Twin Cities Marathon Week 9 Training Recap

As has been my reoccurring theme for the past few weeks, this week’s training didn’t go exactly as planned, mostly with my mental state. This “injury” has certainly taken me on a strange journey which includes my own klutziness. (see Tuesday)

So…here is how last week’s runs went down:

Monday easy run with fartleks
I felt pretty good (knee included) the whole time. The fartlek’s in the middle were tough but actually a lot of fun. Also, my pace for the cool down was 30 seconds faster per mile than the warm up, not on purpose of course.

Tuesday tempo intervals
There were all kinds of signs that I shouldn’t have cancelled my PT session so I could run, from drained electronics to a speed bump. After my first tempo interval I decided to head inside for no good reason. If only I hadn’t. :) I didn’t pay attention and a speed bump got the better of me. Before I could blink I was on the ground. I didn’t too much damage. I headed inside, cleaned myself up and finished the run including the tempo intervals. Now, however, I’m left with a goose egg like bruise on the front of my left hip, a bruise on the inside of my right knee and a couple scraped up elbows. I don’t know how I did it but the most damage I managed to do was the bruises. I’m very thankful.

Wednesday easy run
I almost didn’t run. I had a rough night’s sleep and my right calf was still tight so I decided to hit snooze a bunch of times. When I got ready to take a shower I decided to go for it. I actually felt really good through the run. My calf is still a bit tight so I’ll be working on that.

Thursday PT
This was a good appointment. She gave me some really tough exercises. I even bought a stability disk and resistance bands to work on my balance issues going forward.

Friday tempo run
This was an interesting run. 95% of it was awesome, everything functioned as it should. (My right calf was a wee bit tight at points but not bad.) I did my new normal-start outside, run most of the rest inside and then run back to my car. About 5 minutes before I finished a knee (don’t know which one) gave way. I had to grab the treadmill to right myself but by the next stride I was back up and running and finished no problem. Then when I was running back to my car it felt like something was wiggling/fluttering on the outside of my knee, weirdest feeling ever. Nothing hurt although my knee was a little sore after. Everything’s fine now, better than recently actually but it weirded me out.

Saturday short tempo
This was an interesting run. I look forward to running in the daylight next week. I think everything went well. I was able to maintain the goal pace fairly easily. However, I did feel that same weird fluttering around the outside of my kneecap that I felt Friday in the last 5 min. I wish I knew what it was. Other than that, this was a pretty good run.

Sunday rest
I’m on vacation. I took this day super easy and totally enjoyed it.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 8 Training Recap

Mentally and physically this was a much better week. That’s always a good thing when heading into taper.

Monday easy run
This was a tough run mentally. I had a rough night’s sleep and thanks to the gradually shortening day, this run was all in the dark. I didn’t really struggle with my knee, thankfully, but didn’t really enjoy the run. I got it done though.

Tuesday PT
I wasn’t as impressed with the regular appointment. They were good exercises and I’m planning to incorporate them into my daily routine. I just don’t have enough money to keep going regularly.

Wednesday tempo intervals
The knee felt pretty great. I started outside but finished the intervals inside. (I’ve got to get over this motivation hump.) The first interval was super hard. Once I uploaded the data I discovered why. I was supposed to hit 7:20. I got to 6:55. Whoops. The second interval (inside) felt just a bit too easy. Then I noticed that I had forgotten to increase the elevation. “Problem” solved. Towards the last interval, the front of my right hip near the joint felt a bit odd but it went away. Hopefully soon my competitive mojo will return.

Thursday stationary bike
This was an okay ride for most of it. Around the 45 minute mark I had a weird pain in my left knee. (I mean, come on…really?) After a pause and adjustment on the bike, it went away and I finished. Whatever this is, I’m so over it.

Friday short, fast intervals
For the first time in a couple weeks everything felt completely normal. I like that. :) These short intervals were super hard as they should be obviously. 100m of recovery just did not feel like enough. I got through all of the intervals as prescribed, no extra breaks.

Saturday long run with fast finish
Several things worked against this run: work forcing an early treadmill run to fit it in, no working AC (creative fan use), and rough night’s sleep. I also don’t prefer our home treadmill because the lowest incline it goes to is 1.5. All that being said, I finished almost exactly as prescribed.

Sunday rest
This is very easy to do.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

According to the original plan, this was going to be my biggest mileage week ever. As usual, plans change. I ended up with about 30-40% less but an answer and a plan. As I mentioned Thursday, it turns out that my knee issues come from a weak hamstring. I’m pretty sure that I caught it early enough to prevent a full-blown injury.

Monday easy run with fartlek intervals
I could tell this was going to be a different kind of training week. If my knee had cooperated, this would have been a perfect run because otherwise I felt great. Unfortunately, my knee was tight the whole time. It felt fine while walking and most of the rest of the day. I’m glad I have an answer now.

Tuesday stationary bike
I took it easy–trying to do this recovery thing right. I felt pretty good throughout the ride and did warm up drills afterwards. My knee felt almost normal. I’m pretty optimistic.

Wednesday 80 minutes easy
This was a difficult run, specifically mentally. I did a lot of praying (both before and during) because my desire is to be okay whatever happens. I had no tightening sensation in the knee. The best way I can describe how it felt is “weird.” There were times during the run that I felt completely normal. Other times different muscles in my right leg felt achey. Yet other times I felt (or imagined) twinges in the knee. Running never became painful but I don’t really know what to make of it. I do know that while doing WUDs (warm up drills) afterwards, my knee did not like the quad stretches. I stopped. I felt pretty low then and even more confused. I had no idea what to do then, hence the PT appointment and thankfully the answer.

Thursday Physical Therapy appointment
Not much more to say here…

Friday stationary bike
My head was in a weird place. I’m not the best with the whole “not obsessing” thing. The ride was fine, pretty good actually. The PT exercises after were “fun” and tough, in a good way. The next thing I need to work on is mental stamina.

Saturday long run
I’m definitely insane. After the week I’ve had plus 100%+ humidity, I headed inside. Another benefit? I could very easily pull the plug if I had knee issues. Thankfully, I had none. Also, the automatic 60 minute limit of the treadmill made it easy to break the run down into manageable chunks and provide an opportunity to get more water. The knee held up pretty well. There was no tightness or pain, just an awareness. I nixed the fast finish just in case. That was definitely a good idea. My legs were super tired during the last 60 minute segment. My form was not that great during the last 30 minutes either. Other notes from the run: I walked just over a minute at each half hour mark to chew my Gu chomps (and managed to leave the remainder at the gym…whoops). I did think about walking a minute per ten during the last thirty but I put the towel back up (to cover the time) and kept running. Even though this week did not turn out like I had hoped, this run was a big confidence boost.

Sunday rest
Definitely took advantage of that

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The Physical Therapy Post

(The title is not quite right but…)

Every runner reaches a point (or multiple points) in their running career where they are either injured, stressed about potential injury, or worried about re-injury after a recent recovery. For the past week or so, I’ve been in the middle position, stressed about a potential injury.

I did what I normally do, played Google Doctor and freaked out a little at what I found and didn’t find. (If someone could invent a real game of Google Doctor that would be amazing.) As usual, I found a couple possibilities but my symptons didn’t quite fit. I’d almost decided that it was ITBS but it didn’t sit right.

In comes physical therapy. I’d searched to see if there was someone local that had experience with runners and found one. The “weirdness” of my run yesterday tipped me over the edge. For the longest time I’ve put off something like this for fear that it would make x,y,z problem worse. Silly. I know.

I headed over there this morning, nervous about what I would find out. Afterwards, I can look back and say that I am so thankful I went.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. The culprit? Weak hamstring(s). (Both are fairly weak but only my right knee has been bothering me.) As the therapist described what the weak muscles does to the tendon and the tendon to the knees and etc, everything made sense. All my symptoms fell into place. I’m so glad I went because I never would have even though to search for hamstring weakness and/or strengthening exercises yet now I have an answer and a solution.

I plan to go back at the very least Tuesday and Thursday next week. (If only I could convert my miles into dollars.) I also plan to start carving out daily strength training time.

That was an added bonus. I learned that one can do everything right-properly fitting shoes, varied running surfaces, gradual mileage progression and etc-but not be able to live by running alone.

Post appointment I actually felt pretty great. Not only do I have an answer but I also have a game plan. (I also have some sore muscles, the good kind of sore.)

I don’t like spending money but this was money well spent. I definitely recommend it.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 6 Training Recap

This week did not go according to plan. I won’t get into the details in this post but I will say that I may be facing a nagging knee issue that could keep me from being able to make a true BQ effort. (Doctor Google says it may be anything from Runner’s Knee, ITBS, quadriceps tendonitis or something else because the symptoms don’t exactly match anything. I’m hoping it’s just tight muscles.)

Monday week 5 long run
The weather wasn’t any better than last Saturday except for a bit more cloud cover. This run started as a mental battle. From the first step I kept telling myself that I could do this. (I lost track of how many different mantras I mentally shouted at myself.) Eventually I settled into the run but I can’t remember when. I was supposed to do some moderate intervals at the end but decided early that my goal would be finishing the full mileage and staying hydrated. When I got back to my car I refilled my bottle and drained a 20 oz Gatorade. Soon after, I decided that I would do walk/run intervals of 9:1 after mile 15 and turn around when I got to 15.5. A parked train blocked the trail so I turned at 14.75 adding one more little out and back before I could finish. After I had my next Gu chomps I decided to get to 17 before walking again, then 19. I ate chomps at both those miles. I walked at 20 then started counting down hundredths. I decided against stopping at 21 and just kept going. I also broke through the “wall” and reached that point where your body just keeps going because you’ve already gotten that far. I’m really not sure how this happened but I clocked my last mile at 8:16. Seriously? Long run success!

Tuesday easy recovery run
I’m pretty bummed. I forgot to mention Monday that I felt a weird tightness in my right knee around mile 12. It worked itself out fairly soon after and I didn’t feel anything throughout the day so I didn’t think about it until that night when I got up to go to bed and discovered that it protested when I tried to bend it past 90 degrees. I hoped a good night’s sleep would help. I think it felt fine when I woke up but I can’t remember. By the time I got to the gym I could feel it. It didn’t really hurt and the weird tightness gradually went away during these three miles (which I know I probably should have skipped) but I’m still concerned. My whole IT Band feels tight. (At least I think it’s my IT Band. My “injuries” never fit the common stuff so I can never figure it out.) So, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Wednesday recovery run + hill intervals walk
It was really weird to just walk but two days off definitely did me some good. My muscles felt really tight. I think I may have some muscle imbalances because I keep having nagging twinges on my right IT band.

Thursday stationary bike
I felt good on this ride. I did lose a little time adjusting the seat but other than that it was a great ride.

Friday tempo intervals
I ran inside because of the dark and the humidity. I could have run outside but I couldn’t work up the motivation. The run itself felt fairly good. The intervals were hard but in a good way. I did decrease the speed a tiny bit on the last interval but put it back up where it was supposed to be by the end. My hip felt a little bit odd but nothing super out of the ordinary. I still can’t tell if I overreacted or not.

Saturday long run
This was an extremely tough run mentally. This run was plagued by weird issues in my right leg. There was never pain but lots of tightness and stiffness around my knee and even a little in the front of my hip. I want to say that it didn’t affect my gait but I’m not sure. I had to decide whether it was a precursor to an injury (cut it short) or just me being neurotic (finish it out and become mentally tough.) I took two breaks: a bathroom break just after mile 2 and a water/mental regroup break close to mile 6. Up until this point I had run all of the miles (except the first) just a little bit faster than my average goal pace. I felt mentally defeated so I walked for a minute with 30 minutes to go and then again at 20 to go. I planned to do that again with 10 minutes to go. A runner I had just passed started talking to me and told me that he read my blog and that I’d been tearing it up this year. Those kind words made me feel a little bit guilty because I’d given up and wondered if I had an injury. Soon after that interaction I turned around and headed back. I felt pretty good considering everything, including the weather, obviously buoyed by the other runner’s kind words. I didn’t walk again and even increased my pace for the final mile. I finished with an exact 8:30 average for the run, my goal pace. I’m really conflicted about this run because I feel pretty much normal after and have no idea why I’m struggling with this knee thing again.

Sunday rest
I have been following this to the letter, stretching and foam rolling. The knee feels normal-ish but I’m hyper aware of everything so I’m not sure.

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Twin Cities Marathon Week 5 Training Recap

This week didn’t feel complete without a long run. Technically I’ll be completing the long run for this week when this post publishes. The holiday provided an alternative to waking up really early Saturday before work or Sunday before church. (By really early, I mean 3 or 4 am at the latest.

Monday recovery/easy run
I know that I gave my Saturday long run everything when I still feel a bit tired on Monday. It made me plenty okay with taking it easy. The run was fairly average. I did wonder at the sanity of another runner who I saw running in the median of the road with no reflective gear or headlamp before the sun came up. The strides went fairly well too though I was a bit tired by the time I got to them.

Tuesday short intervals
These intervals didn’t feel quite as hard as I thought they would. Maybe that’s because I’m used to longer intervals and/or tempo runs? More likely I could have tried to go a bit faster. I stuck with the prescribed range. I also tried to focus on my arm swing. I’m wasting a lot of energy trying to fly.

Wednesday easy run
It took forever to get going that morning. I’d had 3 nights in a row of super crazy dreams which I think made my sleep less than great. I ran inside because that’s most appealing when I’m sleepy. Once I got going, the run felt fine. I definitely looked forward to cross-training Thursday.

Thursday stationary bike
I loved pushing it on the bike. It didn’t hurt to have a distracting episode of Bones to watch either. I also was not sleepy at all. I wonder what the difference was.

Friday tempo run
I started out outside but ended up finishing the tempo on the treadmill at the gym. I don’t know what it is about running in the dark that makes fast paces feel so hard but it felt like night and day when I got inside. When I first started on the treadmill I wondered at the easiness. Hah. That didn’t last long. The 8 min pace did feel easier than attempting to maintain that outside. I know that part of that is the treadmill but I know that a large part has to do with the light. When I finished up the cool down portion of my run outside I felt incredible. Holding a 9 min pace (unintentional since it was supposed to be a cool down) felt easy and awesome. The fact that the sun had come up by this point was not a coincidence. Hmm…

Saturday regular run with 3 hard intervals
It felt so weird to not run long. I really wanted it. The humidity was awful so maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t run long. I felt pretty good considering the humidity and finished with 3 x 3 minutes of hard effort. That hard effort definitely felt hard but I managed to negative split!

Sunday rest
Definitely ready for the long run.

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Amateur Review of the Garmin 220

I’ve had this review written and ready to post for over a month (or two) so I figured it was finally time to post it.

I am not the most technically savvy person so there are likely plenty of features that I know nothing about. Thus, this isn’t a comprehensive review. I’ve written about the features I use most often.

Overall, I absolutely love it and nearly everything I’ve discovered about it. Now to some specifics.

Size My old 205 took up a lot of space on my wrist. I was wearing a watch that didn’t tell time. I’d gotten used to the size since it’s all I’ve ever known. Then I pulled the 220 out of the box and marveled at its relative tininess.

Clock Since I don’t wear a watch, I didn’t care that the 205 lacked that feature. The only time (pun not intended) that telling time mattered was race mornings and getting to the race before it started. I love this feature now. It’s been so nice to be able to flip to the clock screen on race mornings to see how long I had before we were off.

Charging Not only does the 220 charge exceptionally fast but it also gives a percentage. I love knowing how much longer i have to keep the 220 connected. The only thing that I need to remember (I still struggle with this more than a couple months later) is to eject the Garmin before taking it off the dock. It hasn’t seemed to matter yet but I’ve had enough trouble with my iPod not being ejected properly that I don’t want to risk it.

Locating satellites It’s a common complaint from users of older models, the long wait to locate satellites. The 220 does not have this problem. I read an explanation for this on dcrainmaker’s comprehensive review but I don’t have the expertise necessary to explain that here. I used to turn my Garmin on when I pulled out of the driveway to give it enough time to load. With the 220, I can wait almost until the moment I start to run.

Bluetooth Upload If I had none of the other features but this one, I would still absolutely love teh 220. The most frustrating part of using the 205 was trying to get the data to upload to Garminconnect. Now? All I have to do is open the app on my phone and refresh the activities after I’ve saved the run. I’ve read that some people have difficulty with the synching process taking a ridiculously long time with runs longer than 10 miles. I have not had any such problem. I love being able to see my splits and other details right after the run rather than fighting with the device and Garminconnect to get the data uploaded.

Accelerometer I’ve tested this feature out a few times. It’s not quite as accurate as GPS. Okay, it’s not really all that accurate. Actually, it depends on the pace. When I’m running a slow, recovery pace (9:30ish) it measures almost exactly the same as the treadmill. The difference comes from times when I use my arm to wipe sweat or adjust my towel. The accuracy drops off a cliff when I increase the pace. I’m not sure why but the few times I’ve used it on speedwork runs, it measures about a mile off. It’s handy but not all that reliable.

Distance alerts Unlike the 205, the 220 displays the elapsed time in big numbers, easy to see with a quick glance. This works really well with mile laps. As I discovered with some speedwork runs, it’s not so helpful in trying to determine the pace for runs shorter than a mile. There might be a way to modify the data displayed on the alerts but I haven’t done the digging yet.

One downside I can think of is the watch’s lack of a cycling mode. I wore it on my rides on vacation back in July to measure the distance but did not save the activity. That would have messed up many of the records stored on the device. For the time being, this is not a huge downside to me since I don’t do much outdoor cycling. In a year or two when I finally get up the initiative to start training for an Ironman, I’ll likely invest in of Garmin’s multisport watches.

I, even two months on, am still highly satisfied with my 220. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced GPS watch with decent depth of data, this is the watch for you.

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