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.


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.


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).


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.


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."


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.