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Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

On Sunday I ran for the first time since the Green Mountain Relay – almost 2 weeks to the hour.  Part of my lack of running has been a purposeful rest; part has been forced on me with the onset of mild plantar fasciitis.  The run was supposed to be the first group run for locals running Boston 13.1 with Team Up with Autism Speaks.  I had been delinquent in getting a schedule out, so this last minute group ended up being a group of one.  I contemplated going home when nobody showed up, but I knew that I needed to get some miles in.

The run was awful – 6.2 miles of tired legs and weak lungs mixed with a serving of  “why am I doing this?”  It didn’t help that at the end my feet were not happy.

How the Hell am I going to lead these group runs over the next ten weeks if I can hardly walk?

I’ve been fighting this PF now for about two, maybe three weeks.  Looking back, there were twinges well before Sugarloaf, but it really kicked in a couple of weeks ago – the intense pain getting out of bed in the morning, the discomfort walking.  I was forced to stop wearing my flip-flops.  That just about killed me – I can’t stand wearing normal shoes when I’m bopping around town; my feet tend to overheat.  About a week ago I took to going barefoot around the house.  When I would take the dogs out for their walks, I wouldn’t bother putting on shoes.  At first it was a little tough on the soles of my feet, but eventually, I got used to it.  Although the pain in the morning and after sitting idle for extended periods of time didn’t go away, moving about became less painful.

Then came Sunday’s run.  I did not have a good time.  There was nothing redeeming about that run except that I ran.  That was it.  I started to think that maybe I would just run on Sundays with the group, painting a grin on my face if I needed to.  That didn’t sound like fun at all.

***

Over the last week, several of my running friends have offered remedies for my plantar fasciitis.  Some suggested tennis balls.  Some suggested frozen water bottles.  Others suggested going to a chiropractor.  Some suggest orthodics, special shoes and socks, even taping up my feet.

I tried the frozen water bottles.  They felt good while I was rolling my feet on them, but I’m not sure how much they really helped.

One suggestion that kept nagging at though came from my buddy JB.  You may remember JB from the Vermont 50, the Super Sunday 5-miler, the Quincy Half and Sugarloaf.  He is a VFF (Vibram Five Finger) runner (he ran the Vermont 50 in Vibrams – Rock STAR!!!).  He suggested that I pull out my old VFF’s and go run until I burned the Plantar Fasciitis from my feet.

Hmmmmm…. I thought, that could be interesting.

I was hearing conflicting suggestions about how to treat PF – more support! less support! more support! less support! more support! less support!

After Sunday’s run (in Kinvara 3’s – which I do like, though not as much as the originals), I was willing to try anything.

BUT, being the kind of person who rarely half does something, I decided that if I were gonna go the less support route, it was going to be all the way.

So I put this old pair of shoes on:

The oldest pair of footwear I own.

My plan was to limit myself to two miles.  Initially, running barefoot or barefoot style can be tough on the lower calves.  I made the mistake of running three or four miles the first time I put on a pair of VFF’s and I couldn’t walk for a week.  I was nervous as to how my soles would hold up.  Would it hurt running on the sidewalk and street?  Would I be able to avoid pebbles and glass?  Would I rip up my feet?

I knew I needed to take it slowly, but amazingly, my first mile was faster than any of the miles I ran on Sunday, coming in at a comfortable 8:09.  Having reached the turnaround point of my run, I did a quick self-check – lungs? good. legs? good. feet? just fine!!!

I decided to could go another half mile before I turned around.  When I reached that half mile, I was tempted to go even further, but I knew I ran the very real risk of overdoing it.  I knew that I may have already overdone it.  So I turned around and headed for home.  As I hit two miles, I looked at my Garmin – 8:04.  Not bad at all!!!

I decided to pick up the pace just a little – to see if I could manage a sub-8:00 mile barefoot.  To my surprise, at one point, I was running close to 7:40 pace.  When I reached home, the final mile came in at 7:55.  3 miles in 24:08 – not bad for my first barefoot run ever.  Afterward, the calves felt a little tight, as did my hips.  Hopefully the stretching I did will help speed recovery so I’m not in too much pain in the morning.

As I sit here and write this, I really want to get back out and try this barefoot thing again.  Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a hot spot on the ball of my foot, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of building up the soles a little.  I’m going to force myself to take the day off tomorrow but I am determined to give this barefoot thing another go on Thursday.  Who knows, maybe by Sunday I’ll be ready to take the Team Up with Autism Speaks group on their 75 minute run without my shoes.

This could be a whole new chapter in my evolution as a runner…

I’ll keep you posted.

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Unintentional

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It’s been almost a week since my last run.  I’ve officially only missed 4 runs on my training schedule and am most likely to miss a fifth tomorrow.  Although I am starting to feel a little antsy, I don’t have that sense of urgency that has driven me in the past.

When I wrote a couple weeks ago about losing my mojo, many of you left me comments saying that maybe my body was just trying to tell me something; maybe after training all winter for Boston and then starting right back up a few weeks later for another marathon, my body just needed a break.  At the time I took it all in intellectually, but in my heart I did not, could not accept that.  Giving lip service to the idea that I may have needed a break, I decided to rest on my scheduled recovery run days.  All I ended up doing was pushing myself harder on my other training days.  It worked – for about a day or two and then my body finally said, “Enough!”

For the last week, the little aches and pains that simply come with training – those badges of hard work I wear so proudly – have intensified a bit.  They are not debilitating by any means, but they are uncomfortable.  For the past week I have been waking up in the mornings and simply letting my aches and pains dictate whether I would run or not.

The answer has been clear:

Rest.

Heal.

Truly recover.

And so each of those mornings I have done just that.  I did not set out to take a week off, but it looks like that is what my subconscious has decided I need.

Despite being only 6 weeks away from my next marathon, I am not panicked, I am not worried, I am not afraid.

This Sunday I hope to go out for a Fathers’ Day long run – no intensity, just some nice, long easy miles.  Maybe I will get back into the training program.  Maybe I won’t.  Either way, I am still signed up for Around the Lake and I will still be shooting for a 3:15.

The next 6 weeks are going to be interesting.


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Itchy

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I took the entirety of last week off from running. My body didn’t fight it. In fact, during the first 5 days after New York I never had a strong urge to put the running shoes on. This is quite unusual for me. In the four previous marathons I’ve run, I have been eager to get right back out there on the pavement the next day, whether I am physically able or not.

I don’t know if it was just the beating I took running the five boroughs or the cumulative effect of running 5 marathons and 3 Half-Marathons in 53 weeks, but physically I just didn’t want to run. I think after what I’ve put it through though, I owed it to my body to listen.

A full eight days out now, however, and I’m starting to get itchy. I woke up yesterday morning and seriously thought of jumping in as a bandit in a local half-marathon that goes right by my house.  I chose to be smart, knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to let the throttle out.  I could have paced a friend of mine as well, but at that distance, at some point I wonder if I might not have felt the need to just go.

Yes, I am getting itchy. My shoes (both my Bikilas and my Kinvaras) are calling to me; or maybe it’s my feet that are calling to them. Either way, before this day is through, there will be miles run.  It is time.

What’s my point in all of this?

Just that after beating your body into the ground, maybe it is best to listen to it when it is asking for a break.  Recovery and rest are no joke.

Like I mentioned earlier, in the past four marathons I have been eager to get back out running as quickly as possible.  I wonder if it that urge has more to do with fear than desire. I wonder if some small part of me was afraid if I didn’t get out there as soon as possible, I simply wouldn’t.  Some runners (and I know I have been guilty of this) also have this irrational fear that if they don’t run as often as possible they will lose fitness*. It can sometimes border on the edge of compulsion.  And seriously, aside from maybe flushing out some built up lactate, I can’t imagine just how productive those post-marathon runs really are.

So this week, I’m taking a new approach. Mentally I know I’m ready to run. My plan for my assault on Heartbreak Hill is coming together. Boston is only (only?) 5 months away.  I may not PR at Boston, but I know I’ll improve on last year’s performance.  My official training cycle doesn’t start until mid-December (or mid-January, depending on whether I follow an 18-week or 12-week program).  Until that training cycle starts, I’m gonna listen to the legs and let them lead the way.

This last week has been luxurious, surprisingly pleasant really.  This coming week I will take it slow and easy.  And if my legs are ready? Next week it’s back to some real mileage…but only if my legs (and the rest of my body) tell me so.

***

How long do you take to recover after a marathon?

***

*I don’t mean the “oh my God I’m gonna gain weight!” fitness.  I mean the “oh my God, I’m gonna lose the ability to run a certain distance at a certain pace” fitness.

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Recovery

People keep reminding me that recovery and rest are part of training. I consistently have a hard time with this concept, despite the fact that I’ve experienced the negative impact of not listening to my body and allowing it to heal, rest and recover.

This last week and a half however I’ve had no choice. 26.2 miles will do that to you I guess. Today I finally went out for a run. Yes, I had gone out for a jog the Tuesday after the race and then again earlier this week, but in both cases, my run was slow and deliberate. My legs would only do so much and that was it. Any harder and my quads would have taken me back to mile 20. I started to have doubts as to whether I could actually run a decent race at this Sunday’s Chilly Half Marathon. I began rationalizing my race results, almost assuming that my original idea of trying to threaten a sub 1:35:00 was out of the question.

So I rested…until today.

And today’s run was sweet. Yes, it was only 5 miles. Yes, I was originally planning to plod along again today. And yes , the first mile was a pokey 8:45. But the moment I started mile 2, something in me revved up. The engine wanted to be let loose.

You see, over the last year I’ve discovered that when I don’t run I get antsy and cranky and grumpy. I start walking around in circles, bumping into walls, just not sure what to do with myself. I think that’s why recovery is so hard for me. I like the drug that is the runner’s high. It’s clean; it’s pleasant and when you’re down from your high, you still feel good. I needed a fix!

So I loosened up the throttle and let the engine rip. By the end of mile 2 I was feeling it. I ran completely oblivious to any pain for the next two miles and then coasted the last mile, riding the remnants of the wave. I never know how long the runner’s highs will last so I milk them for all they’ve got. I ran the last 4 miles of my run in under 28 minutes and the last 3 in 20:20. I haven’t run that fast outdoors for that long since high school, and back then I hated it!

My point is that if I hadn’t taken it easy the last week and a half, I probably would not have had this sweet, sweet run this morning. I’d probably still be trudging along, pulling at my quads and looking at this weekend’s race as a task. I still may crash and burn. A lot can happen in 13.1 miles, but at least my attitude now is that I am gonna try to crush it.

Recovery I guess, as everyone keeps telling me, is a good thing. Now I just hope I can apply the lessons I learned at Manchester and put in a smart race.

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