Sunday, September 14, 2014

Playing it safe

One thing I've learned about being sidelined with injuries for too long is that listening to my body is more important than sticking to a training plan.  Last weekend I planned on doing an 18 miler but my body was tired and I decided sleep and active rest was more important.  The past few weeks I've been playing in the pool and learning how to swim (with my face in water).  Time goes by quickly in the pool, especially since it's been scorching hot, and many days I've been running and swimming; it clicked that the pool was a better workout than I realized and my body needed some rest.  I ended last week with 30 miles and planned on jumping back into upping my long run mileage this week.  But that did not go as planned and I ended up playing it safe.

After my mid week 9 miler, my ITB flared up and served as a reminder of the importance of getting cozy with my foam roller daily and not skipping my physical therapy strength exercises.  I still planned on doing the 18 miler this weekend but the heat and realization that I had to see how my ITB held up before barreling ahead with my training plan squashed that.  Instead, today I slept in a little bit until 6:30am and then left with a goal of 10 miles; my ITB felt okay so I tacked on additional miles and ended the run at 14 miles.  While it was not according to plan, it was playing it safe and listening to my body.  Maybe I am learning something from all my injuries....

This upcoming week calls for more time in the pool, partly to survive the 100 degree temps expected and partly to continue working on improving my swim stroke, and listening to my body during each run.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Base building time

One mistake I've made numerous times since I started running is upping mileage and/or making too many changes in terrain/mileage too fast.  This year, I've been careful to build a base before increasing mileage and I am trying to slowly increase my total weekly mileage.  For a few months, I allowed my work days to be so long and draining that I ran few miles during the week and the crammed in the majority of my miles on the weekend; thought that was not optimal, it that allowed me to get used to running longer distances on legs tired from running the day before.

I use dailymile for tracking my runs and looking at my weekly totals has been useful in making sure I am not doing too much, too soon.  March, April, and May, I focused on building a mileage base and increasing that to 20 miles per week; at the same time, I made my physical therapy exercises a key component of each day and gradually grew accustomed to running in different shoes.  Before my last PT bout, I had been told I needed orthotics and shoes with some pronation control; in talking with more running-focused clinicians, I learned that those two items actually make my running gait worse and that I should be in neutral shoes with a minimal heel-toe drop.

Now that I have established a solid running base, I am trying to keep my weekly mileage increase close to 10% per week and am including cut back weeks. Two weeks ago, I hit 35 miles per week and did a cut back week last week.  This week, I am targeting 39-40 miles and will use this week as a major test for whether a winter road marathon is feasible.  I am also incorporating a little swimming into each week knowing that cross-training is important and I should take advantage of the warm temps and apartment pool.

Twelve months ago I could not walk without my hip buckling and each mile is now more cherished than before.  I was thrilled to spend this Labor Day running!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Running trails in Portland

After a long hiatus from blogging, I am ready to chronicle my running again.  After several months of physical therapy and puzzling an orthopedic doctor, a staff of physical therapists, and an A.R.T. guru who works with ultra running elite in the world, my body is better than before but the lingering issues remain.  I am optimistic that I'll be able to continue my gradual, careful increase in mileage and will settle for whatever pace I can run without it aggravating my hip.  My increase in mileage coincided with a work trip to Portland a couple weeks ago; I decided to stay an extra day to check out Forest Park.  OH.MY.WORD.  I found trail running paradise for me!

Forest Park is a massive urban park with seemingly endless trails, including Wildwood trail that runs through the park.  Despite being exhausted from traveling the day before and having to be back at my hotel in time for a huge work conference call, I awoke to be at the park at 6am.  I did research in advance and decided to park in a place that seemed like an easy to locate park entrance not far from my hotel.  The entrance at Macleary park had minimal parking but running early on a weekday has its advantages - open parking spots!  There was construction that threw me off as to where the trailhead was but I recalled reading that there was a steel sculpture and I ran on the under construction bridge, spotted it and then saw the forest paradise beyond that.

My initial plan was for 15 miles but, after 2 miles, I realized I was running slower than normal due to the constant up/down of the trail; I calculated how much time I could spend running and realized I would have to cut my run down to 13ish miles.  To play it safe, I did an out and back, instead of exploring any of the offshoot trails, and was sad I had to turn around.  I am not accustomed to running on soft dirt trails under a tree canopy and I wished I had more time in Portland to explore more of the park.  The run kicked my butt in a good way and made the cost of staying there an extra day well worth it.

My last long run of 16 miles caused my hip to ache and I longed for Forest Park; if only I could go to Portland every week or weekend for my long runs....the drought in California causes everything to look brown, the extremely low humidity and the lack of shade of any route near my apartment makes getting motivated for long runs hard but I'm determined to see if the months of PT made enough of a difference.  Fingers crossed!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tighten those glutes!

Welcome back blogging world!  It has been a couple of years since I have blogged consistently due in part to a lack of consistent running and mostly due to my crazy work schedule.  When I left teaching, I thought that my new job would allow me to focus more on myself but it has been the opposite.  60 plus hour work weeks have made running low on the priority list; I enjoy sleep too much!

When I tried to get back into running consistently (at least on the weekends), my nagging injuries flared up.  I had a blast at the 2013 Leona Divide 50K since I ran smarter and faster than my out of shape self anticipated.  After that, my hip issue eventually sidelined me; in July, I could not run more than 0.1 mile before my hip/leg buckled.  I finally broke down and got x-rays and the MRI to rule out major issues; thankfully, I "only" have internal and external snapping hip syndrome.  It's causes pain and very loud popping sounds that make my husband jump when I do squats or stand up.  (eeek)  I took time off and gradually built back up mileage, while doing the few exercises my chiro gave me.  A couple months ago, I got up to doing 20+ miles and hoped I would be able to do Leona Divide this year.  But then the nagging hip flexor pain got worse and I realized I'm sick of being injured; it is time to get to the bottom of this, fix it and get me back out there running pain free.

My awesome ortho sent me to Rausch Physical Therapy last week for a running gait analysis and PT. Today I had the gait analysis and, while it was weird,  hearing two PTs talk about me while I ran on the treadmill, it was awesome hearing what is making me hurts so much.    Basically, my form sucks; I have zero glute activation (in fact, he used the term flaccid to describe my glutes - lol), many other weak muscles.  I am happy to have a PT plan to attack the super tight hip flexors, strengthen and activate my glutes, and work on the other muscular issues that cause severe supination.  Though I typically suck at adhering to plans, I am committed to getting stronger and coming back to running pain free.  Until then, I have to keep my running at a minimum but get to keep running.  Here's to making my backside strong!