Monday, April 27, 2015

S2S - Week 8

Week 8 turned into a week off. For the majority of the week my ankle/foot was too swollen to fit in my running shoes. Even though it wasn't really painful, I took this as a sign that I should stay off of it. The road rash however was a literal pain in the butt. Sitting hurt! Walking hurt! Any sort of movement hurt. Mostly I just laid around trying not to feel guilty for taking another week off.

I was able to test out my injuries on Saturday by chasing my 3 year old niece around the park for an hour. Let me tell you, playground tunnels are not made for 5'8" adults. But all the running/climbing/jumping did not do anything to aggravate my injuries, so I am considering the day a win (any time with my niece is the absolute best!). And that was my entire week.

Adjusting my training plan while I ice my foot.
I was able to do a short run today without any issues. I decided to ice my ankle after the run as a precaution. The bruise is still a bit tender but most of the swelling seems to have disappeared. I am just two weeks away from my first 5k of 2015. Since April has been such a spotty month with getting a chest cold and then falling, I'm a little apprehensive about being able to PR in this race.

On one hand, when I have been running, I have been running longer distances and harder workouts than this time last year (when I set my 22:13 PR). But on the other hand, last year I didn't miss two weeks due to injuries/illness. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the higher mileage weeks (30+ compared to 20+ last year) AND the speed work will pay off on race day. And if not, well, there will always be more races!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

S2S - Week 7

Baby bruise on my knee; ankle is destroyed.
Injury Prevention Rest day. I was not feeling it on Monday and decided to move my injury prevention day to later in the week.

5 x 4:00 at 5k effort with 3:00 recovery
7 miles total

My left quad was feeling a little tight on Tuesday and I wasn't sure how that would affect my running. I also was really apprehensive about this workout since these speed sessions have been really challenging for me. This was the same interval distance as week 6 except with one extra rep. I was worried that I would fall apart in the last rep, so I had to force my brain to just shut off. My strategy for the workout was to keep my pace steady and in control for the first 3 minutes and allow myself to push hard the last minute (assuming I had the energy).

4:05, 4:10, 4:11, 4:12, 4:05 (avg pace: 6:54)

When compared to last week's session, my average pace was 1 second faster AND my slowest rep this week was faster than last week's slowest rep. ALSO, I finished my last rep at the same pace as my first rep. I actually felt really good about this workout and it boosted my confidence quite a bit.

5-6 easy miles 2.5 miles (9:30 pace)

My tight quad from Tuesday was feeling a bit painful on Wednesday so I cut my run down to just 2.5 miles. I also decided to take Thursday off from running as an extra precaution.

5-6 easy miles Injury Treatment/Prevention

Foam rolling and more foam rolling. Lots of stretching. Core work and upper body work. I skipped squats/lunges/etc to make sure to take it easy on my quad. After an easy day and a rest day my quad was almost completely back to normal.

Rest 3.48 miles (9:25 pace)

I had a long run scheduled with friends on Saturday so I wanted to take it pretty easy, while also making up a few of my missed miles from early in the week. It was super sunny and super warm and it really felt like a mid summer run instead of mid April! It was the perfect day to be outside enjoying a few miles!

13.6 miles of hills 9.8 miles of hills (pace unknown, but slow)

Oh Saturday long run. What a disaster. My friend Alex organized a group run that was going to be about 13.6 miles long and hit 4 of the biggest hills in town. I was planning on running about 12 miles, so this sounded like a perfect plan. Six of us set off at 10 AM to conquer those hills! It was hot and there wasn't much shade so we were keeping the pace pretty easy. We crested the first hill just 1.3 miles into our run and the second hill about two miles later. It was really hard not to think we were half way done at this point. The third hill included a series of little hills, the last one at mile 6 being quite steep (14% grade - there was sign to warn cars going down the hill!).

I went off course around mile 9, but I will be back for you hill #4!
And then, around mile 8, I completely wiped out. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I stepped funny on some gravel/sand covering the pavement and my foot shot out from under me. I came down hard on the inside of my right ankle and knee and the left side of my butt. My ankle is bruised and swollen while my tush is sporting some serious road rash and bruising.

I had to run/walk the rest of the way back to my car (thank goodness for a short cut back so I didn't have another 5 miles to go!). I was also grateful that I had a towel in my car so I didn't end up with blood all over my car seat.

Total miles: 22.78

Week 8 so far...
I went to the doctor's office today to get things checked out since things seemed to be getting worse rather than better. X-rays have been taken and I should find out tomorrow if I broke something in my right foot.

**Update** Not broken! Wooo!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Puzzle Piece: Injury Prevention

After missing 6 weeks last year due to a calf strain and missing my biggest goal race of the year, my top priority for 2015 is getting to the starting line healthy. I have been addressing this goal in a number of ways.

Train Smart
Looking back at what lead to my calf strain:
  • Week of peak mileage (45 miles) including 20 mile long run
  • 30 mile week with a 10 mile run Saturday and 5k race Sunday (3s off my PR)
  • 35 mile week with a half marathon (PR)
  • Week of peak mileage (45 miles). Injured on Wednesday ran and additional 31 miles with an unknown injury. I figured if I made it through this week I would be starting my taper and take a few days off then. Clearly I didn't know how serious my injury was.
When choosing races for 2015 I laid down the law: No back to back races. Nope, not doing it! When I sign up for races, I intend to actually race them. Racing takes a lot out of me and, for me, it is too much to race super frequently, especially when I have a training plan to keep up with!

Speaking of training, I also have mandated that every race gets a taper before the race and a reverse taper following the race. For 5ks, this means just an extra day or two of easy running following a race. For longer races, this means reduced mileage the week following a race and at least two rest days after the race.

Get Stronger
This is probably the area that I struggle with the most. I know that strengthening my core will improve performance and minimize the risk of injuries. I know that strengthening training my legs and reducing muscle imbalances has the same benefits. But for some reason, most weeks I just don't have the motivation to get it done!

Planking with an audience.
If there is interest, I can put together a post about which exercises I am doing, but to keep this post to a reasonable length, here is a quick rundown:
  • Increasing core strength (includes abs, back, and hips)
    • Correcting muscle imbalances in my legs (my right side is a bit stronger than my left)
      • Building upper body strength (current goal: 10 pushups)
        • Improving flexibility (If your job has you sitting all day, I recommend this yoga sequence)
        I need to listen to my body and adjust my training as needed. This is why I didn't hesitate to take a full week off of running when I had a chest cold. I know that running with a chest cold would only prolong the illness. I would rather take a week off and be able to jump back into training then have 3-4 weeks of mediocre training because I refused to listen to my body (It helped that while I was feeling the worst even a quick trip to the store to grab medicine felt exhausting).

        This is why on Wednesday I went out for a measly 2 mile run. I have been having some tightness in my left quad this week. On Sunday and Tuesday, it felt tight but didn't hurt while running. On Wednesday it felt uncomfortable while running so I cut my run short. I need to know when to cut back to keep minor twinges from becoming full on injuries.

        Listening to my body also means regular foam rolling. I want to catch any minor annoyance before it has the chance to become a major issue. I know in the past that I have had tight calves and tight IT bands. Foam rolling those areas once a week as part of my body maintenance keeps them fresh.

        Are you doing anything in particular to stay injury free? Can you think of anything I should be doing differently?

        Monday, April 13, 2015

        S2S - Week 6

        I was tired of seeing snow in my usual training report photo, but I haven't had a chance to take a new photo. So please enjoy this photo from my 5k in Hawaii! I finished in 24:23 which was good enough for 2nd in my age group (yep, small race!). I'll just be sitting here day dreaming about my next trip to Hawaii...

        Warm up: 1 mile walk with the middle half mile at an easy jog
        Strength: Core strength, push ups and tricep dips, squats, lunges, step ups
        Cool down: 15 minutes of stretching

        5.11 miles at 9:45 average pace.

        I still wasn't quite feeling 100%, so my plan was to take it nice and easy. I even took a couple walking breaks so I could evaluate how I was feeling. I also tested a new running route and spent half the time wondering if I had taken a wrong turn (amazingly I did not!). I now have two completely different 5 mile routes I can run right from my house. Win!

        5.02 miles at 9:29 average pace

        Still fighting some lingering congestion and coughing, but feeling pretty good. Once again I took a couple of short breaks to evaluate how I was feeling. I felt like I needed to keep reminding myself to take it easy so I could keep my legs fresh for Thursday's intervals.

        4 x 4:00 at 5k effort with 3:00 recovery
        6.88 miles total

        For this workout I planned to run 0.60 miles in 4:05-4:10 (pace range of 6:48-6:57). I ended up running 4:03, 4:11, 4:09, and 4:14. The two intervals that were slightly over my goal pace both included a slightly uphill section, so I am not too bothered. Average pace for my intervals was 6:55. I'm not going to lie, this workout was really freaking hard! Running at these faster paces once a week is so new to me and it absolutely kicks my butt every time.

        I keep hoping that these workouts will start to feel easy, but I don't think that is going to happen. Maybe it isn't supposed to happen. Reminder to self: That is okay! My body is still learning! (thanks again, Hanna)

        Rest day! Foam rolled my calves (so tight) and did a few pushups (so lacking in upper body strength).

        9.7 miles at 9:21 average pace.

        I had 7-8 hilly miles on my schedule for Sunday, but decided to meet up with a couple friends from my running club for a long run on Saturday. I decided having company on my run was more important than sticking exactly to my training plan. I didn't choose the route, but, as luck would have it, we managed to find plenty of hills during this run.

        My friend Mack also offered up the following hill advice: The sooner you get to the top of the hill the sooner you are done with the hill. Letting him take the lead on our run might not have been the best choice, but it definitely made for a great workout.

        4.7 miles at 9:25 average pace.

        I started off pretty slow on this run since I could tell I was a bit sore from the hills on Saturday. I initially thought that I might take a few walking breaks like I did on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that ended up not being necessary.

        Total miles: 31.41

        Thursday, April 9, 2015

        5k History and Goals

        I ran my very first 5k way back in 2006. This was just a one time event. I signed up on a whim and had no idea how to actually train for a race. I did all of my training on a treadmill except for one run. I finished in 32:37 and went right back to my non running lifestyle.
        Approaching the finish line of my very first 5k.
        Over the next few years I would occasionally dabble in running, but I didn't sign up for any races. At this point in my life running was something I did to just to stay in shape. My best friend talked me into signing up for this 5k in 2009 and, after walking it 2 years in a row, I decided to run it in 2011. I trained using Couch to 5k, and in spite of having a great training session, I ended up having a terrible race (39:57). Pro tip: If you are allergic to poplar trees, running a race on a street lined with poplar trees is NOT recommended.

        After that difficult race, I decided to just keep running so I wouldn't need to start over next spring. A year of running and some well timed allergy medicine the morning of the race allowed me to hit 28:51 (plus two other sub 30s that year). By this point I had the running bug.

        In 2013 I signed up for my first half marathon and the increased distance led me to taking a full 5 minutes off of my time (22:59). After my third half marathon training cycle that time was cut down to my current PR of 22:13. I am definitely happy with the fact that I have taken over 10 minutes off of my 5k time, but it has left me wondering what I could accomplish if I really applied myself to the 5k distance.

        Which pretty much brings us to right now. Today is exactly one month out from my goal race. I have a pretty lofty goal of breaking 20 minutes, but I am realistic enough to know that it is not going to happen this year. Sub 20 is a 3-5 year goal. This year I am hoping for at least a 30s improvement. So to finally get to it, this is what I would like to see this year:

        21:41 (6:59 pace). I'd really like to see a 6:XX 5k and taking 32 seconds off of my time seems like a reasonable goal (fingers crossed).

        Stretch Goal: 21:09 (6:48). 70% age grade. Taking over a minute off of my time would be huge. I don't know if it is quite possible this year, but it would be a serious step towards sub 20.

        Monday, April 6, 2015

        Week 5?

        Little kitty not only keeps me company when I am sick, she also likes to climb all over me while I try to stretch. Her name is not really little kitty, it's Mitten. She has too many toes which make her paws look like mittens.

        Injury prevention day! Core strength with a small amount of body weight strength training for upper body and legs. I also spent a fair amount of time stretching. Foam rolling didn't seem necessary since I did not notice any tight spots in the previous week.

        Terribly sick.

        This was the first day that I actually felt a bit better. Definitely not well enough to run though. I toyed with the idea of doing some core work or strength training, but in the end decided I wasn't actually feeling that great. I spent about 25 minutes stretching just for something to do.

        I wanted to run on Sunday but told myself no. I have had chest colds before and I know from experience that if I try to jump back into running too quickly I will end up relapsing. I battled a chest cold one year from mid September to early November (which is when my doctor finally said absolutely no running for a week). Not going to happen this time!

        Training Adjustments:
        1. 4 x 4:00 at 5k effort (May 31) and 5 x 4:00 at 5k effort (April 7). Instead of jumping into intervals for my first run back, I moved the May 31 workout to this coming Thursday (April 9) instead of Tuesday. I shifted each 5k effort session after that back one week to accommodate this change. In week 9 of my training plan I canceled a session of 200m intervals at 3k effort. I did not want to miss any of the 5k effort sessions and since I don't have easy access to a track, this seemed like a good workout to cancel.
        2. 4 x 90s hill repeats (April 2). Instead of doing defined hill repeats I will run a hilly route on April 12 (see #5 for more info). I have another hill repeat workout scheduled for April 16; I did not want to have two hill repeats too close together.
        3. 12 mile long run (April 4). I will not be making up this workout.
        4. Technique drills (April 9). I will not be making up this workout.
        5. 12 mile long run (April 12). I don't want to over do it this week so I am going to cut my long run down to 8 hilly miles. In my mind I am averaging my long run and my hill repeats (see #2) into a medium distance hilly run. 
        I am hoping that these are smart adjustments. I know that I can not make up the 35 miles of running that I missed in week 5, but I also wanted to maintain the progression of my 5k effort intervals. I feel like these runs are very important to improve my 5k PR. I also know that the hill repeats are important for building speed, so I wanted to maintain some aspect of running hills. I am hoping that I made the right decision in cutting the long runs and the technique drills. If anyone has any better suggestions, please let me know!

        Thursday, April 2, 2015

        Missed runs

        Running this week is just not happening. Sunday I noticed that my lungs/chest was feeling slightly irritated. I have felt similar discomfort after really, really hard runs, but since I hadn't run very hard on Saturday or Sunday I didn't know what had caused the irritation. On Monday it was irritation + losing my voice. I managed to finish my injury prevention workout but it felt harder than usual to complete it.

        By Tuesday some nasty congestion had settled into my chest and I was running a slight fever. Since then I've basically been parked on the couch 24/7. Running is completely out of the question since I can't even take a deep breath right now without triggering a coughing attack. In addition to the general ickiness that comes with being sick, I am also dead tired. I can not breathe at all when laying down. Even propping myself up on a pillow mountain has not been enough. I need to be sitting if I want to be breathing, which has made sleeping for more than an hour at a time nearly impossible. Little kitty has been providing constant cuddles and comfort while I have been sleeping on the couch. She is a big fan of sleeping on my lap under the blankets.

        Soft kitty, warm kitty. Little ball of fur...
        It has been a pretty frustrating week since I feel like my training had been going really well and now it feels completely derailed. If this was nose/throat congestion, I'd definitely be out running this weekend. But since it is in my chest, I know that running will just further aggravate my symptoms. I just need to be patient and give myself plenty of time to heal.

        Once I start feeling better I will try to figure out how I am going to get back into 5k training. I'm crossing my fingers that I won't miss much more than a week of training. But whatever happens, it probably won't be worse than missing the marathon last year, so I'm trying to stay positive and just take things one day at a time.