I alternate between two extremes when it comes to aches, pains, and potential injuries: “tis merely flesh wound” and hyper-sensitivity.
I once tripped on a run back in Valparaiso, scraped both knees badly, and kept running – only to return home with blood dripping down my legs and scars that lasted throughout all of summer. That mentality of “no big deal, I’m fine” is actually what exacerbated my sprained foot – well, that and the fact that for some reason my tendons swelled so much that they shifted a bone.
But now when I get the slightest hint of an out of the ordinary muscle ache, especially right now after my sprained foot, I panic and throw on the breaks. For someone who firmly believes in finding a happy medium, I’m not too great on doing that when it comes to aches while running.
Thankfully, I think this week I found a happy medium for easing back in. 11-20 miles was the range I set for myself this week; if I could do that, just for one week, then I could ease back worry-free.
Monday: AM: 3.5 miles; PM: 15 minutes Pilates + additional core work
My plan was to test my hamstring with 5 minutes of easy running and, if there was no tightness or discomfort, to run for half an hour. Thankfully, I felt nothing, which is a good sign – so I ran!
Even though it’s a bit humid outside, the mornings are still chilly enough to warrant wearing a long sleeve shirt on a run.
Tuesday: AM: 3.5 miles; PM: strength training
Since I ran 3.5 miles the previous day, I had to run 3.5 today because I prefer my weekly mileage to be a round number. Every runner has their quirks.
I began my run on a nearby trail, only to see a sign notifying me of trail closure. At first, I thought – oh, I can run past that – until I saw the word sewer. Ewwww, not worth it.
I briefly considered running 1/4 mile back and forth again and again until I hit 3.5 miles, but I mentally struggle with short loops like that (why I never run on a track). Instead, I just ran along the nearby sidewalks of a business park until my run was done.
For strength training, I made up a short circuit workout that I actually enjoyed. I did 3 sets of: 8 step ups per leg with dumbells in each hand, 10 elevated plank rows per arm, 10 stability ball passes, 15 dumbbell flyes, and 15 stability ball ab pulls.
Wednesday: 4 miles easy
I struggle to run slow on one of my favorite routes because it’s flat and fast – perfect for tempo runs or even long runs because there’s no intersections with roads for at least 13 miles. But on easy days, especially when I’m not experiencing any training fatigue, this trail tricks my legs into going faster. There’s no hills or crosswalks to slow me down, and the scenery makes the miles pass with ease.
The first couple miles I felt all the stability ball work from yesterday, but at the turn around point my body warmed up and my pace effortlessly increased up to 7:50. I reeled in after than effort but still ran a 8:18 for that final mile. These paces, especially since they were unintended, offer some reassurance that in running good for me paces once I begin marathon training, but I wasn’t pleased with my pacing abilities on this particular run.
Those of you who read my blog regularly (and runners who have trained with me) know how seriously I take easy running. Even though a 8:15/mile pace (which is what I averaged for this run) is significantly slower than the 7:30/mile pace I ran in my most recent half marathon, but even that crosses the boundary of too fast for an easy day for me. I’d rather have an endless log of 8:30-9:30/mile easy runs and race times I’m proud of than 7:20-7:50/mile easy runs and slower times for my races.
Thursday: AM: 4 miles easy on the treadmill; PM: strength training
I don’t like the treadmill much anymore, but I can tolerate it for shorter runs. Most days I don’t mind running in the rain, but for 4 short miles it didn’t even seem worth it to break out all my rain gear, get soaked, and be cold the rest of the day (keep in mind, this is Seattle – it’s 50 degrees outside). So the treadmill won and I adapted my short fartlek workout to throw some marathon pace bursts of moderate effort in to beat treadmill boredom.
Friday: 5 miles easy with Ryan
I normally don’t run in the afternoon, but Ryan and I were both moving around our schedule and decided just to run together since we were missing our normal weekend runs together. Plus, his presence would keep me from getting excited and running longer when I told myself to do a low mileage week.
My stomach isn’t ridiculously sensitive, but since I run before breakfast I struggle to handle a day’s worth of food on my stomach during a run. I can’t eat my normal lentil, potato/squash, and veggie bowl or my eggs, potato/squash, and veggie lunch before a run, so I end up eating the weirdest combinations.
Oats are fine for breakfast, but lunch this day ended up being a baked russet potato with a dollop of Greek yogurt plus a banana with a spoon of peanut butter. Weird lunch, but worth it to get to log some miles with my husband.
Saturday: 2.5 mile hike
My mom and sister were visiting Seattle, so we took them on part of the same hike we did last week to Barclay Lake. We then drove to Leavenworth to enjoy brats, German beer, and beautiful mountain scenery.
Sunday: 3.2 miles on the treadmill, with 20 minutes at tempo (7:30/mile)
This was my first “hard” workout since I sprained my foot, and by hard I mean faster than an easy run. Thankfully, half marathon pace didn’t feel too hard at all – even better, it felt enjoyable and a bit exhilarating to run at a faster clip again. I kept my run short since we had a busy and fun day planned, but I can feel that I’m ready to go fast or long (and eventually, fast and long in the same run).
We attended a Mariners vs. Cardinals baseball game. I’m not a huge fan of team sports, but I am a fan of beer so baseball is a good compromise.
I ran 23.2 miles for the week and I feel good – ready to return back to normal running after injury. My foot and hamstring just feel a bit sensitive, which is likely more the result of being hyperaware than of any real ache. My goal for next week is 25-30 miles and then to build progressively back to the 35-40 range from there.
My legs and lungs are craving marathon mileage. I had just a taste of long runs and a good volume of weekly mileage back in April, during my brief month of marathon training before I sprained my foot. We booked our hotel this week for California International Marathon (our first choice one was already booked!) and even though December 4 is over five months away I’m eager. I am willing to be patient and take the conservative route, but there’s nothing like halted training to make you crave those hard weeks. It’s probably good for me, actually, because it leaves me completely ready to pour myself into 16-20 weeks of hard work.
Linking up with Weekly Wrap!
What are you wanting right now: a hard training cycle or a race-free time to enjoy running?
Do you enjoy baseball? What’s your favorite team?
Do you vary your running routes? How do you choose which one to run?