The last hurrah

This is my last big push. After this week I taper. My wife and I have modified our original plan to run Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, to running Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

We did this because we had plans for a good part of Sunday that would require us to 1, be awake, and 2, have functioning bodies.

Having said that, our individual day volume is increased over the original plan and I found myself running 6 miles tonight. I have been struggling with IT band pain most of my training. As my volume went up the IT bands punished me. I have been wearing knee braces and they have helped tremendously. There is one issue though. As I start to get into a groove, my calf muscles swell (probably from being engorged with blood) and tighten the knee braces around my leg. Within a few minutes my calves and my shins are cramped up.

This happened tonight. After about 10 minutes of straight running I felt like my shins were going to explode. I pushed through it but when I got to my house after a first 3 mile loop, I decided to take the knee braces off before continuing the last 3 miles.

It was risky, what if my IT band flared up again? I figured I had time to recover before the race so I just went for it. As I started to run I felt lighter than air. It’s amazing how constricting knee braces can be. I mean, I guess that’s the point, but running without them felt almost like cheating.

There was good and bad news however. The bad news is that my calves and shins were too far gone to fully recover. Although I didn’t feel as much pain without the braces, the damage had been done, and I couldn’t keep up the 9min/mile pace I had the first 3 miles. The good news is that I had no IT band issues at all! I finished the run with a 9:43 pace. A new record for me.

I’m not sure where this leaves me. Do I run the half with or without the braces? Should I do this weekend’s 12 miles without the braces? Maybe I can bring them with me in case I need them? Ugh, decisions, decisions.

10 Mile run

This weekend I managed to put together a 10 mile run. I wore knee braces and the run was beautiful, but uneventful. I actually took only 5 minutes longer to run the 10 miles than the 9 miler I did last week.

My knees and legs held up really well.

Because of where I live, I always end up with a triple set of hills in the last half mile of the run. I was feeling amazing …until the dreaded triple dip!!! That was just an awful way to end a great run. Ugh. I wore compression pants the rest of the day, and that night I felt just great.

The one thing I am concerned with is if I am going too fast on my runs. The long runs are supposed to be easy, but I think I am running near 9:30 miles during the run. I know that isn’t fast for most, but for me it is way above my normal pace. My average HR is still low, but I think that has to do with my walk segments which drop my HR average down. So I’m not sure if what I am doing is right or not. Having said that, I am not going to change things now. I am going to continue plugging away.

I am considering doing a 5K race today. I’m hoping for a good time so that I can get a seeded start in the Manchester Road Race in November. I’ll post more when I know for sure.

Wow, I’m all over the place with these posts, sheesh.

9 Miles!

9 miles! Saturday morning I did my 9 mile run. I was pretty nervous about it considering my IT band issues, but I was wearing my knee brace and hoping for the best.

The night before I prepared some homemade Gu based on a recipe I found online. I knew I was going to need something if I was going to run that long, and I didn’t have any Gu’s at home. I’ll post the recipe in a bit.

At any rate, I did the 4 minute run, 1 minute walk thing. Apparently, when I ran, I ran pretty hard (for me anyway) because I made it back with just over ten minute miles! More importantly, I made it with no knee pain in my right knee.

I did have a little soreness in my left leg in the muscle just above the knee. It felt like it might have been IT band related too. I’m elated. The run was pretty tough too. There were quite a few hills, one of which was about 200 feet of elevation over maybe half a mile. The other side of that hill was a 10 percent grade so I actually walked all the way down the other side.

The homemade gu was yummy, and it really seemed to help. I ran out of it at around mile 6, and I’m thinking that is why mile 9 was sooooo miserable. Having said that, I ran the race on pace for a 10 minute mile. Which would have me finishing the half marathon at a respectable (for me) 2:10 or so. I would be thrilled to break the 2 hour mark, but I will take just finishing.

More on my race strategy as I get closer to race day, mostly because I have no idea yet.

Knee Injury Update

I have had two physical therapy sessions so far and here is what I’ve heard every time they touch my leg.  “Oooo that’s tight!”  I suppose in some contexts one would appreciate that remark.  In my situation it isn’t a good thing.

I have always had really tight hamstrings.  I am not very flexible.  Hopefully with some of the stretches that I’m getting that will all increase.

I managed to get out last night for a walk.  It was f’n cold.  It’s funny how quickly we adapt to warm weather.  A few weeks ago a night in the 50’s would have been warm.  I couldn’t just walk so I ran for a minute or two at different points.  It was nice to run, but I felt winded pretty quickly.  I didn’t have a heart rate monitor so I ran pretty hard when I was running, and I think that tired me out more than I expected.    My training plan doesn’t have any speed workouts in it until May so I’m not surprised that I would be sucking wind right now.  I might actually have to push the speed workouts out now that I’ve been injured.  Ugh.

The run itself was pain free and uneventful.  I’m feeling better and better about my knee as the days go on.  Can’t wait to get back in the saddle.  Yep I’m surprised I said that too.

More ouchies

I tried running again tonight. I got half way down the block and had to turn around. Even with a brace it hurt to run. It isn’t a horrible pain, but i don’t want to push it and risk a serious injury. I’ve scheduled an appointment with a doctor who us a triathlete, and hopefully he will be able to give me some exercises and parmeters for working with this. I’m going to try another short run tonight.

I did manage to get in a good swim. I did 1/2 mile swim with just one break. I made it in 19:25 after a mad sprint during the last full lap. I had enough gas to knock out one more 50 yard sprint in 45 seconds, and a second slower one. I’m feeling much better with the swim, but I still have some breathing issues to work out.

I’ve also lost that downhill swimming feeling I had one tine a month or so ago. If I can get those two things worked out I should be able to get my swims to sub 18 minute half miles.

Y’ll run ova but y’ll limp back

Looks like I don’t have to go too far to find my next drama. Apparently my knee injury isn’t healed yet. I had planned an 8 mile run on Sunday. I wanted to do a short run the day before, but I did a lot of heavy yard work that day so I was beat.

I started my run and everything felt great. No tightness, just perfection. About 2 miles in I started feeling tightness in my left knee. At about the three mile mark I stopped to stretch my legs just to see if I could work the tightness out. It felt better for a little while, but then at mile 3.5 I felt a bit of pain. Not a lot, but enough to get me to stop running for fear of injuring myself.

Now I was miles from home with no choice but to walk back. It was a long walk, let me tell you. It wasn’t all bad though. Here is the silver lining.

I got a mile further than last time before feeling pain.
Only my left knee hurt.
It didn’t hurt at all to walk.
The pain didn’t get worse through the night.

So, here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to take a full week off of running to let things heal. Next monday I will start running but only 2 miles. I will also run with a knee brace for a while just to help stabalize things. I will start my long distance runs over again at the 4 mile mark, and I will try to take things easy.

It’s a little frustrating, but that’s life. In the mean time I’ll focus on swimming, and biking.

Swim breakthrough, Run Break

My knee felt like new today.  I’m happy about that.  When I got home from work I helped put the kids to bed and then headed out for a swim/run brick.

I swam 2 warm-up laps and just thought to myself, ok, slow down to go fast.

Then it was time to do it.  I started my swim in earnest.  Nice and slow.  I focused on breathing out under water and keeping my form.  The swim felt good, really good.  I swam and swam.  Once in a while I would speed up a little and start feeling winded.  Then I would slow way down and I would actually be able to catch my breath.  I swam 11 laps straight in slightly over 11 minutes.  I stopped for a minute or two and then kept going.  I did the next 7 laps in about 8 minutes.  I swam half a mile in under 22 minutes with only one break!!!  I could not believe it.  I was psyched.  Now I want to focus on doing the whole half mile in one shot with no breaks.

I took a shower with my head held high.  What an awesome feeling.  Unfortunately that feeling wasn’t going to last.  I got in my running gear and started my 3.5 mile run.  About a mile in my left knee started getting tight.  I must have adjusted my run because a little over halfway through the run my right knee started to hurt.  Where I had worked hard before to keep my heart rate below 152, I was now struggling to keep it above 141.  at the 2 mile mark my knees were really hurting me.  I was visibly limping.  I had to walk.

I walked for a few minutes then sacrificed my knees by running the rest of the way.  It was just taking too long to walk.  When I got home I was really sore.  I iced my knees and went to bed.

I’m not sure what the issue is with my knees.  I’m guess it was one of two things, or maybe a little of both.  Either my knees were still inflamed from the weekend, or my leg muscles were too sore, weak to support my legs thereby adding a large amount of impact onto my knees.  Either way I am going to take off until Saturday to make sure I don’t get hurt.

Despite the knee issues, I’m feeling great about my swim.  W00t!

Thank You Easter Runny

No, it’s not what you think.  I went for a run today, Easter.  I did a 3.5 mile loop in Torrington, that same one I did back when it was in the 20’s.  Today it was in the 70’s, the weather was perfect.  I left a water bottle in the bushes at my in-laws house.  I stopped there to grab a drink for a minute or so then headed for an out and back up New Litchfield Street.  I ran 1.75 miles up hill the whole way.  300 feet of elevation in total.  Then I turned around and came back down the hill.  At mile 6 or so I thought, wow I feel good, I can go forever.  Then my left knee started to get sore.  About 400 yards later I felt like I just wanted to be home.

At the time I thought I had gotten tired, but in hindsight I think I had run out of energy.  My runs are long enough now that I need to start taking in calories.  I’m going to buy some energy gel for my next run.  About 100 yards after my energy died out, my nipple started to chafe.  Ouchie.  Time to get body glide too.  The run went really well.  It was slow, but again, I am trying to keep my heart rate down.  I ran 7 miles in 1:20.  Really slow, but that is part of the plan right now.  I’ll work on speed later.  I took an ice bath, and a shower and I was good to go.

The Running Man

Yesterday my schedule had me running 6 miles after my spin class. The weather was perfect. After Friday’s lactate threshold test I was ready to run in my aerobic zone. I prepared a 3 mile loop that passed my house and I left water in my mailbox.

I also set my watch to keep me in my zone. The watch worked really well, I’ll post a review of it in another post. The watch will beep when you go over and under your zone, which allows you to slow down and speed up accordingly. The run was pretty uneventful, which is great, but let me just say, there are few things in life more frustrating than having to walk when you just want to run.

Because I am trying to stay in my zone, every time I hit a hill I was forced to walk in order to stay in my zone. I want to say I had to stop a dozen times or more as I ran over the mount everest of a route that I had set myself up for. I ended up with a 11:54 pace. Lots of room for improvement.

It was brutal, but I’ve been assured that this is the right way to train, grumble grumble, grumble. This route is going to be my training indicator in the months to come. My goal is to be ble to get through this run while still in my zone.

I made it through the run relatively unscathed. My shins hurt for the first three miles, but that eased for the back 3. Even though this is the longest I have ever run, I wasn’t tired and I felt I could go much longer.

The aftermath? Well, my feet were tired, very tired and sore. Even though I tried to run on the middle of my foot, my heels were sore, which means that I am probably heel striking more than I think I am. This morning my feet are ok, my shins seem fine, and the only pin I’m feeling is a slight sharp pain in my left knee when I go down stairs. This should pass soon. With my upcoming schedule, I probably won’t have time for my run today, but we’ll see.

So I now have nearly half of my half marathon (quarter marathon?) under my belt, and I feel very strong. Who knows, maybe I can do this thing.

Where did the strength go?

My how things turn so quickly!  By the time I got home, bathed the kids, and got my swim stuff together I was drained.  I couldn’t even pick up my gym bag forget about the car.

So I dragged my sorry butt to the gym and tried to swim some laps.  Once again I struggled through the laps.  I did discover that I have exactly two speeds for swimming.  Fast and stupid fast.  Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean I am faster than other people, though in some cases I am, but what I mean is that I am sprinting, and I can’t seem to slow myself down.  This would be awesome if I could sustain it for longer than 10 feet, but before long I am huffing and puffing like I have emphysema.  I know I need to slow it down.  I just can’t figure out how to do that. I did manage to squeak out 700 yards before the gym closed, but I wasn’t happy with it.

After the swim I showered and threw on my running gear.  I drove home and started my run at 10PM.  I ran a new route and tried really hard to keep my heart rate below 150bpm.  The reason for this is something I want to discuss in a separate post, but lets just say it is really hard to run at such a low heart rate, do you see a pattern forming here?  The run was uneventful, however, I struggled with shin pain again.  It feels like a sore tight muscle thing and I hope that over the next few months it will work itself out.

I listened to my surroundings as I ran.  I don’t listen to music as I run because I like to let my mind wander.  As I approached an apartment complex I heard what sounded like a bunch of men laughing.  It put me on guard.  It was night time and I was a little freaked out because I couldn’t see where all these people were.  As I passed a pond in front of the apartments I realized that the laughing was actually just some frogs croaking.  Overactive imagination?  Me?  Nooo!

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