Training: Sept 19-Oct 9

As I type this, I am sitting in a chair with a block of synthetic ice wrapped around my right upper hamstring and groin. I’ve tried to avoid my naughty bits, but to effectively ice your groin (more specifically, adductor) muscles, you need to let things slide a little geographically, as it were.

You know, and I’m not saying this sarcastically, for once — the past few months have been amazing. I’ve met some kind and generous people, both in person and virtually (although I hope to eventually bridge those digital divides with many of them). Many have been a great source of information and support. I don’t know that I could have accepted my current predicament without them.

I’m now convinced that I have a stress fracture of the femoral neck. So, here’s something fun: when I was interviewing the elites at the Fifth Avenue Mile event late last month, I got the opportunity to talk with Shannon Rowbury. Another reporter was asking her about injuries and she mentioned the femoral neck stress fracture that hobbled her after high school. I asked her the what the symptoms (and progression) were and they were dead on.

Several of you mentioned this likelihood as well — and don’t think I forgot about that exciting reader contest. If in a month I can actually run without pain, I’m going to declare that diagnosis sound (and, I hope, myself cured) and I will randomly distribute the virtual loot accordingly to one lucky amateur diagnostician, as promised.

Being the biggest amateur diagnostician of all, I have concluded that all of those incredible muscle knots were, aside from being red herrings, a reaction to the fracture. Or maybe they’d always been there and I’d never noticed them because I never had a proper massage or bothered to try rolling them out.

The update on those is that they are all gone. Not only that, but I have loosened up my IT band (and broken up scar tissue that ran along the top part) to the extent that I can roll happily and pain-free, where in the past such activity made me shriek in agony. I can only hope that once I’m actually running again, all of this loosening up will mean a bigger stride — and that means faster running.

But back to my current stay in injury purgatory. I did a lot of walking/standing around Sept 22-26, in conjunction with the Fifth Ave Mile event (interviewing and then volunteering) and also for a new freelance project. I felt all that walking afterwards — the deep, gluteal pain was back and I was a little mad at myself for having pushed things. I took a couple days off (and used the car more), which helped. Then early this month I made a quick trip out to Arizona, so obviously didn’t do anything trainingwise during those days. Then got back and work was crazy again. I was tired from the travel and sleep disruption anyway, so I took off the Tuesday I got back without much guilt.

Now I’m back and can honestly say that I’m working my ass off again. I am averaging 2 to 2.5 hours of gymwork a day. I have rarely gone twice a day, but I may start doing so on days that aren’t as busy with work, so I can break things up a little more and enable some recovery.

It’s not only physically difficult to, say, do an hour of spinning, then stretching/rolling, then weights, then pool running. It’s also quite hard mentally. If I don’t get it over with in the morning, then I literally have to drag myself to the gym in the afternoon. By which time I’m in a terrible mood and seething with a mixture of resentment and despair.

How have other runners dealt with long term injury? I wonder about this. On one hand, I think that doing the alternate training helps because at least I feel like I’m doing something and I get to maintain the chemically-based mood enhancers that I have come to depend on getting from hard exercise. (You think I’m depressed now? You should see me without exercise.) But on the other hand, the whole rigarmarole is a daily reminder of the fact that I can’t run.

I got up this morning at about 7:00 and it was 52F out, sunny and dry. It was the kind of day that I would have loved to have run the 14 miles up to White Plains and back. I know I’m whining. I know it’s unattractive. I can’t help it.

August Training: Super Deluxe Depressing Injury Edition!

I’m approaching the conclusion of my fourth week in which I’ve been unable to run. Had I not seen steady progress, I would be a lot more depressed about this state of affairs than I am. But I will say that the first two weeks were grim indeed.

First, let’s look at the stellar week of workouts that I enjoyed before my gluteal erruption.

I had a well-timed day off on the first of August, which was great because our house was in dire need of attention. So it’s not like I didn’t exercise that day. On Monday I had a fantastic progression run on the OCA Trail north of Sleepy Hollow High School. Then a track workout with Sandra the next day that also went fabulously well (for example, I gave her a 3:08 800m when she wanted a 3:15). Wednesday the heat wave reasserted itself, but I did fine over the next few days, having comfortably picked up my pace on recovery runs. And then Saturday was my disaster in Central Park.

The next five days were not happy ones. My log entries for Sun-Thu of that week are all identical: “Hip/buttock/hamstring issues continue. On painkillers, anti-inflammatories. Walking is extremely painful.”

I could not walk properly, or move anywhere on my feet for more than 5-10 minutes. Over subsequent days I experimented with various forms of treatment and relief, with mixed results. Later in the week I had the first of several myotherapy sessions with Sandra. Those were helpful for confirming that the problem was muscular (specifically, knots or “trigger points”), but in some ways the cure was worse than the ailment. Painkillers dulled the pain, but if I happened to forget to take one, I was completely screwed.

So that was Week 1 in Injury Land.

Week 2* wasn’t much better. This was the week that hopelessness and fear of a long-term layoff began to settle in. Lots of frustration too, because not being able to walk and being in constant pain gets really old after awhile.

This was the week I started sleeping like a cat. I needed 9-10 hours a night. I needed naps. I suspect a myriad of reasons behind this need for sleep: for one thing, the massage sessions were really rough on me; for another, I was worn down from the constant pain and I think the painkillers were accumulating in my system; finally, I was getting depressed and if there’s one thing I can do well when I’m depressed, it’s sleep excessively.

Sandra had to head out of town until early September, so I was heading into Injury Week 3 without a good massage therapist.

I attempted some cross-training on the bike, but that aggravated the knots, as did many of the stretching/strengthening exercises I had. I checked out my local YMCA and YWCA during this and the following week, which were great facilities, but my timing was terrible: all of the local Y’s pools were closed for cleaning until after Labor Day. So my last option for non-impact cross-training — pool running — was no longer on the table. The local health clubs up here are really awful, and I couldn’t accept joining one just to get a week or two of pool time.

I would describe my state of mind that weekend as bereft. Coupled with this was the awareness that I would start losing fitness quickly if I didn’t do something. But what could I do? I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. I started a 10 day course of Nabumetone to try to help kickstart a reduction in inflammation. I also iced like crazy. Lots and lots of ice baths and sitting on ice packs. Sugar free fudgesicles too.

By the 22nd I’d managed to wean myself off all forms of painkiller. I wasn’t even taking Tylenol anymore. The problem muscles had calmed down and things were looking up, however subtley. The next day I started a regimen of massage to attack the knots, now that I could actually get to them. I knew that working on them, however painful, was not going to make the problem worse and would only make it better. So attack them I did. Or I should say “we” did. Once or twice a day I’d aggressively work on myself with various tools. Then, in the evening, Jonathan would play amateur myotherapist and also work on them.

On Tuesday the 24th I had what felt like some sort of breakthrough — I could actually walk around in the house that morning with minimal pain. But that confidence was severely erroded upon attempting a shopping trip. Within 10 minutes, the area had seized up again. It has taken me quite awhile to figure out that it’s not walking that screws me up — it’s driving.

On Wednesday the 25th I was finally able to get through one of my stretching/strengthening routines without incident. Biking was still a problem, so I avoided it. On Friday I did another routine and then (on Jaymee‘s advice, which turned out to be spot on), took a break from all massage for the next 24 hours. Whatever I’d done in the preceeding days was like some sort of magic, because my training log for Saturday reads: “Today was a miracle. I felt really good in the morning. Around noon I decided to try 20 mins on the bike at low resistance/high turnover (Resistance Level 4, 80RPM). That presented no problems. So I walked for an hour on the treadmill at 2.7 mph/22:00. A litlte pain/tightness, but it didn’t get worse. Felt fine afterwards. Went shopping and had no problems. I have renewed hope.”

Over the next few days I did some treadmill walking, each one progressively faster. I attempted a few seconds of running, but it was too painful. I also kept up the massage and stretching/strengthening work and got some bike time in.

On Tuesday of this week I was (not surprisingly) exhausted and took a nap, then decided to attempt a real workout on the bike. I did 90 mins at average 72% effort with four 5 minute surges at 85-86%. That felt really, really good — almost like running! — and presented no issues. Since I was due for a day of rest from the massage, I left myself alone. I also took the following day (yesterday) off from exercise. I had a meeting that I had to drive an hour to each way and, once again, I was semi-crippled upon arrival.

I’ve got two clearly-indentifiable knots from the original five. So we’ve made huge progress. But the one bad one is deep in my gluteus medius, and I believe that this is the knot that gets aggravated by driving. I’m also not convinced that I can get rid of this on my own. Fortunately, I see Sandra again next week, so she can whale on it with her expert hands and elbows then.

Not being able to run has been frustrating and upsetting. But at least I’ve made progress. Today’s Thursday. I have plans for another big bike workout today, and some treadmill walking again. Then an easy day on Friday and another bike workout on Saturday. I have optimistically scheduled a half mile test jog on the track on Saturday morning. But I’m fully prepared to jettison those plans if I’m obviously still not ready to run. Tried to run on Sunday, Sept 5. That did not go well.

*Apologies for the fact that all my week numbers are screwed up on my training log. I’m too lazy to go back and fix them.

Thanks, Matt!

Matt T. is the host of the running podcast Dump Runners Club. I had the pleasure of spending two exhaustion- and laughter-filled days with him in Vermont for the Green Mountain Relay back in June. He is a talented runner, as is his twin, Mike. Unfortunately, like me he is also struggling with an injury at the moment, in his case a troublesome achilles.

Matt's considerable endowments go beyond the intellectual.

I don’t know how Matt gets through his cross-training sessions, but his podcast has been a sanity-saver for me these past couple of days. As I mentioned in my last injury-related post, I’m spending a minimum of three hours a day on self-rehab, some days as many as five. Now that I’ve discovered that I’m able to ride the stationary bike and walk on the treadmill, that number’s going to go up.

I was sick of my music playlists before my problems set in three weeks ago. For some reason I haven’t spent the time looking for new music (too busy with other stuff, I guess — and being in pain much of the time, which I now no longer am, takes away from things like enjoying music). This week I rediscovered Matt’s podcasts and now am working my way through the older ones.

The Dump Runners Club is unique: it’s a valuable combination of personal experience, reviews, advice and recaps of the world of elite running. There is something for everyone in these 20-60 minute audio treats. Once again am reminded of how marvelous the web is as a medium for enabling individuals with brains and passions to enrich other people’s lives with self-published content — like Matt’s!

New Houston Hopeful interview: Heather May

This one’s with a twist: Heather has qualified for and raced in the Olympic marathon Trials twice already, making her our first “Trials veteran” in the series. Yet her experience has not dampened her enthusiasm for going after a threepeat. Having become a marathoner as much out of ignorance (“I’ve run 10 miles. Now what do I do?”) as out of a desire to qualify for the Trials, Heather’s path as a Trials-calibre runner has been both fraught with peril and filled with opportunities for self discovery.

For the full interview: Houston Hopefuls > Heather May

In treatment

I had session 2 of myotherapy this morning. My next one is on Thursday to be followed by a fourth on Saturday. Sandra leaves town after that so I hope this gets me well enough to run since she’s not back until early September.

Since I did session 1 without any pain relief whatsoever, I decided to take a painkiller before this round. She’d said that was probably a good idea as she needs to get deep into the muscles and that’s difficult when I’m screaming and attempting to squirm off the massage table.

Today I revised my opinion of Percocet (Oxycodone), which I previously thought was the bee’s knees. This morning it made me feel like warmed over dogshit. While I know it killed some of the pain, it also made me nauseous and drowsy (sensations that don’t go well with driving), and, eight hours after taking it, I’m still incredibly fatigued even after an hour nap. Not just tired, but also dimwitted and hopeless. It reminds me of my occasional bouts with moderate depression, with a touch of flu thrown in.

Much as I’m tempted to take it again before Thursday’s mauling, I’d rather experience pain than lose the entire day to feeling like this again. I think these sessions are supposed to get easier anyway, since I’m getting used to it and with each one the knots and scar tissue are broken up a little more. In my next one I get heat and ultrasound.

It’s only been a week since my hip implosion, but this issue feels intractable. Part of the problem is that I still can’t even walk without pain. Every morning, I get faked out — I get out of bed and for the first few minutes I think everything’s fine. Then the pain comes back and settles over me for the rest of the day. If I try to do anything that puts significant weight on my right leg, the problem flares up and I’m screwed for hours, meaning I limp and grimace. On Saturday, after a few pain-free hours, it happened when I did just one dynamic stretch on the right side. Yesterday, again feeling relatively pain-free and hopeful, I took a few exploratory jog steps — meaning I just hopped across the dining room to assess if I could go for a short run. My hip complained bitterly about this latest transgression and there went the afternoon and evening.

I am walking like my dad did right before he had total knee replacement surgery. I list to one side and grab onto any available item for support. It’s pathetic and infuriating. How did I go from running an 82 second 400m repeat on the track to not being able to walk just a few days later?

The good news is that both Jonathan and I got into the Houston Marathon, which is using a lottery system this year. Houston in late January is my goal marathon. Even though I’m prepared to travel there alone, I registered Jonathan just in case he wants to train for it (assuming his fall plans are blown due to his own injury, which it looks like they are), or just run it for whatever reason. He is running again, with some pain. But, hell, he’s running. That’s after two months of not running — so he’s lost a lot of fitness despite having biked like a fiend.

The idea of running a marathon seems entirely theoretical now, for both of us.

One other piece of hopeful news is that I can ride our stationary bike without it making things worse. I did 90 minutes yesterday. If I can manage to tear myself off the couch, I’ll probably do 2 hours later on today. If I still can’t run this week I’ll also look into pool running somewhere. I can feel my fitness ebbing away. I’m glad my motivation is still there, at least.

Fuck. I really miss running.

I’ve used the word “hope” in this post several times in both positive (“hopeful”) and negative (“hopeless”) forms. Sandra said something to me this morning that made an impression on me, and which in an unintended way gave me hope: “You’ll never run faster if you don’t fix these problems.” That got me thinking about the possibility that one reason I may not have been able to run faster so far has been because of tight muscles. I like to think that all this painful work will lead to not only being able to run again, but perhaps — as a bonus — also running faster than I could have otherwise.

Quicker recoveries

This post isn’t what you think it’s about: how to recover more quickly from hard runs or races. Although I will give a nod to an article by elite runner Julia Lucas — well-written, witty and informative (that’s three elite women runners who can write clearly and appealingly: Lucas, Lauren Fleshman and Shannon Rowbury) — in the September issue of Running Times.

No, this post is about the fact that I’m doing my recovery runs faster these days than I have in the previous 18-24 months. A lot faster. Despite the horrible heat and humidity. Some of it can be explained by the fact that I’m actually trying to run faster on these runs. Coach Sandra noticed a recent recovery run that was an 11:00 pace and she said, “If you’re running that slow and really can’t run faster at a very easy effort, then stop the run. It means you need more recovery in the form of not running.”

Then she said, “You should be doing your recovery runs at 9:45 or faster. Why are you running them so slow?”

I had to think about that. I suspect it’s because when I was doing 80-95 mpw most weeks last year, that truly was as fast as I could go on those slower days. I even remember meeting Robert at our Blogging Runners meetup and feeling a little ashamed when he asked, “Why do you do your recovery runs so slow?” I just thought at the time that it was because I’m in my forties. But now I know it’s because I was just tired on my easy days. But the answer to her question was “habit.”

But now I’m running half that mileage. There’s no reason to be running 10:30+ miles. In recent weeks I’d started getting more toward the 10:00 side of the speed spectrum naturally anyway. Now I’ve picked things up further and seem no worse for the wear. I feel better when I’m running a little faster, and the boring recovery runs get done more quickly too. It’s also no longer such a dramatic shift in pace between fast and slow days.

Now I’m very curious to see how fast I’ll be doing these runs come fall/winter. 9:00? Or faster? That would be pretty neat.

Training July 25-31

Yesterday marked the official one month anniversary of starting work with Coach Sandra. This week was a true assbuster, the first entire week that I can apply that qualification to, although there have certainly been some difficult individual workouts in the past few weeks. But the hard work was piled on this week, three really tough sessions over five days.

The hard work began on Tuesday morning, when I met up with Sandra bright and early at Sleepy Hollow High School’s track. This is a good place to train. While the track is not as fancy as the one at Bronxville High, it’s also not crowded with amblers. There were only two other runners there. Given that Sandra was standing in lane four with a stopwatch and yelling at me, they stayed out of our way.

Okay, Sandra wasn’t actually yelling at me. I just enjoy that image. She was yelling splits and, most of the time, encouragement. I won’t go into what we did, but it was really fucking hard. She even scaled back things a little when she saw that I was struggling through one of the repeats. I felt bad when she did that but she assured me that it’s the whole point of having a coach there and it’s better to be conservative than to overtrain.

To be honest, it’s nervewracking to have someone scrutinizing how you run. I don’t come from a track (or running at all) background, so this is a new experience for me. There’s a lot of pressure to run faster when someone is standing there at each lap, waiting for you. I don’t have trouble doing my workouts alone — meaning I will apply myself regardless of who’s around. But having that extra pressure was a real motivator to pick things up when I felt like shit. After next week Sandra won’t be there for most of my track work, at least through the rest of the summer. But I feel I have a better sense now of how I should adjust the intervals as I go along.

Here’s this week’s running tip: always run your recoveries in the opposite direction. This keeps you from stressing the same outer leg/hip (your right one if you do the hard stuff counterclockwise).

On Thursday I did a longish tempo run. It was absolutely horrible weatherwise: 82F with a dewpoint of 72 when I started. The average time is slow because my warmup/cooldown was practically walking, and my tempo miles were no great shakes due to the weather (around 7:30). I did this run on the northern section of the Old Croton Aqueduct trail and it was really, really lovely. I can’t wait to run there in the fall when it’s cool and colorful. Although there is a .6 mile long section of extreme up/down hill in the form of switchbacks as you head to and from the Hudson’s edge. That was murder to run up fast.

On Friday I got a massage and discovered just how nasty I’d been to my legs over the previous days. Hamstrings, quads, calves — everything was fucked up. Even my arms hurt, especially the forearms for some reason. I wished I’d gone for a 90 minute session since 60 didn’t seem like enough. But I ambled home (it’s a short walk from my house through suburban streets) and collapsed on the couch for a few hours. I felt okay this morning, more or less ready for another epic run.

This time I tried the middle section of the OCA. I didn’t like that one as much. Much of it is a narrow track of dirt cutting through grass. Some of it is rooted and rocky. And it’s broken up by streets (including one that required a full seven minute wait at a stoplight where four streets converged), which slows everything down. My legs felt the week’s earlier abuses at the 8 mile mark, but I kept at it. Fortunately, the weather was so pleasant today that it was almost not noticeable. In the low 70s and very dry. I ran the last few miles as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast. Still, faster than the last few progression runs. I was happy with the effort considering that it was on top of two earlier faster sessions.

Next weekend is the NYRR team championships, so the mileage and intensity get dialed down again. After this week, I’m grateful for some down days.

Training July 18-24

The adventure continues. As does the heat wave.

This past week was typical of what I’ll be doing in the coming weeks: speedwork and lots of progression runs. I didn’t cross-train as much as I’d hoped to, but I’m working on making biking and weight work more of a priority. I also got my first massage since right after the Green Mountain Relay in June. I was informed that my hamstrings aren’t nearly as tight as they were then. But my back, shoulders and neck are still a holy mess.

Monday was really, really hot again. So I did my short progression run on the treadmill. That went pretty well, considering that I’d raced hard on Saturday. Wednesday was another really hot morning at the track — 90F with a dewpoint of 68. I had to do longer intervals, which was mentally difficult.

Then I stupidly ran an extra 5 miles, bringing the total to 11, which was supposed to have been distributed over two runs: 7 at the track and then 4 recovery in the evening. I got so used to running lots of miles around track sessions last year that it’s hard to break that habit. I won’t do that again. Coach Sandra was not pleased and thought I was just being overly enthusiastic (so unlike me) or simply non-compliant. I told her that I merely have poor reading comprehension sometimes and all was forgiven.

On Thursday, as often happens the day after some faster running, my legs felt zippy. So I ran the recovery run by feel, which turned into a slightly higher effort outing. But I knew I had the next day off from running, so I didn’t worry about it.

Saturday was, once again, very hot and humid, so I took the progression run inside again. This was a horrible run. My stomach was a mess and my right hamstring felt very stiff. I ended up puttering along at 10:45 pace for 4 miles before I was able to pick things up ever so gradually and run the last few miles at a properly fast pace. Given how shitty I felt, I was tempted to abandon the workout, but remembered that if I don’t finish a week, I need to do it all over again. I didn’t want to be held back in what is the training equivalent of Kindergarten.

Besides training, it was an eventful week. For one thing, it was my first week as a non-IBMer in 7 years. That took some getting used to. I also updated Houston Hopefuls at long last. Then I worked on my first byline piece for Running Times, a profile of one of the masters runners who has already qualified for the 2012 Marathon Trials, Tamara Karrh. Originally I’d hoped to do a piece on the growth of masters participation in that race over the years, with Karrh as personification of this trend (but not the article’s centerpiece). But getting historical Trials data on short notice proved impossible, despite how annoying I made myself (in a friendly, grateful way) to the USATF. Fortunately, Karrh turned out to be a great interviewee, worthy of a profile focused on her alone. That will hit the newsstands/web in October (November issue).

This week is more of the same: track work (with Coach and stopwatch this time), a tempo run and more progression miles. I’ve been exploring the local trails, to save my legs by running on soft dirt, but also for a change of venue. I don’t actually have to be anywhere these days. I can drive to a trail. I can stop and look at other creatures’ homes. I can wander the aisles of Costco at 2:00 in the afternoon. I don’t feel a shred of anxiety over this current state of affairs. I have not felt this relaxed in decades.

Training: July 4-17

Yes, there’s a big gap in training logs. About a month. That’s because June was not a serious month for training. It was all about the Mini 10K, the Green Mountain Relay, and quitting my FT day gig. So I can train seriously again, among other reasons.

I was also in transition, checking out the new coach and the new training that comes with her. I officially started training with Sandra on Saturday, July 3, which is not shown on these schedules (I should note that now the training week runs from Sunday to Saturday, unlike my previous Monday to Sunday structure).

On that first day, Sandra sent me off to do a fartlek workout. I was way out on Eastern Long Island over that weekend, so I ended up doing the run (about 6 miles total) along a lonely, relatively flat stretch of road at about 7:30 in the morning. It was just me, a family of wild turkeys and the rare service truck.

This run was a challenging introduction into the new training regimen. But I got through it and found it a strangely satisfying workout, probably because of its novelty. I haven’t done much fartlek running. I’ll be doing lots more of it, though.

A few days later I had my first speed session. This was on the worst day of the heatwave, a day we hit a real temperature of 103F. We were also having an air quality alert. The air literally stank that morning. I ran at 6AM, but it was nevertheless already in the upper 80s at that hour. The heat has been insane these past few weeks, with temperatures around 10-15 degrees above average most days.

That weekend I did a long run. It’s weird to think that 12 miles is a “long” run now. That was shorter than my “midlength” run of 14-16 miles just 9 months ago. But, okay. 12 miles is long now.

Here’s another new aspect to this training: every long run is a progression run. I get to run the first 3-4 miles at a very easy pace, but then I have to pick things up. And I must be racing the last 2 miles.

It was again incredibly hot. I lost 3 lbs on this run, and cut it short, walking the last half mile because I could feel the heat’s effects creeping up on me. Then I crashed for two hours.

For the second week I went on the “pre-race” schedule, which features just one hard workout (but it is indeed hard). Overall, the mileage is cut back and I do a mini-taper to get ready for a race. In this case, it was a 4 miler on Saturday. I also started adding in some bike time, which I’ll do 2-3x a week from here on out.

Wednesday was track session #2, this time with some longer repeats. Again, the heat and humidity were brutal that day and it was a struggle to run fast. Then I got very busy with work that day and had to skip the 4 mile recovery run in the evening.

Wednesday overnight into Thursday I had terrible DOMS. That brought back some memories of last year. I took Thursday off (as scheduled, but whaled away on the bike for an hour). Then a little token run on Friday and the race on Saturday.

I know I’m just getting into this new plan, but I have noted that I have been rested and ready for all of the harder sessions. And while they are certainly challenging from both a mental and physical standpoint, I am able to handle them without fading in either respect. So far, so good.

Training: May 24-June 6

Another twofer, as I’ve remained quite busy with work and personal projects. And it promises to get busier: I’ve got the Mini 10K coming up this weekend (and, I hope, interviews to do with the participating elites). Then next weekend the Green Mountain Relay is upon us. I am purchasing massive quantities of Nutella this evening to outfit our team’s two vans with high energy, chocolately and hazelnutty goodness.

The last week in May was low key. I did two workouts — one a general aerobic run, for the purposes of facilitating heat acclimation. I hate running in the heat, but I do notice the difference later in the summer if I’ve made an attempt to ease my way into it. I also will be doing a fair amount of racing this summer, which is new. So I’d better get used to being hot and uncomfortable.

Then on Friday I did a speed session that was so so. I had to make it a short one since I was so busy with work. It was on the hot side at the track and I did okay for the first few repeats but toward the end of the fourth one I was working way too hard and decided to end the speed session there. I have a feeling I was still worn down from the “easy” run (which was very hot/humid) two days before. I wasn’t freaked out by having what on the surface was a failed workout.

My recovery runs continue to hover in the 10:00 range, an improvement over earlier in the season, despite the uncomfortable conditions lately. This is good news.

I saved my legs over the next few days for what would turn out to be a very strange, but very educational racing experience in New Jersey. As Ewen pointed out in a comment, that recent mile race on the track may have helped my speed.

As for the rest of the week, post-race I applied myself. I did another hot easy run on Wednesday. On Friday, it was baking already at 7AM and I knew that if I went to the track to try to do speedwork there, in full sun, I’d just end up suffering both physically and mentally, and probably running badly as well. So I switched plans and did my speedwork on the mostly shaded running path.

I did a series of five 90 second pickups during 8 miles of easy miles, with the pickups at around 5K effort. The good news is that they got faster as I went along, starting in the high 6:00s and ending at around 6:07 pace. Not going to the track had been a good idea. And I got about 8 minutes of fast running in, with some decent aerobic effort miles to boot, so I was happy. And very sleepy later on.

Saturday I played driver and water girl for Jonathan, who did a hilly 5K in FDR State Park. It was, again, hot and humid. I did 5 miles at recovery pace around the park while he raced. That was enough for me. Man, it was hot. Today was not his best time, unsurprisingly, but he put in a good effort and got 6th overall.

From masters stud...

...to tired hothouse flower.

The heat would be worse on Sunday. By the time I got out, it was around 10:30AM and the heat index was already in the mid 80s. It would be in the low 90s by the time I finished a 10 miler. As you can see, I was running at aerobic effort (mid-70%s MHR) and getting a slow pace for all that work. Oh, well. It will get easier.

In addition to the Mini on Saturday, this week I have my second track race, a 1500m race, again at Icahn Stadium. The weather is looking friendlier — 60s or 70s and (yay) very dry. A little wind, but anything’s better than 25mph. I’m feeling pretty good about my prospects.

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