Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Marathon training weeks 7 & 8

       I had a crazy week this past week, which is my sorry excuse for missing a blog.

       Last week I hit some new levels. It was my longest barefoot road run, and also my longest run in intense heat. Friday the 5th, the sun came out and baked me nearly into heat exhaustion and the humidity drove me to near water toxicity. The sweat simply could not evaporate off my body so I kept pushing more and more water and had no extra gel or sports drink with me. Later, when the sun baked, brain fog had cleared, I realized I had taken in almost 100 oz. of water with only on small 10 oz. portion being a sports drink and one gel. No wonder I had a headache, stomach ache and my muscles were threatening to cramp! I was okay, although very slow, for the first 12 miles. I was able to stop in a restroom to take a break and cover myself in water at mile 13, but the last mile was at a snail’s pace and I felt horrible. Fortunately the headache and stomach ache started within sight of my car. Needless to say I felt bad for the next couple of days and learned a valuable lesson.

       This week went great despite having to delay my runs 2 hours each morning so I could drop my daughter off for VBS at 8:30. My easy run on Wednesday was with a new friend who is a much better runner than I am (she is also an Ironman, Marathon Maniac, and knocks out sub 4 marathons like they are nothing.) Needless to say I ran my 4 miles a bit faster than my usual 10 mpm easy pace, but I did actually manage to talk the whole time. My rest day was spent doing house work to get ready for a party Friday night in my husband’s honor. I wanted to have as much as possible done so I could spend the morning in my long run and still be ready on time. I’m proud to say I managed a great 15 mile run! The rain had rolled in so the sun was obscured, it was only about 77 degrees at the start, and I think the humidity was a bit lower because the sweat was actually evaporating off my arms, YAY! My pace was only 4 seconds slower than planned, even though I took a few walking breaks, so I felt really good about dealing with the heat. I made sure I had plenty of my favorite sports drink, Cytomax, on hand. I started with 20 0z. of water and 20 oz. of Cytomax, refilled the same after 6 miles, and topped off a bit after 12.

        By the time I started the last 3 miles I was tired. With a long list of things I still needed to do for the party, and my car right there, it was REALLY REALLY hard no to blow off the last 3 miles and head for the shower. However, those are the 3 miles that mean the most. It is the last few miles, when we are tired, bored, and struggling that really build our endurance both mental and physical. The ability to keep going even when we have an impressive list of excuses about why we should stop is what makes someone a distance runner. I was also thinking about my running buddy back in Vegas, Bruce. He has had his final radiation treatment this week. I firmly believe the strength he pulled out to finish marathons and marathon training is what not only got him through 12 weeks of chemo and radiation, but also got him through working full time through it all as a cabbie with a feeding tube stuck in his belly. With that in my mind, how could I give up with 3 lousy miles left to go when I felt good, other than being a little tired. Besides, one more half hour wasn’t going to make much of a difference in my preparations.

       After my run and a good round of stretches, I had 30 minutes to wait on my daughter. It wasn’t enough time to go home and get back so I parked in our usual meeting area, reclined my seat and stuck my feet out the window. Elevating my legs made the tired aching stop and I dozed while listening to an audio book for about half an hour. At home I showered and napped for one more 30 minute stretch and was good as new! The party went great, despite torrential rain that kept everyone cooped up in the house, and I managed to stay on my feet as hostess and even get the majority of the cleanup done before falling into bed about 1am. I am a true believer that short naps and elevating your legs do wonders for your recovery! I had worried that I would suffer for having done my long run, but I was also strongly bent on not missing it.

        Running a marathon really isn’t the hard part; it is keeping up with a training schedule for 18 weeks and not letting excuses get in your way. I could easily have begged off my long run, no one would have faulted me. It might not have even cost me on race day to miss just one, but in my mind it would have been a defeat. Now, instead of feeling like a slacker for not running, I feel like super woman!

       Barefoot update: feet are doing great! No blisters, although I do have a couple of tender thin spots from constantly having wet feet while running, but nothing that makes me miss a run or cut a run short.

       RA update: My wrist continues to be a problem and I’m thinking of going in to beg for an injection into the joint. I can hardly move it and I fell on it Saturday when I slipped on stairs (which also resulted in a scraped elbow, stiff neck, and nasty bruise on my rump, but I saved the cake!) Otherwise, my RA is behaving.

Mileage for last week:

Mon: 4 easy. Tues: 8, 7 at race pace. Wed: 4 easy. Fri. 14 LSD

Miles for this past week:

Mon: 4 easy. Tues: 7 easy. Wed: 4 easy. Fri: 15 LSD

Monday, August 1, 2011

Running: Are You in the Zone?

Refreshing          Building Block          Over the Line

              The Good Zone

       When it comes to a basic idea for improving your running, there are 3 zones. For this blog I will call them 1) Refreshing 2) Building Block and 3) Over the Line.

       Refreshing runs are important and often beneficial and necessary. These are recovery runs where our bodies are getting a break. They are a mentally beneficial and very enjoyable when run on a lovely day, with a friend who isn’t quite where we are, with the family dog or kids on scooters and tricycles, or just a few easy miles to shake off the cobwebs the day before speed work or the day after. These are great runs that we shouldn’t ignore, but they are for recovery and do little to improve speed, endurance, or strength.

       Building Block is the meat and potatoes. This is where you are pushing, building, gaining, and growing as a runner. It might be a long run, tempo run, speed work, race, or any combination where you take yourself a little farther or faster than you did last week or last month or last year. These runs are mentally and physically draining, but exhilarating at the same time. The sense of accomplishment is great, BUT, it is not something we can do every day.

       Over the Line is when you have crossed the line, pushed too hard and are in the injury zone. Sometimes we cross this line like we have been shot out of a cannon, the sudden loud pop as a bone or tendon gives way, the sharp pain of muscle fibers losing their grip on each other and tearing, the cramp from Hell that stops us in our tracks. Then there are also the slow building injuries that come from crossing the line just a little day after day: the shin splints, plantar fasciitis, IT Band syndrome, runner’s knee, the nagging injuries that start as a twinge that can be ignored or propped up until after the big race. This is the zone to avoid and the trick is to get close and gain maximum benefit, without actually crossing the line.

       Sadly, these zones are not written on the pavement and they change from day to day. They also interact, which can be good or bad depending on how we handle our training. We can push away the start of Over the Line with runs from Refreshing. We can widen Building Block with strength and cross training. We can run right up to the edge of Over the Line with coaches that can spot fatigue or form issues, masseuses to work out the knots, and therapists to keep everything in tip top shape, but few of us have the resources or need for that level of training. The trick is to get out of Refreshing and spend enough time in Building Block to keep moving forward, without crossing the line into Over the Line. Easy-peasy, right? Not so!

       In the early weeks of a full or half marathon training plan, one is generally in their comfort zone distance wise. Having finished the first third of my marathon training I’m feeling good. The pace runs have been tough, largely because of the heat, but the long runs have not exceeded my routine distances so I feel like I have not really left Refreshing. However, week 7 will be very much into my Building Block. My pace run will be 7 miles (that’s a one mile warm up and then 7 miles at 9 mpm, pace runs will peak at 8 miles in this training plan.) My long run will hit 14 miles and take me into new territory with my bare feet. A year ago I ran 15 miles barefoot, but it was on a trail, so from here on out, I’m logging my longest barefoot road runs ever. To cap it off, my easy runs have another mile added to them so my weekly total will exceed 30 miles for the first time. I have had a couple of 28 mile weeks this year and 2 more miles doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but there is something psychological about rolling over to 3-0. All in all, I’m ready. My schedule is based around my runs, my family is supportive, and I have enough strength and stamina to do this. Onward!

This past week:

Mon: 3 easy miles in the morning, 2 crazy miles in the evening.

Tues: Decided to postpone my pace run to recover from being out too late Monday

Wed: 7 miles, one mile warm up and then 6 miles at pace with a break in the middle. It was nearly 80F in the gym, but lightening outside so not a lot of choice.

Fri: 9 miles and then back in to the doctor because my throat is sore again. Turns out I still have bronchitis so I’m on round 2 of antibiotics and hoping this will be the last of it. Now I know why I have felt short of breath!

I’m on my 4th day of antibiotics and feeling much better. No more sore throat and no more gunky cough. Now to get used to the allergy meds so I’m not falling asleep all the time! The flare in my wrist is still driving me nuts, but now slowing my runs. And yes, I’m still putting in all my miles barefoot!