Monday, March 24, 2014

Crossroads Training: Week Eleven

I celebrated my first week of upping my mileage by not actually run any more miles than previous weeks.
Funny Sports Ecard: I'd miss one of the 67 NCAA Tournament games for you.
And by you, I mean running.
Monday - NROLFW Stage 4 Workout 1B
I switched up the days of my workouts to take advantage of the spring weather. Monday was still pretty gross, so I stayed indoors. I enjoyed that this workout was shorter than the ones at the end of Stage 3 were. I noticed a big increase in strength on some of the exercises.

Tuesday - 5 mi easy
My quads were so cramped I almost face-planted on my first step in front of some small children. Excellent start to a run.

Wednesday - 6 mi easy
I tried my honest best to do a tempo run, but my quads were so cramped my "tempo" pace was edging towards 11 min/mile, I knew it wasn't going to happen. This turned into a run/walk (heavy emphasis on the walk). It was a lot more enjoyable, and I would've done the full seven if my hands hadn't started going numb.

Thursday - Yoga for Hips, Hamstrings, and Back
My quads still had me hobbled, even just walking around work. I tried some yoga instead of running to try to loosen everything up. The hamstring stretches helped by proxy, but I didn't feel that much better afterwards.

Friday - rest
After even more hobbling around, I tried taking the day completely off in preparation for my 20 miler.

Saturday - 20 mi long
I had amazing spring weather for this run! I needed my hat and light gloves but only had to wear my light jacket and capris. The cramping was still there but finally eased up after about seven miles. I got tired shortly after this, so I didn't really have any miles to just zone out during, but that's probably good mental preparation for the race. While I hope and pray this weird issue goes away in a month, I'm not terrified about what will happen if it's still around on race day.

I also noticed a big difference in how I handled the distance in this race. Breaking it into four mile chunks made it feel manageable. I was tired and ready to be done at 20, but thinking of a marathon as that plus one more four mile chunk and the final two feels good. I don't think my time is going to necessarily be much better than before, but I feel like I have a much better base.

Sunday - rest
I was out of town and away from my pool, so I took another rest day instead of my normal swim.

Run: 31 mi, 6:23
Lift: 45:43
Yoga: 26:59
Total Time: 7:35:42

Dealing with this bizarre cramping definitely put a damper on my training this week, but I'm pleased I still had a pretty great 20 miles despite that. It took away a lot of my nerves for the upcoming marathon. And it's definitely nice knowing I only have one 20 miler left outside of races for the next long while.
Funny Encouragement Ecard: There's no way I'd miss seeing you run the marathon unless I get distracted during the 4 seconds when you go by.
Here's to 33 days until Crossroads!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crossroads Training: Week Ten

After battling a terrible cold complete with fever and cough and taking seven days off, I eased my way back into training this week. Other than a few sniffles (some of which were probably brought on by my allergy shot), I felt like I was over my illness.

I did cut back some on the workouts - taking a whole week off to lay on the couch definitely led to some tightness. I also was able to head outside for some runs for the first time in months, and the change in running surface worked a lot of different stabilizer muscles and brought on some extra soreness. But running in the warm sun (hey, 40 degrees feels steamy after this awful winter!) was worth all the pain.

Funny Cry For Help Ecard: The only thing I exercise is my right to be out of shape.
I admit, I realized it was worse than I thought when a coworker today asked me, "Did you go running? You're walking REALLY funny."
Monday - 5 mi easy
This was my first run outside in more than a month (and my first elective run outside in more than two) (and my first run outside where I could maintain a running motion in more than three). It felt amazing beyond belief to feel the sun and listen to the birds while I ran. My legs felt sluggish, but my pace was actually a bit faster than it had been indoors.

Tuesday - NROLFW Stage Four Workout 1A
This workout was nice and familiar, since Stage Four repeats Stage Two, with some modifications. I could really feel the lack of use in my muscles during this workout, but I just focused on intensity. I was still able to go up in weight on some exercises, which was great proof to myself that I am getting stronger.

Wednesday - 3x1600, 800s jogs (+WU/CD)
The weather turned nasty again on Wednesday, so I opted to head back to the indoor track to focus on hitting my splits, rather than how windburned my face was getting. I was admittedly pretty nervous for how the mile repeats were going to go, considering how I felt the previous two days and the amount of soreness that had built up. I was incredibly achy and tight and just off during my warm-up, but that somehow went away the instant I sped up. I haven't felt that smooth and fluid in a long time. Despite my fears, I came in under my goal for all three repeats. (But before you hurt your hands clapping for me, you should know my goal pace was 8:46 min/mile.)

Thursday - rest
My right IT band and quad were incredibly angry at me for being indecisive about which running surface I wanted to use. All my long runs on the track put my right leg on the banked part, so it's still adjusting to extending as far as my left leg. I recovered by sitting on the couch some more and watching basketball.

Funny Cry for Help Ecard: When I die, I hope I'll be doing nothing, so people could say that at least I died doing what I love.
Friday - 4 mi easy
I had been planning to lift as planned, but I decided to make up my missed run from the day before and take advantage of another nice weather day. My legs felt sluggish, and my IT band absolutely ached, which made me pretty nervous for my long run the next day.

Saturday - 16 mi long
I tried to soothe myself for this long run by reminding myself it is favorite long run distance. It was quite cold when I headed it out, but it warmed up enough later that I was able to remove my hat and gloves, and I even got a little overheated in my heavy jacket. I ran the first three miles with a friend who was visiting (with an obligatory stop at the bizarre Duck Hunters' Memorial), and those miles flew by. 

After we split up, I was so content to listen to the sounds of nature I actually made it to mile ten without putting on my iPod. (Side note: I know some runners get really worked up about no iPods, but I didn't realize how much I used it just to prevent noise fatigue from cars until I got to run somewhere much quieter.)

The last four miles got a little too death-marchy for my comfort level at this stage in the game, but I tried to reassure myself that it was just the time off and the change in running surface. My splits did get generally faster as I went on, so I might just need to go a little slower to feel more comfortable.

Sunday - rest
I truly was planning to swim, but my quads were sharply painful. I honestly didn't think I would be able to generate enough power with my kick to comfortably swim the workout I had scheduled. Plus, Michael was visiting, so I enjoyed a lazy morning instead.

Run: 31 mi, 5:47
Lift: 38:00
Total Time: 6:25

This was a pretty easy week, at least time-wise. I thought I would be able to dive right back into training, but I'm glad I listened to my body and took it a little slower. I have enough time before Crossroads that I doubt a week off will affect anything. (I had to take the week before Sleeping Bear off due to illness, and I still finished relatively okay.)

The big test will be my 20 miler this Saturday. I'll be back visiting the Eager Feet Parents, so I'm excited to have somewhere fresh to get the miles in. (Plus their house will be available for any Code Red pit stops.) I'm also bumping up my total mileage a bit this week because I was starting to get paranoid. I know it won't make any real difference, but a nice mental boost will be nice.
Funny Encouragement Ecard: You should only play sports that begin with the word 'fantasy.'
T-5 days until this becomes relevant to my life!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Running Funk

I feel like I am in a running funk. I'm hitting that part of my training cycle where I've done a 20-miler without imploding and just want to get the show on the road. I'm fairly confident I could roll out of bed and run a marathon tomorrow, though it would probably turn into a death march. I'm trying to remind myself another month and a half of work will make the whole experience more pleasant. Plus I know have four marathons scheduled in 49 days, so my time to race extensively is coming.

Funny Sports Ecard: If you want to go running with me, you'd better be prepared to walk a lot. 

I was thrown for an extra large loop of funk last week when I came down with a cold. I don't own a thermometer, but I'm relatively certain I had a low-grade fever on two or three days. Luckily my work is really flexible, so I was able to work from home quite a bit, but it was my busiest week of the month, so I still had to be in the office quite a bit. 

I had very little appetite the whole week (ie eating two or three pretzels for dinner was a major success), so I took the whole week off running, even when I felt better. I had a 20-miler scheduled and felt weird for skipping it, but I would've hit the wall at about mile two. My system just wasn't fueled properl. I have 16 miles this Saturday and 20 the next, so I feel like my preparation is still going to be adequate. 

Which comes to the next part of my funk - my training plan. I chose to use Runners World's SmartCoach for this training cycle. I liked the fact that I could somewhat customize the plan, and it incorporated what I thought of as "real" speedwork. While the plan is perfectly sound, I think some of my current lethargy is coming from the fact no one sat down and made this specific plan. Obviously someone had to right the program to spit out the workouts, but I'm starting to feel a mental difference. I'm not sure why this is bothering me so much; I like to think I'm smart enough to put together my own training plan if my only goal is to finish, but there's something about doing a run because a computer told you to, not a person.

In that vein, I looked at my race schedule and found I have 15 weeks between Hatfield-McCoy and Monument. I had been waffling about what to do - it wasn't long enough to take a break and build up again, but I didn't just want to sit in a holding pattern for months either. I did a little research and bought myself the Hanson's Marathon Method book.

It would supposed to arrive today, but it got stuck because of the snowstorm. I'm excited to dive into it tomorrow. I'm familiar with some of the plan's key tenets, but I'm eager to learn all the specifics. The plan is supposed to be 18 weeks long, but I read that the first few weeks have much lower mileage and encourage you to mesh your current running with the plan rather than the other way around. I'm incredibly anal retentive and wish I would be able to follow it 100% exactly, so I'll have to let that go.

I'm really hopeful that giving every run a purpose and a specific pace will reignite my passion for training. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to spend my unplanned rest day watching Big Ten basketball.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crossroads Training: Week Eight

This past week was a step-back week and did it ever feel great. I know building for three weeks is typical for most plans, but I've never done it before, and I can definitely feel a difference in my fatigue levels.

Monday - 6 mi easy
My calves were feeling very tight after my long run, but the track goes the same way on Saturdays and Mondays, so I didn't feel that much better afterwards. I did stay long enough that the basketball games below me finished, and the following peace and quiet helped me recharge.

Tuesday - NROLFW Stage 3 Workout 4B
This was the last workout for Stage 3 of NROLFW! I wasn't exactly looking forward to repeating the sequence again, but I was motivated to complete the stage. The music at the gym was a lot quieter than normal, so I could comfortably listen to a podcast the whole time, which helped stave off the boredom.

Wednesday - 6 mi easy
I wasn't super thrilled to run six miles at the track again, but I felt a lot more fluid in my hips than I have in a long time (probably inhibited by the banked turns). The track was a lot more crowded than normal, so it was probably for the best I was doing an easy run instead of speed workout.

Thursday - 6 mi easy
Another day, another six mile run.

Friday - rest
Rest day! I took a day off from lifting and watched BBC on Netflix with my friend instead.

Saturday - 6 mi easy
I can't even begin to describe how great it felt to only have to run six miles on my long run day. I didn't necessarily go that much faster, but I had a spring in my step.

Sunday - 2800 yd swim
I had a great time swimming with my friend (and not just because I didn't have to share my lane with any weird people). It was so nice to know no one was going to crash into me, plus we hit up the sauna afterwards. We were going to use the hot tub, but it had no water? Still don't understand that one.

Run: 24 mi, 4:25
Lift: 1:08
Swim: 2800 yd, 1:15
Total Time: 6:48