Hamstrung

Guess what happens when you decide your little hamstring injury is gone (in spite of only having been running pain free for oh, 3 days…not counting the workout where things *did* twinge just a teensy bit) and then run 12 glorious miles on it?

Oh, and throw in slacking on strength work for that hamstring since you’ve travelled back home and away from the marvelous hamstring-curl exercise ball. And a sudden cease in painful hamstring massages since your 6′ 2″, manual-labor-doing husband apparently has weaker hands than your 5′ 8″, 120 pound, noodle-armed sister [insert smirk here…].

Did you guess that the almost-gone hamstring problem is going to reemerge the day after that 12-miler as a vicious cramp, forcing you to walk the last half mile home and then essentially squashing any training for the next week and a half as you’re finally forced to be reasonable and take some time off? If so, congratulations, you are CORRECT!

I’m now at that week and a half point out, and have finally gotten back to very short, but pain-free runs. This second injury flare-up has forced me to really buckle down and I’ve been doing hamstring curls (with a theraband), straight-leg hip lifts, and the glute/core activation routine daily, and have been forcing myself to dig into the sore muscle with The Stick of dooooom every other day before going to bed.

I’ve reached the weird point where I’m simultaneously excited about getting back to workouts and dreaming about all the fun I’ll have when I get back to full running, and also being completely convinced that I have lost every shred of fitness that I ever possessed. Runner brains are weird sometimes…

On the fitness side I don’t think I’m actually *that* badly off. MountainMan and I spent last weekend hiking all over in the blazing heat of Grand Junction, CO and I did a long swim and a tough circuit workout this week to make up for the lack of running. I’m actually running a 5k on Sunday (foolish in light of everything I’ve written, but I signed up for it quite a while ago and it’s a team event so I’m kind of stuck…will jog it in if things are sore). Also, I just took a look at my excellent Excel running mileage versus month plot and even with the hamstring-induced dip I’m well within last years daily average mileage range, well above 2015’s daily average mileage maximum, and above all but two months from 2014. It’s a big drop, but not the fitness-killer that my panicked runner-brain keeps thinking it is.

Here’s to not being an idiot going forward (apart from Sunday’s 5k, which I hope to treat more as a tempo/fun-run) and keeping up the mildly unpleasant hamstring routine in order to get back out to enjoy the rapidly thawing trails!

 

runplot

April 2017 indicated by the super professional-looking arrow :-]

Art post – week 13

Fell behind a week so doing one quick sketch tonight, another coming tomorrow!

I started off trying to sketch from an Instagram photo of Stephanie Bruce kicking the 10k’s butt (such a beautiful finish-line shot!)

 I gave up on getting the likeness after several fruitless attempts, but am content with the overall happy/tired generic-runner result 🙂

March training

March ended in a whirlwind of travel for a conference and family visits, some wild weather, and a little hamstring trouble that changed my training plans from high mileage and fast workouts to a couple weeks of focused glute/core/hamstring work and easy running. With all the chaos and unexpected hamstring trouble I still managed a little under 160 total miles, or just over 5 miles a day on average, giving me plenty of miles to enjoy the experience of running on new and home-town trails.

March2017runningplot

The adventure of mid-late March started the Saturday before last, as I stepped groggily from the crowded, air-conditioned airport and into the startling mid-day San Diego sunlight, poster tube in hand and suitcase full of conference and running clothes, ready to enjoy a change of working and running scenery.

I was excited to attend my first Orthopaedic Research Society meeting (which turned out to be AMAZING!) and was also appreciating the change to escape the chill of the mountains for the warmth of the southern California coast.

My first run from my hotel the afternoon of my arrival did not disappoint – I sweated through 13 meandering miles exploring the nearby Balboa Park, taking in the shimmer of the happy green plants and the sweet scents of the flowering trees. The difference from the bare branches and grey, muddy fields back home was an enjoyable surprise!

After three solid days of air-conditioned long-run recovery spent absorbing (or at least trying to absorb!) a steady stream of orthopedics basic-science knowledge, research presentations, and new names and faces, I escaped into the overcast, humid outdoors of downtown San Diego for a more physically challenging activity.

I’d been lucky to find the San Diego Track Club online prior to my trip, and decided to check out the free Tuesday workout, which is open to visitors as well as club members.  I jogged over to Balboa Stadium to warmup, and then joined the large group for a couple laps and drills. The workout on the schedule was a fartlek of 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 hard/easy on the track. The club director broke our large group (maybe 100 people) into three groups by pace (from 10+ minutes/mile for 5k down to sub-six pace) and I hopped nervously in with the fastest group.

Each group got 3 lanes of the 9-lane track, and we spread out quickly enough that the large group provided lots of pacing buddies, but no overcrowding. The air was humid and warm, and the fog of sweat and shimmer of shadows thrown by the stadium lights provided a hypnotizing backdrop to the swirl of colorful runners. We sped up and slowed in a huge flock, obeying the sharp sound of the coach’s whistle every few minutes. I started to fall off near the middle of the workout, breathing becoming ragged and legs becoming heavy in the heat. I latched on to a few runners and focused on sticking with them on the shorter segments, trying to ignore the sinking feeling that came with being lapped by some of the faster women. I full-out sprinted the last 1-minute segment, racing with the flying herd of fellow sufferers.

IMG_9536

Unfortunately, my hamstring didn’t find the combo of travel and hard running as delightful as the rest of me did, and it stiffened up as I cooled down back to the hotel along the now-dark downtown streets. I spent the rest of the week nursing a crampy medial hamstring, but luckily my next stop at my grandparent’s home a few hours outside of San Jose provided the perfect place for some shorter, relaxed runs and plenty of time for stretching and foam rolling.

With the recent rains the ranch roads around the fields below their house were muddy, and the road their house sits on has no shoulder, so I was effectively forced into a couple of days off. I did enjoy 2 short runs after the mud set a bit, and was glad to feel only mild tightness during those runs. Instead of worrying about missed training I spent my time chatting with my grandparents, looking through old photos with them, and curling up on the couch with coffee and several of the books scattered about their house to enjoy the quiet, windy days in the country.

IMG_9567

After several days with the grandparents I got to hop onto yet another flight, this time back to cooler regions and my parents’ house in Idaho. I was lucky to be able to trade scar-tissue-removal/sore-muscle-fixing tissue mashing sessions with my sister, who recently had ankle surgery. We left each other’s legs bruised and sore, but hopefully a bit healthier! Outside of these *delightful* pain-sessions I was able to take the recovering hamstring out for some spring bloom viewing, trail exploring, and former-teammate visiting runs. I’ve also tried out these amazing core/glute activation exercises, with good results (and sore core/hip muscles the next day!)

Overall the travel was a good time to have a fiddly little injury, since it limited my running a bit and allowed me the free time to work on rehab and rolling. The visits with much missed friends and family made any decrease in my running mileage feel unimportant, and the runs I was able to do covered either exciting new routes or familiar, and much loved, hometown trails that distracted me from the usual post-injury running anxiety.

I’m back now in the chilly Colorado mountains, with a mostly-healed hamstring and a renewed dedication to getting my pre-run warmup done, squeezing my hamstring, glute, and core exercises in, and rolling/stretching regularly to keep me running healthy into late spring and summer.

Art post – week 12

Quick sketch done while watching TV with my grandparents at their house in California, based on some hand-stand attempt photos I took on their sunny (and luckily very soft!) lawn.

Art post – week 10 and 11

Crazy work week last week and travel + conference tiredness = 2 very quick sketches.

Not entirely sure why this is sideways. *sigh*

Another reason for tiredness – my 13-miler yesterday consisted of allll the hills, sunshine, exploring, and cacti! Fun but tiring after a 4am wake up and travel morning.


Off to sleep now – more conferencing and (thank goodness) a rest day from running tomorrow!

Turns out a bit more mileage does actually make one faster!

I still remember the four mile run in the park back in Grad School City with MountainMan during which he told me he thought I’d eventually be able to recover from my persistent foot injury and work my way back up to 35 mile weeks. At the time this seemed nearly impossible, but his confident talk gave me hope.

Now, over the last couple weeks, I’m averaging 45 miles per week, 10 miles beyond that 35-miles-per-week dream.

I’m absolutely thrilled…and have purposely inserted a lower mileage week into my training in order to avoid riding this fun higher-mileage wave right into a brutal injury-or-sickness crash. As seen in my lovely training plot below that slope is getting a teensy bit frightening :-O Time for some short recovery days to reward myself and protect my legs.

runningplot_March2017

2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 weekly mileage. Those 3 2017 months make quite the ski-jump slope ;-P March is a little artificially inflated due to a long run and a long workout in the 10-day span.

However, even during this chill, restrained week I am enjoying the benefit of having several consistent weeks of higher mileage training in my legs. About 4 weeks ago I did a workout of 2 x 2 miles at tempo pace with 2 minutes recovery in between. I managed the sets at 7:16 pace average, with a rough , slower second repeat and a very upset stomach after (lunch enchiladas on workout day = poor decision).

This week I did the same workout, but with an added third 2-mile repeat. I lucked out with a breezy but sunny free afternoon post dentist appointment, and headed over to the ~1200m bike path loop around the local pond/park. I went out hitting 7:09’s and spent the 2nd mile thinking ‘This feels lovely, but oh man I may have just made the rest of this workout exceedingly painful…’. The second set was (unintentionally) even quicker, at just under 14 minutes for the repeat. I tried to relax at the end, and went into my two minute recovery thinking the last set was either going to be amazing or a total mess.

The last repeat was definitely tough with 4 fast miles already in my legs, but I held it together and gritted my way to a final repeat average 7:03! That put me at an average of 7:05 for two miles further than four weeks ago, a pretty big jump and a huge mental-toughness and physical fitness confidence boost for the BolderBoulder 10k coming up at the end of May.

I jogged slowly home and spent the evening just about talking MM’s ear about off with post-workout energy. Luckily he’s a patient listener and is still run-nerdy enough to get excited about my random speedy workout 🙂

I looked back at last Fall and realized this workout was better than all but one of my pre-13.1 workouts. The biggest difference seems to just be base mileage since I haven’t done *that* many workouts since coming back from my break. Last year I had a few low-40’s weeks, but was still regularly in the mid-high 20’s for weekly mileage. With consistent training for a year and a quarter I finally have the mileage in my legs to allow me to do a six-mile workout, and 8-10 mile workout days (warmup, workout, and cool down total). The difference is amazing – I still struggle through the end of long workouts and long runs, but I don’t end every run feeling a little ragged, and I can pile on longer workouts without spending every ounce of energy that I have. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t actually notice a difference with the bump up in mileage but it looks like increased training is treating me kindly and my legs, lungs, and heart are all absorbing the increase and rewarding me with improved performance!

Hurrah for exercise physiology theory working in real life and the practice of slowly wearing down my running shoe soles paying off in fun, fast workouts 😀