This week was 42 miles of running, 25 "miles" of pool-running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.
I returned to training this week, joining my team for a hill workout on Friday. I like the hill workouts because they're more about form than pace, and they also include plenty of recovery between the bouts of hard running. For those reasons, I find the hill workouts mentally easier than the track, and a nice way to ease back into training.
Additionally, I'm always happier doing a workout on the roads than on the track. If I had to rank my terrain preferences, it would be roads/asphalt first, then the track, and then trails at the bottom (and yes, I know this ranking is the inverse of others' preferences). It's nice to return to workouts with something that's firmly in my comfort zone.
The hill workout went very well. I showed up fully expecting to be dropped by the group I'd been training with pre-break, but instead I hung with them without straining. I had also decided ahead of time that I'd only do as many reps as felt right - the workout is normally 6-8 reps, but there's really no need to force the workout when one's just coming back. However, I felt good enough that 6 reps was no issue. I could have done more, but called it there because more reps would have been unnecessary.
So yay. Of course, as a friend pointed out, it really wasn't surprising that I had retained my fitness - it takes about 10 days to 2 weeks to start seriously losing fitness, and so my 7 days no running+7 days easy running were enough to refresh, but not enough to set me back.
I did have one minor alert when my left hamstring tightened up on Thursday after my pool-run. I have a history of both sciatica and hamstring issues in my left leg. I was fairly certain this was sciatica - pool-running doesn't normally trigger hamstring soreness, while it does occasionally make my sciatica flare (other sciatica triggers - too much rest, sleeping in the wrong position, overdoing certain yoga poses that involve backbends or deep twists). Additionally, I couldn't find any trigger points in my hamstring, despite considerable examination with a tennis ball - when the muscle feels tight, but I can't pin point it, it's almost always a nerve issue, not muscular. And my left foot was cramping - that's also consistent with sciatica.
It was fairly important to confirm whether this was sciatica or a hamstring issue. For myself, the best cure for sciatica is to work through it, while rest aggravates it. However, the inverse holds for a hamstring issue - running though hamstring tightness is a very bad idea. Put another way: sciatica -> run and do the workout; hamstring -> skip the workout, and consider not running at all.
So, I laid on my back on the floor to self-diagnose (I've done this before). I extended both legs all the way out on the floor, flexed my feet, and then raised my left leg in the air (knee straight, foot flexed) until I felt the tightness. Once I got there, I pointed my toes, bent my knee slightly, and flexed at the hip slightly more - the net effect of this (if I understand correctly) was to maintain the same tension on my hamstring while relieving the tension on my sciatic nerve.
Sure enough, as soon as I pointed my foot, the tightness eased. Sciatica, not hamstring, Based on that information, I showed up for Friday's hill workout. By the time I had surmounted the hill for the first time, the hamstring tightness was completely gone. And it stayed gone for the rest of the weekend. Whew. I love it when that happens.
Next week is my first week of fall marathon training. I'll race on Tuesday for the heck of it, followed by more hills on Friday, and then 14 miles on Sunday.
Monday: In the morning, yoga, and then 7 "miles" of pool-running. Foam rolling in the evening.
Tuesday: 9 miles very easy (9:11), followed by drills and four hill sprints, and strength/core work at the gym. Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (8:56), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (9:11) plus drills and four strides. Foam rolling at night.
Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running plus upper body weights and core. Foam rolling at night
Friday: 11 miles, including 6 hill repeats (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill). Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:30) followed by drills and four strides, and then DIY yoga and foam rolling.
Sunday: Upper body weights and core, followed by 9 "miles" of pool-running (skipped my normal long run, since I'm racing on Tuesday) Foam rolling in afternoon.