Friday, April 29, 2011

The mysteries of life...explained!

Well, the mysteries of MY life anyway. So I haven't really talked about it much on the blog, but I've been having some rather frustrating hip issues for pretty much the entire winter.  The problem was in my right hip early on, after I was starting to get back into maintenance (fact of the day: I can NEVER spell that word right) mode after Baystate, and then sort of sneakily moved into the left hip after a month or so of painfree running.  For the most part it was more of an annoyance than a major issue, and obviously my stubborn self kept running like nothing was the matter even when I was limping during the recovery periods during hard workouts. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I did a (way too) hard 9 miler, and the next day when I walked out my door to run I couldn't.  I was limping too badly to go with the illusion any I didn't run.  And I didn't run for a week and a half.  After that, I ran really slow for a few days, and have since been training pretty much normally, but the problem still exists, it's just much more under control.

Now right around the time when it flared up, my lab instructor had put out a call for people who actually had lower extremity issues to be 'patients' in our final lab so we could kind of put all the skills we've learned over the semester together into an actual exam.  Yes...being a PT student has its perks.  So I gladly signed up because while I was starting to get a decent idea of what was going on, I figured what essentially would be a free PT eval with the help of 10 of my friends couldn't possibly be a bad thing.  In the process I found out a LOT of interesting things about my effed up body, which explain pretty much every injury I've ever had in my life.  (Also...if you don't want to be super bored by a bunch of PT talk that I nerdily find really interesting...feel free to skip this part)

1) I have a forefoot varus. I'm not sure how to explain this but I will try because hey, that's kind of like studying, right? So basically, the bones of my forefoot (metatarsals & toes) sit at an angle compared to my heel.  So when my ankle is in neutral, my big toe and 1st met actually sit up off the ground.  So what does this mean for my life? Pretty much it means when I walk/run, I land really far in supination, on the way outside of my foot...but then, gravity wants to pull my foot down, so I fall into bueno.  And because I'm even more awesome, I also take off from the inside of my foot (mostly my big toe) instead of rolling back outside before I take off....this was MIND BLOWING to me.  I always assumed you were supposed to take off from your big toe! Nope. Apparently not. Those awesome calluses I have on the inside of my big toe? Normal people don't have those.  So anyway, this super awesome foot type puts stress on all kinds of structures, and can lead to things like....IT band issues (yup, had those), shin splints (check plus), and a lot of other common injuries.

The good news is I'm wearing the right type of shoes for this.  Mostly because I win at picking out running shoes...duhhh.

2) I have a really weak ass.  Pretty self explanatory really, but both my glute max and glute med are extremely weak, and this moreso that my weird feet are pretty much the cause of my current hip issue.  Interestingly, I NEVER had a running related injury until I stopped dancing....lo and behold, you use both sets of glutes a LOT in dance, and apparently they've gotten lazy in the past couple of years.  I almost guarantee this is why I had such bad hamstring issues at Boston last year, because I was only using my hamstrings to extend my hip instead of my hamstrings and glutes, which is pretty much a recipe for hamstring cramps and tendinopathies.
Thanks a bunch, glute med.
So it turns out that my "strength 3 times a week, no excuses" plan couldn't have come at a better time - because not only is it going to make me awesome, it's going to FIX me! What more could you want?

Also my IT band is tight. HUUUUUGE surprise there *sarcasm*

So in the end, my 'diagnosis' was iliopsoas tendinopathy with some kind of irritation in my hip joint too, probably caused by impingement of some sort. It was REALLY (in the most nerdy way possible) cool to think through the different tests that you would do and see how it actually played out.  Clearly I managed to pick the right profession!  Although, we'll see if I'm still saying that next week when I'm in the middle of finals studying hell...

I also ran 7.3 delightful miles today in the glorious 72 degree weather with no watch and no ipod.  Bliss, pretty sure I found you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston 2011: Thoughts as a spectator

So I had an absolute blast and a half spectating.  I loved screaming my guts out at everyone who passed - if you had your name on your shirt or some sort of interesting apparel, you were getting some ridiculous motivation from me - and watching the elite race (and explaining it to my non-runner friends) was really cool.


I think spectating brought it home for me that drinking and screaming and watching are fun...but out there on the course? That's where I want to be.  I wasn't sad that I wasn't running this year since with my injury issues over the winter it would have been a train wreck anyway, it was just more of a yearning for the marathon and an epic explosion of excitement for Boston 2012.  Like, as soon as I got home from spectating, I wrote 4/16/2012 on a post it note and stuck it up on my desk.  Because THAT is the motivation for my next year of training. To be one of those people running through Brookline past a group of drunken screaming grad students at this time next year...and to be killing it. :) (Although after this year's 'once in a lifetime' weather, how much do you want to bet that next year its going to be 35 and pouring? Hmm?)

So we started out the morning at my apartment with a power hour to ensure that we were all sufficiently ready to cheer when it came time to go down to the course....5.5 beers in an hour will generally ensure that that happens. Hah! We were watching the race coverage on TV while we did this and everyone was commenting on Kim Smith taking it out like a crazy woman. "Why would you do that? I think I would want to stay in the pack" commented one of my friends, which honestly at the time I kind of agreed with, but she was looking so strong that I was interested to see what would happen by the time they were passing us (~mile 23)

We headed down to the course around 11 and staked out our spots - the crowd was pretty sparse at this point, but soon the elite women were coming through!  We were all confused looking around for Smith, at first I assumed that she had just dropped back but more and more runners kept coming at we never saw her...only later did we find out that she had a torn soleus and had to drop out.  Poor girl :( I was actually really rooting for her because I know she trains in Providence, so even though she isn't American she's kind of "local".

I took a lot of pictures of the elites...
Desiree Davila in the LEAD! I don't think I even processed while I was watching that this was an American woman.  I wish this picture was less blurry, because it is cool. 

Kara Goucher...none of my friends could believe that she had a baby 6 months ago.  I was so excited to watch her run!

Top 2 men - Mutai & Mosop - on their way to a course record/world best/whatever you want to call it with wind and asterisks and question marks...still a pretty epic time

Ryan Hall! Happy to see him having a solid day out there today.

The perils of marathon running.  Hey, I would be completely willing to poop myself if it meant I could run a 2:37 marathon (which this woman did)
My running buddy's husband Ryan, rocking the GBTC red!

After the elites my picture taking trailed off, because I was mostly focused on waving my sign and screaming at the top of my lungs.  I also realized yesterday that what Andrew said last year was completely correct, that it is almost impossible to pick out individual people out of the endless stream of runners unless a) they're wearing something really distinctive or b) they recognize YOU.  Out of all of the bloggers/DMers/teammates of mine running, I saw maybe 6 GBTCers and one DMer who runs for the BAA (although in retrospect, I think I noticed a couple others, I just didn't realize it at the time). 

All in all, a really fun day.  We all got quite sunburnt and were pretty much dead to the world by 7 pm...kind of like we would have been had we actually run the race...haha.

Yesterday I went for a delightful 7.75 miles, my longest in almost 2 weeks since trying to figure out this hip issue, and actually felt great.  I tried to keep the pace easy, ended up with 8 flat, which I suppose is acceptable, and I promise based on effort it truly did feel easy.  I'm hoping to get in a decent mileage week of easy running this week, and then see if I can head back to GBTC practice next week to at least complete part of the speed workout.  God knows if I'm going to be racing a 6K in a few weeks, I need to remember how to run fast...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Running slow to run fast

I had a mindblowing experience today.

So I was reading the May issue of Running Times (if you are not aware, a FAR superior publication to Runners World, catering much more to competitive runners/racers with lots of interesting articles on elites and training/racing type articles that go way beyond couch to 5K...I highly recommend.).  I had initially bought the mag at Whole Foods because my alma mater track club, the WTC, had a big old 2 page feature in it, which is pretty sweet.  But the main training article was on being "racing fit" all year round while still adding in periods of 'peaking' intensity for an A race.  The concept is nothing new to me and it's always something I've generally tried to subscribe to (not so much this winter, but let's not talk about that) so that wasn't the crazy part - the mindblower was when I looked at the paces that were suggested for the various types of workouts (easy/maintainance/long, tempo, aerobic threshold, and intervals)

Using 6:30 as my approximate 5K pace, here's what I got:
anaerobic threshold (ie, short tempo): 85-95% of 5K pace, for me, 6:50-7:38
aerobic threshold (steady state runs, long tempos, the later minutes of progression runs): 75-85% 5K, for me 7:38-8:40
intervals: 1500-5K pace, 5:45ish-6:30
easy/recovery/long: 65-75% of 5K pace, for me, 8:40-10:00

Now we all know I'm pretty much incapable of running easy. Ever.  But when I looked at these paces and realized that I'm running at the low end of aerobic threshold or faster every. single. day. it was like....whoa.  Might I be actually hurting myself rather than helping myself by running like an idiot day after day? The answer, I'm pretty sure, is yes...but actually seeing concrete paces kind of helped put things in perspective a bit.  Granted, my 5K probably should be faster than it is (although interestingly, according to McMillan, my 5K PR is actually quite a bit faster than my marathon would suggest, it's the 10K/half times that I 'should' be running that I haven't hit yet) and I think 10 minute miles are a little excessively slow, but even so, there are a fairly significant number of days in my week when I SHOULD be running 8+ minute pace.  Why is this so difficult for me to comprehend? I ran the best race of my life after training hard, but logging plenty of slower miles, you would think that would be enough to get it through my head.

This is especially interesting to me in light of the fact that a) I've felt stale as stale can be for...well...pretty much since Baystate. And I suppose, after 3 consecutive hard marathon training cycles, "overtrained" is a word that could possibly have been used to describe me, especially taking into account the 'I can't run easy' business.  And b) I've been riding the vague & nagging injury bus since November, with the latest exacerbation being a weird hip thingy that left me unable to run for the past week and a half.  Things finally seem to be resolving themselves after some time spend with the elliptical and the pool, and thank god because a fem neck stress fracture was on my differential diagnosis list for awhile, but it has gotten me thinking about whether I just go at it too damn hard day after day, and it's bringing me down both mentally and physically.  When running is hard every single day a lot of the fun goes out of it, and when you're injured a lot of the fun goes out of it. new plan. I've pretty much realized that my A race for the next year is Boston 2012.  The marathon is what I care about, training for it is what I love, and quite frankly, while I think maybe I have a 19:30 5K in me, I think the longer distances are where I belong. Yes I'm planning on racing cross, and summer races (assuming I can get back into shape after this damn injury), but THE goal is a PR at Boston next year.  And to really be ready to go where I've never gone before in my peak training for that race, I need to be consistent in my miles and my workouts, but not get burnt out.  And...ta da...that's where running easy comes in.  It's going to be hard, but I feel like it's become clear to me that I need to change something in my training if I want to improve, and I think in my case it means running easy enough on the easy days to really be able to run the hard days hard..and to WANT to run the hard days hard.  I see people on DM who are FAST - sub-19 5K fast - who run like 8:45-9:00 on their easy runs...and I'm like, they're faster than me, why on earth am I running my easy runs so much harder than them? This makes no sense. It's going to be a challenge for my mind to tell my legs to slow the eff down, but damn, I'm going to try.

On that note, today I ran my longest run in a week and a half, 6.75 out on the Boston course.  My first mile I ran in 8:40...success!  Except then I ended up with an 8:00 average...which is still progress...come on people, I'm learning here.

Also...I would be lying if I said I was not just a *little* bit jealous of everyone running Boston on Monday.  You know how it goes.  HOWEVER...Marathon Monday marks my first every opportunity to spectate a road race. Ever. I'm always the one racing them, duh. And, it also just so happens that Marathon Monday involves starting to drink somewhere in the vicinity of 7 am, a la 11am Badger games in undergrad.  And you know what's better than a runner who knows what people want to hear at mile 23? A drunken runner who knows what people want to hear at mile 23 ;)   I'm sure I'll have an epic spectating report up sooon.

And to anyone reading this is racing on Monday - you are ready to kill it, DON'T STOP BELIEVIN! I'll be the crazy girl screaming at mile 23 :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

To those about to run, I salute you

Because you ran miles in the cold, in the sun, in the wind, in the snow, on sheets of ice and on treadmills, on days when the wind was at your back and days when you cursed the very fact that you were running at all.

Because you've been there, in all of your multicolored glory, through the months where there's nothing but white to be seen, as motorists honk and pedestrians gaze in confusion at these crazy fools out in the negative windchill. Or you've run like an animal, half naked in the summer sun, hoping to finish before the temps climbed above 90.  The weather didn't matter. You ran.

Because you've broken down muscles and sat with teeth clenched in a ice bath, because you've performed amateur foot surgery on yet another black toenail, because you've diligently done your PT exercises in the hope that maybe, just maybe, that nagging injury won't hurt on race day. Because you've persevered.

Because you've done tempos, hills, fartleks, intervals, and myriad other workouts that you can explain to a non-runner but that they'll never understand.  Because you gutted it out on that last 1000.  Because you didn't give up in the middle of that horrible tempo. Because you carried on.

Because some days you had an exam to study for, a kid to take care of, dishes piling up in the sink, a boss with too many projects to comprehend, hardly time to think...and still you ran. You ran when the alarm went off at 4 am, you ran in the dark of night at 8 pm, you ran at lunch.  Because you ignored the co-workers and friends who thought you were crazy.  Because maybe, a little bit, you are.

Because there were days when you doubted.  Dark days when you thought "why?".  Days when you wondered "is this worth it?" Days when you felt like you were going to collapse under the weight of your own expectations, days when the wind was in your face no matter which way you turned. Because you never let your doubts overcome your passion.

Because there were good days too.  Days when your feet seemed to sprout wings and carry you effortlessly along, runs with friends where the conversation made the miles fly by.  Tough workouts that you finished with aching legs but a full heart.  Long runs - maybe even your longest runs ever - to remember. Because you know what it's like to fly.

Because on Saturdays and Sundays, you were gone for 3 and 4 hours, leaving families, studying, work sleeping in their beds.  Because you know what flavor of Gu will get you through when your legs are aching at mile 15 of a 22 miler.  Because you know where the best public restrooms lie.

Because maybe you were told you couldn't.  Maybe it was you yourself who thought "I can't".  But somewhere deep inside, there was some tiny spark that said "you can".  And because you will.

Because on race day, you will cross two lines - a start and a finish.  Between those lines lies 26.2 miles of a race that you are ready to run. Because you're shooting for a PR, a BQ, a marathon finish.  Because you WILL finish.  Because no matter what awaits you out on the course on raceday, whatever Mother Nature can throw down from the skies, whatever your body dreams up, whatever the roads throw at you, you can trust in this: you belong here.  And you are ready.

Good luck to all of my Boston Marathon running friends...I salute you all and can't wait to cheer you on out there on the course!!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Worst blogger ever? Probably me.

Hmm...over a month since my last post...again...I'm pretty amazing at this whole blogging thing aren't I? I think it's because my training has been less than thrilling lately (especially given that I'm not actually..."training" for anything in particular per se) and who would have thought, being a PT student is actually sort of time consuming? Anyway, I hope you all don't hate me for abandoning you (for anyone who actually does/still reads this?) and I am really going to try to return to a more normal blogging schedule, even if it's just reposting elaborations on my dailymile workouts. I guess in a way that has become like a blog, since each workout presents the opportunity to ramble about it...and we know how much I love rambling!

Well, in the spirit of actually writing SOMETHING on this I ran 15.5 miles.  Actually, when I mapped it out I got 16, but since I ran ~4.5 on a trail that I'm sure is slightly shorter than my estimate (and I don't think I ran 7:30 pace for 16 miles) I rounded down. It was a gorgeous day and I actually had FUN on a long run thanks mainly to a new route + a newly discovered park with TRAILS which are pretty much my happy place.  There were also puppies, including a golden retriever who came bounding up to me with a stick and basically started begging me to pet him. Ummm yes...I will stop my watch and freaking snuggle with you, adorable dog. 
15.5 miles - 2:00:23 - 7:46 pace

My next supposed race is the James Joyce 10K on May 1. I have no idea what my level of preparedness for this race is but it's becoming quite clear to me that if I don't run a damn race soon I'm going to go nuts and lose all motivation to run. Probably at the same time.  There's also the possibility of a 5K at BC in a couple of weeks, but that will probably be a more spur of the moment thing.  Speaking of a couple of main running related thought process lately has been to SPECTATING Boston!! And yes, I am wicked excited.  I know a lot of people running between dailymile friends, bloggers, and my club/other Boston people, so I plan on making like 18 different signs, yelling a lot, and generally being the most super spectator ever. (So for those of you running Boston...if you feel like letting me know what you'll be wearing so I can look for you and cheer for you I'd love it! :))

And now, because I really need to get back to studying neuro, I'm going to do this random bloggy thing that I found @Runner's Rambles. And I do enjoy random surveys!

Outside my window … it's dark, but there are lots of cars going by.
I am hearing … Chopin radio on Pandora (classical music is my study aid of choice)
I am thinking … about neuro. Sort of. Or about how much fun I had last night!
I am thankful … for my spectacular boyfriend and for my PT crew, I would not be surviving this program without them!
I am reading … Neuroanatomy through Clinical Cases, I know you are deeply jealous.
I am hoping and praying … that I did well on the 2 exams I took last week, and that I do well on the one coming up this week!
I am wearing … Adrenaline dance sweatpants and my WTC sweatshirt...scrubbin' it hard lol.
I am creating … the most beautiful set of neuro notes ever. Seriously, I love highlighters.
From the kitchen … I made some amazing chili on Friday!
Around the house … messiness everywhereee...and lots of laundry that needs to be done.
Plans for the rest of the week … peds form tomorrow night, neuro studying the next few days, hopefully making it to a yoga class since I bought a Groupon for them!
A Picture to share …this is from earlier this winter, when I went running in 12+ inches of snow. SO happy I don't have to see this anymore until next winter!