June turned out to be quite the wild running month. I started the month off in injury-recovery mode, praying things would hold together and get me through a frigid, snow-flurry-filled Sawtooth Relay without letting down my team or suffering a major hamstring set-back, and ended the month with a much happier hamstring and the confidence and strength to enjoy some long runs back on the trails in the summer heat.
- Sawtooth Relay – in spite of a brief scare the day before (hamstring cramped briefly after a shakeout run with my teammate/friend) I was actually able to push the pace with zero pain or tightness, even with the couple hours of cramped van riding between my two relay legs! Our team had a blast as we pushed through swirling snow, sideways rain, and (luckily small!) hail stones to reach the much-appreciated sunshine at the finish line.
Went from getting pelted with half-frozen snow/rain to getting bombarded by hail and wind gusts. But at least it was warm enough for shorts on leg 2!
- New Oiselle singlet arrived. A small but fun highlight since I am a sucker for new running clothes. I can’t wait to fly in this sunset-glow design at my next race!
- Return to trails! After a week of lowkey recovery after the relay I re-committed to my hamstring rehab and gradually tested my hamstring out on hillier, more demanding terrain. My final week in June included some long, hilly trail runs with no mid-run or post-run soreness, and enough confidence to enjoy the amazing trail views rather than constantly worrying about my hamstring.
- Managed a brief handstand balance with no body parts touching the wall! This one isn’t strictly running related, but did renew my motivation to continue consistent core and upper body strength work. The effect of strength and stability during easy running is less obvious, so it’s nice to have a more demanding test to see the results of all that flopping around on the yoga mat and getting dog hair all over my hands by doing pushups around the house.
Now it’s July and the trails are calling! I plan to spend as much time enjoying the singletrack as possible while using the lessons of March, April, and May to remind me to stay on top of pre/re-hab before little twinges take me back off the trails.
Summer – the season for long runs and outdoor ice baths 🙂
With MountainMan putting in some time at work today and my BolderBoulder race plans cancelled the Memorial Day holiday brought me a long day alone to get some work done around the house, do some reading, explore some new trails, and catch up a bit more on my drawing/art practice.
I was blessed this morning with my first pain-free long, hilly run since injuring my hamstring. I set out to explore some new trails with the intention of walking if anything got tight or if the downhills were too long/steep, and the expectation of walking about a mile out of the 6-mile route. However, I actually only had to walk a couple times, and only chose to do so out of caution, rather than any difficulty with the hamstring. It was a sunny, beautiful day and I was so glad to get to fully savor the trails in all their hilly glory! This run was a great reward for sticking to my cautious training plan and hamstring rehab, and a good motivator to stay disciplined going forward.
After my run I spent some time reading and cleaning, and then escaped outside again to do some sketching…while intermittently hollering at the dog who kept trying to wander off of our little patio. In spite of the fur-baby supervising it was a lovely sketching session with the dead-head deer skull MM picked up a couple weeks ago. The skull’s geometry is intricate and challenging, and I had fun messing around with different views while trying to capture the layered combination of curves and ridges.
I think this sketch session brings me back on track, at least until the next busy weekend!
After a hectic couple weeks I am grateful for this solitary day and for the time spent on quiet, renewing activities.
I hope all of you were also able to spend the holiday in whatever way was needed, especially if honoring and remembering friends or loved ones.
One of my FitBit challenges included a climbing picture of Lynn Hill – first woman to free climb ‘the Nose’ on El Capitan in Yosemite -, which served as my fun and challenging drawing source for today. It’s wild to think of people being brave/confident enough to climb those rocks with no safety harness! One finger cramp away from death…
The weather has been glorious and the days are getting longer…and drawing has fallen by the wayside in favor of outdoor activities.
However, I’m trying to work some art into my outside-all-day recovery routine, and will hopefully be able to get back on track!
Today’s quick/simple, but fun drawing was based on the numerous animal bones that I found on my run:
knee-end of the femur
These guys seemed to be enjoying the death-filled habitat as well! It was an excellent spot for both avian and anatomy-art scavengers 😉
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!
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 🙂