Monday, May 16, 2022

Training log - Week ending 05/15/2022

This week was 56 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

So after being on it for about 10 days, I decided I didn't like the Slynd (progestin only birth control pill).  My breathing's just a bit harder than I would like, and I feel fatigued.  So I'm going to try an IUD, which will be a localized dose of progestin (taking the pill means that the progestin affects your whole system).

This week had some ups and downs.  Tuesday's workout looks nice as written, but it was a real struggle, with my legs locking up on me any time I tried to accelerate hard or heard a noise behind me.  The good news, of course, is that what is now considered a bad day would have been a very good day two months ago.

Friday I headed over to Yorktown/Greenbrier track to run a tempo, forgetting that Greenbrier track doesn't drain well (or basically at all).  It was lightly raining, and the track was slick and covered in puddles (and silt in one corner).  But I was there so I just did the best I could.  As it turned out, I relaxed into a tempo rhythm and pace that was just right for an 8K tempo, so I stretched out my planned 16 laps to 20.

To balance out the spontaneous long tempo on Friday, I did Iwo Jima hills on Sunday, rather than a progressive long run.  I wanted to do hills again to work on my gait, given my issues on Tuesday, and a progressive long run just seemed like too much of the same thing (continuous lower end aerobic workout) and too close to the 8K tempo.  The hills went OK - the uphill felt great, while the downhill stride was challenging.  I'm glad I did them.

I did really struggle with the humidity on the cooldown, despite slurping a salty gel and drinking a lot of water - to the point where I had to skip my recovery swim due to cramping.  I'll be glad when I'm off of the Slynd (supposedly Slynd is associated with substantial dehydration and loss of sodium - and I definitely feel like I am experiencing both).


Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11.5 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 2x800, 4x200 in 6:45, 6:38, 3:15, 3:14, 48, 46, 46, 48.  4:3x-4:5x recovery after the 1600s; 3:00 recovery between the 800s; full recovery for the 200s. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.
 
Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:49), plus drills and strides, and then upper body weights/core, followed by 3.5 miles very easy (9:31).  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running, drills, and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 11 miles, including an 8K track tempo in 36:11 (7:25/718/7:16/7:11/7:01).   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 10 miles easy (10:08), drills, and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12.5 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima hill repeats (a bit over 2 minutes powerful uphill, 90 second jog, 45 seconds downhill stride, 60 second jog to bottom).  Followed with leg injury prevention work.  Foam rolling at night.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Training log - Week ending 05/08/2022

This week was 51 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 21 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

My big change this week was swapping my birth control pill.  For a LONG time (longer than I've been a runner) I've been on a combination pill called either Lybrel (brand) or Amethyst (generic).  It's supposedly an awful birth control choice for runners - causing weight gain and fatigue.  Despite that, I always felt like I ran well on it, and was at a good healthy and athletic weight.  So I stayed with it.  If it ain't broke....

But....the Lybrel/Amethyst is a combination of estrogen/progestin, and apparently now that I'm in my late 40s I'm too old to be taking it (this is because my risk of stroke increases as I get older).  Last fall I was told that I needed to stop taking it as soon as I was willing to do so, and in any event within the next year or two.  

So I took the leap this week and swapped to a progestin only "mini-pill" called Slynd, which might be better for running.   The "might" is because mini-pills are supposedly better for running, but the progestin in Slynd is Drosperinone, which is supposedly not a good progestin for running.  So we shall see.

So far, I'm sleeping better (win), have less muscle aches (win), have lost several pounds in water weight (neutral), and feel like my breathing is a bit more labored (lose).  I'll give it another few weeks to see how things settle.  If I don't feel like this one is working for me, the other options are an IUD or going au naturale.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 4 miles very easy (10:13), upper body weights/core, and 3 "miles" pool-running.   Foam rolling in evening.
 
Wednesday: Streaming yoga and 10 miles (9:56) plus drills.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 3200, 1600 in 14:10 (7:09/7:01) and 6:47 with 5:30 jog in between.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 8 miles easy (10:13), streaming yoga, and 3 miles easy (9:42) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as the first 5 averaging 9:46, the next 5 averaging 8:23, and the next 4.5 averaging 7:30, plus a mile cooldown.  Followed with leg strengthwork (forgot my bathing suit, so no recovery swimming).  Foam rolling at night.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Training log - Week ending 5/01/2022

This week was 40 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Tapered for and ran Broad Street.  It was one of my slowest 10 mile runs ever, but still an improvement over my previous races.  The trend remains in the right direction.

My paces have been improving for workouts as well.  At the same time, my workout paces are not in sync with my race performances - the workouts predict faster than I am actually racing.  This could be in part explained by the fact that I face obstacles in racing (crowds, downhills, mats) that I don't in training.  But I suspect that I'm also running my workouts a bit too hard, out of frustration with where I am currently.

That's not how you get better.  It's time to pull back on the workouts slightly, to make sure they are matching my true current fitness.


Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2x1200, 2x800, 400, 4x200 in 5:04, 4:57, 3:13, 3:09, 91, 44, 44, 4,5 and 45, with 2:2x-3:0x recovery between the 1200s and 800s.  Full recovery for the 400 and 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in evening.
 
Wednesday: 8 miles (9:45) plus drills and strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening

Friday: 7 miles, including a 1600 in 6:53 and 8x100 with full recovery (just working on form and gait) all in 22-23 seconds.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: Just travel and a bit of DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday: 3 mile warm-up, and then a 10 mile race in 1:11:40.  1 mile easy after.  Foam rolling at night.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Race report: Broad Street 10 Miler, May 1, 2022

 I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler today, finishing in a time of 1:11:40. 

My pre-race adventures were a bit messier than my normal preference.  The weekend started off with a Friday night wedding for one of my partner's best friends.  Definitely not the best way to spend the evening 48 hours before a race, but it was what it was, so I just went with it and tried to enjoy the wedding and not worry too much about the lost sleep.

Saturday I took a cab to Union Station to catch my 10:20 train up to Philly.  I chose the cab, rather than Metro, because Metro has been very unreliable on weekends.  However, what I hadn't planned on was a race closing down downtown DC, adding an unplanned 15 minutes onto a 12 minute trip.  Fortunately I had left early, so I still had enough time to make my train.

[I realized pretty quickly that the road closures were for the Purple Stride 5K - 5 years ago I set my 5K PR at that race.  So I really couldn't get too annoyed with the road closures. The road race giveth and the road race taketh.]

Of course, my train was then delayed, with multiple changes and uncertainty on the departure board - apparently a car was blocking the train tracks south of DC, delaying my train from rolling in.  Eventually the train did arrive and then depart.  The delay was actually good for me, as I was hungray and the delay allowed me to buy Chipotle in DC and eat it on the train (my seatmate might not have seen it in the same light).

Once I was on the train, things were relatively smooth.  I got to Philly, snagged my bib, and then settled into my hotel to watch the cross-country phase of the Land Rover 3 Day event.

***

Sunday morning I awoke to much better weather than the last time I ran Broad Street.  High 40s and not much wind - really ideal.  I ate breakfast, pooped, and stretched, and then left my Center City hotel at 5:55 to grab a train to the start.

[Broad Street pro tip - the trains running from south to the start line in the north fill up quite early, so if you have a choice of two train stations, go with the one further south.]

My bad transportation luck continued, as I waited a full 20 minutes for a train to roll in.  Finally one did, and I was on my way to the start, arriving there around 6:45.

This was just enough time to use a restroom, check my bag, and warm-up.  At Broad Street they want you in the corrals early, so I jumped in mine at 7:40 and hung out.  I had a seeded bib which meant I could start at the front, but I knew I wouldn't be running fast enough to belong there, so I re-assigned myself to the purple corral for those targeting 60-70 minutes - I thought 70 minutes might be a reasonable time for me, so I placed myself in the very last row of the corral.

As we waited to start, I noted that it was warmer than I had expected.  I was wearing a tank top, shorts, gloves, and arm-warmers, but I really didn't need the last two.  It was too late to go back to bag check, so I stuffed the gloves into my bra (the race photos are going to be excellent) and slid the arm-warmers down around my wrists.  I also belatedly wished I was carrying a water bottle, but too late for that too.  I'd have to use the water stops like everyone else.

The 8:00 am race start was delayed (it always is) until 8:05, and then there were a few minutes more delay before the purple corral was released.  But finally we were on our way.

***

As I've noted before, I'm currently working my way through some weird neurologic coordination-balance thing, where I'm prone to lose my balance or have one leg or the other go spastic on me while running.  Basically, my muscles stop listening to my mind and start firing out of order.  

These coordination issues have multiple triggers, including downhill running, faster running, running in groups, being passed from behind, and uneven pavement.  I've also figured out that immersion therapy - i.e. putting myself in situations that trigger the coordination issues and then working my way through them - seems to be at least part of the cure (pointing to a psychological aspect).

And that's really why I ran Broad Street - I knew that I was going to hit pretty much every single trigger for my issues while running this extremely large downhill race.  If I could handle this race, then I could pretty much handle any race.  And that's a big step forward.

I hit the first trigger right out of the gate, with the downhill start the race is known for.  I managed to hold it together, in part because it turned out that I had many runners going 9:00 pace or slower in front of me. (why were they in this corral?)  I had to weave, and I'm not good at weaving right now.  But I managed it.  And that's what I came here for.

About a half-mile in, I saw the equivalent of manna from heaven - a woman handing out water bottles.  I managed to grab a bottle from her while running (I was pretty proud of myself for that), and carried that until mile 6 or so.

Broad Street is a pretty consistent race - some very gentle inclines sprinkled into the net decline, and a few turns.  So there's not really that much of interest to note during the race - I just tried to hold a steady effort and let the miles pass.

There were a few patches in Center City where we had to cross brick sidewalks that were slightly uneven - these would not have been an issue for me in years past (or likely for anyone else this year) but I did have to work my way through them.  Ditto for things like the chaos of water stops, or people reaching out to get me to slap their hand, or crossing timing mats.  These were, as crazy as it sounds, challenges for me that required me to really think about keeping my balance.  But again, that's me.  And that's why I ran this race.  Mentally, this was one of the harder races I've run - staying on my feet and holding things together requires a level of focus that I haven't needed in the past.  And 10 miles is a long way to go while working that hard, mentally.

***

Like always, I didn't look at my watch and just tried to ride a hard steady effort.  By mile 8, things were starting to get tough and my gait was breaking down.  I was wobbly and had to really focus on keeping my gait smooth and relaxed.  In a nice touch, my feet were also hurting*.  But I knew I didn't have that much further to go, and also that the point of this race (for me) was to work through that stuff.  If you give up when stuff gets hard, you're not completing the exercise.

[*My feet were hurting because I was wearing my Takumi Sens, which always seem to be either too tight or too loose. In this case, they were too tight, and as my feet started to swell towards the end of the race, what had previously been slightly noticeable became exquisitely noticeable.]

So I held it together as we made a left and then two rights to loop around a baseball (I think) stadium before the final homestretch to the finish.  I knew that the finish line was 800m after the last turn (having measured it on Google Maps), but it really did seem like longer than that.  Part of the issue might have been that for whatever reason, there was no finish arch this year, and so nothing to sight on.

This was compounded by the fact that there was a mat about 100m from what turned out to be the true finish, and this mat had a clock with it.  The end result was that there were two timing mats, 100m apart, each with a clock on them, and neither with an arch.  The fact that everyone ahead of you was still running was the only clue that the first mat wasn't actually the finish.  A definite area for improvement next year.

***

I crossed the finish line (awkwardly, as has been my norm recently) and stopped my watch.  1:11:38 (officially 1:11:40) - a bit slower than I had hoped, but still a much superior performance to the 5Ks I've recently run.  So there's some improvement there (though it also could be that I'm better at 10 milers than 5Ks).

As soon as I could, I pulled over in the finish chute, sat down, and loosened my shoes.  Ahhh....much better.

***

As it turned out, I was concentrating so hard on staying on my feet that I missed a lot of mile markers.  My splits, as recorded on my Garmin, were:

Mile 1: 7:30
Mile 2: 7:10
Miles 3-4: 14:16 (7:08 pace)
Miles 5-8: 28:44 (7:11 pace)
Mile 9: 6:59
Mile 10: 7:00

So, the two miles where I felt like I was totally falling apart ended up being my two fastest.  That's good to know, and a confidence booster - I still can close, even when hurting.

At the end of it all, this is not a personal worst for the 10 mile distance (I ran my first Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 1:14 and change) but it's not far from it.  It's also nearly a minute per mile slower than the last time I ran this race.  

Despite all that, I'm not upset with this race.  Sure, I would have liked to have run a bit faster and dipped under 70, but at the same time, I feel like I've come a long way in the last few weeks.  Furthermore, I now have the confidence to enter a race of nearly any size and know that I will be able to manage it - that's a far cry from about 9 weeks ago, when the start line of a 200 person 5K was a struggle.  There's a lot to be happy about here.

Other notes:

  • I wore my Takumi Sen 8s for this race.  As noted above, the upper does not fit my foot well, which is a shame, because I otherwise really like the shoe.  I was considering wearing them for my June half-marathon, but I think that's a no go.  Hopefully I'll be up to wearing Vaporflies by then.
  • The race ended up a bit warmer than expected - mid-50s.  Still great running weather and no complaints, but I do wish I'd checked my gloves and arm-warmers.  At times, we had a headwind, which was annoying, but also nicely cooling.
  • I wore a heart rate strap (as always) but it slipped down around my waist at the half-way point, resulting in this amusing heart rate chart.  It's too bad - I was in the high 170s at the middle of the race, and I'd like to know what I ended at.

  • My breathing was not great for this race, though I think ultimately my limiter was still my wobbliness and general fitness.  I checked post race, and the pollen was high and the air quality "moderate" so perhaps that was the cause.  Or maybe I'm just whining.

    Now you tell me.

  • I did brunch with friends after the race and they had gluten-free tater tots and that was pure win.



Monday, April 25, 2022

Training log - Week ending 4/24/2022

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

This was another week of steady mileage before pulling back during the upcoming week to taper for the Broad Street 10 Miler on Sunday.

I did my Sunday long run on the Mount Vernon trail this week, between Roosevelt Island and Alexandria, with the last five miles going north towards Roosevelt Island.  This route, though paved, is full of things that I struggle with - uneven pavement due to root heaves, wooden bridges, and some short rolling hills near the airport.  The good news is that my balance was much improved - there was only one point on the run where I felt like I might fall (a fairly steep downhill that lasted all of 20m).  Other than that, I was able to focus on the effort of my running, rather than worry about staying on my feet.

Similarly, Tuesday's workout was notable in that I felt like I was really working aerobically.  That hasn't been the case in the past - I've been in this weird limbo where my legs simply wouldn't move fast enough to challenge my heart and lungs.  Now my coordination has improved (and I've also lost fitness) and so I'm able to work hard during a workout again.

One change that I've made in the past several weeks that I think is helping a lot:  I've started doing Ethiopian-style running drills on a daily basis (on pool-running days, I do them after pool-running).  I've always done running drills, but generally only a few, and only for about 10 seconds at a time. Now I do a wider range of movements, and I time them with my watch, doing 30 second slots.

[an example of the types of drills I'm doing is here.]

The 30 second duration seems to be key - I'll get about 10 seconds in, and then the signals will start getting garbled to my legs and I'll start to lose coordination - similar to what happens when I run.  30 seconds is long enough that it forces me to work through that point, and re-establish coordination.  

Separately, I used my Friday workout to test out different shoes.  I did the first 2 miles in the Asics Metaspeed Edge, and the second 2 miles in the New Balance RC Elite 2.  Then I swapped back to the Edge for a "300" and a "200" - both using marks on the road of questionable accuracy.

My verdict was that the Edge is best for short fast stuff where you are moving your legs quickly.  At tempo effort I tend to land further back on my midfoot and roll through my foot, and the Edge did not work for that at all. The RC Elite 2 was much better than the Edge at tempo effort (as seen by the notable pace difference between the two shoes) but I still think that shoe is best at the marathon distance.  For Broad Street, I'll likely go with my Takumi Sen 8s, which feel like a middle ground between the Edge and the RC Elite.


Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 1200, 2x800, 400, 2x200 in 6:53, 4:56, 3:14, 3:11, 91, 44, and 45.  4:50 recovery after the 1600; 2:4x-3:0x recovery after the 1200 and 800s; full recovery for the rest.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  8 miles very easy (9:57); upper body weights/core, and then 4 miles easy (9:30) plus drills and strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 12 miles, including 2x2 miles in 14:07 (7:08/6:59) and 13:43 (6:54/6:49) with long recovery in between (to swap shoes - I was testing different shoes).  Also did a "300m" in 73 seconds and a "200m" in 46 seconds (distances approximate). Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming. 

Saturday: 8 miles easy (9:59), followed by streaming yoga and 4.5 miles easy (9:41) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:44, next 4 miles averaging 8:22, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:44 before a cooldown.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Training log - Week ending 4/17/2022

This week was 60 miles of running, ~1500 meters of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I decided to sit out the BAA 5k this weekend in favor of getting in a consistent week of training (and not having to travel).  I was pretty happy with how things felt - things are definitely improving.

I noted a few weeks ago that my adductors and inner hamstrings were extraordinarily week, so I've started working to strengthen them.  It seems to be helping with my stability, as does thinking about using them when running.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:24, 3:17, 3:14, 3:12, 3:14, 3:13.  2:2x-2:4x recovery after the 800s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  Streaming yoga and 11 miles easy (9:41) plus drills and four hill strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 11 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the roads in 27:46 (7:05/7:01/6:55/6:45).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming. 

Saturday: 11 miles easy outside (9:33) plus drills and hill sprints, followed by upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:49, next 4 miles averaging 8:17, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:23 before a cooldown.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Training log - week ending 4/10/2022

This week was 44 miles of running, 500 meters of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I did a second round of platelet lysate injections in my back on Tuesday, plus some bonus prolotherapy in my SI joint.  As with the first set of injections, I took a day off, a day in the pool, and then started ramping back up.  I also felt fairly sluggish in my first runs back - I had the same experience before, so I think that's just PRP - the reaction in the first days after drains some of your energy.

I was entered in the BAA 5K this coming weekend but have decided to skip it.  Three 5Ks in four weeks just doesn't seem like a great idea, especially when the off week was dedicated to back injections.  Additionally, Boston is an expensive trip, and I really don't feel like traveling right now.  So I'll just enjoy a few days at home (I'm still taking Monday off to watch the marathon).

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 10.5 miles, including a track workout of 2x1200, 2x800, 2x400 in 5;13, 5:02, 3:13, 3:12, 92, 93.   2:2x-4:0x recovery after the 1200s and 800s, 80 second recovery between 400s.  Platelet lysate injections after. 

Wednesday: Off.  Just some foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 9 miles, including 4 hill repeats up a 350m hill with a 5% incline; full recovery between each.  Followed with leg strengthwork.    Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 10 miles very easy outside (9:52) and streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12.5 miles progressive, split as the first 4 miles averaging 9:50, the next 4 miles averaging 8:28, and the next 4.5 miles averaging 7:22 (plus 2 miles jogged at 9:09 pace).  Followed by injury prevention work and 500 meters recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.


Monday, April 4, 2022

Training log - Week ending 4/3/2022

This week was 42 miles of running, 500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Yup, more steady improvement.  I arguably did a bit too much this week, with four hard-to-medium-hard days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) with just one easier day after each.  I'll be the first to admit I did a bit too much on a race week.  OTOH, my goal right now is to re-establish my running gait, not to optimize my performance in races, so I was fine with the trade-off.

Some big positives this week - especially in how much more stable I felt during Sunday's 5K.  I still have a long road in front of me, but things are improving.

Two things that have really seemed to help are a) working on my pelvic floor with some simple exercises that take less than 5 minutes a day and b) playing with my armswing to keep my hands higher and closer to my chest (I tend to swing them a bit lower).  I discovered the latter during my race on Sunday, and it really helped.  I'll test it out again during my track workout on Tuesday.

I'm also getting the second round of platelet lysate injections in my back on Tuesday, so that will be another few days off.

Dailies:

Monday:  10 miles gently progressive, split as first 4 miles averaging 9:52, next 3 miles averaging 8:32, next 3 miles averaging 7:42.   Foam rolling at night. 

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

Wednesday: 9 miles, including a track workout of 6x800 in 3:30, 3:25, 3:25, 3:23, 3:23, 3:23, with 2:2x-2:3x recovery between each.   Foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 8 miles, including some random 100s, 200s, and 400s with full recovery (just working on form and gait).  100s were 22-23 seconds, 200s were 47-51 seconds, 400s were 1:39-1:42.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 5 miles very easy outside (9:45).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 3.5 mile warm-up, and then a 5K race in 21:08.  3.5 miles easy after (9:53), followed by injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Race Report: Cherry Blossom 5K, April 3, 2022

I ran the Cherry Blossom 5K this morning (otherwise known as the low key 5K run-walk associated with the internationally renowned Cherry Blossom 10 Miler) in 21:08, which was good enough for the female win, so that was nice.  

[This race was also the latest episode in my spring season, where I methodically focus on learning how to mechanically run again on a variety of surfaces and in a range of scenarios without losing track of where my feet are relative to my body or faceplanting.  It's been a fun past few months, y'all.]

The weekend started off with a misfire when I arrived at the race expo and realized I had brought neither my driver's license nor a print-out of my race confirmation.  All I had was my credit card, my metro farecard, and a mask.  

(The reason is that I ran from my house to a red line metro station, before taking the red line to the expo.  Post-expo, my plan was to take the red line to the orange line back home.  So I had been focused on having everything I would need to take the metro each way, and totally forgot about what I would need while at the expo.)

Fortunately, a helpful volunteer looked up my number for me once there, and then another friendly volunteer handed me my bib number without checking my ID, so that was an issue resolved.

***

Race morning went more smoothly.  Since the 5K didn't start until 9 am, I didn't leave my house until 7:30.  I drove to Georgetown, about 1.5 miles from the 5K start line, parked there, and jogged over.  It was a bit disconcerting to see the 10 miler in progress (it had started before 8 am) as I jogged, and I had to remind myself that I was running a different race.

Once at the start, I finished my warm-up with my normal fartlek - 3:00 at marathon effort dropping down to half-marathon effort, then four sets of 30 seconds at 5K effort, finishing with four sets of 10 seconds at mile effort.  I did this on the first mile of the race course, with some difficulty.  I hadn't realized how broken up that stretch of Independence Avenue was.  Lovely.  

But the whole point of running this race, as with every other race I've done this year, was to force myself to deal with things that made me uncomfortable and wobbly, and to work through them. So we'd just add this to the bucket.

I finished up about 15 minutes before race start, and then did strides randomly until it was time to line up.  Once in the corral, a running friend I hadn't seen in a while came over to impart some breaking news. 

"Did you hear that Susanna won the 10 miler?"

"She was top American?  Oh my God, that's great!"

"No.  She won the women's race.  Ran 52-something."

"HOLY SHIT!"

I said that last part a bit too loud, and got a few odd looks.  But wow.  It was a perfect weather morning to run, and a good friend had apparently just made the best of it.  Outstanding.  But now it was time to focus on my own race.

***

They gave us a 10 second countdown, and then yelled the g-word and we were off.  As I have done in other races, I started off to the side - that way if I struggled with my balance or started to fall, I could lean that way and not screw up the race of others.

The first half mile was a bit rough.  It was downhill, crowded, and the pavement was broken up.  No less than 7 other women pulled ahead of me, along with a lot of men.  But I had to let them go and just concentrate on navigating the road and staying relaxed and steady.  (The good news is that through this start was scary, it was notably less scary than either of my previous 5Ks - things are definitely improving).  

After those first few moments, the downhill flattened out and I was able to find a rhythm and start reeling in the early sprinters.  I noted with some satisfaction that I was having much less trouble running near people than I had in the past.  By the time I approached the first mile marker, I had pulled up with and then eased in front of a pack of about 3 men and 4 women.  As I pulled ahead, another woman went with me - she and I would trade the women's lead for much of the rest of the race.

The course had us cross the Memorial Bridge into Virginia, do a small loop, and then return into DC to retrace our route to the start/finish line.  I struggled a bit with the turns that took us onto the bridge, and then a bit more with some joints on the bridge surface that I'm sure were no issue to anyone but myself.  I was running side by side with the other woman, and I could tell my breathing was a bit more relaxed than hers.  But every time we hit a joint, it would disrupt my stride and she'd pull a bit ahead, and then I'd catch back up on the smooth pavement.

Then we got off the bridge and were in Virginia, and I assumed that we'd just loop Memorial Circle and then head back.  Nope.   We had a bit further to go, including a stretch of cobblestones.

Oops.  I had forgotten about the cobblestones.


They weren't very big or difficult cobblestones, but still.  I told myself again that I was doing these races to make myself work through the things that really screw with my gait and balance, and adding cobblestones to the mix was a bonus.  I forced myself to look ahead instead of at the ground, and focused on staying relaxed and feeling my feet rolling on the ground, and managed to navigate the cobblestone section out, and the cobblestone section back after hitting the 180 degree turn on the far side.

After cobblestones part deux, it was back over the bridge (with its damn joints) and then a tight turn before descending a gentle hill down to Independence Avenue, from which it was a straight shot to the finish.

The other woman pulled a bit ahead of me when I struggled with the turn, and then more when I had to carefully navigate the downhill.  As we turned onto Independence (and a patch of broken up asphalt), she threw in a surge, pulling about 30 meters ahead.

Depression slapped me pretty hard at this point.  I had just come through the 2 mile mark of a 5K in 13:55, as announced by a volunteer (I really wish they hadn't done that - I ignore my watch for a reason).  And now, even running at that pace, I was getting dropped.   And it wasn't like I wasn't breathing hard.

For a split second I really wanted to step off the course.  Then I pulled myself back together - my whole goal in running this race was to finish it on my feet and learn how to manage myself.  So I was going to finish this one and do the best damn job I could, regardless of what pace I was running or where I was going to place.

So I forged on.  And then, as the pavement smoothed out, a slight headwind picked up.  And wonderfully my stride locked in, and I started feeling like my old self.  I pulled up with the other woman and then passed her and took the lead.

The last mile of the race was fantastic.  My legs were swinging freely and my feet falling right where I expected them to.  My breathing was hard and I could tell my heart rate was exploding and it was glorious because my legs and mechanics were letting me hurt instead of holding me back.  5K suck never felt so awesome.

The final stretch to the finish line was a gentle uphill (a match to the decline that started the race).  All the better - I feel much more comfortable on uphills than flats.  I hammered to the finish because I could, and noted as I approached that they were raising a tape.  For me?  I got to break a tape again in this lifetime?  Yay!

Of course, the downside of the issues I'm dealing with are that things like finish mats and finish tapes are also balance challenges.  But I managed to navigate both without tripping and falling, so we'll add that to the list of today's achievements.

***

Since I didn't think there would be mile markers, I took autolap splits with my Garmin.  Those were

Mile 1: 6:59 (navigating the start and rough pavement)
Mile 2: 6:51 (turns and cobblestones, oh my)
Mile 3: 6:30 (feeling good)
Last .14: 51 seconds (6:08 pace according to Garmin - again, it's so much easier to run uphill than flat).

My final official time was 21:08, rather than the 21:11 of my Garmin - I suspect this is because I started my watch a bit early, and didn't stop it until after I had broken the tape and steadied my balance.

That 6:30 for the third mile is obviously still way off my old 5K PR pace.  But progress is progress, and so much about this race felt like a success that it's hard to be anything but happy.  Hey - I ran a race on cobblestones (partially) and didn't fall down!  I ran well with people close to me!  

These are all little victories, but they keep me believing that the way out is forward.

***

Other notes:

  • It was just a perfect day for a run - high 40s, overcast, little wind.
  • My heart rate hit 187 in this race - higher than even what I saw last week.  It's good to see that my mechanics have improved enough that I am able to hit that level of effort.
  • I wore my Takumi Sens again for this race - I think of all the shoes available to me right now, these are working the best in terms of having some speed to them, but still being low enough and flexible enough that I can feel where I am on the ground in them.
  • I got a nice trophy for my efforts and got to participate in the Cherry Blossom awards ceremony (I got my trophy at the end, after the 10 miler winners got theirs).  I noted with some amusement that my 5K trophy and Susanna's 10 miler trophy were essentially identical (the only difference was the distance of the race, in a small dark font).  But of course, she also walked away with a very nice payday, since she was both the overall winner and the top American.  Such is the difference between a 52 minute 10 miler and a 21 minute 5K.  [I will say that it is very nice of the Cherry Blossom organizers to make sure the 5K winners got nice trophies - much appreciated].
  • I made the Cherry Blossom Instagram account, so I'm showing it off here.  Absolutely narcissistic, but so is having a running blog.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Training log - Week ending 3/27/2022

This week was 46 miles of running, 1000 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Everything seems on the right track, so that's good.  Better coordination, better balance, and I was pretty happy with Tuesday's track workout.  Even Sunday's race felt much improved in terms of balance and how hard I was able to push.  I was a bit surprised by the time, which I felt didn't reflect the effort, but I guess that happens sometimes.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 2x800, 400 in 7:08, 6:42, 3:11, 3:12, and 91. Recoveries of 5:17 and 5:42 after the 1600s, really long recoveries after the 800s (3:20 and 3:40).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 8 miles easy (9:36) plus drills and four hill sprints.   Foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 7 miles, including 1600m uptempo in 6:45 and then 2x200m in 48 and 47.  Foam rolling at night

Saturday: 4 miles very easy outside (9:29) plus drills.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 4 mile warm-up, and then a 5K race in 22:11.  8 miles easy after (9:30) and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Race Report: Scope It Out 5K, March 27, 2022

I ran the Scope It Out 5K this morning, finishing in a time of 22:11, which was good enough for second place female.

This 5K was the next installation in my recurring series of "put yourself in situations that trigger your wobbliness/whatever issues and force yourself to deal with it."  Two things that really aggravate my issues are running in groups and strong side or tailwinds.  This race promised to have both, so yay.  And I was supporting a cause - colorectal cancer research - that is very important to my good friend Jillian, so that was an extra bonus.

The race started at Freedom Plaza at 9:00 am.  I've done enough races at Freedom Plaza to know that you need to get there fairly early to get a decent parking space, so I left my home at 7:30 and found parking a bit before 8 am (after circling around a few times).  Then I put on my shoes and started warming up.

For this race, I decided to go with the New Balance RC Elite V.2.   This shoe has felt great at marathon effort, but arguably a bit soft and slow to turnover at anything harder than that.  However, I'm currently running 5Ks at my previous marathon pace, so I thought they were worth a shot.  Also in their favor - they are the only carbon plated shoes I seem to be able to handle right now.  Everything else is too unstable and bouncy.

***

I warmed up with my standard 15-20 minutes of jogging, followed by 3:00 at half-marathon effort, 4x30 seconds at 5K effort, and then 4x10 seconds at mile effort.  I noted a strong wind from the west that would be a tailwind to start and a headwind to end.  About the time I finished, I saw some old running friends (Jake, Brent, and David) and got to catch up with them, so that was nice.

Then we lined up, and after a moment of silence, the race started.  Mindful of my balance issues, I lined up on the far left side of the race start, so that I could angle off to the side and avoid most of the early race chaos.  Of course, what I hadn't planned on was a bunch of high school kids that were doing the whole "sprint, slowdown, swerve, sprint, slowdown, swerve" thing.  My first quarter mile of the race was spent navigating around them, which was both scary and exactly why I signed up for this race.  So I dealt with it.  

After that first quarter mile, things settled down, and I could relax into the action.  I had a very strong tailwind behind me (20 mph) and the course was also slightly downhill.  Both of these were balance challenges, but I was really happy with how well I handled them - I felt so much more stable than before.  Stable enough that I was able to look around for other women runners.  There was one woman about my age who I reeled in pretty easily, and another younger woman ahead.  For a while I was holding steady behind the younger woman, and I had some hope that perhaps she was going out too fast and I would be able to run her down later in the race.

Then we went around a turn and the tailwind became a crosswind, and I had to work a bit to stay on my feet.  Another turn, and we were back into the headwind for a quarter mile before a 180 around a turn.  At some point here, the younger woman started pulling away, and then I only had other men to run with and chase.

***

I'm familiar with this course - at least I thought I was.  My 5K pr was set in a race starting and ending at Freedom Plaza, just like this race.  However, somewhere in the second mile, the course took a right hand turn to route us near the Capitol - a bit of a surprise, but I went with it (I think Jillian told me this would happen, I just didn't process it).  

Eventually we made our way back to the course I knew, with a mile-long push up Pennsylvania Avenue into the headwind.  I had been running with 2 other men for most of the race, but once we hit the headwind, they fell back and I was solo for the last mile.   It took some digging into my mental tool box, but I was able to stay tough in that final mile and push to the finish.

I crossed the finish line as second female, stopped my watch, and checked it.  22:11 was the time - a bit of a shock (and not in a good way).  This race had honestly felt like a better and stronger performance than my last one.  I felt much more stable on my feet this time, and also felt like I was able to push harder as a result.  According to my Garmin, my heart rate was 180 or above for the last half-mile, and peaked at 183 - significantly higher than I saw in my last race.  At the same time I ran this 5K about a minute slower than my previous one - I wasn't expecting to see that number.    

In one sense, the time doesn't matter at all - I'm nowhere near PR shape, and my goal was truly to stay on my feet.  On the other hand, I had been fairly sure that I was going to run a bit faster than my previous 5K, so there was a moment's disappointment and doubt upon seeing that I had not come close to even that time.

But it is where I am.   I do feel really good about the fact that I felt so much more secure on my feet than I did before, and also that I was able to push myself a bit harder.  

***

I never saw mile markers 1 or 2 for the race, so I could only take a manual split for mile 3.  My Strava of course broke down my splits by mile - from that I see that my splits were:

Mile 1: 6:51
Mile 2: 7:01
Mile 3: 6:54
last .20: 1:25

(Strava/my Garmin say the course was 3.20 in length.  I don't think this version of the Freedom Plaza 5K course is certified, so maybe it was this long).

Other notes:

  • The temps were great for this race - 45 degrees.  The wind did make things colder.  I wore thin tights and a tank top plus arm-warmers, and that felt like the right clothing choice.
  • I talked some friends into watching me as I finished, and got some valuable feedback.  Apparently I'm not rotating my hips when I run - so that's something else to consider and work on.
  • On reflection, I don't think I like the RC Elite V2s for this distance (which matches what pretty much all the reviewers have said).  I think it's back to my Takumi Sens for this distance until I get my stability in a better place and can start using Vaporflies again.
  • I got to cooldown with a group of friends (Rachel, Brent, and Jake) after.  It was really fun to catch up with them.




Sunday, March 20, 2022

Training log - Week ending 3/20/2022

This week was 60 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Tuesday's workout was in the dark again (thanks, daylight savings time) and I really struggled with my balance until the sun came up for the last 800.  From then on, things were much better

Friday's workout (after sunrise) was better, though still a bit wobbly due to shoe choice.  I decided to test myself with the New Balance RC Elite 1, which in the past was a shoe I just could NOT run in - I managed to run in it on Friday, albeit with a lot of concentration and some wobbliness.

Today's long run felt like a big step forward.  I decided to challenge myself with the unholy trifecta of a) supershoe (the New Balance RC Elite 2 - slightly more stable than the RC Elite 1), b) downhill running, and c) windy conditions.  These are three things that make running hard for me right now.  And....I stayed on my feet and actually didn't ever feel like I was going to face plant.  It was amazing.  I don't care that much about the pace.  I care a ton about how I felt while running at that pace.

In other news, I finally saw the back surgeon on Thursday.  He looked at my MRIs and told me that I had the lumbar MRI of a 20 year old.  In his words "it would be criminal to operate"  (absolutely fine with me).

Like everyone else, this doctor thinks I need to get a second neurology opinion (when I told him which neurologist I saw, he noted that I had already seen the really good guy, so he wasn't sure where I should go for a second opinion).  He also thinks I should get checked out for Lyme disease, so I guess that's now on the list.

Next Sunday I'm going to jump into another 5K, so we'll see how that goes.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 6x800, 2x400, 2x200 in 3:27, 3:26, 3:23, 3:20, 3:18, 3:15, 93, 92, 45, and 45.  2:2x-2:5x recovery after the 800s, ~80 second recovery for the 400s and 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 10.5 miles easy (9:37) plus drills and four hill strides in the morning; streaming yoga midday.   Foam rolling in evening.

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

Friday: 11.5 miles, including a 4 mile tempo on the roads in 28:08 (7:12/7:05/6:57/6:54), 20 minutes jogging, and then 2x"200m" (approximate) in 47 seconds each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. 

Saturday: 8 miles easy outside (9:31), followed by streaming yoga and then 3.5 miles very easy (9:27) plus drills and two hill strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:44, next 4 miles averaging 8:14, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:15 before a half mile cooldown.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Training log - Week ending 3/13/2022

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

Things definitely improved this week - my coordination is better and I have notably more power.  On Friday I ran at sub-6 minute pace for the first time in a long time in my last 200m repeat.  Now granted, there was a time when I was running sub-6 minute pace for mile repeats.  But that's not where I am right now, and this felt like a step forward.  My limitations have been mostly mechanical, not fitness, so anything that shows improved top end speed is a victory.

I ended up running on the treadmill all weekend due to weather (very high winds on Saturday; very cold and dry air on Sunday).  In one sense, this wasn't ideal.  On the other hand, I think there are benefits to occasionally doing a progressive long run on the treadmill due to the very steadiness of the effort, which is great for aerobic development.

Incidentally, I've also noted improved energy levels since getting my back injected - I think that feeling unsteady on my feet was tremendously draining, at least emotionally.  Now I feel much more steady and secure, and that results in feeling more energetic and confident.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 5x800, 4x200 in 6:54, 3:16, 3:14, 3:17, 3:16, 3:16, 47, 48, 46, 47.  5 minute recovery after the 1600, 2:3x-3:0x recovery after the 800s, 80-90 second recovery for the 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy on the treadmill (9:40), upper body weights/core, and then 6 miles very easy (9:30), plus drills and four hill strides.   Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and streaming yoga.  ART session in afternoon.

Friday: 11 miles including a track tempo workout of 4x200 moderate with 200 recovery, then 5x1200 at slightly faster than tempo with 200 recovery, and then 400 jog before 2x200 at mile effort with 200 recovery.  Splits were 48, 50, 49, 48; 5:07, 5:06, 5:03, 5:00, 4:57; and then 45 and 44.  Eash 200m recovery was in about 80 seconds.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. 

Saturday: 8 miles easy on the treadmill (9:49), followed by streaming yoga and then 3.5 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:33).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 15 miles progressive on the treadmill, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:39, next 5 miles averaging 8:26, and the next 5 miles averaging 7:33 before a half mile cooldown.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Training log - week ending 3/6/2022

This week was 54 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I'm definitely noticing some improvement from the back injections already - I'm much more stable and less wobbly when running.  I still have some issues with running downhill or on uneven sidewalks, but it's less than it was before.   My speed hasn't jumped up the way I had hoped it might, but I probably need to give it time.

My wobbliness now seems to have been replaced by a general lack of power, which I think stems from lack of stability when pushing off.  So my focus for the next few weeks is on fixing that.

To that point, since I don't have any plans to run any races longer than 5K in the next 2 months, I decided I'd get more out of skipping my long run this weekend in favor of focusing on running mechanics.  So I subbed in a Sunday morning track workout, starting with 4-6 laps at tempo effort to get me truly warmed up (I needed 6 laps, as it turned out), and then shifting to 200m repeats with equal distance recovery, focusing on running smoothly and playing with different aspects of my form.

This workout ended up very beneficial - I feel like I learned a lot.  A very strong gusty crosswind and having to navigate around others on the track (there were several joggers in lanes 1 and 2) gave me an opportunity to figure out exactly what I do that makes me feel unstable in certain circumstances (like crowds, high winds, and low visibility).

I identified two key things that I do when I get distracted or concerned about my stability:  1) I invert and lock my left ankle, so that I'm no longer pronating on it and 2) I lock up my shoulders. Focusing on fixing both of those things helped me keep a smooth stride while passing others or being buffeted by the wind - I'll experiment with those some more in my track workouts this week.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200, 2x400 in 5:08, 5:02, 4:53, 4:54, 92, and 93.   1 lap jogged recoveries after each in between 2:28 and 3:21.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 10 miles easy (9:34), plus drills and four hill sprints.   Sports massage in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Friday: 11 miles including a track tempo of 6400m in 28:15 (7:17/7:06/7:00/6:50).  Jogged for 4 minutes after, and then did 2x200m in 46 seconds each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming. 

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:37), followed by streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12 miles, starting with 2400m in 10:12, and then doing 16x200m, starting at 49, 50 for the first two, and then the rest all between 46-47.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Training log - Week ending 2/27/2022

This week was 47 miles of running, ~1000 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

This was the week I got my first round of platelet lysate injections in my lumbar area - judging from the location of the injections, it looks like my doctor injected at both the L4/L5 junction and the L5/S1 junction. 

The injections were remarkably easy and pain-free - definitely not as painful as PRP.  I think part was the location - back injections hurt less than ankle injections.  And part may be that the practice uses more lidocaine to numb the injection site than they used to.

Platelet lysate is supposed to kick in a bit slower than cortisone (but also last longer), and that has been consistent with my experience.  I did not have the AHA experience within the first 24 hours of injection that I did with the cortisone shot last month.  But it really does seem like things are better than they were last week already, and that's a good sign.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 400/800/1200/1600/1200/800/400 in 1:44, 3:24, 5:02, 6:43, 4:57, 3:14, 93.  84 second recovery after the first 400; 2:46-3:15 recoveries after the 800s and 1200s, and 6:23 recovery after the 1600.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 10.5 miles easy (9:34), plus drills and strides.  Platelet lysate injections in afternoon.

Thursday: Off.

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

Saturday: 8 miles easy (9:26), followed by streaming yoga and 4 miles very easy (9:36) plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12.5 miles, including 8 Iwo Jima hill repeats (each repeat is about 2 minutes up a 3% incline, then 90 seconds jog; 40-45 second downhill stride, and 60 seconds to the bottom.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Training log - Week ending 2/20/2022

This week was 60 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

I met with my physiatrist this week to discuss the results of the cortisone shot near my L5 vertebra. Since that shot yielded substantial (if short term) improvement, we know that I have something inflaming and pressing on my nerves in that area, which is what is making my legs weak, wobbly, and clumsy.

We're going to try platelet lysate injections into that area. Platelet lysate is similar to PRP - they start by spinning your blood down to concentrate the platelets (just like PRP) and then go a step further in freezing the PRP, which shatters the platelets.  Which apparently makes them work slightly differently, in a way that makes them well suited for addressing nerve issues.

I get my first injection this coming Wednesday afternoon.   I'll take Thursday off and then start easing back into activity on Friday and over the weekend.  Most likely I'll get two injections total, spaced 4-6 weeks apart. 

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a treadmill workout of 6x3:00 (9.0-9.3 mph) with 2:15 jog (6 mph), full recovery, and then 4x40 seconds (9.8-10.1) with 80 second jog (6 mph).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 11 miles very easy (9:31), plus drills and strides.   ART session in afternoon.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Friday: 12 miles including a treadmill workout of 6x5 minutes at tempo effort (8.4 mph) with 1 minute jog (6 mph).  Jogged for 8 minutes after, and then did 6x40 seconds at 10 mph with 80 second jog (6 mph).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 11.5 miles easy (9:39), followed drills and strides, and then streaming yoga.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:49 pace, next 4 miles averaging 8:31 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:46 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Training log - Week ending 2/13/2022

This week was 50 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

Jumped into a race on Saturday as a rust-buster/experiment in staying on my feet while racing.  I finished on my feet, so that was win.

In other news, I purchased a MOBO board - it's a wobble board that a) has a hole where one's 4 little toes would go and b) forces your foot to move diagonally.  I discovered almost immediately that my left ankle (which I always thought of as my GOOD ankle) was very stiff and would NOT move in the directions encouraged by the MOBO board.  

With a lot of thought, I can get my left ankle to move that way, so the restriction is not physical but neurological.  So I've got my work cut out for me.

My L5 cortisone shot has undeniably worn off - on Friday I found it very difficult to run on sidewalks that had been easy a week before.  I see the physiatrist again this Thursday to discuss next steps.  My primary care also gave me a referral to two back surgeons - one is an orthopedist, and the other a neurosurgeon.  The idea is that I should see if either one of them sees something in my MRIs that looks like an easy and quick surgical fix.


Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 4x1200 and 2x400 in 5:10, 4:59, 4:54, 4:51 and then 91 and 91.  One lap jog after each rep in between 2:30 and 3:30.   Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 8 miles very easy (9:25), plus drills and strides.  Sports massage in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and upper body weights/core.  Foam rolling in evening.

Friday: 4 miles very easy (9:45).  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 3.5 mile warm-up, 5K race in 21:14, and then 6 miles (9:18).  Followed with some leg rehab work and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 14.5 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:42 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:22 pace, next 4.5 miles averaging 7:28 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Race Report: By George 5K, February 12, 2022

I ran the "By George 5K" today, finishing in a time of 21:14 (gun time), which was good enough for the female win.  So that was nice.

This race was basically a rustbuster to the nth power.  It's been about 5 months since I last raced (5th Avenue Mile in September 2021), and the last few months have been a struggle with weakness, wobbliness, dizziness, and a lack of coordination in my legs that at one point had me running at 12:00 pace.  No, it's not MS.    And yes, I've heard all about runner's dystonia the last few days, and while what I am experiencing has a lot of similarities, it has two key distinctions - a) I get better the longer I run, and b) I am improving.  Slowly, but the trend is the right way.

It's hard to describe exactly what's wrong - at various times it feels like I'm wearing pants that are too tight, or that the ground is moving and bouncing beneath my feet, or that muscles are contracting when they shouldn't, or that one leg is about to collapse on me.  The most consistent thing is that my legs simply don't respond very fast to the instructions my brain sends.

The last part tends to make me very nervous about running on uneven pavement or near others or in poor visibility - basically I can't react if I need to catch myself or adjust pace when someone else veers, slows, or clips my heels.  And the muscle tension that results from that nervousness just makes my issues worse.

A diagnostic corticosteroid shot near my L5 vertebra just over two weeks ago yielded amazing but short lived results.  For a bit over a week, my legs were listening to me again, and I was fine running on sidewalks etc.  So that was great and indicated that the issue was likely inflammation in the nerves stemming out of L5 and below.

But the shot's effects were only temporary - yesterday doing a shake out run on sidewalks was a real challenge.  Great, just in time for my race.

But I sucked it up and showed up for the race anyway.  This race wasn't even about getting a fitness check.  I just needed to get out there, and experience a race again, including a mass start and running with others. Racing with others was scary for reasons that had nothing to do with fears of a slow time.  So I needed to do it.  Immersion therapy.  If I fell, I fell.

***

I showed up at Hains Point to be greeted with fantastic weather - low 50s, no wind.  Seriously awesome.  Threw on my Next%s and went for my warm-up.  Only to realize that the Next%s were NOT going to work for me today.  Just too unstable, too bouncy - I couldn't trust my own legs in them.

Fortunately, I had brought another pair of shoes with me - my Takumi Sen 8s - lower stack, less bouncy, and with a bit of flexibility that meant I could feel the ground better.  So I finished my warm-up sequence in the Next%s as best I could, and then swapped to the Takumi Sens. I did a few strides which felt much better and then lined up to listen to the National Anthem.

This was a small race (50 runners I think). I seeded myself about 3 rows back, when I normally would have been at the front.  I honestly wasn't sure how the start was going to go, and 3 rows back wouldn't harm my competitiveness in the race, but it would reduce the chances of me getting in someone's way if I had a bad wobble.  Then we started, and I was running a race again for the first time in what seemed like forever.

***

The first 400m or so was an exercise in staying relaxed and calm while running near others, and not letting my gait get too choppy or awkward.  It was a lot of mental work to stay relaxed and calm, but I pulled it off.  Then things opened up a bit, and I was able to start eyeballing the field ahead.  I saw two women ahead of me - one closer, and one further.   I could tell that an effort that felt quite controlled and tempo-ish was reeling in the closer woman and staying steady with the further one, so I held that. 

 After a few minutes, I passed that woman, and then turned my focus to the female leader.  I could tell that my effort was still quite easy - definitely not 5K effort, and yet I was slowly gaining ground on her.  So I started to work to build my pace. This was hard, not aerobically, but from a coordination perspective.  I had an upper limit - if I extended my stride past that point, I'd start wobbling.

I pretty much spent the rest of the race playing with that limit - how fast could I run without losing my coordination (around the half-way mark I passed the woman who was leading the race).  I'd work to open up and push a little more, and then I'd start wobbling and I'd have to back off and reset, before going back to work.  I found a mini-pack to work with of two guys, and that was helpful too - it forced me to keep my stride coordinated WHILE running with others - exactly the kind of situation I wanted to confront myself with.  

There were no mile markers here, so I had set my Garmin to autolap.  When it hit mile 3 I tried to kick while staying coordinated.  It was honestly really hard, and I mostly couldn't kick.  But I made it to the finish having managed to a) speed up a bit while b) not faceplanting and so that was win.  In addition to the actual win.

Splits were:

Mile 1: 6:50
Mile 2: 6:53 (180 turn around a cone that I struggled to navigate)
Mile 3: 6:37
last .14: 51 seconds (6:22 pace)

I had half-joked before that my goal for the race was to finish on my feet.  And that was only partially a joke.  Finishing this race felt like a real achievement.  I also wanted to race well, regardless of the time on the clock, and I feel I did that in that I raced calmly, methodically, and with a negative split.  

Of course, anytime you race a 5K at what was at one point your marathon pace, it's a bit...I don't even have words for it.  But, you have to accept where you are, and also note that where you are doesn't define where you will be.  Races are beginnings, not ends.  And this was a good step forward.

I'm glad I did this race.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Training log - Week ending 2/06/2022

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

[A belated entry, since I kept forgetting to submit this one.]  I felt pretty good at the beginning of the week, with improved coordination, and then things seemed to fade as the week went on.  By Sunday, I could tell I had lost some balance and bounce.

It's a bit sad - I was hoping to get 2-3 weeks from last week's cortisone shot, and instead I got about 10 days.  But the purpose of the shot was diagnostic, not a cure, so I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed.

At the gym, I started playing with plyometrics some, and realized that I have NO vertical leap at all.  I was trying jumping with both feet from the ground to a bench.  I realized quickly that my limit was a bench of about 2 inches high.  Which is not very high at all.  No wonder I have issues with curbs, uneven sidewalks, etc.  If I try bouncing with one foot, I struggle with even a single inch.

So...I have more plyos in my future.


Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 12 miles, including a track workout of 2x(1600, 800, 400) plus 2x200 in 6:57, 3:16, 94, 6:38, 3:07, 92, 46, and 46.  Recoveries of 5:3x after the 1600s, recoveries of 2:2x-2:5x after the 800s and 400s, full recovery for the 200s.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: Streaming yoga and then 11.5 miles very easy (9:20), 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 including a track workout of 2x3200 in 13:48 (6:55/6:53( and 13:44 (6:54/6:50) with 5:20 jog between the two.  Jogged for 7 minutes after, and then did 4x200 relaxed, each in 49 seconds.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 8 miles easy on treadmill (9:43), followed by streaming yoga and 4 miles very easy on the treadmill (9:30).  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 15 miles progressive, split as first 5 miles averaging 9:31 pace, next 5 miles averaging 8:10 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:24 pace.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 meters recovery swimming.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Training log - Week ending 1/30/2022

This week was 60 miles of running, 1500 yards of swimming and 18 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

On Thursday, I got an epidural injection of a corticosteroid in my back on each side of the L5 vertebra with the goal of trying to locate the source of my issues.  An MRI of my lumbar spine and pelvis doesn't show much of concern, just some slight narrowing/bulging, but MRIs are not always accurate.  So we tried the shot - if I noticed a big difference, then it would confirm that my issue was with the nerves in L5 or lower.

And I noticed a big difference within 24 hours.  To explain - running has become this thing where I am constantly worrying about balance/tripping/wobbling - I've been running on pavement or even running tracks with the same amount of focus as someone else who runs on trails with rocks and tree branches.  Just a ton of concentration and care.  

Part of it has just been that my legs felt like they just couldn't react quickly - if I caught a toe or a foot landed on a slightly uneven bit of pavement, I was going to fall because I wouldn't be able to react quickly enough to maintain my balance.  And my leg muscles weren't reliably listening to me.  My quads were like wet brakes - I would contract the quad slightly during my running gait, and it would just over-contract and lock up - sometimes, but not always.  Or alternately it wouldn't contract and just feel like it was going to collapse on me.

On Friday-Sunday, I was able to just run.  No worries about cracks and manhole covers and bumps on the road.  I ran in high stack shoes, I ran down hills, I ran on salted roads.  All without issue. 

I hadn't realized it before, but even my walking has been affected - in the days since the shot, I feel so much more secure and stable on wet pool decks, slushy sidewalks, etc.

So, it seems like I clearly have some answers - my problems are caused by inflammation of the nerves in my spine at L5 and below (of course, the outstanding question is: what is causing the inflammation?) .  I'll check back in with the doctor in mid-February to discuss next steps; in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this.

Dailies:

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

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2000, 1200, 2x800, 400 in 8:48, 5:00, 3:16, 3:11, 91.  1 lap jogged recovery after each in between 3 and 4 minutes (way too long).  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday:  9 miles very easy on treadmill (9:44), streaming yoga and then 3 miles very easy outside (9:31), plus drills and strides.  Foam rolling in evening.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running and then an epidural injection at L5.  ART session in afternoon.

Friday: 12 miles outside, including a 4 mile tempo on the road in 27:27 (6:54/6:57/6:49/6:47), 10 minutes jog, and then 6x200 (using marks on the road) in 46, 46, 45, 45, 45, and 52 (I believe the last one was long.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Saturday: 9.5 miles easy on treadmill (9:44), followed by upper body weights/core and 3 miles easy outside (9:06) plus drills and two strides.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday: 12.5 miles on treadmill, including a workout of 8 repeats of 2 minutes strong at a 3.0 incline, 90 second jog, 30 second stride, and 60 second jog.  10 minutes jog, and then four 30 second strides with 2 minute jog between each.  Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

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.