Training/hamstring update

So, round 2 of ‘come back from the hamstring injury’ did not go as planned, in spite of my sincere promises to my hamstring to take things slow and *not* be an idiot. Behind these promises lurked the reality of a race a few weeks away and a desire to salvage my training by squeezing in a few short, but up-tempo workouts. I still really wanted to do BolderBoulder, so, foolishly, I attempted a tempo workout  the week before last to ‘test things out’. As you can probably guess, this pushed me back over the hamstring-aggravation threshold, and I had to take another four days completely off.

After that second break I finally realized that the only way I was going to be able to manage my training expectations in a way that is compatible with healing the hamstring was to pretend that my couple months of strong late-winter/Spring training were their own separate season, and that this return post-break represented a start-of-season base-building mode after what was effectively a post-season break. In light of this more realistic new view of my recent training I’ve dropped my plans for BolderBoulder, postponing them to next year, and am focusing purely on getting my hamstring healed in time for Sawtooth relay in early June. I’m going to be cautious and patient with that June 10th date in mind – I’d rather be out of shape than in shape but running two 6-mile segments on a cramping leg!

For my ‘back to base’ plan I’m sticking to a maximum of 5 days a week of running, and am focusing on controlled, gentle pacing for all runs (no faster than 9:00 pace average unless I go a whole week of running with zero pain, and absolutely no workouts). I’ve also adjusted my hamstring rehab routine to include some lighter exercises to warm up before doing any higher load hamstring rehab, and I’ve been getting out on the bike more to exercise the hamstring in a low-impact, small range-of-motion manner. So far things are improving – my hamstring pain during normal daily activities has been eliminated, and I’ve had several solid, pain-free runs in a row!

My runs are rough even at the controlled pace and I can tell I’ve lost fitness, but I’m hoping the solid training from the start of this year will still give me a boost when I finally get back to workouts and racing. I’ve had a few frustrated moments when I think of all the tough, miserable winter miles that I ran in the dark, thinking the suffering would pay off in Spring/Summer races. However, I know that even with time off I’m still in better shape than I would have been if I hadn’t put in those miles, and the several speedy Spring workouts I got in pre-injury were rewarding even if I never got to ‘use’ the fitness gained. They reminded me of what I can do as a runner, and will hopefully let me get back to those exciting paces a little quicker once I’m healthy!

Art post 18

I may have stayed up too late watching the breaking 2:00 attempt…but at least I got in 2 hours of solid drawing time 🙂

Art post 15

More like anatomy/rushed art post but I need to get back on track so quick will have to do! Spent all day working with ankle images at work and listened to a foot/ankle presentation at grand rounds a couple weeks ago…

Inspired by presentation by the foot & ankle surgeon at work. 3 of the ‘fun’ things you can do to your lateral ankle, yay… 😐

Winners!

Discoveries from Sunday:

  1. I’m out of shape…but not all the way
  2. My hamstring healing is going better this time around
  3. Last-minute teammates = awesome 🙂

After a hearty breakfast (thanks awesome AirBnB host!), Fish (my running buddy from grad school) and I arrived at the course. The air was chilly, and an overcast sky promised cool racing weather. We had 90 minutes until the race so we spent some time grabbing our team packet, getting our beer wrist-bands (wootwoot!), and walking around the course.

We were joined shortly by another Oiselle teammate, giving us what we thought was our full 3-people-score team (5 allowed but we’d had some illness and injury hit our team before the race). However, when we went to pick up our shirts the race director had two last-minute entries with her who wanted to join a 5-person team! We happily added them to our Fierce Flyers roster and set off on our warmup to get to know our new teammates and scout out the course.

The course started on bumpy grass, and then went in a sharp-cornered double triangle figure-8 on gravelly single-track around two brushy fields. The hills were mild and we were all excited to race a relatively flat 5k. All of us were in early-season/’running this as a workout’ mode so we did a relatively short warmup before changing shoes and lining up in the grassy field for the start. I skipped my usual drills and strides since I was trying to save the hamstring and prevent myself from going out too fast.

The small field bunched up for the national anthem and then, with a yelled “Go!” from the race director we were off! I tried to find ‘fast tempo run’ pace and followed the lead woman, a speedy young girl in second, and one of my new teammates out over the bumpy grass and onto the single track. I passed my new teammate at around the halfway mark but otherwise didn’t move around much, working to hold a steady tempo without excessive straining. I was paying close attention to my hamstring and was happy to make it through without any twinges or tightness. I got lucky with a clean finish that didn’t temp me to kick, and finished first for the team in just over 21 minutes. The rest of the team filed in close together, making for an excited cheering section as we turned gasping post-finish breath into cheers for incoming teammates.

Awards followed shortly after and we were happily surprised to get called up as the winning women’s team! We got a nice shoutout for winning as a last-minute team, and enthusiastically thanked our ‘ringers’ for joining at the last minute.

Fitness and hamstring recovery takeaway:

After two very-low-mileage weeks I was feeling a bit out of shape, and this race was a bit behind where I thought I’d be back before the hamstring blip. However, I was pleased to be nearly a minute faster than my opening 5k race last year in May – not bad for being rusty! My projected 10k time based on this race is about 30 seconds over the cutoff for the wave that I entered for BolderBoulder, and I’m hoping I can whittle that ‘extra’ time down in the few weeks leading up to the race. I’d hoped to hit the time needed to move up a wave next year, but that would require a full two minutes off of the fitness I’m at now so I don’t think that’s quite a reasonable race-day expectation. My post-5k runs this week have definitely been tough and my legs seem to have forgotten a little how to run more than three miles, but my hamstring rehab has been going much more smoothly, so I hope to get back to actual workouts sometime in the next month before BolderBolder on Memorial Day.