Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Form and the beginner runner

As someone who’s been injured more than a few times, running form is something I’ve heard a lot about.

When I was in elementary school, we had a unit in gym class that focused on teaching us how to run. I missed that unit. No, seriously – I was sidelined in a full-leg cast that spring. My mom always joked that I couldn’t run well when I was younger because I missed that unit – but I think there’s a fair bit of legitimacy to that. Not so much the elementary school part, but the learning to run part.

It’s widely assumed that anyone can run. Got two legs? You can run. Got a prosthetic leg or two? You’re good to go, too. Baring that, got a wheelchair and two arms that can push? You can compete in the wheelchair division (helloooo, wonder woman Tatyana McFadden!). All too often, that’s kind of the beginning and end of the road for many runners, especially amateurs.

It’s always astounded me that in running, we tell people to run first, and work out the kinks later. As anyone who has had to unlearn a bad habit knows, old habits are hard to break! We don’t expect swimmers to learn good form on their own – so why do we expect runners to do so?

The main debate for several years was about foot strike – something that can certainly have an impact on form and injury rate, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Cadence? Okay, that’s got some meat to it; but again, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You can have a really fast turnover but still have poor form.

This is something that I fully intend to address when I coach this summer; running form, as much as speed and distance, will be a cornerstone of my coaching philosophy. I substitute-coached for a friend’s 10k group the other week and discussed this with them briefly before sending them off on their speedwork – something which one of the participants told me afterwards was one of the best things she’s learned about running in a long time!

This is something that is in the forefront of my mind right now as I focus intently on correcting my running-form sins and (hopefully) building myself up to be a more efficient runner who can avoid trips to the ortho and PT in the future. I know it’s vital to spend time perfecting form, especially at speed and when tired at the end of long runs, but let’s be honest – I’d really rather be focusing my energy on speed and endurance right now.

Yes, we all know how to run. But when we take up running as a persistent activity, when we begin to log dozens of miles week after week, it’s integral to our longevity in the sport to work on the finer points before injury, rather than trying to re-learn them later. Yes, the body may get more efficient as you run more, but why not give it a head start on the process? I think it’s high time we respect beginner runners enough to help them out, setting them up for long-term success, and focusing on how to run properly.

 


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Weekly Recap

I know, I know… I’ve really been awful at this blogging thing lately.

I’m sorry 😦

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It’s been tough to get excited about blogging when my running has been so hit or miss due to injuries over the last 6 weeks.

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Things were going so well until mid-August, but the last six weeks have just been so frustrating. BUT, getting my final 20 miler in in such great condition really helped.

This week I was released from 2x per week PT!! This week and next week I’ll only go once, to get my hip taped, to use the PENS therapy machine, and to run on the Alter G. It was a huge mental boost to hear that I don’t have to go on Mondays anymore.

Yesterday we were still getting lashed by that coastal storm that’s been wreaking havoc on South Carolina. When I woke up it was 45 degrees, pouring down raining, and super windy, so I decided to skip my 12 miler – no need to risk pneumonia (or getting hit by a car…) this close to the marathon! Instead I did 8 miles on the elliptical while watching Spirit of the Marathon today (a must-watch).

Tuesday will be the first time I’ve gone to the track in 6 weeks. I’m still not allowed to do speed work, but I figure because we’re doing 1600s at 10 sec faster than marathon pace, that’s not really speed work, so I can do it. 🙂 I’ve really missed my Tuesday night track sessions – I think it’ll be good psychologically to get back there, even if it’s just for the last two sessions.

And Saturday will be my last long run! Whoa! Where has the time gone?? It just occurred to me this evening that I should start planning my race-week meals and acquiring the ingredients. Anal retentive, yes, but I’m not leaving anything to chance. I’ve put too much into this to screw it up with something stupid and easy to avoid.

What are your favorite race-week meals or snacks?? 

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I did it.

16 miles.

As much as I hurt this morning, I was prepared to bail at 5.

But I did it. I got through all 16 miles. I had yards of tape holding my leg together and my training partners were awesome about trying out a new route that didn’t involve crossing the major roadway, and we got through it together. Hills and rain and all.

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You know what’s truly amazing? This badass chick ran 16 miles. SIX TIMES!!


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Ortho Update

I swear sometimes I’m actually a 90 year old… the best damn looking 90 year old in town, but I digress…

This morning I met with my ortho to determine whether my aches and pains are something I can run through or something I need to sit my butt down for.

The good news? No stress fractures! My bones look purrrrrrdy. Yay!!

The not-so-good news? I’ve got a laundry list of issues…

  1. The thigh/femur pain is actually a very angry sartorius muscle.
    Remember that song from kindergarten, “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”? (ha! now that song’s stuck in your head for the rest of the week, too! 😉 )Yeah, well, dem bones tendons are all connected…. which leads us to…
  2. Bursitis of the Pes anserine, and
  3. Distal hamstring tendinitis.

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At least it’s not a stress fracture!! 😀

I get a cortisone injection for the bursitis next week, but this week’s long run is still in question. As the ortho said, if it hurts, don’t run. Ugh. But I can take OTC anti-inflamatories if they help. Yay! Well, not really yay, but you know… #runnerlogic

Luckily i was able to get in an awesome 5 mile run on the AlterG this afternoon. Started out at 70% body weight but was able to get up to 80% once the excedrin kicked in – and I did it in major PR territory! 43:43. Woo!!

Maybe I can break into the PT’s office this weekend and do my 16 miler on the AlterG so I don’t have to do it on the elliptical…. Only kinda sorta half joking….

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Well, I wouldn’t actually break in, but I’m not above begging and crying. Seriously.


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My First 20 Miler!!

Yesterday was about as perfect of a day for a run as one could hope for in late August. It was 58 when I got out of my car with low humidity. I was nervous about this run and it was making my stomach a bit upset, which made me even more nervous, but at least I didn’t have to worry about the conditions.

We ran in the neighborhood near the store, which was a blessing and a curse. It’s great because there are many places in which to rack up miles and is hilly, which is great prep for Baltimore, but it can also get monotonous. Our first loop ended up being nearly 14 miles. My right calf was tight through the first 3 miles, which caused my right foot to fall asleep on the uphills, but it worked itself out. Around mile 8 I noticed that my left knee was feeling a little weak laterally, but nothing earth-shattering. Near that same time one of the women I was running with was dealing with some hip tightness while another was dealing with abductor tightness, so we took a stretch break which helped us all.

When we returned to the store to fill up on water, I tried a new fuel, the Clif pouch of Sweet Potato with Sea Salt. In theory it’s a pretty good idea, given how sweet most fuels are, but it took 10 minutes and half a bottle of water just to get down half of the pouch. And the taste left something to be desired. A lot, really. The volume of the fuel plus the water made my stomach feel all sorts of off, and I ended up having to walk for .25 mi to let my stomach settle. For about a minute I thought I was going to throw up along a rather busy major road…

Once I got through that I actually felt pretty good. We only had 5 miles to get through at that point. Totally doable, but also some of the hardest 5 miles I’ve ever run. We purposefully took a hilly route (Baltimore is basically straight uphill from mile 15-20), which was challenging but I think successful for all of us. It wasn’t until about mile 18.5 that the wheels kinda came off the cart. My left thigh starting aching and then hurting. I knew stopping wasn’t an option. I also knew that the direct route I was on wasn’t going to get me to 20 miles. So I ran in circles to get closer to 20, even running in a broad circle while the girl I was with stopped to get a drink. When we finally made it back to the store, my Garmin read 19.93 – and you’re damn straight I ran around the parking lot until it turned over.

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489 is not 5 miles

I immediately cleaned up and changed into dry clothes and made a bee-line for the bagel table and chatted with some people for a bit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually hungry, so I took the bagel to go.

The only thing standing between me an that amazing 20 mile bagel was the long trek across the kitchen to get a knife from that drawer....

The only thing standing between me an that amazing 20 mile bagel was the long trek across the kitchen to get a knife from that drawer…. #thestruggleisreal

Although it didn’t hurt that bad during the run, my left leg was killing me by this point. I needed to lean on something just to use my left leg; stairs were nearly impossible. For only the second time ever, I took an ice bath. Things didn’t turn out well last time. 

Thanks, mom....

Thanks, mom….

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Later last night I spent nearly an hour in the hot tub, which really helped my right leg. Honestly, my right leg feels so great today I could run another 10 miles if both legs felt that good. My left leg, however…. feels like it was repeatedly beaten with a baseball bat.

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This morning I substitute coached my mom’s 5k/10k group with another girl from my group, and then met Aaron and Katie afterwards. I warned him I might not be able to walk, but i tried – I only made it .25 mi out before I had to turn around. 😦 The poor dog seemed horribly frustrated to be walking so slowly haha

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I’m not really sure how to analyze yesterday’s run.

It was a success because a) I RAN 20 MILES, b) I ran it faster than I expected to, c) I felt physically and mentally strong throughout nearly the whole run, and d) I learned that the Zealots are keepers.

It was less than stellar because a) I tried a new fuel halfway through which made me have to walk and b) I could barely put weight on my left leg afterwards. I still can barely walk.

The biggest takeaway is that I RAN 20 MILES!!!! Mentally that’s a HUGE hurdle. I’m still nervous about that extra 10k that I’ll have to run to finish the marathon, but that’s another issue for another day.

The biggest problem is that I’m not even sure what exactly I injured or how I injured it, but my left leg and knee are not happy with me. At all.

I already had the PT on the schedule for tomorrow morning, but I may be calling the ortho for a proper injury eval. Not words I wanted to utter this late in training.

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Mid-week recap

Seeing as I didn’t have any photos when I wrote my last post, here are some photos of me climbing Saturday!

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this wall actually started like 8-10 feet below the bottom of the picture

So much fun – and I certainly hope to do it again (you know, after marathon training ends and I can reclaim my life)

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Sunday races/long runs always throw me off – I’m such a creature of habit! Instead of my usual recovery day after the race, I went straight into my usual Monday cross training and strength routine – and felt amazingly strong after it.

Tuesday, as usual, was speed work at the track. My reward for a faster 10k PR? Faster speed work. D’oh! 8 Partner 800s at 5k pace meant I was now aiming for close to a 9:00min pace. If you’re not familiar with partner 800s, they’re pretty cool – runner A runs 400 by themselves, runner B joins in and they both run 400 together, and then runner A falls off after the end of the second lap (having run 800) and runner B finishes up their last 400 by themselves. It’s a really great way to break up the monotony of 800s and it keeps you honest – assuming you both run about the same pace, you only get to rest however long it takes for the other runner to finish their independent 400. The girl I ran with, Jennie, is a speed demon at shorter distances and was chomping at the bit every time we did our lap together. I am grateful that she was able to drag me along, though!

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I’m not sure if I was still recovering from Sunday, or if I was overstraining, or if it’s the constant left-hand turns on the track, but I was not feeling so hot during the workout. My left leg just hurt – not anywhere in particular, but all over, from the hip down to the foot – so much so that it definitely affected my stride, cadence, and in the last two repeats, my speed.

With this workout, I surpassed 100 miles for the month! Wow!! My highest monthly mileage ever is just over 107 miles, so that’s huge. And I still have a lot of month left!

Yesterday morning when I woke up I could barely walk without flinching. I spent as much of the day sitting as possible because whenever I walked I limped and had a shooting pain throughout my entire hip and leg. Not knowing what was going on, and having a 20 miler breathing down my neck, I made an appointment for a massage.

First, though, was the Alter G. That thing truly is a lifesaver. I was able to get in 4.45 miles in 40 minutes. Even with the weight resistance down to 70%, it still hurt quite a bit to run, though upping the incline to 2% and the speed to nearly 7mph seemed to help.

As soon as I got off the Alter G, I wiped down and hopped in the car to make the cross-town rush hour trek to get to my massage. I don’t typically get massages. I’ve only had two in my life. But I’ve heard so many good things about the use of them in marathon training that I’ve been considering getting a few; waking up in pain just made it much more of a priority. I only went in for 30 minutes, but it was worth every penny. I explained to her the issues I’ve been having and that I wanted to mainly focus on the left leg, and she took it from there.

Now I’m a major fan of the foam roller and foam roll as often as I can, but with her pressing down on my hamstrings, it felt like I had never rolled in my life. You don’t realize just how tight your muscles get until it’s too late. She worked on my hammies and piriformis, primarily, and loosened up the calf muscles as well. Oh my piriformis… she hit one spot and it was all I could do to not moan. It hurt so good. (Be honest, you know exactly what I’m talking about).

After the massage I felt better, but not insanely better. I didn’t wince when I got off the table, but there was still some sharp pain. But I knew that it wouldn’t be a miracle. I went home, had dinner, and hopped in the hot tub for about 15 minutes before the lightning just got too close. I’ve gotta say though, I feel about 90% today.

I’m substitute coaching for a 5k/10k group this evening (and Sunday!), which I’m super excited about, but am also super disappointed because my PT doesn’t want me running on the track for a while. Unplanned/forced rest days are the worst. There’s also that .75 mi run from the parking lot to the track, which normally is nothing, but has me pretty nervous with my left leg situation. Maybe I’ll break the rules and drive to the track…. Until then, you can find me perched on my foam roller…

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PT, Vol. 3

This morning I had my first meeting with my new physical therapist. I so love that they’re so much closer to home.

Today was primarily about them evaluating me and figuring out a house of action. My right hip is (yet again) being a lazy freeloader – and the crux of all of my problems. Even though I’ve been doing all of my old PT exercises continually, it’s just not stabilizing or strengthening up substantially. We’re going to work with a running specialist to see if we can’t figure out why.

She did another poke-and-prod exam and thinks what’s causing my tibia pain is actually the soft tissue that connects to – and pulls on – the tibia; majorly good news, but if left untreated, that kind of tension can cause a stress fracture.

We went over a few exercises that we’re going to work on and that I can incorporate into my workouts at home, and then I got to play on the Alter G! It was only for 15 minutes though, so boo 😦 Unlike the other location, they don’t have a tv in front of the Alter G, so if I’m ever allowed to do a long mid-week run on it, I may need to bring along a fully-loaded iPad… haha.

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After a little time with some ice, I headed on over to Charm City Run to get a new pair of shoes! Hey, if a trained medical expert tells me I need a new pair of shoes, who am I to argue? 😉

Based on the advice of one of the guys there last weekend, I’m giving the Saucony Guide 8s a try – they’re a bit more supportive than my current shoes (which today’s PT said might be worthwhile) and have a higher heel drop (which Saturday’s PT said might be worthwhile). I’ve had mixed luck with Saucony’s in the past (Omni’s were good but too supportive, Triumphs were super comfy, until I ran), but I’m holding out hope for these guys. I was cleared for running tomorrow, assuming I promise to a) not be stupid and b) listen to my body if it sends out any warning signals. Hopefully tomorrow’s 8-10 will both go well in general and with respect to the new shoes (it’s an out and back, so I can’t just switch shoes if things don’t workout).

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My afternoon was capped off with a car ride with my super sweet pups and a nice nap.

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What’s your weekend running looking like?
When was the last time you changed shoes? How did that transition go?