Sunday, November 29, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week Two

Week two of my off-season really flew by! I'm sure it's partly because of the holiday week, but I can't believe it's already time to start adding in running and strength training again. We were blessed with beautiful weather, and I feel like I took advantage of it as much as I could.

I'm also very pleased that my bothersome right leg seems back to normal. Two weeks ago, I would notice some twinges while hiking. It wasn't pain, or even discomfort, but I could tell it still wasn't quite right. But I realized after my hike in Friday that I hadn't felt it at all. If running this week aggravates it again, I will back off, but I'm feeling very hopeful about my recovery!

Sunday, November 22
Hiking the Hills (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 6.3 mi

This was a very enjoyable hike on a portion of the Buckeye Trail, and it included lots of hills, as the name suggests! It sounds like one ranger leads a similar series of hikes year-round (though the name changes based on the season), so there were lots of repeat hikers, and the rangers was very popular. We also got to do a short off-trail section, which was pretty fun.

Monday, November 23
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief
Yin Yoga for Deep Relaxation and Stress Relief

I knew I would be doing more hiking in the days ahead, so I made sure to spend some time on my mat.

Tuesday, November 24
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - All Levels Total Body Stretch

Wednesday, November 25
60 min walk

I got dismissed early from work at 1:30 (woohoo!), so I made sure to get out for a long walk in the sunshine. It was very pleasant in the 50's, and it was great to get some vitamin D. Afterwards, I did some Thanksgiving cooking, with a lot of time on my feet, so I was pretty tired by the time I went to bed!

Thursday, November 26
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Minute Full Class for Flexibility

We didn't have to leave for Thanksgiving until 12:15, so it was nice to have a lazy morning.

Friday, November 27
Black Friday Hike (Cuyahoga Valley NP), 5.9 mi

This was another hike on a section of the Buckeye Trail. We finished about five seconds before it started raining. Thanksgiving is fun, and a great time to see family, but it was so nice to take a couple hours for myself in the morning and spend them outside in the fresh air.

Saturday, November 28
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips and Hamstrings
Yin Yoga for Neck, Shoulder, & Upper Back Tension Relief

I did these videos while watching some late-night college football, which seemed like an excellent way to close out our three day Thanksgiving celebration. (Obviously, I had today off too, but I've mostly spent it taking care of stuff around the house!)

Walk Miles: 3 mi
Hike Miles: 12.2 mi
Yoga Time: 4:02
Total Time: 9:47

I'm really pleased with how much active time I had again this week! I don't know why I ever thought I would have to be a couch potato if I stopped running, because it's not true at all.

I did consider whether I truly wanted to add in running and strength training this upcoming week, or if I only felt compelled to because I had set that timetable before the marathon. While going for walks and doing lots of yoga has been super fun and relaxing, I have found myself craving a bit more intensity. It's been a bit harder to fall asleep a night, and I've missed the feeling of breaking a good sweat.

For this week, I am planning to run three days, strength train three days, and hike one day. I downloaded the Zombies, Run app, as well as the Nike Training Club app, and I'm hoping these "programs" will give me enough structure to keep me happy, without making me feel like a slave to a training plan!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Off-season Recap: Week One

This week marked the beginning of my "off-season" from training. We haven't signed up for 2016 races yet, but our first race is pretty well decided. I won't need to jump back into marathon training again until January 4th (starting around the New Year makes me happy because I'm OCD like that!), so that means I have six whole weeks to fill.

I was worried about feeling lost, but so far I am having an absolute blast. After focusing on training for so long, it's fun to use my fitness to be active - just because. I'm waiting at least two weeks to start running again to allow my leg time to fully heal, and I'm more than okay with taking more time off running if needed. My goal is to be 100% again when 2016 hits, and if not running is what I need to do, not running is what I need to do.

Until then, I have been going for walks, hitting up my yoga mat, and fitting in hikes when I can (which basically means the weekends, since it gets dark at 5 now...). While I have the itch to run, it's also nice to give myself a break. I've been listening to an audiobook on my walks (I can't focus enough on them when I run), I've been watching funny videos while doing yoga (I know, I know, not the best way to do yin yoga but it makes me happy), and spending a lot of time on my feet at a low HR while hiking. I'm also developing some new hiking callouses to go along with my running callouses, so my feet will look absolutely spectacular soon!

Sunday, November 15
1.2 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Runners - Hips & Hamstrings

We flew home around 9 AM from Atlanta and were home before 12, even with a stop to pick up a pizza, which was a nice travel day for a change. We had plenty of time to unpack, do laundry, and run to the grocery store. I made sure to fit in a walk and some yoga - both were slow and gentle after racing the day before, but I felt surprisingly good Monday!

Monday, November 16
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga to Restore and Reboot

Tuesday, November 17
1.4 mi walk
Yin Yoga for Anxiety and Stress

I read some creepy SAR stories posted online around Halloween (I don't why I thought this would be a good idea, since sometimes even the old Scooby Doo can be too scary for me), and I've been getting the willies about going to wooded areas alone ever since. This is a bit of a problem because I'm surrounded by woods when I walk and run. I decided to face my new, stupid fear by walking through the wooded patch right by my house.

My new headlamp is excellent, but I didn't realize how creepy seeing eye-shine would be. Two deer were standing right off the path, on eye level with me, and picking up their eyes just about gave me a heart attack. But I did feel less creeped out afterwards. (Though I had some rational fear because I'm pretty sure one was a buck and it is rutting season, the last thing I want is to get gored!)

Wednesday, November 18
1 Hour Yin Yoga Full Class - Total Body Stretch for All Levels

It was incredibly windy outside and started pouring as soon as I got home, so I opted to just spend the evening on my mat.

Thursday, November 19
3 mi walk

I went for an hour long walk Thursday since I didn't go out Wednesday. It was still pretty windy and cold, but not nearly as bad as the day before.

Friday, November 20
Yin Yoga for a Deep Stretch - 45 Min Full Class for Flexibility

I didn't quite get in a full hour of activity because MSU had a basketball game at 7. Yes, it is now the time of year when our random basketball schedule dictates my life! However, I did fully get into square pose (which apparently is the real name for what I've always called half lotus) on my right side, which blew my mind. Maybe I'm getting a bit more room in my hips.

Saturday, November 21
Extreme Hiking (Mill Stream Run Reservation), 6.8 mi

This was my first group hike out of several I have planned in the coming weeks. It was at one of the two mountain biking trails in the Cleveland Metroparks system, which made it interesting for hiking, since it is built specifically for biking. (Hiking, in either direction, is always allowed when it's open, though the bikers have to go one direction. I'm surprised this is the case, because it seems like a recipe for disaster, especially when the leaves are out and visibility ahead on the trail is super low.)

I spent half the hike stuck behind a group of three of the loudest women ever and can now tell you about all their drama. My favorite was when one of them complained that someone who wanted to join her masters rowing team was too out of shape, yet none of them could keep up with the ranger. It was interesting to count how many people sidled past them when we took a break. Once I snuck around them, the hike was much more enjoyable.

I'm really glad there was a ranger leading this, because the trails were confusing, plus we took a hikers-only connector trail that is not on the map. I'm not sure I would call the hiking "extreme" after what I've done in other parks, but hiking on a trail not specifically designed for hiking was a fun challenge. It sounded like the ranger changes up the configuration, so I will definitely check this hike out again when it's offered.

Walk Miles: 7 mi
Hike Miles: 6.8 mi
Yoga Time: 3:36
Total Time: 8:56

Looking back on this week, what I'm most surprised about is my total time, which is near what I get to during peak training weeks. But I feel so good after nine hours this week because it was also spent on low to no impact activities done at a low HR. I've always thought taking a break would mean having to spend lots of time on the couch, but that's not the case at all.

This coming week I have three hikes scheduled, so I will probably spend some extra time on my yoga mat. The rumor is I get to leave work incredibly early Wednesday, so I will probably get outside some extra time then and enjoy the (predicted) sun.

I will try to get my Chickamauga race report up this week, but in case I don't, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 14 (Lots of Rambling, Little Running)

I'm once again really bummed to report that my bum leg derailed yet another week of training. I did specifically opt for more rest, hoping to feel better for my race on Halloween. I ended up only running on Saturday and rested the other days.

I did feel much better on Saturday, but still not really the same. The pain is now tolerable enough to run, and I can run much more normally, rather than limping and hobbling along. However, that certainly doesn't mean I'm healthy.

I don't want to spoil anything for this coming week's recap, but when I tried to run yesterday, my heart rate was once again sky high, I assume from my body processing the stress of the leg while trying to maintain what is normally my easy pace. I think the leg will stretch out and be better after about 5-7 miles, but it's not ideal.

Obviously, I'm pretty upset and disappointed that I put in such a good training cycle and was in such good shape, only for it all to fall apart at the end. I'm still contemplating what my race strategy will be, and I have some ideas about how I will tackle marathon training in the future, both of which I will hopefully cover in future posts. Either way, the chiropractor thinks weak and inactive glutes are the root cause - which seems perfectly reasonable to me - so I will be making some sort of home glute routine to try to prevent this from popping up again.

However, I thought I would be more distraught than I am. Even though running long distances can sometimes feel like a chore, I guess I really do love the training, if not getting a pay-off at the end doesn't bother me all that much. I know I will be able to complete the marathon under the time limit and most likely can't cause any significant harm. If I couldn't race at all, I would be much more upset!

I do have, most likely, a six week "off-season" coming up after Chickamauga, and I'm already planning fun, active things to fill it with, which I think is really helping my mental state. There's so many cool outdoor things to do here, and I feel like I've ignored them all because of marathon training. This could probably be a whole post by itself, but I plan to take a lot more advantage of these opportunities in the off-season, and hopefully find a way to incorporate them even when I start training again, ie - maybe do a ranger-led hike instead of run.

I'm also beginning to contemplate what I'll have to do once it snows. I'm thrilled to work so close to the Towpath now, but it is not plowed in the winter. I also have a feeling the farm roads around our house where I have been doing almost all my running will be lowest priority on the plow list. I don't mind running in our neighborhood, but the most you can do in a loop is about two miles, or three via an out-and-back. This is fine, but this will probably get really old!

Luckily, there are lots of options for winter sports really close by, plus lots of chances to get instruction! I would love to learn how to snowshoe and cross-country ski, because I think they would be really good, fun substitutes for running, and are much lower impact. While it looks like snowshoes can bit a tad pricey, cross-country skis are way cheaper than I ever expected, so if I want to invest in these as choices, it won't break the bank. There are super affordable rental options nearby for both (like $5/day for snowshoes and $15/day for skis affordable!), so I plan to try them out once we get some snow. Skiing under the stars on the Towpath after work sounds pretty magical to me!

Run Miles: 3.1 mi
Total Time: 28:04

Sorry for this post and its many tangents, but I feel like it was a lot more interesting than regaling you with all the ways I'm icing my leg with a bag of carrots. If you do winter sports and have any tips/suggestions/ideas, please let me know! Because basically the only thing I can do right now is snow tube - not exactly perfect cross-training!