Sunday, January 23, 2022

Training log - week ending 1/23/2022

This week was 61 miles of running, ~1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I split my time between treadmill and outdoors this week - staying inside on the days with really dry and cold air, and outside on the others.

I played with holding my core stable this week while running - I do this by a) doing the Dicharry ""Chair of Death" exercise to get my core aligned properly, and then tape my torso so that the tape pulls at my skin whenever I lose the alignment.  And then I run.  

The stable core really seems to help - I noted significantly improved paces on many of my runs for the same effort - my Iwo Jima outside hill repeats were about 5-10 seconds faster per 500m rep than they were two months ago, and my indoor treadmill tempo paces were a bit faster as well.    So that's part of the puzzle.  

I saw the physiatrist on Thursday and finally got the results for my lumbar/pelvic MRIs from two weeks ago.  They're fairly good - a bit of narrowing where the nerves exit the spine, but nothing significantly changed from 18 months ago, and nothing that obviously explains my current issues.  However, the physiatrist offered to do an epidural at L5 - the idea is that if that improves things, then we've got some answers. 

I have that scheduled for Thursday morning but am going back and forth on whether to get it - mostly because I'm not a big fan of cortisone shots.  On the other hand, I don't have that many options here.  And it's certainly looking like my issue may be that nerves get irritated when I'm running, but not when I'm laying on my back with my spine in neutral.  In that case, the cortisone shot, if it works, would confirm that.

[obligatory note - cortisone shots are, as of 2022, banned by USADA if they are too close to competition.  Depending on what is injected, you need to have either 3 or 10 days between the shot and the start of competition.  Since I'm not planning on racing in the next few weeks, I'm in compliance.  But no more getting a cortisone shot so you can race 48 hours later like I did for Richmond Marathon a few years back.]

The physiatrist also reviewed my previous MRI of brain/spine and REALLY thinks I need a second neurology opinion.  Which is consistent with my experience that EVERYONE except the neurologist thinks this is neurological.

Dailies:

Monday: Upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" of pool-running.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima hills (essentially 2 minutes uphill, 80 second jog, 40 second downhill stride, and 60 second jog to bottom.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 10 miles very easy (9:25), plus drills and strides.  Sports massage in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.

Friday: 12 miles on the treadmill, including a tempo workout of four cruise intervals of 7:30 duration, with 90 second jog after each.  Each of the cruise intervals was 6:58 pace.  Full recovery and then four 30 second turnover reps at between 9.5 and 10 MPH, with 90 second jog.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 9 miles very easy on treadmill (9:31), followed by upper body weights/core and 3 miles very easy outside (9:29) plus drills.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 15 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:18 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:08 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:16 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Training log - Week ending 1/16/2022

This week was 60 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I spent a fair amount of time on the treadmill this week due to very cold and dry air outside. Generally, when the dew point is lower than 10F, my asthma gets aggravated - I've learned that if I force hard running in that situation it takes me a few days to recover.

I got my quads/glutes/it band dry needled on Tuesday - wow did they need it. My quads spasmed a LOT during the needling. And felt looser the next day.

I also had a bit of a revelation, prompted by a friend's observation during my Friday track workout that I had no hip extension. Lack of hip extension can be due to lack of hip flexibility (not my issue) but can also be due to core instability. 

So I decided to try Jay DiCharry's "Chair of Death" exercise (look it up - not that scary), and noted that I was arching my back whenever I fired my glutes. It's not a core weakness thing - I've got a very strong core. It's just a muscle habit thing.

So I aligned my core properly and then applied KT tape to my front torso before all my runs this weekend - the idea is that the KT tape pulls any time I start arching my back, and reminds me to keep stuff pulled in.

And both my weekend runs were considerably improved - my leg felt much more powerful and responsive. My hunch is that when my back arches, things get pinched, and that causes my issues.

Hopefully I'll be able to do a track workout on Tuesday, and test out how the taped core works there.

Dailies:

Monday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 11 miles on treadmill, including a workout of eight repeats of 2 minutes strong at a 3.0 incline, 90 second jog, 30 second stride, and 60 second jog.  Followed with leg strengthwork.  Dry needling in evening.

Wednesday:  8 miles very easy on treadmill (9:51), streaming yoga and then 4 miles very easy outside (9:48), plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  ART session in afternoon.

Friday: 11 miles on the track, including 4800m at tempo effort (21:07, split as 7:09/7:01/6:57), about 5 minutes recovery, and then 2x400, 4x200 with equal distance recovery in 95, 96, 48, 47, 47, 47.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 9 miles easy on treadmill (9:39), followed by streaming yoga and 3 miles very easy outside (9:25) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12 miles on the treadmill, including a tempo workout of four cruise intervals of 7:30 duration, with 90 second jog after each.  Paces for the cruise intervals were 7:04 for the first two, and 7:01 for the second two.  After full recovery, did 4x40 seconds at between 9.1 and 9.8 mph, with 80 second jog.  Later did another two miles very easy with the Lever Runner set at 36 pounds of lift (9:05).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Training log - Week ending 1/9/2022

This week was 65 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 9 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Snow and ice meant that all of my weekday runs plus the first Saturday run were on the treadmill (default incline of 0.5).  I've been having some balance/stability issues on the treadmill that ease when I am running on a steeper incline.  For that reason, a version of the Iwo Jima hill workout that alternated 2 minutes running hard uphill and a 30 second flat stride worked really well on Tuesday - the 2 minutes hard uphill let me get my heart rate up, and then the 30 second stride let me experiment with running faster on the flat.

Thursday, I had my first session with an ART (Active Release Technique) therapist.  I've had people do ART on me before as part of a chiro session, but this was the first time I've had a long session (45 minutes+) that was entirely ART.  

The ART guy's theory was that my psoas muscles on both sides have gotten inflamed and tight - when they do that, they can pull on various vertebrae and irritate the nerves that are there.  An inflamed psoas can also compress the femoral nerve in the front of the thigh.  

I have to admit, this theory is making a lot of sense to me.  It certainly explains why I feel so off balance and clumsy at first, but improve with exercise (because the exercise eventually stretches out the psoas, relieving any compression or pulling on nerves).

Dailies:

Monday: 4 miles very easy on treadmill (10:05) and streaming yoga   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 10 miles on treadmill, including a workout of eight repeats of 2 minutes strong at a 3.0 incline, 90 second jog, 30 second stride, and 60 second jog.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  8 miles very easy on treadmill (9:58), streaming yoga and then 4 miles very easy on treadmill (9:43), plus drills, flat strides, and downhill strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  ART session in afternoon.

Friday: 11 miles on the treadmill, including a tempo workout of four cruise intervals of 7:30 duration, with 90 second jog after each.  Paces for the cruise intervals were 7:26, 7:23, 7:23, and 7:19.  Followed with leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 7 miles easy on treadmill (9:55), followed by streaming yoga and 5 miles very easy outside (9:45) plus drills and four strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 15 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:31 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:21 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:30 pace, and then a mile cooldown.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Training log - Week ending 1/2/2022

This week was 62 miles of running, 1500 ~yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The week started off rough, but improved as the week progressed.  I got a sports massage on Wednesday - the first true deep tissue massage I've gotten since the pandemic hit.  Wow - I had no idea how tight my shoulders and back were - perhaps the cause of some of my issues?

Friday and Sunday's runs echoed the trend of modest and gradual improvement.  Sunday's run was particularly great not because it was significantly faster than previous runs, but just because I felt stable - no parts of the run where I felt like I might fall.  Heck, I even managed to run over a bridge that I used to have to walk (because I couldn't handle the decline).

Let's hope the trend continues.

Dailies:

Monday: 8 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 11.5 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 4x800 in 7:05, 3:22, 3:20, 3:16, 3:16.  5:30 recovery after the 1600; recoveries of 2:33 to 3:07 after the 800s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga, 8 miles very easy (9:30) and then 4 miles very easy (9:29), plus drills, flat strides, and downhill strides.  Sports massage in evening.

Thursday: 10 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 4800m in 27:39 (6:59/7:00/6:57/6:43 - with a short pause in the middle to fix shoes).  Then leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 9 miles very easy (9:39) plus drills, flat strides and downhill strides, followed by upper body weights/core and 3 miles very easy (9:36).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:42 pace, next 4.5 miles averaging 8:23 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:23 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Training log - Week ending 12/26/2021

This week was 61 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Really just more of the same - trying to train consistently without overdoing stuff.  It feels like I might be making some slow progress - I no longer feel wobbly at the beginning of runs, just weak and slow.

I do still note that I am considerably worse running downhill than on the flat - on Sunday's progressive long run, I dropped nearly 15 seconds per mile once I was running on the flat rather than downhill.  I have a hunch that figuring out the reason behind that will also fix my issues.

Dailies:

Monday: 3 miles on treadmill (10:03) and 1 hour pool-running.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2000, 800, 1600, 800, 400 in 8:49, 3:17, 6:42, 3:12, 1:33.  6 minute recoveries after the 2000 and 1600; 3 minutes recovery after the first 800 (longer between second 800 and 400 due to shoe tying).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Upper body weights/core and 10 miles very easy (9:37), plus drills and four hill strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 2 hours pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 4800m in 28:03 (7:15/7:03/6:57/6:48).  Then leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10 miles (9:36) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 averaging 10:00 pace, next 4 miles averaging 8:27 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:27 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yardsrecovery swimming.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Training log - Week ending 12/19/2021

This week was 34 miles of running and 30 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Not a great week - felt way stiff on Tuesday, so I shut the workout down early.  Then a stressful week resulted in a lack of sleep, so I cut stuff back.  Saturday was a bit better, but then on Sunday I woke up and the world was spinning.  I'm pretty sure this was "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo" - a fancy term for a mild issue - crystals get loose in your inner ear and throw off your balance.  I did the Epley Maneuver and that seemed to improve things, but I decided to swap my long run to the pool anyway.

Next week is another week.

Dailies:

Monday: 8 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 2000, 2x1200 in 9:01, 5:11, 5:13.  Followed with leg strengthwork.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  4 miles (10:13).   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 10 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 9 miles, including a tempo workout of 2 miles, 1 mile in 13:57 (7:01/6:56) and 6:51, with 5 minutes job plus a comfort break in between.   Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 7 miles (9:36), streaming yoga, and 4 miles (9:29) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  12 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Training log - Week ending 12/12/2021

This week was 55 miles of running, ~1000 yards of swimming, and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The week started out decently, and then I picked up some sort of head cold/sinus thing.  Nothing too bad and it wasn't Covid (I took two tests), but enough to alter my training plans.  Friday's planned tempo was first pushed back to Saturday and then skipped altogether in favor of some 200s that were extended strides, and instead of working my way down to marathon effort on Sunday I kept things a bit easier.

I've been feeling steadily better - by Sunday my symptoms were gone (so I felt comfortable returning to the gym/pool) though I still have a bit of residual fatigue that I hope clears soon.

Dailies:

Monday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2000, 4x800, 2x200 in 8:51, 3:20, 3:17, 3:16, 3:12, 46 and 46.  5:30 recovery after the 2000, mostly 3 minute recovery after the 800s (more before the last), full recovery for the 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  7 miles (9:58) on treadmill, then upper body weights/core, and then another 4 miles on treadmill (9:43).   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 8 miles very easy (9:42), drills, two strides.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 11 miles, including 12x200 with full recovery - most in 47 seconds.  Followed with upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 10:10 pace, next 4 miles averaging 8:48 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:44 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Training log - Week ending 12/5/2021

This week was 67 miles of running, ~1500 yards of swimming (some was in meters) and 9 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Yes - this week's mileage looks inflated, but that's because I ran on Monday instead of pool-running.  On a normal week this would have been 59 miles plus a bit more pool-running.

Things are continuing to trend upwards, so that's good.  Focusing on keeping my quads relaxed and pulling my heels to my butt really seems to be the trick here.    I tried my first tempo workout in quite a few weeks on Friday, and it wasn't bad.  I note that my first mile of the tempo workout was faster than my first 800 of the interval workout - that's just standard for this weird thing that I'm dealing with.

For the last few weeks, I've been doing my long run on a route that is uphill going out, and downhill coming back.  Part of my reason for choosing this route was that it was always easiest for me to start running uphill, and save the downhill running for when I was more limber.  The slight assist from the downhill on the way back was also helpful.

Since I'm now doing a bit better, I swapped to a pancake flat location for today's run - loops of Hains Point.  I felt a bit unsteady on the first mile, but then fine, and I was really happy with how the run progressed.  Fitness wise, I've got a long way to go, but at least the coordination issues are improving substantially.

On Saturday I also got my long awaited brain and spine MRI.  It took 2 hours, but wasn't as bad as it sounds, since they did it in four parts.  Part 1 was the brain, and then they pulled me out and rearranged me for the spine and sent me back in.  After 40 minutes of that, I rolled back out to get some contrast injected, and then back in for a second round of spine.  Then out one more time to rearrange back to the brain position for another 15 minutes to finish that up.

Plus - I like the MRI sounds, so I find the whole thing entertaining.  I did find the brain MRI a bit claustro at first - the MRI tunnel itself doesn't bug me too much, but for brain MRIs they encase your head in a cage with padding to immobilize your head.  The head cage PLUS the mask PLUS the whole tube thing was a bit much at first, but I just did some yoga breathing and then settled down to enjoy the ride.

And no, I haven't looked at the CD yet - that requires a CD reader, which we've been unable to dig up so far.

Dailies:

Monday: 8 miles very easy (9:32) with drills and four strides, followed with upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800, 2x200 in 3:33, 3:27, 6:44, 3:17, 3:13, 45, and 46.  Recoveries of 2:35 to 3:10 after the 800s; 5:30 recovery after the 1600, full recovery for the 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga and 10 miles very easy (9:31), plus drills and four hill strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 90 minutes pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday: 11 miles, including a tempo workout of 3200, 1600 in 13:58 (7:02/6:56) and 6:41 with 5 minutes jog in between.  Followed with 4x200 in 45, 44, 44, 45.  Then leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 10 miles (9:37) plus drills and then streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 15 miles progressive, split as first 5 averaging 9:36 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:23 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:23 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Training log - Week ending 11/28/2021

This week was 43 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming, and 21 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

After a few days off, I started running again on Wednesday.  I didn't feel any better for the time off - in fact I felt a bit less stable.  This is not surprising, since I seem to do better when I'm practicing the skill of running and worse when I don't.  However, I did steadily improve, and by Saturday I was about where I had left off. 

I've been playing around with different drills, form cues, etc - trying to figure out what is wrong with my running gait and how to fix it.  In general, I'm not a big fan of focusing too much on form - everyone's gait is unique.  I have witnessed many many runners end up much worse off after trying to force themselves to land on their forefoot, fire their glutes, etc.

[you can actually identify the people who have gotten messed up - there's a characteristic stiff-backed, floppy-handed way of going, accompanied by the ability to simultaneously overstride while landing on one's forefoot.] 

At the same time, my form is already screwed up, and so anything I can do to unwind that is worth trying.  Simply running up and down hills has been a big help, along with the arsenal of running drills.  After doing some reading, I started playing with some running drills from cross-fit, of all things.  And one drill that seems to really help me is to think about lifting my heels to my butt while running.  Obviously they don't get all the way there, but holding that thought in my mind seems to really help with my current gait issues.  It helps the most when I am running downhill - as soon as I feel wobbly, I try to lift my heels up with each stride, and I'm immediately more stable.  Very interesting.

Dailies:

Monday: 6 "miles" of pool-running.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga and 8 miles very easy (9:37), plus drills, two flat strides, two downhill strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 10 miles including 8 hill repeats of about 2:15-2:20 each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 10 miles very easy (9:40), drills, two strides, and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:32 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:25 pace, next 4.5 miles averaging 7:17 pace, and then a half-mile jog.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday:  Streaming yoga and 90 minutes of pool-running.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Training log - week ending 11/21/2021

This week was 30 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming, and 24 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I started the week off with an attempt at a track workout.  It went OK - no feeling like I was going to fall, not much wobbliness.  My legs were incredibly tight and stiff even after a 3 mile warm-up, and didn't feel even half-way normal until the end.  Just the oddest feeling - like I was wearing pants that were way too tight.  No pain, no soreness, no fatigue.  The legs just couldn't move.  

But again, I was running in a straight line, so that was an improvement.

Wednesday's run felt surprisingly good - as if Tuesday had loosened me up.  Which is just par for the experience here - the more I do, the better I feel.

That being said, after a pretty good hill workout on Friday, I decided to take a break for a few days.  My reasoning being that I was way overdue for a break.   I honestly don't want to take a break (especially now that things are finally on the upswing).  But I know that they are necessary, and the only reason I hadn't taken one yet was that I was worried about a setback in dealing with whatever I'm dealing with if I backed off of stuff.  But a clean neuro exam and EMG/NCS eased that worry some.

So I scheduled myself for 4 days of doing anything from nothing at all to 60 minutes of pool-running, lasting from Saturday to Tuesday.  Definitely not as big a break as I would take after a season-ending marathon, but it should do the job of a reset.

Dailies:

Monday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.   Foam rolling at night. 

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 5x800, 400, 2x200 in 3:48, 3:38, 3:20, 3:19, 95, 48, 49.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga and 10 miles very easy (9:26), plus drills and two strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" of pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night. 

Friday: 10 miles including 8 hill repeats of about 2:15-2:20 each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night. 

Saturday: 6 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling.

Sunday: Cheering at Philadelphia Marathon and foam rolling.