The commitment it takes to perform

March 1, 2009

I was at a party yesterday and talking to a runner. Since I’m getting back from an injury my mileage is much lower right now and I’m able to … well actually go out like normal people. With Team Rogue I usually try to get into bed by 10 so I can be up by 4:30 on most weekdays and 5:30 on weekends to get my runs in. I was talking with this other runner and asked him how he’s doing and he said he hasn’t been able to put in the miles or commit what he needs to excel. Training for any marathon takes significant time and it does result in changing daily habits, diet, schedule. Trying to push your body as hard as you can really does take significant commitment, which we all hope will pay off.

All that talk and then the conversation in the car coming home where the phrase “are you running from yourself” came out made me do a little thinking. Here’s a little reflection on what I set out to do this season and a revisit to the question “Why I run versus why I train?“.

The things I’ve tried to do this season include:

  • Eating better and around 2500 to 3000 calories a day. Which means snacking at work all day long and having a drawer full of food.
  • Strength training at the gym so my body is more capable of handling the increased mileage (from 60 to 80 per week) and faster paces.
  • Regularly stretching, using Trigger Point daily and getting regular massages to keep the body loose
  • Trying to peak at 90 miles per week and keeping my average weekly mileage around 80.
  • Dropping my training paces.

Everybody focuses on something or another each season. The above 3 are the things I was trying to differently and have had varying success. Here are the grades I’d give myself today:

  • Eating Better A-
    Ask anybody at work, I either have an apple, pair, oreo’s, animal crackers, fig bars or yogurt with me pretty much all day. The “minus” is for the quality of what I’ve been eating.
  • Strength Training C+
    I’m doing much better than any other training season but haven’t been regular about it, I got complacent and with 90 miles a week it became difficult to have the time to make it to the gym all the time. I did manage to see Mark at South Congress Athletic Club and have a program but still need to follow through with twice a week visits to the gym to perform the exercises.
  • Stretching etc A-
    I’ve been very about using Trigger Point but realized recently that I needed to work more than the calf and lower leg area that I’ve been focusing on. My quads and hamstrings have tightened and this has restricted my stride in some cases and been a factor in some injuries. Minor adjustment needed now.
  • Increasing mileage and pace B
    This one is a tough grade. I looked at my log for CIM and noticed that I got up-to 70 miles over a pretty long period since I wasn’t really running before May. After I peaked I suffered an injury and then my mileage was in the 55 to 60 range till CIM. After CIM I took a week off and then my weekly mileage went something like this: 22, 58, 70, 70, 82, 90, 50 … injury. I look at all of this with two perspective. The first is what the hell was I thinking, I pretty much ran more than I ever have and really just built up too fast. I was also running a lot faster on my runs, in the 7:20 minutes/mile range on easy runs and getting in the 6 minute/mile range on some parts of it. So doing all of this in one go, faster, farther, longer wasn’t a good idea and my body just wasn’t ready for it. But the reason I’m giving myself a B and not a D is that this really has to be the first time I’ve thrown caution to the wind which is something I’ve been working on with training so I’m glad I’ve done that, adjusting down will be much easier!

Looking at the time that remains for Boston training I plan to bring my mileage goals down a little. If I can manage 70 to 75 starting a week from now I will be very happy. I also think I’m going to adjust my paces from the 2:50 marathon target to a 2:53 to try and break 2:55 at Boston. I feel like my lungs and aerobic capacity is ahead of my body’s physical ability to handle the increased load. So it’s a little lower on the mileage and a tad slower on the paces and a renewed focus on strength training at the gym and some cross training. Next season I’ll try and increase my total load/effort a little more gradually to try and avoid injury.

Now of course comes the million dollar question of why put myself through all of this. I wrote an answer to “Why I run versus why I train?” last year as did many others on the team. It really does come to seeing what I can push my body to do and also the sense of internal accomplishment in achieving some goal.

As I think about it those are pretty superficial statements.  Why do I want to see how far I can push my body and what I can accomplish? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know, that’s just how I’m wired. So for now as long as I get satisfaction out of it I’m not going to worry about the deeper reason and physco mumbo jumbo reasoning behind it. What I know is I look forward to waking up, putting shoes on, meeting up with the crew and running easy, hard, or insanely hard and getting side stitches from laughing along the way.


Recovering from injury can be a slow and meandering process

February 8, 2009

I posted at the beginning of the month about the issues I’ve had with my Tibialis Anterior muscle. This week came with some highs and lows on my recovery. One of the major issues I had were two to three knots in the muscle, mid way down on my leg and a quarter of the way up. Those have luckily been worked out and the muscle is much looser.

I now have remaining inflammation of the Tibialis Anterior Tendon sheath. The muscle is on the outside of the foot and the tendon wraps around in front of the foot and then down. Today’s run gave me some time to pay attention to my leg. I was sore from the get go.

Tibalis Anterior Tendon Sheath

Tibalis Anterior Tendon Sheath

I’ve gotten a few runs in this week to keep the legs going, less than 50 miles though which is well below my goal but that’s life. I’ve been trying to run slower and doing that tends to change running form. I have a much flatter foot strike instead of landing on my mid-foot to fore-foot when I’m running at slower paces. The way the foot lands there seems to force a greater degree of motion on my foot, reducing the angle between it and my leg. At this speed and with this form I can feel discomfort on every foot strike. By changing my running form to land on my mid-foot the discomfort would go away. The strain was of course still being applied so this isn’t a “cure” but it’s given me a little better insight into the specific issues I’m having so when I’m back at the doctors on Tuesday to get release word done this information can hopefully help focus the effort.

Next weekend is the Austin Marathon, I’m supposed to try and run 16 to 18 miles of the marathon at my 2 hours and 50 minute marathon goal pace which is 6:30 minutes per mile. Given how my leg is feeling I may decide to run it easy and not push it or maybe even not run the whole 26.2 miles. The “A” race is Boston so it’s more important to recover and get healed up, not worry about an individual workout.

The expected up and down and up of running

January 8, 2009

During the first team run of the week on Tuesday I was commenting on how I felt really fresh after CIM. My runs had been in the 7:20 pace range, with some good pickups thrown into the mix. I did say at the time that I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, that euphoric I’m on top of the world sensations doesn’t tend to last too long in a training season and … it didn’t. Wednesday morning was a rough time for me, I met up with Ken, Mike and Bruce and we ran an easy 10 miles. The effort was ok, not hard, but I did feel sluggish. Part of it could be the cedar pollen which can hit me pretty badly but the other thing is the accumulation of mileage. I’m very glad that I did take the run easy and had others to run it with, it was the just the right recovery.

Today was a comfortable 11.5 mile run with Kristin back in the 7:20 pace range through East Austin: For part of the run we had a chance to catch up with Chris and Andrew which was fun. On a few foot strikes I did feel a little discomfort but still very minor pain. I did have a doctors appointment already planned. The first time I felt this issue was the Friday before CIM. It really was my fault for trying new shoes (to walk around in not to run in). The Nike Lunar Racers, very comfortable but also flexible and that seemed to aggravate the second to last toe in my right foot … enough where I was in pain walking to the expo and dinner. I managed to work it out and run the race that Sunday … and PR which was nice. Since then I’ve continued to have some swelling in that area. X-ray’s were negative but trying to get release work done hasn’t fixed the issue yet … so now time for an MRI to see if there is a stress fracture.

The good thing is I’m in very little pain, almost none most of the time walking or running … I ran 75 miles last week without any trouble. The bad thing is this just hasn’t gone away, so now it’s a matter of checking it out to see if it’s a soft tissue issue or not. Can’t worry about it till I know the details next Wednesday. Until then, I’ll keep on running, hoping for another 75 mile week by this Saturday.

Current Wins: A year older, running faster, new found friends (more than those mentioned)

Current Losses: Need an MRI, house cleaning

The little things that can lead to injury

December 24, 2008

I’m going to go into one thing that my recent work with Marc at South Congress Athletic Club highlighted. I posted recently how he analyzed a few things about me and one was that I was distributing my weight unevenly between my left and right side/legs. Specifically he noticed that when I was standing neutrally the Tibialis Anterior Tendon was engaged more on my right foot than the left … I put more weight or strain on the right than the left.

Muscles and Tendons in the Foot

Muscles and Tendons in the Foot

The right foot is the one I’ve been having trouble with in the toes with a sprain in the area between the feet. I also had a foot sprain on this foot in the past and have had minor plantar faciitis.

Today Marc worked through some of the exercises that are part of the program he’s put together which I’ll be doing on my own. One of the exercises was a seated calf raise. What’s shown in the video does NOT cover what he wanted me to focus on but just shows you the machine and what you’ll see people at the gym doing.

There were a few things he wanted to make sure I focus on. The first was keeping my body upright. One of the ways I’ve often heard people describe good running form is to feel like there’s a rope going through the center of the top of the head straight down and we’re trying to keep it taught. Marc makes a point of in all the exercises pointing out one or two things to “feel” or “look for” to ensure it’s working the muscules the right way for me. So I had that in control and he said I should feel my calves activate.

The strange thing was I noticed pretty quickly that the calf in my right leg was not activating like the left. That was pretty strange so I spent a little more time with Marc on that. What I noticed was that in the right foot I was pushing more from the outer pad of my foot (outside three toe foot area) than the left foot. As soon as I focused on engaging the inner foot pad my calf in the right foot engaged, it created a more even distribution of force across the foot.

It was insightful to see the imbalance between both my feet and how I use them. All this work has given me more insight into why I tend to see the same injuries over and over and why they tend to differ between my left and right side, now I hope all his trying to balance the body out helps keep me fit and running.

Coming back from injury

August 17, 2008

For any of you that know me you should know by now that I’m a pretty conservative runner and am especially so with injuries. Since I’ve had this foot sprain since Tuesday I’ve eased back into getting on the road. Tuesday was a visit to the doctor to make sure nothing serious was wrong, it wasn’t. Wednesday was a massage to release the tension and work out the plantar and any other tightness in the calf. Then ice and stretching till Saturday morning.

Saturday morning was a 2 mile run walk and Sunday was the 3 mile loop around Town Lake. I don’t think I’ve run that loop in a while so it was nice change. I still have some soreness on the underside of my foot and the outside of my foot but nothing too painful. Just need to keep on icing and try and get 3 to 5 miles in on a few runs this week and then ease back into my mileage so I can join back with the group when we start the higher intensity phase in September.

My previous injuries have been a blessing in disguise so I hope this one is the same. I was training for the 2006 3M half marathon and the 2006 Boston marathon. I changed my shoes (yes stupid I know), asked the shoe floor attendant for something similar to the Mizuno Precisions but I guess they weren’t really that similar,  the month before 3M right when we were peaking and the new brand just didn’t work and I hurt myself. I did end up getting better for 3M but only ran half of it and found somebody to pace for the last part of it and just did that. It took another 2 to 3 weeks to become 100% and then it was time to ramp up the mileage for Boston. Boston 2006 ended up being a PR for me with a time of 3:01:09 The injury, in hindsight, prevented me from peaking too early for Boston which I attribute to the good race. Not sure what this injury means for CIM but I’ll just keep putting one foot in-front of the other till December and see how things go.

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