Highest mileage running week since February!!!

Last week I ran a feeble total of 8 miles due to what felt like the beginnings of a plantar fasciitis flare up and maybe a *touch* of injury paranoia. I’m just so sick of getting injured so I’m trying to stick to the mindset that it’s better to overreact and get ahead of any aches.

I took 3 days completely off running and then did an easy test run on Sunday. Everything felt fine so I was able to do the group run I’d planned on Monday (free club tech t-shirts! Free beer! Runner talk! Oh yeaaaaa). 

  
That felt fine so I just kept running and somehow ended up running every day this week. I alternated long and short days, but never felt any pain, or enough fatigue to feel like I needed an off day. I plan to take one after tomorrow’s group run, but making it over a week without HAVING to take a day off felt amazing!

I finished this week up with a 10 kilometer run through a snowy, windy morning.  

After adding up the miles, I realized that, at 26 miles, this has been my highest mileage week/first week over 20 miles since the last week in February, and my 10k long run was my longest run since the first week of 2015!   

 Time sure flies when you’re injured 😛 

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Slowing down

A recent run with my running buddy made me realize that maybe if I don’t want to keep getting hurt, I need to slow the heck down. Instead of doing my ‘easy’ runs at 7:30 pace, I should be doing them around 8:30 pace to let my legs recover and prevent unnecessary strain on my calves, feet, etc. on my recovery days.

Luckily, with my recent move to an elevation of 8500+ feet, anything faster than 8:30 pace feels like death, and the breathtaking (ha ha) scenery forces me to slow down and enjoy the view.

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So far (3 short runs) my calf and foot have both been feeling better than they did a few weeks ago when I tried to come back by running my normal, up-tempo “recovery” pace. I’m planning to utilize my GPS to check my pace and keep it smart and controlled as I gradually build up my mileage.

Argh…the calf is back :(

I’m back to what feels like square one with the injured calf 😦

Realistically, it’s much better (no cramping!) but still frustrating, as it suddenly re-emerged without any obvious provocation. No big hills, no speed work, nothing crazy with mileage….

Since this week is already crazy with all the packing and moving I’ve decided to just let my calf rest – no running, light rehab exercises, and some kinesiotape for support (“mildly effective” for some measures, according to a 2012 review summarized here).

I hope someone got that reference :P

I wear tape now. Tape is cool…

Unfortunately, the inability to run, and complete lack of time/motivation for cross-training, is coinciding with a high general stress level and I am feeling the effects. I’m more than a little on edge :-/ I’m looking forward to squeezing in a few bike rides next week before I leave the warm Spring weather here, and then supplementing my cross-training with some vigorous snow-shoe exploring once I get to Colorado. Hopefully getting some endorphins back in the mix will make the daunting challenge of starting anew 6 hours away less intimidating!

Cross-training blues

I’ve been cross-training for a grand total of two days in a row now. And I’m already itching to throw on my running shoes and get out of the apartment.

I’ve been using the Nike Training Club iPhone app, which offers (sometimes annoyingly peppy) audio recordings/encouragement from an all-star cast of crazy strong women – both professional trainers and athletes – and plenty of workout variety. I’m trying to avoid plyometric style exercises, which are not the best for a healing calf, so my workouts are limited to core work, push-ups, arm waggling with the medicine ball, squats, and lunges in little tiny circles around my living room. I still get a great workout, and generally end up with totally fried muscles and a sweat-spattered living room carpet (lovely).

However, one thing about this app that ticks me off, and then makes me annoyed that I’m letting it irritate me, is the calorie count. When I work my butt off for 45 minutes it’s disheartening to look at the cal count and see 160 cal, which is what I’d generally burn with a nice easy 2-mile run. I’m not trying to lose weight, but I get a little anxious when I’m used to burning 300 – 600 cal/day running and then have to cross-train and worry that maybe I should be paying more attention to not having that extra snack/dessert or whatever. No one wants both the misery of forced cross-training and the misery of giving up the after-dinner hot cocoa 😛 Plus, it makes me feel like maybe I wasn’t actually working all that hard when my 45 minute workout only used as much energy as a 2-mile walk/run, or <20 minutes of running for my current running fitness. This is aggravating because I’m generally lying on the floor in a pool of sweat at this point, having collapsed from leg-exhaustion.

I’ve heard runners and coaches say that cross-training has conversion factors – if you’re hurt and have to bike instead of run, you have to bike 2-4 times as long at the same effort level to get the same cardiovascular training effect. Ditto with the *#@*!ing elliptical, swimming, pool-running, etc. You aren't using the same muscles or using them at the same intensities, and it may be difficult to judge equivalent intensity accurately. Jack Daniels gives these guidelines: if the cross-training activity involves plenty of leg work (cycling, xc-skiing, pool-running), count training time as equivalent to ⅔ of the corresponding time spent running at the same heart rate. But what about doing lunges or burpees? The aerobic profile is definitely different, but both exercises get your heart rate up and are much more brutal on the legs than running on flat ground. Does additional muscle damage & rebuilding contribute substantially to overall energy use? Am I over-thinking something that probably matters for only a couple more days before I get back to running (fingers crossed) and no longer have to worry about trying to do some sort of equivalent amount of exercise to make up for my run for the day?

Ugh, cross-training…I think I'll try to at least get something interesting out of today's session by taking my heart rate periodically. If I can't run, I can at least get data!

p.s. Yes, I said I'd finish that biomechanics article post this weekend, but then a *really awesome* job posting came up and I had applications to do. Maybe this eve…

Well, apparently I shouldn’t have trusted my calf :-/

This morning’s disastrous 5k can be summed up as a really great 1.5 mile tempo and a *lovely* 1.625 mile hike/hobble. Walking half of the course was a bit awkward but better than further aggravating my calf/achilles.

Overall, better than sitting on my butt all morning, and I did get to climb out of the inversion for a bit and scout out some nice running trails. Now just need to roll the bejeezus out of my calf and focus on getting in some solid cross training…

Wobbly toes

Yesterday I participated in a couple fellow grad students’ study as a research subject.  They were looking at some different treadmill gait biomechanics, which meant I got to get all markered up (full body gait, so like 200 shiny balls stuck on with toupee tape, whee!) and stroll along on a treadmill at different paces. I also succeeded in kicking off my medial ankle marker at least every other trial and doing really helpful stuff like forgetting to swing my arms normally and reaching up to scratch my nose instead.  Oops…

Anyhow, the other students did end up getting some good data out of me and I ended up benefiting too…and not just cause I got to hear about their cool research & go for a nice brisk stumble on the ‘mill 😉 While doing the slow pace walking trials I realized that my balance on my right foot is still really weak – not enough to make me actually fall over or wobble when walking but enough that I had to focus much more during the slow trials to stay steady during the slow roll through stance on my right foot.  Apparently even though I can run normally now and my right foot feels pretty good overall I still have some lingering weakness/proprioception issues.  Since I don’t usually walk freakishly slowly on a treadmill I never would have noticed – and now I can work to fix that issue!

Lucky for me a recent RunnersWorld had a great series of exercises for big toe strength and single-leg balance.  So now every thesis writing break involves at least 30 seconds of marching around my apartment or cubicle like a very dedicated weirdo runner 😉