Sunday, April 24, 2011

Injured, part II

So it turns out I actually am injured.  Ran my second 20 miler in as many weeks yesterday, and ended up in a not good way.  The shin splints (a generic description of symptoms, not problems) is caused by a soleus strain, like I suspected.  And it's strained enough right now there's some visible bruising around the affected area.  Couple that with the general soreness of my left achilles area and it's time to take a break from running.

So swimming it is.  The good news is that I have plenty of time to rest before the marathon.  The better news is that I am in great shape and if I can keep my cardio up with swimming (and cycling, something I'm planning on starting as soon as I can sell my motorcycle) until June I should be in great shape.  I've got two 20 milers under my belt already.  Even if I don't get any more I should be able to turn in a pretty good time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Well, not really.  I'm currently suffering through shin splints (running related, and I'm pretty sure that I don't have a stress fracture) and hip pain (not running related; has to do with a genetic condition).  So I've taken the week off from running.  I'm doing a lot of swimming and cycling instead, both of which I really suck at.  I'll try to run a 20 on Saturday and then we'll go from there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I feel the need for Speed!

In October of 2009, when I was early into my first marathon training cycle, I decided to do a short race to get some experience with race day jitters.  I chose the Susan G. Komen 5k - a rather large race here in Houston that happened to start within walking distance of my office at the time, meaning I had an easy base from which to get changed, drop off stuff, etc.

It was my first race since high school - 15 years, give or take - and it's the race I started the three goal system (one crazy, one reasonable, one non-time).  My goals were completely unreasonable, but I didn't know it at the time because I'd never really done that exact distance as a training run.

I ended up having one of those days that only comes along once or twice a year and ran it in a 21:40.  It was a superhuman effort.  I didn't know it that day, but that time would become something unattainable over the next year.  I tried several times over the next year to break that time, but I never even managed to get under 22:00 and eventually gave up.  I focused on distance and ran two more marathons, leaving the shorter races to others.

This morning I didn't feel a whole lot like running, but that's pretty much how I feel every morning.  Still, something felt a bit off today and I ended up sleeping in.  Thankfully, today was only scheduled to be a simple 4 miler, so I still had the time to fit it in before heading to the office.  In a somewhat groggy state I stumbled out on to the lawn and let my Garmin try to find satellites.  It was a beautiful morning - blue clear skies, cool but not cold, breezy but not windy, refreshingly moist but definitely not humid.  A perfect morning, even.  So I decided to see what all of my training and extra miles and interval workouts and general effort has done for me over the last few months - I decided to try once more to break the 5k record.

I started out perfect - smooth stride, pace slightly slower than I wanted to run at first, consistent speed.  And I felt good.  I had on my loudest and angriest metal playlist and that fueled me right along.  Mile 1 and Mile 2 both came and went.  I got really tired and my legs started feeling heavy halfway through the third mile, but by that time I was sure I was going to beat my own record so I pushed through.

Ended up running it in 20:50.  That's not just beating a PR, that's obliterating it.

The biggest thing, though, is that I feel that this run is repeatable.  The October 2009 race was superhuman.  This race was just human - I can do this again.  I'm not saying I will be able to do it again on any given day - some days you feel better than others and I felt great this morning - but I do think I would be able to go sub 21 minutes on 7 out of 10 tries.

This also means that I have set a PR in all four of my major distances within the last four months.  That tells me my training is having a major effect.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Morning troubles

I hate running in the mornings.

Every morning I get up decide I'm not going to run.  Every morning (planned rest days excluded) I somehow make it out the door for just a few miles.  Every morning those few miles somehow turn into the workout I'd planned in the first place.  And every morning I come back feeling better.

I was reminded of this during my interval session yesterday.  I was feeling generally blah when I woke up and didn't feel like running at all.  So I told my wife I was going to go for a short 4 miler just to keep myself loose.  After the first two miles, I found myself cruising along right next to my interval spot and figured, what the heck, I'll run an interval or two.

And then I not only ended up doing the full interval workout, I did it faster than I've ever done it before.  And I felt great when I got home.

A journalist actually contacted me recently for a story he's doing about running the morning.  I have no idea if anything I say will appear in the publication, but if it does I'll link to it here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Springtime reflections

This morning - April 1 - was a beautiful morning for a run.  The run itself was and I'm not sure I want to talk about it any more than you want to hear the details.  So let's chat about last month instead.

Right now I'm in the middle of as intense a training schedule as I've ever been on, and the running numbers from march bear that out.  I ran harder and farther than I ever have.  Some numbers:

  • I ran 25 days last month.  The previous high was 23 in February, and the previous high before that was 20 in September of '09.
  • My total mileage was 169.48 miles.  The previous high (again, from September of '09) was 140.
  • I spent a little bit over 25 hours running last month.  That's right - over one full day.
  • My average speed was the fastest since May of 2010 - but I only ran 84 miles that month (I was just coming back from my IT injury).
  • I burned - just through running - 24,000 calories.  I think that's like the equivalent of six or seven large pepperoni pizzas.  I lost about 10 pounds too.
I can't say I came through the month completely unscathed.  I do have a bit of nagging soreness in my left calf sort of down low.  That's my bad ankle, and I think it's related to that.  It flared up early in the month, went away, and now is back (albeit milder and getting better) so I'm not concerned yet.  At least not until I look at my running schedule for this month, which has me over 200.