Monday, February 27, 2012

Hamstring fun

While doing speed intervals a week or so ago I managed to aggravate my right hamstring.  Everything was going well in my routine:  warm up, and then quarter mile fast/slow repeats. During my fourth repeat, instead of just doing a quarter mile fast, I decided to try for a half mile.  I felt good endurance-wise, nothing hurt, and even though I was tired, I felt like it was a good goal.  I finished the half mile fast no problem and then did my quarter mile recovery at a slow jog.  But when I went to start my next fast period something did not feel right at all with my right hamstring.  So I quickly abandoned the run and walked and massaged my ham.  I find that if I run my fingers up from the back of my knee up the middle of my ham towards my glutes, that it can often release what ever pressure or knot is in the muscle.  It helps, but of course, some kind of damage has occurred and it needs to repair itself.  I sort of jogged the last quarter mile home, but I was very concerned about what just happened.

I took the next couple of days off, massaging and stretching my legs.  I followed that with an easy 3 miles - ham still a little tender.  The following day I did 5 miles, and that was pretty scary.  At about 3.5 miles, my right ham felt very weird, like it was about to give out, so I walked it and massaged it for a bit. I also noted that my left knee was feeling weird, no doubt due to the fact that my left leg was probably compensating for my right. I did finish my 5 miles, but did so very carefully and took the next 2 days off.

By the time day 3 dawned, I was beginning to feel like I was behind in my training plan, so I naturally had to get out there and put some miles on.  I did 8+ miles.  The first 4 were very careful and I slowly upped my pace, while modifying my stride in order to help stretch out different parts of my ham and quads.  By mile 6 I'm guessing that my ham finally warmed up because it suddenly felt great.  It felt so good that I finished the last 2.5 miles at nice clip.

So what happened?  Was it the change in my stride that helped?  Did it take 6 miles for my ham to "warm up" and get loose? Both?

I iced my ham afterwards and for the rest of the afternoon it was very stiff.  Actually both of my legs were stiff.  I'm sure that my left leg was out of sorts for having to compensate for my right.  That night Amy showed me some Yoga moves that really helped. (way to go Amy!)   I worked through them and a few others this morning and things feel a bit better.

I have a long run (10 miles) to do this week, followed by 11 miles the following one with the St Patty's day 5K that weekend.  I need that ham to get right.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

hill work

Hills.  I need to do more hills or else I will absolutely die doing the AA marathon (17 weeks from now).  The marathon course doesn't have any huge or horrible hills, but there are a lot of them.  And historically so far, its been hills that tend to knock the crap out of me (the Milford 30K, the 22 mile Tortoise and Hare training run), so I need to make sure that I build the necessary endurance to manage, if not survive, the whole race.

I've been picking routes that have hills and I will also work in doing hill repeats (up and down the same hill - which is kind of boring for me..).  I prefer doing hill repeats at the Arb if for no other reason than it is scenic and its a dirt path, vs asphalt or cement (easier on my feet), but if it's been raining it make the path somewhat difficult.  My goal in doing hill repeats is to be able to do them while keeping my heart rate within a reasonable range.  But I don't always wear a heart monitor (too fricking unreliable) so its just a "feel".

I recently read a quote in Runners World by Mark Remy where defined treadmills as "designed to destroy one's mind through sensory deprivation and monotony" - and while I agree with the sensory deprivation and monotony and I avoid treadmills now as much as possible, I never would have gotten started with running were it not for treadmills.  Running on a treadmill basically gave me the confidence to hit the road and a safe place to run in the winter.  Interesting how a perspective changes...

St Pat's run in 3 weeks.
10K run in 4 weeks.
DexAnnArbor run in 15 weeks.
Ann Arbor Marathon in 17 weeks.
Grand Rapids Marathon in 35 weeks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New day, new run

Yesterday I did a measly 3 miles - and struggled through every friking yard of it.  Today I did 4 miles and enjoyed every inch of it.  What was the difference?

Yesterday was partly sunny, in the high 20's, and windy, making for a nice wind chill factor.  I know that I was not happy about the wind.  Today on the other hand, is cloudy, light snow, and enough breeze to make the snow come down at a 45degree angle.

I had no mojo yesterday.  My last run was 4 days prior, a good but hard 8 miles.  Then it got really cold out and on Saturday with plans for another 7-8 miler, I crawled back into bed when I saw that the temp was 9degrees with a 15mph wind.  Forget about it.  I really don't need to put up with stupid weather conditions...  So yesterday, with the weather more or less reasonable (it was, less the wind) and having not run in a few days, became one of those days when I feel that "I really need to get out there".  My legs were heavy, my breathing was labored, my pace was out of sync - not a damn thing was right.  Plus I almost got run over by a car in my neighborhood; my fault since I wasn't paying attention and literally running (shuffling, stomping - not really running) in the middle of the road.  My bad.

But the bottom line is that I felt like I had no juice.  Was it lack of fuel?  Possibly the wrong kind?  I had had something for breakfast; something very healthy:  greek yogurt with blueberries and a spoonful of granola. Plus a hard boiled egg.  Sounds like a nice balance...?  But then after the run, I felt crappy.  I also didn't feel that "ahhhhh" feeling that I'm supposed to get after a run.

Today I started with a simple piece of whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter.  An hour later I pushed off for my run and I felt great.  I had a good, if not a great, run. Light snow, some breeze, the path was totally covered with snow and only a couple other footprints.  Nice.

Was it the pre-run fuel?  the wind?  other mojo affecting bs?

There is one thing that I am very proud of.  During my sucky run yesterday I had several opportunities to cut the run short, i.e. trim it down from 3 miles to 2.5, 1.5, or even just 1 mile.  But I put my head into it and I did the miles that I intended to run from the start.  I don't know if that is good or bad - I don't know if I benefited physically from having pushed myself to do the entire run or if, since I was not into it, if it was actually detrimental, but mentally it was very rewarding.  While in the shower I remember thinking "I did it anyway", with a smile...  For that reason alone I'm glad that I did it.  Even better that the following day was a great run day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What winter?

First week of February and we're having winter-not-so-much.  Good run today.  Odd thing was that I ran without my usual cap, just with a skull-cap kind of thing to keep my head warm/covered.  For some reason I felt lighter and faster.  I trucked along pretty quick, taking a full 6 minutes off my previous run of the same length.  Was it the cap?

I'll also probably sign up for
  • the local St. Patricks Day 5K run on March 11 (  This is more of an excuse to drink beer than a real race.  Was fun last year....
  • A 10K St Patricks run in Plymouth on March 18  (
  • Hoping to do the Big House Big Heart 10K on April 15, but I may be out of town...
I'm also wanting to run a fall marathon, either Grand Rapids, Air Force (at Wright Patterson AFB), or Chicago again.  I probably need to make a commitment soon (like now), but for some reason I'm dragging my feet.