Today was a great day. It was the first time I’ve run in quite a while where a) I didn’t hurt to the high heavens during the run and b) I actually felt energized and ready to take on the next run afterwards.
A couple of weeks I joined a training group with a local running store, with the intent to switch to a different location if we had to move. Well, it turns out the move happened a whole lot sooner (and way more unexpectedly) than we had planned. I missed pretty much every run last week and have had a rough week getting back into it this week. Today was my first long run with the new group.
The group has almost 90 people – most of us are training for the Baltimore Half, but there are a few others represented as well. Because there is such a wide variety of runners, our coach set up a system where we self-select into beginner, intermediate, or trained runners. Beginners are tackling their first half and just want to finish, intermediates have (mostly) run at least 1 half before and are looking at a time goal, and trained runners are those who are constantly in top racing condition pretty much year round. I selected into intermediate, but because of the wonky beginning to the training season I’m skewing towards the lower end of the recommended ranges.
On Tuesday evening we did a 2 mile time trial at the track, which went okay. I’m used to running in the morning and in the shade/cooler temps, and the track was right in the sun the entire time. I got a bit dizzy, but made it through in an acceptable (but not stellar) time. Thursday I went out intending to run 2-3, but my legs just blew out on me. I couldn’t even run 1 mile, and had to hobble home the rest of the way. Not exactly a confidence builder. So going into today, I was understandably a bit wary about this run. I’ve never run at this site before, which made me even more nervous.
The course runs through a reservoir which the county closes down for recreation on the weekends. The road’s wooded for the most part and is pretty hilly.
Amazingly, my legs felt fantastic today and I did so much better than I expected to! I ran this 6 miles about 30 seconds faster than the 6 miler I did in February, which was on a teensy downhill grade. I think having the social atmosphere (and pressure) of the group helped immensely. I did walk a bit, but that’s okay.
I learned that my hill work has paid off, but I need to focus on longer hills, too. I had great power through the bottoms of hills or when I would start running after walking, but faded before I made a whole lot of progress distance-wise. That’s important because Baltimore is a very hilly course and my downfall last year was the inability to successfully attack the hills. However, I’m already in a much better position today than I was this time last year.
I’m also learning new techniques for keeping my shin splints and tendonitis in check. After Tuesday’s track session, the running store had PTs available to us for brief consultations. The PT gave me some great advice on things to do to get my leg to play nice, including a new icing technique. Rather than just placing an ice pack on the leg, she recommended freezing water in a solo cup, ripping the top 1″ or so of paper off, using to papered end as a handle, and directly massaging the area with the ice. Well, I didn’t have any solo cups around, and even if I did, the freezer is jam packed. So I had to improvise. Enter, the massage mango.
Yes, the massage mango. It turns out the little nub/hook end is perfect for getting into the tendons around the ankle bone and in the arch. They were already frozen solid in the back of the freezer and this little guy worked wonders. I’m not sure of the longevity of a massage mango, but there’s only one way to find out 🙂