Fall Training: Week 8

09fall-training-08This week was a planned recovery week, although it featured exceptionally low mileage due to lingering issues with my hamstring. Interestingly, after watching Paula Radcliffe drop off to fourth place due to a hamstring problem in today’s New York Marathon, I can understand how that happens. It’s possible to run with a problem hamstring, but not as fast as you’d like to. I learned all about this on Friday.

I took Monday off because the hamstring bothered me running. Instead, I took a walk to get the blood flowing to it, then spent some time massaging it to try to head off any scar tissue buildup. On Tuesday I did a little test run in the morning, in which the leg showed improvement, although things were still iffy, so I did another walk in the evening rather than a run.

Wednesday was a turning point, as the leg no longer hurt while walking and I had a lot of range of motion back. It could also tolerate being rolled along the foam roller and massaged fairly aggressively.

I pushed things a bit further on Thursday, with a slightly faster run and an experimental stride at 7:15 pace. There was still some stiffness present, but no pain at that speed. Again, to give it 24 hours rest for the big test on Friday, I cross-trained, this time on the stationary bike.

Friday was the day of reckoning: Could I run fast on the bum leg? The answer turned out to be: well, sort of. But only in a certain direction. I ran to the track and all was well on the way there. Then I started into the tempo work and within half a mile of trying to run fast the leg stiffness evolved into pain. And, like Paula, I couldn’t run fast. The first mile was a disappointing 7:47, owing to my inability to extend my stride with my right leg.

I have no idea why this occured to me, but I thought about the fact that I couldn’t extend my right leg properly and realized that every time I hit a curve on the track I was forcing my right leg to extend further out than my left leg was extending. So, much to the confusion and annoyance of others on the track, I reversed direction for the next three miles and got much better results. At least I was considerate enough to take the extreme outside lane (there’s one guy there sometimes who runs “the wrong way” in the middle lanes and it’s confusing — and probably dangerous — on a track crowded with people).

So I’m not sure whether to call Friday a success or not. I could run fast, but only clockwise on a track. Is that good? Or just necessary for the time being?

For obvious reasons I skipped strides and any speedwork this week. Yesterday was very easy, with another experimental 30 second surge down to 6:40 pace. That speed had my hamstring not so much hurting as tapping me insistently on the shoulder, as if to say, “Uh, what are you doing?”

Fortunately, I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere near 6:40 pace on today’s run (boy was I right about that, as my speed sucked today). But the run today was about endurance and, without making too many excuses, I could still feel Friday’s effort in my legs in addition to having to fight a steady headwind for most of the miles.

I still consider it a successful workout, though. I easily maintained 77-78% effort for 12 miles and then had no problem stepping it up to 88-89% for the last five. I also wasn’t trashed by the workout — no need for naps or other forms of collapse. I credit that more to the lower mileage this week than I do to some leap in fitness.

Toward the end of the run I had matching fatigue and complaints in both hamstrings, which offered some comfort. Although now, six hours later, the right one is definitely complaining slightly more than the left. I have trained injured before, the latest example being the 10 weeks I trained with a mild groin pull, which I suffered on a cold and slippery half marathon in Central Park in January. That was probably worse than what I’m experiencing now (can you hear me rationalizing this away?). But it’s always unnerving to have in the back of my mind, every time I put on my running shoes, the knowledge that something’s not quite right. Kind of like living with faulty wiring and wondering if your house is going to go up in flames at any moment.

7 Responses

  1. I have see the NY marathon and next year i go to newyork for the marathon.
    I go for 9 days and i hope to see you at that time?.
    Julie, you can run fast and a lot, but at that week miles…i can a 100 miles ultra ;-).
    Remember, slow makes fast..
    Rinus.
    http://www.rinusrunning.nl

    • Well, Rinus, I feel very slow these days, so I hope you’re right! Yes, it would be fun to meet you when you’re here next year. We have a group of blogging runners who get together every so often. You could be our European contingent.

  2. Girl, take care of yourself! Seems like you’d be better not to do the walking stints since they aren’t aiding your fitness as much as keeping you on your injured leg. May this week see you back to normal asap.

  3. Nice to read that the dodgy hammy seems to be coming good (or at least, hanging in there).

    I think it’s good to do the reverse direction track workouts if it’s easier on the leg. The leg’s getting a rest and you’re getting the fitness benefits of the workout. Do what you can. Like that study of one-legged cycling as a good method of maintaining fitness when the other leg is injured.

    I liked the NY Times article. Tulu is an adornment for the sport. To be encouraging Radcliffe to keep up the last 4 miles — then to win, after less than brilliant recent marathons, is quite a story.

    • Yes, the more I read about Tulu, the more I’m impressed by her athletic history and by her personality. She seems like a class act. I had no idea who she was until I started reading about her post-race.

  4. It’s funny how matching pain in the other leg can actually be a reassuring thing. I keep running into the same thing with my knees. It’s like, “If that one hurts too, maybe it’s all just in my head.” Anyway, I hope the hamstring continues to improve. Oh, and I love the simile of the faulty wiring.

  5. I think the walking was probably good, but maybe the return to running was a little eager. It’s a tough tradeoff between delaying recovery and losing fitness, though. Tulu encouraging Paula was wonderful to read about.

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