could barely touch my knees. I found a chiropractor whose office was open on Saturday, and it was good to get out of the house with a glimmer of hope, but I didn’t notice any improvement in the pain. I spent most of the day standing and hanging out on our friends’ front porch, because sitting was more painful than standing.

Sunday, 8/16

  • Plan: 9 miles
  • Actual: Rest

The SI joint pain was somewhat less than the day before, but I wasn’t about to risk running 9 miles feeling that way. I toyed with the idea of a short easy run, but decided that would be horrible judgment given the level of pain I was experiencing.

Week 5: 22 miles

Monday, 8/17

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: 3 miles easy @ 9:56/mile

My SI joint pain was steadily improving, but I was getting a little grumpy from not getting any exercise. I tried to think of what I could do to get a good sweat that wouldn’t irritate the SI joint, and realized that running made the most sense – no bending at the waist necessary.

I had a really excellent run. The hills were no big deal. It was odd, except now I’m wondering if something I did to avoid aggravating the SI joint is actually better running form and allows the glutes to activate better. My theory is that it’s keeping my pelvis neutral, so I’m going to try being more conscious of this going forward.

The other great thing about this run was that my SI joint pain was decreased compared to the pain pre-run, and I was a lot more mobile than before (I could actually touch my toes after the run).

Tuesday, 8/18

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3-6 @ tempo pace
  • Actual: 5 miles @ 9:54; strides; strength training

Even feeling a lot better, I wasn’t sure about jumping straight into a tempo run, so the streak of putting off Tuesday workouts continued.

Strength training went pretty well. The trainer modified a couple of exercises to avoid aggravating anything, but I was able to do almost everything according to plan.

Wednesday, 8/19

  • Plan: 3 mile recovery run
  • Actual: 3 miles @ 10:37/mile; corrective massage; mobility class

Thursday, 8/20

  • Plan: 7 miles w/ 3-6 @ tempo pace
  • Actual: 7 miles w/ 3-6 @ tempo pace; strength training

I didn’t wake up early, so I had to do this one on the treadmill. 2 miles @ 10:21/mile, 4 miles @ 8:41/mile, 1 mile @ 10:21/mile. The workout felt exactly as it should: comfortably hard until the last quarter mile or so, when it was pretty stinkin’ hard.

We had squat day at the gym, and I decided to attempt pull-ups with a band for the first time. It was a success and I felt like a badass. That is all.

Friday, 8/21

  • Plan: Rest
  • Actual: Rest

Saturday, 8/22

  • Plan: 10 miles
  • Actual: Rest

My throat felt really scratchy and I felt more fatigued than normal, so I hoped that putting off the long run would keep the sick bugs at bay.

Sunday, 8/23

  • Plan: 10 miles
  • Actual: 4 miles @ 10:21/mile; core/hips

I still felt kind of sick and decided to play it safe.

Overall, I’m disappointed that I haven’t been training as consistently as I planned, but sometimes life happens. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, hoping all the obstacles to my training came at once. 🙂