Switching gears to neutral

About two months ago I was having terrible IT band problems. Actually, I’ve always had IT issues but I’ve been able to keep it at bay with regular stretching, ART and tons and tons of rolling. It’s not a big deal but from time to time it gets really painful. The last time I went to ART I mentioned that my team had switched from Nike to Asics and that I was running in Asics’ stability shoe. He looked at me sideways, had me do some exercises and pronounced me a neutral runner.

Over the last few years as I’ve become a more efficient runner my gait has straightened out, my feet have strengthened and I don’t need all the structure and support I used to. So, the shoes were unnaturally forcing my feet out which was causing IT issues. So… I headed over to Fleet Feet and got the Asics Cumulus. The Cumulus has a bit of support but it is certainly a neutral shoe.

The first couple of times I ran in them I could tell a difference. It felt like my strike was more square on the pavement and it just felt more natural. That said, the first couple of weeks my feet were really sore. To the point where I thought I had plantar fascitis. As I adjusted to new shoes and stride I realized that my calves were really tight which was causing the foot pain. As long as I roll my legs regularly, I’m fine.

Since I’ve switched my IT band pain is basically completely gone. They still get appropriately sore and require a bit of rolling but they no longer feel injured or forced out of their natural pattern. And my glutes are a lot looser, too. When I run fast it feels like not having structure allows my legs and feet to spring into action faster and I’m in better alignment- more square. My shoulders, hips and legs are forming that straight line you’re always told to make.

I think my transition is due to a few things. As I’ve gotten faster, my gait is more efficient and therefore requires less outside stability. I also think that doing so much yoga barefoot has strengthened both my core and my arches which is helpful when running. Like I always say, everything goes back to the core strength.

I don’t think everyone running in stability shoes should run out and switch to a netural shoe. In fact, probably most shouldn’t. However, if you’ve been running awhile or have a persistent ache or nag don’t hesitate to get re-fit or to ask a second opinion. Just like your body isn’t always the same, your feet my change too. You should always be your own biggest advocate. Yes, seek the opinion of experts but you know your own body best.

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Hawaii!

Sorry for the whole week without blogging… don’t hate me, but I was in Maui and I am now extremely tan. We didn’t do a ton… lots of snorkeling and beach time and um, eating but it was a good time. After basically ignoring my family for a year it was nice to spend an uninterrupted week with them.

Running in Hawaii was kind of tough actually. After acclimating to temps in the 4os running in the 8os with high humidity on hills was pretty hard! I intentionally planned this week to be a cut back week and aimed for no more than 4o miles. This way I wouldn’t be stressed about running tons if there was something else I wanted to do and my legs would get a break.

I ended up running just about everyday I was there and had a blast. I forgot how much I enjoy rolling hills and while it was too hot, and a couple of days too rainy, to do speed work I got some great runs in. And my legs, heart and mind feel rested and refreshed. And while I’ve given myself some pretty stringent rules about eating, I let them mostly go while on vacation. And it was just fine!

Also, major props to those of you who run in heat and humidity! It actually makes it hard to breathe- I had no idea. So thick in the air!

Below are some photos from the trip. Sadly it’s now back to reality, back to crazy training and time to get serious!

Clearly not obeying my no booze rule

Just a few post run Cheerios

Probably time for a cutback week

Well, after a wonderful first half of my training week I crashed head-on into a brick wall and died a little bit. As in, ran the slowest splits I’ve seen in two years, had a horrible long run, am considering giving up running. Ok, not really but it was bad.

I started a new job this week and while I”m super excited about it, getting back in to the office routine, running really early in the morning, dealing with the cold, etc. is kicking my butt. I hate it. Plus, new jobs are mentally and emotionally draining which means I have less heart to put into my training. That said, the routine also makes it easier to commit to training. My weeks are structured, I know what’s up, how things will go…

So this morning I did my “long run” because this weekend is no good. And it was hands down the worst long run EVER. From the beginning I felt nauseated, had tight legs and felt like I wanted to die. The entire time. I cut it off at 11 miles and called it a day. Running junk miles at a really slow pace was doing me no favors and in the long run, doesn’t matter.

I keep telling myself that this is normal. I’m adjusting to a new life, a new training schedule and a new sleep pattern. Of course this is going to affect me physically. So, for now I wait and sleep and hope that next week is better. And oh yeah, next week the mileage is going waaaaaaay down. Like from 55 to 38. Don’t let me run more than 38!

Getting there…

Resuming speed work after a few months break hasn’t been the easiest thing. Things that used to feel really easy are now somewhat difficult and it’s frustrating to work to get to where I was instead of finding myself achieving new speeds. The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m seeing steady improvements each week. I am by no means “there” but I’m on my way.

This morning I opted for 5 mins hard with 2 min rest/jogging four times with 2 miles warm up and cool down. So 8 miles. It was foggy and disgusting out, but I did eventually get out the door. We get this terrible bone chilling, close to the ground fog that will just freeze you out! I should probably, you know, look in to gloves and tights but I just hate winter.

Annnnyway… 5 mins hard is about a 12oo for me- maybe a little longer so it’s a good workout. The first repeat came in a 7:42 pace, the second at 7:41, the third at 7:35 and the last at 7:29. I think we’d call that a negative split. I think I could have done the overall workout harder, but I’m pretty satisfied with those splits. I haven’t run in the 7:3X range in quite some time and to me, it’s evidence that my top end speed is starting to return. Good news indeed. I think I’m also remembering the joy of suffering and how good it feels when I’m done!

Having a marathon on the schedule is absolutely helpful to getting the work done. I was NOT in the mood to run hard this morning. It was dark and cold and my bed is really warm and cozy. But… knowing there’s a bigger picture and a goal and something looming over me is enough to get me out the door.

Food Progress: To keep myself accountable I’m going to tell you how I’m doing on my goals… So far, so good! No booze since um, Saturday [what a victory since it’s… Tuesday but I digress], I’ve stayed away from the refined sugar despite a few opportunities to chow down on cookies and the like and I’m doing a good job eating balanced meals with fruits and veggies. I’m back on a normal work schedule which is helping tremendously- not working until 8pm and having the ability to go to the grocery store, etc. is massively helpful. I was going to track my calories but I don’t actually think that’s necessary. My little rules should be more than adequate to keep me on track.

The most perfect

I decided to kick off my new year with a nice, long run. I couldn’t think of anything more fun or appropriate to kick off my new year. After falling victim to the iPhone alarm glitch I woke up at 8:35 which is waaaaaaaay later than I normally would. But since I had nothing better to do, I putzed around the house for awhile and headed out the door somewhere around 9.

I decided to run 14 miles and switch up my route a bit. I’m getting bored with all my normal routes and driving for a long run just takes too much time. Or at least lately that’s been the case. So I headed out my door and eventually found my way near the river. First of all, the river is SO HIGH! I’m going to move my important photos and documents to the attic. And no, I’m not kidding. We have levees in worse shape than New Orleans…

Anyway, I ran by the river and through Old Town Sacramento which is a bit like running back in time. All the old storefronts, trains and “wild west” boats are still standing and while it’s a total tourist trap and kind of stupid, it’s fun to run through. I was shooting for 14 miles but felt really, really good so I ended up not turning around until the 15 mile turnaround. I ran all the way home and felt amazing when I was done.  Not sore, not tired, not achy. Just hungry!

I’ve been working a lot on running continuously with no breaks- doing little things like actively avoiding stop lights, double knotting my shoes, etc. I don’t want to stop on long runs because I don’t plan on stopping during the marathon. I was really happy that I only stopped twice in 15 miles- once for water and once for water and gu. And, I ran the last 6 completely continuously with the last mile my fastest.

In yoga we talk a lot about training the mind to focus and be present. I don’t buy everything we talk about there but one thing that has stuck is the question, “when you want to quit, is it your body or your mind?” So yesterday when I was starting to get what I thought was tired I quickly realized that I was just bored. It was my mind, not body that wanted a break. So, I gave my mind something to do and started counting ducks. Worked like a charm!

I got home and realized that long runs don’t come more perfect than that. My speed wasn’t anything to write home about but it was consistent, I felt good and reached my goal of keeping my head in the game. Hopefully most of the long runs during this cycle will be like this but heaven knows that won’t happen!

Food Goals for Marathon Training

Balancing proper fueling/recovery while getting down to racing weight is probably the hardest part of marathon training for me. When you’re running mileage in the 6Os it’s hard not to constantly “reward” yourself with little treats here and there and to eat like a horse. I have a major sweet tooth and I’ve been known to um, snack a bit in the afternoons.

I recently re-read Racing Weight and while it didn’t teach me anything new it was full of good reminders of how to eat properly while training hard. So here’s how I’m going to strive to eat. First, the hard and fast rules…

1. Refined sugar (aka cookies, cake, scone, frozen yogurt, chocolate, vanilla latte, etc] once a week.  Once. It is just too easy for me to go on and on and on with the dessert so once a week is plenty.
2. 3 glasses of wine total per week and never on the weekdays. This is harder than it sounds- a lot of my work bonding is done at happy hours and the like but booze calories are just totally unnecessary.
3. Once per week I’m going to eat whatever I want and not worry about it. At 65 miles per week you can afford a splurge.
4. Drink lots of water and less coffee.
5. Peanut Butter only before or after a long run or before a tough workout.

With those rules in mind I think that my eating will look something like this:

Pre-workout [only if more than 8 miles, a tempo run or long run]
English muffin with PB

Breakfast:
Oatmeal [amount adjusted for miles] with walnuts, fresh fruit and cinnamon or high fiber muffin from Trader Joes with a yogurt

1o:3o AM snack: Greek Yogurt with Kashi cereal

Lunch
Turkey sandwich with avocado and lettuce
Carrot sticks

3PM snack
Wheat thins and cottage cheese

4-5PM Snack
Apple and almonds

Dinner
Whatever I want but it MUST include a whole grain, vegetable and lean protein. No being lazy and eating scrambled eggs all the time…

So that’s my plan. Of course I’ll adjust depending on how I’m feeling but that’s about what I think will work for me.

Also, this little blog is on twitter now, so follow me at @runcommentaries!

It’s official!

Well, it’s official. I’m running the Eugene Marathon. Santa wrapped up my entry and put it under the tree, so I am totally committed. Yikes…

I was actually in Eugene for 5 days over Christmas and did a ton of running. There is something about that town that makes me run like the wind. I had a couple of really lovely easy runs, did a fartlek workout that went really well and ran 15 miles along the river and Pre’s trail.

I can honestly say it was the best long run I’ve had in a really long time. I ran 15 miles at the pace I ran CIM last year and it felt really easy. In fact, I wanted to run slower but my legs weren’t cooperating. I don’t know if it was al the carbs I ate at Christmas dinner, the fabulous weather or what, but it felt great and was a huge confidence booster. Plus, a good chunk of where I ran will be during the marathon so that’s fun!

It was kind of amazing… It was about 47 degrees and the sun came out for the second half of my run. My favorite running weather. I forgot gu so I grabbed some gummi bears at the gas station and you know what? I think they may have worked better for me than gels. I’m actually going to give it a go again… I felt really springy and sugary after eating them!

This morning I took on mile repeats which might be my least favorite workout in the world but the are really efficient and a good booty buster. The first two went fabulous well and came in at around 7:42. I slowed down a bit on the second two and it the felt really hard but I ended the fourth repeat dry heaving so I think it’s safe to say I pushed myself…

After a few solid weeks of training I can say that it really feels good to be back at it. Running easy was a rut that was safe and easy to stay in, but at the end of the day, it isn’t enough for me. I know I haven’t reached my full potential and I’m excited to have a goal race to shoot for. Now I just need to clean up the eating and I’ll be set to go!

Tomorrow I’ll run easy and Thursday will be more fartleks… Then next week it’s back to really structured, intense training. Monk style!