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Tales of a recovering over racer

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Addiction is a powerful thing. I am not sure exactly when it happened but suddenly I found myself wanting to run all the races! Between the Celebration Marathon in January and Boston Marathon in April, I raced nine times and even joined a new running club just so I could compete in their racing series. No wonder my hamstring injury never healed. After Boston I ran in four more races between the end of April and mid-July. I tried resting the hamstring for a week or two here and there and even went to physical therapy. Finally when I had finished the last of the Picnic Island Adventure Runs of the summer in July I decided to focus on getting healthy for marathon training.

I was set to begin the 18 week Hansons Marathon Method with a group of friends at the end of July. I knew I would not be able to handle marathon training with a hamstring injury. I followed the plan almost perfectly for weeks and weeks. I turned down invitations to race, which is difficult for me to do. I even had to skip one of my favorite summer cross country races. I trained consistently and did not race for 11 weeks. I even stopped having the urge to look at race calendars in running magazines.

Then it was time for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler at the beginning of October. “You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination, in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10 Miler!” Thanks Disney, I was already both scared and excited for this.

2014 Tower of Terror 10 Miler

On one hand, I was really looking forward to it because my training had been solid and it would be a good test of my fitness. It is such a fun race; probably my favorite Disney race. But on the other hand, I was extra nervous about racing. Would this trigger my racing addiction? Would I revert back to the bad habit of over racing? I am happy to report that as of two months post-race, it has not. I have kept my racing calendar from filling up. I am staying focused on training properly and only racing when it fits in with my goals.

I think much of that success is due to the amazing time I had at the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I hadn’t raced in 11 weeks so I could only rely on my marathon training paces to guide me. I started conservatively but quickly sped up because I felt so comfortable. A little before halfway I knew I could really race it. I ended up running negative splits, finishing a little over a minute off my PR that was set 12 years ago. I was the 5th overall female and Masters Winner.

Meagan & me in front of the Tower of Terror after we both had awesome races!

I am not sure if my addiction is racing, adrenalin, competition, or some combination, but let’s just say that my competitiveness does seem to carry over to other areas like Toy Story Mania (the best game/ride in all the Disney parks). Perhaps moving into the Masters category has helped me mature as a runner because I definitely learn from my mistakes and train a lot smarter. It took one great race preceded by many weeks of patience, listening to my body, and good training in addition to some serious willpower to stop over racing.

Masters award arrived in the mail a few weeks after the race.

Tower of Terror 10 Miler Results

Running Journal – January 2015 – Page 3

Running Journal

Rookie mistake

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Before I even start writing here I must take a moment to log yesterday’s run on my shoe mileage spreadsheet…

So to be totally honest, I was not really looking forward to writing this one.  But lucky for me when I toss around ideas to write about my husband sometimes gives me that little push to get it on paper.  I don’t remember where I first heard the term “rookie mistake,” but it strikes both of us as funny, especially when used in the right situation.  I guess it’s most funny when used for silly things that end up being nothing more than slightly inconvenient. “You forgot to use bodyglide yesterday and now you’re a little chafed?  Rookie mistake.  You forgot to bring your swimsuit on vacation?  Rookie mistake.  You forgot to bring our refillable popcorn bucket to the movies?  Rookie mistake.

As we all know or have heard over the years, we are supposed to replace our running shoes every 300-500 miles or 200-300 miles for the more minimalist styles.  I have worked at two specialty running stores, am a certified running coach, and have been running for 29 years.  I think this somehow relates to the story of the cobbler whose kids don’t have proper shoes…

Anyway, I tend to rotate 3-5 pairs of running shoes when I am training.  Usually I have 3-4 pairs of training shoes and one pair of trail shoes in my rotation at any one time.  I like to let my shoes completely dry out between uses.  I use my running shoes for my own training runs, when I am coaching, and when I go to the gym so 3-5 pairs might seem like a lot but when the shoes are getting wet a couple of times a day, it does take some time for each pair to dry out before the next workout.  Plus, I’ll be honest, I love all the cool colors that the Brooks Adrenaline comes in now!  I have been known to match my shoes with my outfit pretty regularly.

This past year I have not tracked the mileage on each pair of shoes as carefully as I have in the past.  Normally I would at least make a note when a shoe reached 3-4 months of use to keep an eye on it.  Lately I have been dealing with some calf and Achilles tendon pain, hamstring tightness, and blisters.  I have treated it with massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic adjustments in addition to stretching and yoga.  For the blisters I have tried different socks, different anti-chafe products, and changing my socks and shoes in the middle of longer runs.

I spent most of my birthday money on a couple of new colors of Brooks Adrenaline so I have quite a few pairs “in the queue.”

2013_birthdayshoes12013_birthdayshoes2

It’s not like I don’t have the new shoes readily available when old shoes are ready to be retired.  Sadly I just wasn’t paying attention to the very important details of how many miles were on my shoes!  I decided this week to retire two pairs of my older training shoes and break out the new neon lime and purple Adrenaline 13.  I went for one 6 mile run and my feet and Achilles felt much better.  After a couple more runs in the new shoes I realized that many of my aches and pains and probably blisters were from running in shoes that were past their prime.  Rookie Mistake!!!!!

I share this story in hopes that others will learn from my mistakes and avoid aches and pains that really can and should be avoided with just a couple of minutes worth of time each day spent tracking shoe mileage, whether on a spreadsheet, training log, or a simple index card.  I have definitely learned my lesson and now have a pretty color coded spreadsheet to track the mileage on each pair of shoes. Run Happy!

shoe_mileage_tracker

Uncharted

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel.  Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?

Talk about uncharted territory!  26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run.  So I did some research on how to train for ultras.  I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper.  I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.

Consistency is key.  That’s probably the most important tip I can offer.  And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone.  Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life.  But be consistent.

In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts.  I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs.  This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race.  But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts.  Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back.  So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle.  I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.

I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times.  I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring.  I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.

Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned.  But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.

But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested.  I had some of my best sleep the week before the race.  I have never felt so well prepared before.

The fine line

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Just under five weeks left until Boston.  Months ago I planned out an amazing training program for myself.  I clipped it to the front of my file folder that sits next to my computer so it would be a daily reminder.  A reminder that training runs are a priority and how everything else I hope or plan to do might influence that training and my goal.

I followed the schedule so well for the first four to five weeks, doing the long runs at the proper pace, doing the tempo runs, and doing the speed workouts on the weeks I did not race.  I was feeling very confident in my training plan and my ability to execute it.

Then the racing calendar really started to fill in.  I realize that I am in control of what races I sign up for but they did seem to creep up on me.  It’s hard to say “no” to the trail races (my true passion) and I also wanted to get some fast times on the roads so I knew where I stood.  Before I knew it I was racing almost every weekend from late January through mid March.  I was feeling pretty strong and almost invincible.

Then on February 13th during a 10 mile trail race my left foot slipped off a root and I twisted my mid and forefoot.  It happened around mile 7 or 8 and REALLY hurt but I guess I had enough adrenaline pulsing through my body that I was able to finish fairly strongly.  After the race I hopped in the car and during the hour drive home, my foot started hurting like I had tied my shoe way too tight.  So I untied the shoe and loosened up the laces yet it still hurt.  When I arrived home, I saw how swollen the foot was.  After a week of resting, icing, elevating, and no running, I tested it out on a ten mile training run on the trails near my house.

With that week off I was concerned about the Gasparilla 8K on February 27th and worried how the missed training was going to affect me at Boston.  I decided to wear my training shoes instead of racing shoes for the Gasparilla 8K and ended up second overall female with a new PR.  I guess that week off was a nice recovery for me!

The following week I was back on track with the Boston Marathon training plan which included a 20 miler, some hills, a 15K trail race, and a tempo run.  Also throw in there standing for hours and hours at track meets and track practice each day.  So my left knee and both lower legs in the tibial tendon/shin area started to hurt a bit.  Now I’m worried again that I’m not going to be able to finish all my training for Boston or even worse, end up injured on the starting line.

After three days of rest I debated whether to run the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 13th.  It was a tough decision but I ended up running.  I think that was why my mile splits for the first nine miles were so erratic.  I was not able to go into the race with a solid plan.  Once I hit mile nine, I put the hammer down, mostly out of frustration of the inconsistent first nine mile splits.  My last four miles were my fastest and most consistent in 6:59, 7:03, 6:54, and 6:51.

This week I am still in recovery mode from that race.  One easy three mile run, a spin class, strength training, a massage, and acupuncture.  Now I feel ready to jump back into the training plan on Friday with a 10 mile run at goal marathon pace.

I have not trained on this fine line in a very long time.  It is exciting and scary at the same time.  My goal now with less than five weeks to go is to stay healthy.  It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.  I also want to be race ready on April 18th so I can really race at Boston.  Between now and then I have to get in those hard training runs, but I will have to do it carefully by getting enough sleep, eating right, taking a recovery day when I feel that ache or pain, and doing the necessary body maintenance of massage and acupuncture.  Training is definitely a balancing act and my goal is to do it without slipping off that fine line.

With a little luck and some common sense, I’ll be fine.  ;)

Remembering how to play

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

When is the last time you went outside and played?  According to George Sheehan, my favorite author, “Fitness has to be fun.  If it is not play, there will be no fitness.  Play, you see, is the process.  Fitness is merely the product.”

I have been running and racing for 26 years and I will admit, not every single run or race has been fun or felt like play.  Sometimes I get so focused on training right and getting in shape to try for a new PR on race day that I lose sight of the fun of it all.

Luckily many of the girls I coached in high school came home from college for Christmas break and I was able to go on many training runs with them over the past two weeks.  Between my new training buddies and these special visitors, the past few weeks of training have been so much more fun than usual.  I actually don’t remember my last run by myself!   :)

Today was a long day on the computer with deadlines.  I was a little rushed leaving the house to meet a friend for today’s run.  Traffic was of course slow going – too many people on the road!  So when I arrived a little late and frazzled for our run, I stepped out of the car and we immediately started running as I explained my crazy day.  We were about a mile into the run on top of the steep bridge and although I was out of breath, I was still trying to talk.  It felt good.  We were running faster than I normally do for a longer run.

Neither of us had a route planned so we just ran over bridges, along the beach, through a park, along the water then back over the big bridge.  We ended up with 12 miles total.  The fun part was just running and talking and not worrying about pace.  The route was new and unplanned.  That’s why it felt so much like play.  It wasn’t a route that was pre-measured and that we had run hundreds of times.  We ran a good pace.  Trying to talk while being a little out of breath and not really knowing where this run would take us made me feel like a kid who just ran outside to escape it all.  I ran away from the stress of the day.

I felt like I truly played today.  During the run and especially driving home I couldn’t stop smiling.  Today I felt free.  I was able to leave work at work and enjoy all that today’s run had to offer.

George Sheehan’s words of wisdom:  “Play is where life lives.”  Whatever form of fitness you choose, enjoy it, do it regularly, make it fun, and live life to the fullest my friends.  Play!  I did today and am happier for it.

All I want for Christmas is a new PR!

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Car accident on 10/8 really threw things way off course.  Car totaled, waited for insurance company to do their thing, finally received check and thanks to my wonderful husband, getting the new car was a very easy process.  He’s really awesome with the online research so we were totally prepared when we left the house to go “test drive” and came home with the new car…the actual car he thought we would get after checking the car fax, etc.

Anyway, injuries were not too bad and the air bag burns healed within two weeks.  The seatbelt injury to my chest/pec area and the back and neck soreness/pain have taken longer to heal, but I am thankful for my chiropractor and massage therapist!  I went to my general practitioner first and after an X-ray showed nothing broken or cracked, he suggested going to a chiropractor.  Good advice.

So two weeks of no running and trying to heal.  Let’s just say I was not happy.  I had numerous races already lined up that I had already paid for and had hotel reservations for so I wasn’t going to lose out on that investment.  Losing two weeks of running would normally not be a huge deal, but the timing was the absolute worst with races every weekend in November including two half marathons and a 20K.  I could not cross train so it was two weeks of nothing.  Definitely more of a taper than I needed!

So I attempted the first race, the Creaky Bones 5K on 10/23 which was painful and my time was nowhere near where I would have liked, but it was a fun event with friends anyway.  The second was on Halloween, the Daytona Beach Half Marathon.  I knew I would not be able to race it and be happy with my time so I decided to run with two good friends who were also running it.  That turned out to be a very fun experience.  The next race is this coming Sunday, the XTERRA Wildhorse Trail Half Marathon.  It is put on by TampaRaces.com – who put on amazing events.  Since I am already registered and it is the first race in the XTERRA series, I have convinced myself that I must do it.  I know I am not in the shape I had hoped to be in by this time of the year but I will do my best.  The following weekend is the Naples 20K.  This was my chance to PR at 20K since that is not a very popular distance.  I was confident about setting that new PR before the accident, but now I’m not so sure.

Most of you know that I am President of RunnerGirl Inc. and so tonight while I was updating our online gift shop, I added our holiday section for those who are already thinking about those festive times and who like to shop early.  My favorite items in that section of the online store are those with this clever saying:  All I want for Christmas is a new PR!

All I want for Christmas is a new PR!

This made me think about Christmas and all the special people in my life.  It made me smile about those who make their health and well-being their top priority but it also made me quite sad because some of the people in my life do not make their health and fitness a priority.  I know that I cannot motivate others to take better care of themselves, but I do hope that maybe I can inspire them through my actions.  And basically that is all we can do to help our loved ones.  We can support, encourage, and educate them.  But we cannot make them do it.  We cannot do it for them, as much as we would like to.

I know that for myself I do wish for a new PR and continued good health.  But really, for Christmas, since that is the biggest gift giving holiday in my family, I truly only want one thing:  for my loved ones to make their health a priority.  I would like them to start and stick to a fitness program, eat healthier, and just take better care of themselves.  There’s nothing anyone could buy me that would mean more than spending time with my loved ones who are healthy and happy for years and years to come.

I think being in a car accident or going through any type of trauma like that makes you re-evaluate life a bit and definitely helps you to prioritize.  Be well my friends.     :)


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