Training: June 5-18

The patient slog through injury continues.

Nothing happened June 5-11. My log that week is a wall of yellow that says “INJURED.” I do credit myself for sticking to my plan to do core work twice a week, and I managed to keep that up this week as well. Guess what I’m doing this evening? That’s right: core work!

I have a set of exercises I do (around 12) for my core. The current print issue of Running Times has a few other good ones, so I’ve added in another 4-5. I also do some arm/shoulder work with dumbbells, since I have the weakest biceps known to man. I know I don’t need bulging biceps to run well, but I would like to one day do at least one pull-up. A girl can dream.

All of this takes me about an hour. I watch “Locked Up Abroad” or “My Strange Addiction” while doing my routine. Both of these shows always make me feel a lot better about my life than I did before I watched them.

There’s some light on the horizon, at least compared to earlier in the month. I was able to at least start jogging again this week, although my right calf does not like to go faster than 9:00 pace. It doesn’t like uphill either. Nor does it like flat bits. It loves downhill sections, which comprise around 3% of the terrain I run on.

But, you know, I ran 18 miles. That’s a start. See? Positive attitude. The new me. I can run. That’s more than I could do the previous week. The pain is now just a dull ache, and I’m encouraged by the fact that it doesn’t get worse over the course of a run. If I stop every mile or so and stretch my calf, it seems better by the end of the run. I’ll keep doing that.

I’m throwing out the 10K plan for now. It’s still there in my log, but I don’t look at it. What’s the point? I don’t dare do any faster running until the pain is totally gone. When I get back to the training, I may experiment with a 9 or 10 day training cycle, since I don’t think my body tolerates doing three hard workouts a week.

I have rough plans to do the 2-Person Relay (with Jonathan) in Van Cortlandt Park, a 4 mile XC race (it would be my first XC effort) on Thursday July 7, assuming there isn’t a fire drill on my current freelance project that requires I stay late; if there is, I might swap that for the Women’s Distance Festival 5K two days after that on Saturday the 9th. But this is assuming I can even run fast and free of pain soon. That’s a big question mark.

I still hope to compete in the Run for Central Park 4 miler in a month. If I’m not running fast by then…well, let’s not go there.

Here are some good things that are happening:

The summer has been pretty nice so far. Or maybe it just seems that way because I’m not out running much, or when I am it’s about 5:30 in the morning. Aside from a few scorchers, it’s been in the upper-70s to mid-80s most days. So I’m appreciating the season.

I’m able to get home at a reasonable hour most days and have been throwing food on an outdoor Weber I got for my birthday. I find the process of preparing the grill extremely relaxing and gratifying. I sit outside while the bricquets heat up, staring at the fire. I clean the grill later on. I research new grill recipes. I think I might actually be a guy.

My stepmother is on the road to recovery after her near-death, then near-permanently-fucked-up experience over the past two months. She sounds completely back to herself on the phone and she’s been told not to worry about doing any physical therapy, just walk a lot, lift things, etc. I’m still awestruck by her luck and resilience.

Jonathan ran his second race in a year today, and ran fairly well considering the lack of conditioning. He’s not happy with his time, of course, but that will improve. His foot is still stiff and he suspects that will always be the case. But he’s racing without foot pain for the first time in about 16 months. This is a good thing.

Finally, I’m losing poundage in the form of fat. I’ve been holding off on posting about it because the effort is ongoing and has involved quite a bit of experimentation (and deprivation). But I’ll have a full accounting of the good, the bad and the ugly once I reach my target weight of 125.

Here’s some video of the Portugal/Father’s Day run this morning. Jonathan flits through at the 7:35 mark (small, full head of grey hair, glasses, plain blue singlet, stopping watch). That’s NYRR head honcho Mary Wittenberg off to the left. There was some noise about her leaving NYRR to head up USATF awhile back, but, honestly, I can’t see her ever leaving this job. She so obviously enjoys interacting with the runners — all of them, not just the elites — as they come over the line. Much of that action is off camera, but I thought it worth noting since I was so struck by it this morning.

Yep. I’m injured.

Whatever I did a week ago is lingering. My right calf voices complaints when walking up hills and stairs, and it’s tender. I tried a run on Tuesday morning just to see if taking a few days off had helped, and in doing so I think I set back recovery from whatever this is by at least a few days. I made it a mile exactly with dull pain, and then it went all sharp and stabby on me again. I hobbled home and decided to not run for the rest of the week.

I’m trying to have a positive attitude about this. We’ve had two calf injuries in our household, neither of them serious. I tore the fascia in my calf a few years ago. It was fine again in about 10-14 days, if I recall. More recently, Jonathan did exactly what I’ve done and I think his turnaround was even shorter. But it involved intervention, which I’m committed to. Every night I sit on the couch and knead the hell out of it, digging into it with my thumbs and a special plastic benubbined torture device our massage therapist gave us. It feels a little better the next morning.

Anyway. The Mini 10K is Saturday. This Saturday. I probably won’t run tomorrow. What’s the use? Maybe one more day will do the trick. I figure I’ll go with the intent of racing, or at least running the course easy. Besides, I’m really there for the shirt, the “event” (meaning seeing the stars of women’s running) and the post-race brunch. As Ewen suggested in a previous comment, I should know in the warmup if things are still off kilter. In which case I’ll opt out of running altogether and just spectate. That’s not exactly that great a compromise considering the field. I don’t want to skip it, but on the other hand I’ve had fun racing it twice and there will be more years in the future to race it. Turning a minor injury into a major one isn’t worth it. I’m finally, finally learning this lesson.

Unfortunately, my new work project precludes me from doing much of anything, least of all preparing for and conducting interviews. I won’t be doing any interviews for the Diamond League Adidas Grand Prix event later in the day either. Oh, well. I suppose I’ve earned the right to soak up the experience without having to produce anything. Haven’t I?

Training: May 29-June 4

This week featured: a holiday Monday, a new gig that requires a 3 hour round trip commute, weather with wild mood swings, and a late-week injury. It wasn’t a very good week.

I took Sunday off so I could move the speedwork back from Tuesday (effectively, my first day at work) to the holiday Monday. The heat was brutal that day. I was scheduled to do 3 x 1 mile repeats, but couldn’t handle the heat. I cut the repeats down to 1200 and instead of jogging 800 between just sat in the shade for three minutes. Even so, on the third one I started to feel dizzy, so that was that. It would be one of two speed sessions cut down in its prime this week. Later, at the gym, I made up the work with two faster bits of running on the treadmill.

Over the next few days I got the hang of getting up very early to run (around 4:45 am most days), although I did one run after work.

Then on Friday disaster struck. The weather had cooled off. It was a beautiful morning to do some track work. I got there and did a decent warmup — about 9 minutes of easy running followed by 4 x 100m sprints on grass — and went into my first 800 repeat. 600 metres in it felt like someone was tasering my leg. A lightning bolt of pain started in my achilles, hit my calf and shot up midway through my hamstring in all of half a second. It hurt like a mother.

I’d pulled something. But the intense pain was gone as quickly as it came, leaving behind a dull shadow of itself. Could I still run? Should I still run? It’s so hard to answer this question. If you let every little issue cut short a run you’d never get any quality work in. So I decided to try doing the rest of the workout. My calf was complaining, but it wasn’t altering my stride, so I ignored it.

The 800 repeats were fine, the 200s not so much. I made it through two (at the appropriate speed) and then on the third one my calf was really beginning to bray at me. So I stopped running fast and headed into 10 minutes of easy running. But my leg was not done with me yet. Three minutes into that it went “Boing!” again and I could run no more. Walking was iffy now.

Unfortunately, I had to walk a lot in the city that day, as part of my gig involves running around town and interviewing people. Three ibuprofen, 20 minutes of icing and a slathering of Voltaren later, I was in reasonable shape to walk. The leg got a bit better over the course of the day, as I think walking helped stretch out the knotted calf muscle(s). But I was in no shape to run on Saturday, as walking was still painful.

Yesterday I tried a run on the treadmill at the gym. That really hurt. So I spent 45 minutes on the elliptical, which didn’t.

I hope I can get this cleared up by Saturday. I have a race that day.

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