Training Week 12/7 to 12/13/15: Things That Make You Go “Hmmm…”

After spending eleven days in Europe subsisting on tapas, bread, cheese, and sugar, and doing no running (save one in Paris), I entered this week girding myself for the pain of training re-entry.

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Freezing in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Trainer did not disappoint.

I was sore from Monday’s workout until Wednesday, and then Tuesday’s workout until Thursday. Truthfully, I felt pain in my upper abs until Sunday. I will never ever go on vacation again. Ha.

I decided to not run until our last day on vacation as I wanted to give my funny hip as much rest as possible. It had healed to I would say 90% plus, and I could only feel a twinge of “Hmmm, that’s not right,” during a couple stretches; however, knowing that I wanted to start piling on the miles as soon as I got back, I wanted it to be as close to 100% as possible. Sure enough, this past Thursday, I said aloud to Trainer the words I had been hoping to say for over two months: “At this moment, I am not injured.” Not to say everything is 100% (is there a 100% when you’re 48 years old?), but I am not seeing a PT and feel comfortable with increasing my mileage.

An interesting phenomenon that I’ve discovered since working out with Trainer is this idea of running through aches and pains. Previously, I chose to be conservative and would back off running as soon as I felt some pain. Working with Trainer has turned that model upside down, or at least provided me with an alternative. Instead of backing off or working around an injury, we have really just attacked it. Luckily, my friend who referred me to Trainer mentioned that we would do this, so even though it was different from what I was used to, I wasn’t too surprised. What has been surprising is the result. At first, I was happy to just not aggravate the pain. Yay. But this week, I had a fairly tight calf from our lower body workout, and during our track workout I mentioned that my calf was tightening up a bit; however, we just kept on pushing. Again, not on an easy run day, but a track workout day. Um, OK. Guess I won’t be running this weekend then. Well, turns out with my ice bath, stretching, rolling, and rest day, I was able to run both days this weekend. My right calf was a little tighter than my left, but nothing that was alarming, and it feels perfectly fine today. I didn’t have to miss one run or workout. It’s been a real “Hmmm…” moment as far as dealing with little twinges.

So while all this strength and speed/agility training has been fun, and I’ve liked the results as far as how I feel, the strength in my body, and even how I look, I have yet to test this out in a race. However, I have noticed that my training times seem to be 15-30 seconds faster per mile about 50% plus of the time. During my long run, I decided to add one mile at HMP (half marathon pace) or tempo pace, meaning 9:09. I busted out an 8:58 HMP mile. Again, it’s just training, and my mileage is low right now, but it’s pretty cool considering that not only did I take about a month off from running, but I also switched to a midfoot strike, which, from what I’ve read, generally results in slower times during the transition. Yet another “Hmmm…” moment, at least in terms of my Garmin data.

Lastly, I had two long-ish (ha) runs this weekend, meaning I ran eight and six miles. Yes, incredibly humbling considering I ran a marathon three months ago, but I’m nonetheless thrilled to be able to run this pain-free and on a new stride. During my six mile run the day after my 8-mile long run, my legs felt surprisingly peppy. I wasn’t tearing through the park or anything; the times definitely reflected a recovery day, but my legs felt bouncy. I’ve read that one of the benefits of using a midfoot strike is that it causes less stress/pounding on the legs, resulting in faster recovery times. Do I sound like a Midfoot Fanatic??? Of course, I’m only running 20 miles a week, but I’m also doing some pretty intense leg strengthening, and despite this my yams felt pretty peppy. All I can say is “Hmmm…”

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So I’m just collecting information, and remaining curious to see how — or if –- all this cross-training translates into faster race times. At the very least, I can’t remember feeling this good while running in a long time. The thing I remember about my summer training for the Ventura Marathon was that it felt logy. My times were slow, and I couldn’t figure out if it was the heat, orthotics, allergies, or eating meat. I couldn’t string together marathon pace long runs and my recovery runs were dipping into 12 minute-plus miles. Was it tired legs? Maybe I just needed a break? Who knows. In the meantime, the experiment continues.

Here’s what the week looked like. Listed below are just my scheduled workouts — I also did extra upper and lower body, plus stretching, rolling, core work, etc. Oh, yeah, friends, it’s a whole new me. Hmmm…we’ll see.

M:     Upper body/abs workout
Tu:    Lower body workout; run 3 miles
W:     Run 3 miles
Th:    Track workout
F:       Rest Day
Sat:   Run 8 miles
Sun:  Run 6-miles

Total weekly mileage: 20 plus track
Long run: 8 miles (1 HMP)

Hope everyone has a great running week!

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