Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Training log - Week ending 4/20/14

This week was 41 miles of running and 14,000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.  

Things are on the upswing, though not perfect, and so I’ve been carefully upping the mileage again.  No fast running, just easy stuff with plenty of short doubles (to keep the mileage up while still keeping the runs short enough that I can keep good posture) plus swimming (including 2-3 hard workouts to raise my heart rate).  And lots of yoga to keep my core strong.  

Basically, I’m trying to maintain the overall volume of work while transitioning from cross training back to running.  But the end result looks like a hodge-podge of workouts – what used to be one run of about 10 miles is now two shorter runs plus a swim.

As I noted last week, I’ve been experimenting with different shoes (the Hitogami and the Adios Boost are keepers; I don’t like the Nike Lunar Racer quite as much).  My right foot is unquestionably happier with the reduced cushioning and slightly higher heel (both shoes are racing flats with a ~9mm drop) –  however, I do find that it’s harder to keep correct posture with the higher heel.  I start arching my lower back, and then my left leg goes weak and funky again.  *sigh*.  All I can do is keep working on practicing good posture to make it stick.

And no, I didn’t go up to Boston this weekend.  I was maybe slightly tempted, but I wanted to save the money, and also staying down here meant that I was able to celebrate my parents’ birthdays this weekend (Dad’s birthday was on Saturday; Mom’s is this coming Thursday).  So I stayed around, and took the previously scheduled vacation days as mental health days.  Which was great.  Being able to hit a mid-day yoga class and spend the afternoon reading comic books was not as special as running Boston, but fun in its own way.


Monday:   In the morning, 2 easy miles to test foot (7:58 pace), then a yoga class and 1200 yards easy swimming.  Dry needling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  In the morning, two easy runs of 2.5 miles each testing shoes (paces were 8:27 and 7:59) bookending a yoga class.  Also swam for 2000 yards.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   2.5 miles easy (8:25 pace), and then 2500 yards of swimming, including 8x100 on 2:00 (splits were 1:39.30, 1:39.46, 1:39.66, 1:37.86, 1:38.37, 1:38.33, 1:37.87, 1:37.34) followed by 600 yards split as 6x75 easy/25 hard.  Then took a yoga class.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 3.5 miles easy (8:17), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 miles (7:53 pace) plus 1300 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  In the morning, 5 miles easy (7:57 pace), followed by 3000 yards swimming (workout was descending 250/200/150/100/50 (splits were 4:17.15, 3:24.50, 2:32.61, 1:40.90, 48.43), followed by 800 split as 75 easy/25 hard, and then 4x50 on 1:00 (48.77, 49.89, 49.30, 49.82).  Did yoga mid-day plus another easy 1.5 miles to test another pair of shoes (8:17 pace).  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 5 miles easy (8:03), yoga, another 2.5 miles (8:09 pace) and then 1000 yards of swimming.   Foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, 10 miles easy (8:02 pace) and then ~3000 yards of swimming (it was 2700 long course meters, which is _almost the same).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Training log - week ending 4/13/14

This week was 4 miles of running and 16,000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.  

(what follows is a long discussion of my right foot – probably not of much interest to others).  I’m posting it because a) it’s my blog and I can post whatever I want – nobody has to read, b) it’s helpful for me to have the notes for later, and c) if someone else ever deals with a similar issue in the future, this may be helpful to them.)

My silly right foot was the issue once again this week.  For those of you scoring at home, the symptoms are basically:

  • At rest, a small bit of tenderness if you push really hard on the “corner” of the foot between the backside and the underside.  Right at the back lower edge of my heelbone/calcaneous, if that makes sense.  No tenderness anywhere else.
  • When I start running, a bit of stiffness on the outside back of my heel, where the peroneal tendon is.  Really not a big deal.
  • After a bit of running, I develop a burning feeling all over the heel – basically the back third of my foot, including both sides and underneath, feels like it’s been dunked in boiling water.  Feeling gradually subsides when I stop running.
  • The softer the shoe, the more my foot hurts – feels fine walking around barefoot, but if I put on running shoes, it starts to get sore on the outside.  And the more built-up and “traditional” the shoe, the more it hurts.

I spent most of the week trying to get my foot to “settle”, with just a few 2 mile runs to test things out.  The inflammatory period of an injury is between 3 and 10 days – I’ve learned, sadly, that as you age, things shift closer to the 10 day side of that.  Nothing to do but wait.

(I hate waiting).

In the meantime, I kept my cardio fitness up with swimming, and my leg strength up with yoga classes.  My swimming has definitely slowed in the past month, which makes sense – I haven’t been doing it as much.  But what I really care about is the cardio effect (which hopefully transfers to running), not the splits, so a 100 yard split of 1:4x works as well as 1:3x – I’m breathing hard either way.

I got back in to see both my PT and my podiatrist this week.  PT continues to believe that the heel issue is in part my weak left leg throwing off my gait, and in part my right ankle locking – the right ankle just doesn’t flex smoothly the way the left one does.  Plus maybe some referred pain – when you have something that burns, but you can’t find a tender point anywhere on the foot, that points towards a nerve somewhere.  So, more ankle mobilization and back stability work, focusing on the quality of the movement, rather than the number of reps.

My podiatrist also checked out my foot – this was helpful, because he saw it right when it was inflamed during Cherry Blossom (he was working the med tent at the race) and then again 3 days later.   After looking at it, he thinks that it’s some combination of insertional Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.  I had seen him with the purpose of getting another PRP injection, but he talked me out of it – he uses PRP for injuries that won’t heal – this is something that clearly heals but gets reaggravated. Thus, we don’t need to provoke healing – we need to fix the cause.  His recommendation was continued PT focused on my ankle.  He also agreed (at my suggestion) to cast me for orthotics, in the spirit of trying everything.  

He also suggested that I try running barefoot for a short distance, just to see how that felt.  He never normally recommends that for plantar/Achilles issues, but given that the foot feels better barefoot and worse with shoes, it’s worth a careful try just to see what happens.  I haven't gotten brave enough to do that yet.

I also went to see a second podiatrist. It’s not that I don’t trust (and will continue to work with) my first – it’s just that this heel thing has been on and off for long enough that I want as many opinions as possible.    Second podiatrist believes that it’s my peroneal tendon, but that the tendon is also referring pain to other parts of my foot – hence the confusion.  His recommendation was to play around with shoes some, looking for shoes with a) a slightly higher heel drop (6-8 mm would be good) and b) as little cushioning as possible.   

The second recommendation really surprised me given the source – I’ve felt all along that my foot hurt much more in cushioned shoes, but conventional wisdom is that cushioned shoes are better for the injury prone.  And I know from this doctor’s blog that he normally likes more traditional shoes.    He explained to me that cushioning was just allowing my heel to sink and shift in the shoe, and amplifying the stability issues (which matches what I felt was happening).  I need as firm a shoe as I can find – ideally I would find a very thin and light  shoe with very little cushioning that also had a slightly higher heel.

So that explains why higher heels haven't worked for me previously and have made things worse – because the shoes I’ve tried with higher heels (Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride, Mizuno Wave Rider) are also more cushioned than the light shoes that feel best.  But it’s also a bit tricky to find a shoe that has both a higher heel and very little cushioning – they usually go together.  He suggested sticking with my Pureconnects and just sticking a very slight heel lift in them; alternately I could try to find something that was both minimally cushioned and a bit of a higher heel.

I went for both options (and I'll also try my orthotics when I get them).  Heel lift stuck in the Pureconnects, and I also picked up pairs of the Adidas AdiosBoost, the Mizuno Hitogami, and the Nike Lunar Racer (I can try all three because Roadrunner will let me return the ones that don’t work within 90 days of purchase, no questions asked).  Of the three, so far I REALLY like the Hitogami, which is essentially a racing flat with a 9mm drop (my Pureconnects had 4mm).  We’ll see if that opinion persists.


Monday:   In the morning, 3000 yards of swimming, including 8x100 on 2:00, followed by 10x50 on 1:00. Splits were 1:40.87, 1:42.04, 1:43.22, 1:43.71, 1:43.27, 1:44.87, 1:43.89, 1:41.90 and 50.16, 49.95, 49.97, 50.05, 49.97, 50.77, 50.62, 50.67, 49.42, 49.69.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, yoga and strengthwork, followed by PT/dry needling.

Wednesday:   3000 yards of swimming, including 600 yards split as 6x75 easy/25 hard followed by 6x50 on 70 (splits were 47.87, 47.87, 46.83, 48,14, 48.02, 47.75 for the 50s), followed by yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, 2 mile test run, a yoga class, and 1500 yards easy swimming.   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  In the morning, 3000 yards swimming, including cruise effort 6x150 on 3:00 and 10x50 on 1:00, (splits were 2:34.91, 2:38.77, 2:40.81, 2:38.43, 2:38.34, 2:37.09 and 50.03, 50.12, 51.37, 52.34, 50.72, 51.20, 52.22, 52.59, 51.92, 52.34), followed by yoga.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, yoga, a 2 mile test run, and 1500 yards of swimming.   Foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, 4000 yards of swimming, including 600 as 75 easy/25 hard and a pyramid set of 150/100/50/100/150/100/50/100/150/100/50 at moderate effort (splits were 2:40.32, 1:47.51, 54.12, 1:48.70, 2:45.25, 1:48.70, 53.65, 1:48.90, 2:45.17, 1:50.10, 54.15), followed by a yoga class.  Massage at night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Training log - Week ending 4/6/2014

This week was 28 miles of running and 8,000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here. 

And... what the running gods give, they also taketh.    Early in the week, I experienced the highs of a good track workout that followed on the heels of a successful race.   Yay.  Cherry Blossom, my favorite rate of the year was on Sunday, and it was looking like I’d hold up for it.
And then the next day, both calves got tight – the left worse than the right – and so I cut my run short to be careful.  A previously scheduled massage on Wednesday didn’t quite take care of the issue, so I just swam on Thursday, and managed to get in for a dry needling session focused on my left hip and leg.  Ran easy on Friday, which felt fine, and but afterwards the right calf was tight.

(seriously – my body is one big game of whack-a-mole).

I managed to get in for a quick session of ART on my right hip and calf (stuff felt like it was referring downward).  And felt OK, but not 100%.  Crap.  Cherry Blossom was going to be perfect weather, so I decided to at least show up, and see how I felt during the warm-up. 

During the warm-up, I felt slightly stiff, but no pain anywhere, so decided to give it a shot, mentally prepping myself to withdraw if I felt any pain (my apologies to those whom I vented to on the starting line – I’ve realized in retrospect it wasn’t the most helpful thing to mention to you as you focused on your own races).   

First mile felt good, and I was really happy I gave the race a try.  But after that, my right heel started burning, and so I shut it down. It was the right choice.  But it really sucked.

Ah well.  Had I continued running, it would have made stuff much worse.  So I’m going to take 3-4 days off, and then see how I feel.


Monday:   In the morning, a yoga class and 3.5 miles easy running , plus upper body strengthwork.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, injury rehab work and 9 miles running, including a track workout of 6x 800, (splits were 3:03, 2:57, 2:57, 2:55, 2:56, 2:54), followed by 2000 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   Yoga, 3.5 miles easy (8:41 pace), and 2500 yards of swimming.  Massage at night.

Thursday:   Yoga and 2000 yards of easy swimming.  Dry needling of left calf in afternoon.  Foam rolling at night

Friday:  In the morning, 8 miles easy.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 1500 yards of easy swimming, followed by ART on right calf.   Foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, 2 mile warm-up, and then the first two miles of Cherry Blossom (7:03, 6:43).  Sulking at night.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Race report: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, April 6, 2013

Well, I started the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (my favorite race of the year) but dropped out at the 2 mile mark - it was the right decision.

The backdrop here is that injury recovery is generally a 2 steps forward, 1 step back thing.   The trick is to not get into a pattern of 1 step forward, 2 steps back.  Which is what I came close to doing here. 

I was feeling confident last week after having successfully finished a 5K race on Saturday, followed by an easy 14 miles on Sunday.  Confident enough that I ran 6x800 on Tuesday at my normal effort level, and finished feeling confident.  Yay.

But the next morning, I was very stiff all over, especially in my calves, with the left worse than the right.  I kept the running very easy, and got an appointment to get dry needled on Thursday.  We focused on the left calf, which was the worse of the two.

That ended up fixing the left calf, but the right was still a bit tight.    I snuck in an ART appointment on Saturday which seemed to help the right, and decided that I'd at least give Cherry Blossom a try.  Things felt slightly tight on my warm-up jog, but not too bad.  So I lined up, and just promised myself that I'd drop out if things started hurting, and not try to be a hero. 

It was Cherry Blossom, on a perfect day.  I had to at least give it a try.  I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I hadn't.  Especially since some of my best races have been run when something was really tight the day before/morning of.

We started, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel pretty good the first mile.  No pain anywhere, no tightness.  I felt like we were running very slowly, and was surprised to hear another runner announce we were holding 7:00 pace.  Wow - this could be a really good day.  I was happy I had decided to give it a try.  I don't usually run with others in races, since I like to pace by feel, but two of my teammates (both named Jessica) were holding the pace that felt great for me, so I just tagged along, breathing and running easilty.

And then a bit after the first mile marker, as we crossed the Arlington bridge, my right heel started to burn on the outside.  I played with my gait and my form, trying to give it a chance to pass.  But it just persisted and worsened.  As we approached the 2 mile mark, I realized that if my heel was burning at 2 miles, it would be really stupid to run for another 8.  So I stepped off course, and called it a day.

Very frustrating.  But that's life, I guess.  My podiatrist happened to be working in the med tent, so I went in for a "live" eval from him and the PT on duty.  Diagnosis was some plantar fasciitis in my medial arch, causing offloading to the outside of the heel, which was causing the burning.  They also noted that damn clicking sound in my ankle - associated with my ankle locking up.

So the plan is to rest it for a few days, and then see what to do from there.

Other notes:

-Weather was perfect
-took the metro, leaving from Virginia at 6:10, which got me to the metro exit in DC around 6:45.  Metroing to this race worked well, but next time I'll leave a bit earlier.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Training log - Week ending 3/30/14

This week was 50 miles of running and 10,000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.  

Interesting week.  The weather continued to go up and down and sideways - my team's traditional Tuesday track workout was postponed a day to accommodate a snowstorm that then decided to be late. *sigh*.  I hate late people and late storms.  The result was a workout that was run gingerly and carefully on a track half-covered in snow and ice.  I now feel qualified to train up north, should I ever need to.

Thursday I went in for nerve testing (an "EMG/NCV test"), to confirm that my nerve/back problem is just a nerve being pressed, and not underlying damage.  Pretty interesting stuff actually - first they put a bunch of electrodes on me, and pulsed a current (sort of like "stim", but a stronger shock), while tracking how quickly my muscles responded. 

The second phase was to insert needles into certain muscles, and then have me tense those muscles while a machine tracked the nerve activity.  When I flexed my muscle, the machine would make a cool staticky noise.  As someone who is both a geek about medical/physiology stuff and an industrial music/power noise fan, I enjoyed the experience a lot more than the doctors thought I would. 

I never claimed to be normal.

I was a bit sore afterwards, so it was good that I had Friday scheduled as a recovery day.  Saturday I hopped into a low-key 5K - my first race since July, and my first road race since last June.  It went really well - despite being rusty, I managed to pace the race well, and finish very strong.  The course was longer than 5K, but whatever - a PR wasn't on the table anyway.  I was just there to race and see what happened, and it felt good to be back.  Damn good.

Sunday, it snowed again.  F'ing snow.


Monday:   In the morning, felt horrible, so just slept.  Felt better in the afternoon, so did a yoga class and then some foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, injury rehab work and 8 miles easy running (7:59 pace), followed by 1250 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   Injury rehab work, 9 miles running, including a very cautious and icy track workout of 1600, 1200, 3x800 (split 6:42, 4:44, 3:05, 2:59, 3:00), followed by 2000 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, a yoga class and 10.5 miles of running, split as 4.5 miles before yoga (8:34 pace) and 6 miles after (7:58 pace), and then some foam rolling.  EMG/Nerve conduction testing in the afternoon.   

Friday:  Injury rehab work and 1750 yards of easy swimming in the morning.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, 8.5 miles, including a "5K" (actually about 3.2-ish miles) in 20:24, followed by 2750 yards of swimming.   Foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, injury rehab work, 14 miles easy (8:12 pace), and 2250 yards of swimming.  Yin yoga and foam rolling at night.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Race report: Runway 5K, March 29, 2014

I ran the Runway 5K today (actually a bit longer than 5K), finishing in a time of 20:24, which was good enough for the overall win in this women only race.

Damn, it's good to be back.   It's been about 9 months since I've raced, and it felt like it.  It's been a long journey back, and I'm still not quite at 100%.  But I needed (in that way that other runners understand) to get back on the horse.

I was entered in the Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond for today, but opted to stay local for a few reasons and eat the registration.  Part of the reasoning was that racing in Richmond would involve taking Friday off of work and paying for a hotel and dinner the night before, plus dealing with the drive each way.  I wouldn't mind most of these if I was in decent shape, but it didn't make sense to go to the effort and expense for my first race back - I'd rather do something low key and local.

Plus, I wasn't 100% sure that my back and other issues would hold up to the stress of racing, and I knew that if I invested the time and effort in going down to Richmond, I would find it very hard to drop out if something felt wrong.  Far better to do something low key, so that it would be easier to pull the plug if things started hurting.  Know your limitations and work with them.

So, I did some searching, and found several local low key 5Ks.  I decided on the "Runway 5K" based on the fact that it was on Hains Point, which meant flat and minimal turns.  Which is great for fast times, but more importantly fairly easy on the body.  The website for the race came across as a little disorganized, and I noted no mention of a certified course.  

(you may, if you like, highlight the previous sentence with dramatic foreshadowing - reader's discretion)

But I did enough research to reassure myself that the race would indeed happen, so I registered.  If it ended up being a total disaster, I could just run a 5K on Sunday instead.


And yes, race morning was not without its share of snafus.  When I showed up to collect my bib, there was a lot of confusion on where to pick it up.  My friend Allison and I waited in one line, only to get to the front and learn that since we had registered within the past two weeks, we needed to go to another tent...  Luckily, both lines went fast.

There were other indications of trouble - for example, the bibs issued did indeed have chips on them, as promised.  But no timing mat to be seen.

More significantly, we were given pre-race instructions that we should turn "at the water tent" down on the tip of Hains Point.  I asked if there would be a cone or similar to mark the turning point - "at the water tent" sounded vague and open to interpretation, and runners halfway through a 5K aren't known for their clarity of thinking.  Yes, there would be.  Well, OK then.


We lined up (only 5 minutes late) and the race started.  I had already resolved to go out conservative, at a tempo like effort, before upping the effort.  Part of this was following my coach's eternal dictate of "start slow, finish fast."  But additionally, I had a hunch this course might end up long, and the air was pretty sticky - both things that would make it even harder to recover from going out too fast.  Better to be careful.

So when two other women sprinted off of the line (this was a women only race), I mentally took a deep breath and stuck to my plan.  I gave myself about 30 seconds to ramp up to tempo effort, and then started cruising, keeping an eye on the two figures ahead of me.  After about 3 minutes, one of them came back to me, while the other stayed ahead and continued to build, eventually getting to a 7 second lead over me.  I opted to keep an eye on her, but let her go - either she'd come back to me or she wouldn't.

And so we ran, down a very foggy Hains Point.  I didn't see the tip until we were close to it, but once we got there, I saw no water tent, so I figured we were running further.  We continued around the tip and back up the back side, still looking for the missing tent.  I felt a bit sorry for the leader - she had to worry about where the heck the tent was - I just had to worry about her.  And note how the gap between us was slowly closing.
Eventually the tent materialized, but no cone.  I could see the leader waiver, as if she was figuring out what to do, and then continued on.  I didn't want to run a shorter course than her, so I followed instead of turning at the tent.  She ran a bit past, and then someone flagged her down and told her she had gone too far and to turn.  So she did.

In turn, I noted the spot where she turned, and then ran a second or so further, and then turned, to make sure I didn't inadvertently cut the course on her.  I had a hunch I was going to be able to close the gap on her in the second half of the race, and I wanted to make sure I did it honestly.

So back we headed - I noted someone grabbing a cone as we passed back - I'm hoping they marked the turn for the later runners.  I continued to run, slowly building my pace, as she came back to me.  As we approached the tip of Hains Point again, I could see her running right at the inner edge of the turn, and also weaving a bit, which told me she was starting to struggle.  With more than a mile left, I was still feeling good, so I held my effort level, and just waited for her to come back.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for her, though.  She had led this race the whole time (hard), had to deal with the confusion about where to turn (hard), and now was having to push her way through some crowds (hard).  This was a decent size race, and the slowest runners and walkers had not been advised to stay on the right side of the road.  So as we ran back up the road, we were effectively weaving our way through a crowd.  Or rather, she was - I was running in the path she was clearing.

Eventually, I caught up to her, and passed her.  And then I was in the lead, with what was probably a bit less than a mile to go.  I felt bad - she had done all the work - but that's racing.

Being in the lead was strange.  I've been first woman in a race before, but I've never run a women only road race and so I've never not had someone ahead of me.  But now it was just me.  And a foggy road ahead.

I knew the finish line was up there somewhere, but I had no idea where - visibility wasn't great.  And with no mile markers, I really wasn't sure quite where I was, relative to the finish.  So I kept running at a hard but controlled effort, focusing on my form and posture.  This was feeling like the longest 5K ever, and I was really ready to be done.   Eventually, thankfully, the finish line appeared (complete with a red carpet they had rolled out - a cute touch), and I rolled in.

They handed me an envelope as I finished, which ended up being a $100 gift certificate to a local running store.  Not bad at all.  But the best part of the morning was getting out there, racing, and running a well executed race.

Since there were no mile markers, I have no splits.  Based on Garmins and comparing notes with others, I think we ran about 3.2 miles.  Which is the equivalent of a 19:5x 5k.  Which sounds about right.  Of course, I'll never know for sure - I'll just put it down as a good morning and move on.

Other notes:

  • Air was pretty thick - temps and DP were in the upper 50s (yuck).  No wind though - a rarity for Hains Point.   Fog was thick enough that you couldn't see across the Potomac.
  • No asthma issues though, despite the humidity, which I am not used to.  Yay for my Dulera inhaler.
  • Looking at my Garmin report, I can see where and when I turned, letting me figure out how I split the race.  Looks like I ran for 10:24 out, and then 10:00 back.  So yay for negative splitting.  
  • Warmed up with 2.5 miles, and cooled down about the same.  Did some drills before the race, which felt strange -  I haven't done drills in a long time, it seems.
  • It was really cool to experience being the overall leader of a race, without having a guy to tow me in - for that reason, I'm really glad I did this.
  • Wore my PureConnects instead of my racing flats.  I haven't worn my flats in forever, and didn't see any point in taking the risk of wearing them here.   Plus the PureConnects are pretty light anyway - I think a lot of people would consider them a racing shoe.
  • The results are up, and quite confusing.  They added another 20 seconds onto my time (?) and also have me as 40 (I'm not over that hill quite yet, just breathtakingly, tantalizingly close).