From Blister to Sepsis

Last fall when I ran the Chicago Marathon, I got a blister on my little toe. The poor guy was pretty mangled and bloody by the time I finished the race, and I got it cleaned up in the medical tent and went on my way. While it hadn’t bothered me during the race, it was enormously painful after. I kept a blister block bandage on it to cushion it a bit, but by the Thursday following the race, it was so painful that it kept me awake at night. Since I had to work that Friday, I figured I’d go to the doctor Saturday morning and get it checked out. I thought it was a simple infection and some antibiotics would clear it right up.

As I was sitting in the doctor’s office that Saturday morning waiting for them to write my prescription, I got very nauseous and cold. I figured I just needed to get home and lie down, so I took my prescription and went on my way. The 5 mile drive home was excruciating. Every time I pressed the clutch with my left foot (where the infected toe was), I cried out in pain. I’m usually pretty tolerant to pain, but this was intolerable. I was also shaking all over–not trembling, but a more jarring shaking–and shivering with cold. I also had shooting pain running through my whole body. Similar to serious muscle soreness–that lactic acid buildup kind of soreness–the pain was everywhere. I somehow made it home and stumbled inside to the couch where I immediately covered myself with a blanket and continued to shake and shiver. I remember that I was freezing and in so much pain that I was moaning aloud (and not for dramatic effect for, well, no one, since I was alone). I called my mom and told her something was wrong. I’m not even sure what I said, but without asking any questions, she told me to hang up and dial 911. She later told me that I was barely coherent.

The firetruck arrived first, where a whole lot of firemen took my vitals until the ambulance arrived. My temperature was 96–almost 3 full degrees lower than usual–and my blood pressure was very low. The ride to the hospital felt endless, and even though the EMT was nice and trying to keep me talking, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. At one point, I remember hearing the driver talking to the ER and saying we’d be there in 7 minutes. It sounded like a very long time to wait.

In the ER, I was immediately tested for sepsis, and the tests were positive. My lactic acid levels were more than 3 times the normal rate, my body temperature remained low, and I was in excruciating pain. I was given morphine, but after an hour, the pain returned and they gave me a stronger med to help take the edge off. While the pain throughout my body was horrible, my toe was the worst. It felt like it was going to ignite, and at that point, I would have happily had them cut it off just to take away the pain. It was intense and scary.

Several hours later, as they were getting ready to discharge me and send me home, I finally got up to go to the bathroom. It was only 10 feet away, but I was dizzy and incredibly nauseous just from the short walk. When I told the doctor, he threw away my discharge papers and told me I would be admitted–probably just for a night or two–to be monitored. My blood pressure was too low for them to take me to a room right away, so they kept giving me IV fluids until it came up enough to be considered stable.

I wound up staying in the oncology unit (because there’s no infectious diseases unit . . . ) for the next 5 nights. I was given a high volume of IV fluids to keep my blood pressure up and wound up getting fluid in my lungs from all the excess which resulted in pneumonia. I also had a lot of antibiotics and dilaudid (a narcotic) for my pain. It made me extremely itchy and between that and the infection in my blood, I developed an uncomfortable rash all over my abdomen and back. I was also in a really awesome <sarcasm> bed to prevent bedsores that moved on its own every 55 seconds. Every 55 seconds for 5 whole days. Not conducive to resting at all.

That’s the reader’s digest version so if it’s TL;DR for you, no worries. I’m sure the 4 of you who are interested enough in reading this blog will deal ;) But I needed to recount this to remind myself that I was really sick. The mortality rate for septic shock is 40-60%. There was a serious chance I was going to lose my toe. I had to have a cannula because I couldn’t get enough oxygen on my own, and when I went to a cardiologist for my follow up appointment, he was shocked that I hadn’t been in intensive care. I tend to diminish things, but looking back on this objectively, I can see that it was very serious, and I need to recognize that training hard for another marathon just 3 months later might not have been in my best interest.

Can I run a marathon now? I’m sure I can. Will it be a PR and a representation of me at my strongest and best? Maybe not. Once you’ve had sepsis, your chances for death, even in the years that follow your recovery, are higher because of the toll it takes on your immune system. So for me to think that I’d be back at 100% within 3 months was probably a bit ambitious. But now I know, and I’ll try to go a little easier on myself. I’m still going to continue training (which went fine last week) and try my hardest, but I’m also going to be realistic and honest with myself about what my body can do. It’s just a race, and being healthy is more important than any race ever will be.

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 7

I want to want this race. I want to be excited about it. But I’m just not. I don’t know if it’s the fact that this has been the longest winter ever or that I felt like I was overtraining or what. It’s been a frustrating training cycle, to say the least.

I think the thing that stands out to me the most is that I feel tired and weak more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have good runs here and there when I feel really strong and push myself. But those have be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not especially motivated, even for my easy runs, and the workouts I enjoy most are cross training. Not the best.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

Apple fritters in the car after a long run console me.

I’m afraid I might have a bit of a mental block as well. I read plenty of running blogs and threads, and I know that really successful (read: FAST) marathoners run a lot more miles than I do. Their weekly mileage tops out anywhere from 55-70+ miles, and mine is nowhere near that. So while I began this training cycle with big goals for myself, the realization that my body isn’t cut out for that kind of training has me doubting myself, big time. And really, I know I should be happy with a sub 3:30 marathon and that everything beyond this should be gravy, but it’s not. I want to be better. I want to run faster. I think I can run faster, too. Can I do it with a much lower weekly mileage than most? Guess we’ll find out May 3.

Week 7

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 5 miles, easy @8:35-9:00
What actually happened: 5 miles @8:26
Legs felt heavy for the first part of this, but after I warmed up, I felt ok.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do:
XT or rest
What actually happened: 4 miles @8:32; physical therapy appointment
This will come as a shock to no one, but I decided to run this day because I either had time to work out or walk the dog, and I am a slave to her. It was breezy and mild, and I think we both enjoyed getting out for a few miles.

I will own you and you will like it.

I will own you and you will like it.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do: 
7 miles total with 1/2 mile repeats–6 x 1/2 mile @ 6:40 – 6:43 per mile pace. 2-3 min jog in between
What actually happened: 7 miles total–1 mile warm up–7 x 800 m repeats with 400 m rest for each; 1 mile cool down
6:35–6:31–6:27–6:27–6:27–6:27–6:18
Yep, threw in an extra one for good measure. This was my good, strong workout for the week. I loved it so much that I ran faster than I needed to AND added an extra interval. If only they could all be this good! 

Thursday
What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles EASY
What actually happened: 48 minutes HIIT training
I’ve been missing my strength workouts, and since I didn’t need fresh legs for Friday, this seemed like a good time to squeeze in some muscle work. Just what the doctor ordered.

Friday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST
4 hours in the car and a long day of meetings. Rest, indeed.

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 
20 miles @8:25-8:45
What actually happened: 20 miles @8:31 average pace
The worst. Yet again. It was 17* with the windchill on Saturday morning, and even though I was bundled up, my hands were swollen, numb, and painful by the time I stopped at my car for Gu after 9.5 miles. I spent 10 very painful minutes waiting for the feeling to return to my hands. Damn Raynaud’s! Since I like having 10 fingers, I drove home, changed and went to the gym to finish on the treadmill. It was the worst. If I never run on a treadmill again, it will be too soon. My body felt fine, but I would’ve been much happier if I were able to do the whole run outside.

I refuse to get up! You cant make me!

I won’t get up! You can’t make me!

Sunday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: 45ish minutes of HIIT training
The world is a cruel, cruel place, so I woke up at 6 am on Sunday even though I had absolutely nowhere to be. Since Roo wasn’t about to get out of bed, and Trader Joe’s doesn’t open until 8, I killed time with a workout. My legs felt surprisingly fine after 20 miles the day before, and I finished with a fair amount of core work that I sort of loved.

Total for the week: 36 miles
vancouver marathon week 7

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 6

Redemption! Kinda. This week was better than last week, for sure. I tell you what, though–having an off week really messes with your head. I know I’ve overtrained in the past, so I knew the signs, but it’s hard to get back to a place of confidence and strength in your running after you get to that place where you’re just completely burnt out. BUT, my speed workout and my long run went well, so I think I’m back on track.

My coach also adjusted my training plan, so I’m running 4 days/week instead of 5, which I think works better for me. I’ll still cross train one day, and then probably take 2 rest days. That’s what’s worked well for me in the past. I envy runners who can run 50+ mile weeks and take fewer days off, but I’m not one of them. Which is fine.

The other thing I know I need to work on is all the maintenance work–things like stretching, foam rolling, core work, and hip/glute exercises. I am HORRIBLE at keeping up with them. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the couch watching TV, and I think about doing them. But Roo is so snuggly, and foam rolling is painful so I stay on the couch. So much lazy.

Don't blame me, lady!

Don’t blame me, lady!

Week 6

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 4 miles easy
What actually happened: REST
I wasn’t ready to run yet. Still felt completely exhausted, so I listened to the ol’ body and rested.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: 4 miles easy @8:52 pace
Eased back in with some very relaxed miles. This felt ok, but I definitely didn’t want to run any faster.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do: 
8 mile progression run–start easy and work up to last 5K @7:02-7:08 pace
What actually happened:
 8 mile progression run– 8:31, 8:17, 8:04, 7:50, 7:41, 7:24, 7:08, 7:08
This felt really good. The rest served me well, and my legs were ready to go for this run. The last 5K was definitely challenging, and I had to really push myself both mentally and physically, but I was able to get those last 2 miles at pace so I felt good about that. I really needed a boost, and this run did it.

Thursday
What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles easy
What actually happened: 4 miles @9:15 pace
My right foot was bugging me a bit on this run, and there was no way I could’ve gone any quicker than this. Luckily, the foot pain didn’t linger, but I have been babying it a bit, just in case!

Friday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST
Had some quality time on the foam roller and lacrosse ball. Let me tell you, a lacrosse ball in a tight, knotted TFL is no joke. I’d rather be dry needled any day, but I had a conference for work, and I had to miss PT. Can’t wait to get needled next time!

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 17 miles–first 13 easy, last 4 @7:21-7:25
What actually happened: 17 miles–first 12 easy, 1 ramping up to fast finish (@7:49), last 4: 7:16, 7:18, 7:19, 7:23. My knees were a little sore during this run. I took a freezing 20 minute bath with 24 lbs. of ice while watching the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, and that seemed to help.
The fast miles on this run were challenging, and I had to do a fair amount of zig-zagging and people dodging since I was in downtown DC. Even early on Saturday morning, people need to see the monuments! I also tried to avoid stopping by turning whichever way the crosswalks were green, so I was a little bit all over the place. The last mile I was pretty dead, but after 17 miles, I’m ok with that.

Sunday
What I was supposed to do: 
rest or XT
What actually happened: REST

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 5

There’s no getting around it: this week in training was bad. So bad, in fact, that I considered forgoing the race altogether. Not seriously considered, mind you, but it did cross my mind.

Here’s how it went down: I did my Monday run, nice and easy. Tuesday, I had a little cross training time. Wednesday, I woke up feeling so sick to my stomach that I wound up calling in sick. I never call in sick. Ever. Even after I was in the hospital last fall for a week, my boss had to tell me to take more time off to recover.

I slept most of the morning and felt better in the afternoon, so I decided to go ahead and do my speed work, which involved an 8 mile run with 5 miles at (really fast for me) tempo paces of 7:21-7:25 alternating with @6:51-6:55. That didn’t work out well at all. I know I was probably still fighting off the stomach bug, but it was one of the worst runs I’ve had in a long time. Even with the speed workout the week before, I was able to fight through, and I felt stronger for it. Not so this time around. And while there were plenty of reasons (ahem, excuses) that the run didn’t go well, it’s discouraging to have those runs go poorly week after week.

By Thursday, I was ready for a rest day, so I did my 4 recovery miles at a very easy pace, and told myself after a rest day on Friday, I’d be ready for an 18 mile long run on Saturday.

Saturday morning came, and it was cold, windy, and pouring down rain. Still, I wanted to get the long run in, so I headed out, thinking I’d do a 5 mile out and back on a paved trail for the first part of the run, then finish up around the city for the last 8. It was so rainy that my Garmin couldn’t find the satellites at first, so it was a ton of fun to stand out in the pouring rain and try to get it to reset and work properly. Then, the first half mile of the trail was essentially a giant mud puddle. Then, the rain was absolutely pouring and the wind was blowing, and it was completely miserable. At 3 miles in, I wanted to quit. And for the next 7 miles, all I could think about was how much I hated what I was doing, didn’t want to continue, and didn’t care about pace or distance. I just wanted to go home. So I did. I quit even though I was supposed to run 8 miles more. Just like I never call in sick, I never cut a run short. But I did this time. I just didn’t want it. And the thing is, I didn’t even feel bad about it. While the feeling of failure was there, the relief at not having to continue was bigger.

I’ve talked to my coach about it, and he’s cut down my mileage a bit for this week. I hope it helps. I feel like I’m overtraining, and I don’t want that. I love running, and I want to be able to continue to love it and run for a long time, and I know I won’t be able to do that if I push my body further than it can handle. I’ve always done better with shorter training cycles and fewer miles.

I’m still exhausted today, but I think that’s as much because I haven’t been sleeping well as it is because of the overtraining. I’m going to give it a go this week and see how I do. But if it still feels like too much, I’m going to take a week off. Maybe Vancouver isn’t my next PR race, and I’m ok with that. I’d rather enjoy it than feel miserable and frustrated. Time to reset.

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 3

Week 3 is on the books! The general sentiment around the interwebs seems to be something to the effect of “screw winter,” and I can’t say I disagree. Yesterday, I ran outside for the first time in almost 2 weeks, and I had to bring the last third of my run inside because I wanted to maintain use of my fingers. Remind me of this when I think I want to move back to Michigan again.

I own you. You will move only when I say you will move.

I own you. You will move only when I say you will move.

This week went really well, and although it pains me to say it, I think it’s because I cut out my beloved HIIT workouts. I’ve come to love strength training and even look forward to it, but I was noticing my legs felt much heavier than they should on my speed days. My coach and I talked it through, and I decided to dial back on the HIIT and see what happened. Worked like a charm!

Instead, I’ve made friends with the arc trainer, which seems to be like a stairclimber/elliptical hybrid. I have no interest in the stair climber, and the elliptical makes my feet go numb, so it’s a fair compromise. I’m also taking at least 15 minutes to do core work and hip bridges on my cross training days. Plus, my regular PT appointments have me doing glute strengthening exercises. I know I need to do these more than once a week at my appointments. I KNOW! Baby steps.

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 6 miles @8:40-9:05
What actually happened: 6 miles @8:50 on the treadmill
The treadmill is terribly boring, but the gym was quiet, so I put on the Today Show, set the treadmill to whatever pace 8:50 equates to, and just zoned out. Done and done.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do: 
XT or rest
What I actually did: 45 minutes arc trainer; 15 minutes core work
I have zero recollection of this workout, but if Daily Mile says this is what I did, this is what I did.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do:
Tempo run–7 miles total; warm up; 4 miles @7:25-7:32; cool down
What I actually did: 7 miles total–1.5 mile warm up; 5 miles @7:24; 0.5 mile cool down + PT!!!
I really love running fast, and this tempo work was no exception. Ramping down the HIIT seemed to do the trick, and I cruised through the 4 miles so easily that I decided to tack on an extra one. Leg felt fast and loose, just what I wanted!
I also went to PT, where he fixed me right up. My left glute and hamstring were tight and knotted per the usual, so he dry needled and scraped them, which helped a lot. He also stretched my hip flexors and IT bands, and he wound up needling those, too, which I desperately needed. Then I did: hip bridges on the balance ball, single leg deadlifts, squats with a band, standing clamshells (this is not the technical term, just what I call them), lateral dips, walk outs on the pulley, and probably something else I’m forgetting.
My legs were pretty tired by the time I got there (l usually run first thing in the morning and go to PT in the evening). But, as my smarty pants therapist pointed out, it’s good to work the glutes on tired legs so that I teach them to fire even when they’re tired. Sort of like what they’re supposed to do during the marathon.

Thursday
What I was supposed to do: 
4 miles easy recovery run no faster than 9:05
What I actually did: 4 miles easy recovery run @9:01; 15 minutes core work
I swear I did run my miles easy–I set the treadmill at 9:05 and only messed with the incline so I wouldn’t go any faster! But I did sprint the last 0.1 mile juuuuuust for fun ;) Then I did HIIT work just for my core on the mat, incorporating some hip bridges and side pedestals with a leg lift, which are for the glutes. I was having a bad day and didn’t run in the morning like I usually do, so I needed this big time. Anyone else feel healed by a good workout?

Friday
What I was supposed to do:
XT or REST
What I actually did: REST and lots of foam rolling and lacrosse balling of the hip flexors and obnoxious left glute/hamstring
I wanted to workout (winter makes me stir-crazy), but I also knew that saving my legs for Saturday’s long run was a good idea. I was definitely glad I did.

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 14 miles total–first 9 miles easy (target pace 8:25), cut down on the last 5 miles, running the last 5K @7:45 or better; run controlled.
What actually happened: 14 miles total–first 9 miles easy (8:29, 8:25, 8:22, 8:26, 8:27, 8:18, 8:09, 8:19, 8:32); last 5 miles cut down (8:04, 7:50, 7:35, 7:35, 7:30); finished with .1 @6:31
After last week’s terrible long run on the treadmill, I needed this to go well. Thankfully, it did! I headed out early Saturday with Roo, planning to do the first 9 miles with her. It was about 15* when I started, but I was bundled up and so was she, plus I had hand warmers, so I thought I’d be ok. I sort of forgot about the whole wind factor, and the first 4.5 miles or so into the wind were tough. Between trying not to slip on icy spots, making sure the dog didn’t trip me, and trying to focus on controlling my pace, I was a little stressed. The second 4.5 weren’t much better, and running the 9th mile uphill and into the wind was easily the toughest part of the run.
When I came home to drop Roo off and get myself a Gu, I realized my fingers were completely numb and useless. I could barely open a Gu or get her leash and coat off. Not good. So I quickly changed and zipped over to the gym to finish the last 5 on the treadmill. It felt GREAT, and I was so relieved to have it go well after feeling like I wanted to quit last weekend. I felt fast and loose and strong. If I can feel that way for most of my race, I’ll be thrilled!

Sunday
What I was supposed to do: REST or XT
What actually happened: nothing yet. I might make it to the gym for a little arc training. Then again, we’re having freezing rain today, and it is Nasty (yes, with a capital ‘N’) out there. I might be happy to hang out on the couch with Roo and get some things done around the house. It will depend on how much I want to avoid cleaning my apartment and doing laundry. The lesser of 2 evils and all that ;)

Week 3 Vancouver

Last but not least, despite the fact that I’ve been craving protein, meat is most definitely not the answer for me. After 3 days of adding it back in, all I wanted were veggies. And I was already eating veggies with my meat! Instead, I’m going to stick to beans, nuts, and egg whites (which I’ve eaten all along), plus some cheese here and there. It doesn’t bother my stomach in small doses, and I need the extra protein right now! I also remembered that I have a bunch of protein powder that I need to use more often. I’m so used to making it into smoothies, that I’d forgotten it can be a simple shake that’s a great snack after a run. Now I just have to remember that.

eat everything

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 2

This was an interesting week on the training front. I started out the week feeling ok, but bad weather and freezing temps drove me inside, and I wound up feeling more frustrated than anything else. I’m hoping a trip to a very muddy dog park and a little easy elliptical or arc trainer work will help me reset today. We both need the mental relief after being cooped up all week!

Hibernation mode

Hibernation mode

Monday
What I was supposed to do: 5 miles easy
What actually happened: 5 miles @8:13 (8:15, 8:09, 8:14, 7:58, 8:28)
Let the record show that it was in the teens with a windchill closer to 10 degrees. Not for the faint of heart, and certainly not something I’ll be repeating anytime soon. The last mile was uphill and into the wind because it’s a cruel, cruel world. I think my fingers were in the first stages of frostbite when I got home. Getting the feeling back was so painful that I actually thought I might throw up. All treadmill, all the time until it’s over 30 degrees.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do: XT or rest
What actually happened: 60 minute HIIT workout
I love HIIT training. Felt great during this workout. Even though it was challenging, it just feels so good to push myself in a different way. Always focusing on getting my core, hips, and glutes strong during these workouts motivates me. I think about how it will benefit me during my race and training runs. Also helps that I do these in my living room, and in a rare crafting moment, I made this and hung it on my wall where I can see it when I workout.

we can do hard things

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do: 
Speedwork! 6 miles total — warm up; 1 K repeats @6:51 – 6:55 pace – jog 50-75% of repeat for recovery; cool down
What actually happened: 
6 miles total — warm up; 1 K repeats @6:53 – jog 50-75% of repeat for recovery; cool down
I did what I was supposed to! Yay for me! So, for those of us who operate in miles, 1 kilometer is about 0.62 miles. I did the K repeats with 0.38 recovery jogs to make them even miles because my brain likes those :)
Honestly, these weren’t super tough physically, but mentally, I really had to talk myself through them. For each one, I imagined I was on an actual track and thought about where in the lap I’d be, focused on driving my arms, and tried to just stay in the interval. I also like to yell at myself when I’m tired. As in, “If you want to quit, then quit!” My head is a fun place to be.

Thursday
What I was supposed to do:
4 miles no faster than 10:15 pace
What actually happened: 
4 miles @8:34
Four easy recovery miles on the treadmill. My legs felt great, and I actually enjoyed a nice, relaxed run. My only complaint on this day was the abominably smelly dude who hopped on the treadmill next to mine. It was bad enough that I considered moving treadmills. I think I though I was trying to be nice/not offend him in not moving? In hindsight, I should have saved myself. Always save yourself!

Friday
What I was supposed to do:
 XT or rest
What actually happened: REST
That’s all I have to say about that.

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: 
13 miles @8:25-8:35
What actually happened: 13 miles of hell on the treadmill @8:42 average pace
I wasn’t dreading this run beforehand, but maybe I should have been. For the first 7ish miles (until the treadmill stopped itself after an hour–annoying), I felt ok. Not great mentally, but not awful. I followed these Tips on How to Run Long on the Treadmill Without Losing Your Mind from Runners World–not exactly, but enough to give me some variety. I couldn’t get Netflix to load on my iPad to re-watch season 1 of Scandal (WHY DON’T I REMEMBER STEPHEN?!?!), so I just put on a favorite playlist and tried to relax and enjoy. It wasn’t happening.

I tried out a new pair of shoes (just a new pair of the Brooks PureFlow 2s I’ve been wearing for over a year), and that was mistake #1. I should’ve worn an older pair and broken those in. Silly me. I wound up with a very sore right foot and uncomfortable form for the last 6 miles.

Why have you foresaken me?!

Why have you foresaken me?!

The run was so bad that around miles 9, 10, 11, 12, and 12.5, I considered quitting. When I’m out for a run outside, I never want to quit. I can always push through. I even walked for a bit around mile 11. I just did.not.want.it. And then I felt off for the rest of the day. Just unsettled. Not at all accomplished. Frustrated.

Sunday (today)
What I was supposed to do: XT or rest
What actually happened: Planning on 30-45 minutes on some kind of workout machine at the gym. Elliptical? Arc Trainer? And some core work.

vancouver marathon training week 2

Now I’m wondering how to incorporate strength training while not exhausting myself so much that I struggle through speedwork and long runs. My XT days are always the days before tough workouts, so I don’t want to exhaust myself, but I do want keep up the strength. I’m emailing my coaches today to see what they say, so hopefully I’ll have more to say about this next week.

I’ve also noticed that I am craving protein like crazy, which isn’t surprising at all. I’ve been pretty committed to a mostly vegan diet for over 2 years, but I’ve been craving meat lately. I’m going to try to reintroduce some meats to my diet this week and see how my stomach does with them. Although, I have homemade chicken noodle soup on the stove right now, and the smell is making me nauseous, so there you go. <sigh>

Vancouver Marathon Training: Week 1

I’m not quite as good at blogging as I used to be–i.e., I don’t have the time (or inclination) to post every day–but I’m aiming for at least an update a week. So, here we go!

Week 1 of Vancouver Marathon training is done! Before I get into the specifics of my actual runs, a couple of things:

  1. My coaches have me doing this lunge matrix before I run. It takes less than 2 minutes, and I’ve been surprised at how well it stretches out my hips before my runs. It turns out my left gluteus maximus isn’t firing when I run, so I’m compensating by driving forward with my right hip flexor and TFL (my PT has taught me so much!). The result is seriously tight hips, especially on that right side, as well as a painfully tight glute medius on the right. The matrix seems to be helping some. Plus, it gets my legs moving a little before I ask them to run, which is probably a nice courtesy to extend.
  2. There’s also a whole set of post-run exercises they have me doing. What’s interesting to me is that they’re all dynamic stretches. (In the world where I actually stretch before I run) I’m used to doing dynamic stretches before the run, rather than after. I’m going to ask them about that so I can better understand the philosophy behind this approach!
  3. The last addition to my routine is a series of hip raises and bridges. These are good for both core and glute strength, which I definitely need. The one thing I noticed this week was that my hip flexors were feeling really tight and I could really feel these in my hamstrings. My PT corrected me on these by recommending 2 changes:
    1. Squeeze my glutes before I bridge my hips up. This activates the glute and ensures I won’t rely on my hamstrings.
    2. On the single leg hip raises, he said to bring my raised leg in and put a ball there so I’m not holding that single leg up and unintentionally activating those already tight hip flexors. Since you probably have no idea what I’m trying to say here, here’s a (very apologetic) picture of me to demonstrate:
      Yes, my form is off here, but you get the idea. Also, my ball in this case is a dog toy. Whatever works.

      Yes, my form is off here, but you get the idea. Also, my ball in this case is a dog toy. Whatever works.

      God, that is mortifying.

Onto the training portion of the program!

Monday
What I was supposed to do:
Easy 4 miles @8:40-9:05
What actually happened: Easy 4 miles @8:16 (8:42, 8:26, 8:02, 7:53), outside
Started off ok, but then got carried away. Moral of the story, I suck at pacing.

Tuesday
What I was supposed to do:
Rest or Cross Train
What actually happened: 48 minutes HIIT – workouts 36 and 38-40; mostly upper body and core work
This felt really good. My core was sore that day and the day after, but it didn’t seem to affect my run the next day at all, which is what I was hoping for.

Wednesday
What I was supposed to do:
Speed Fartlek – 6 miles total. Warm up, then 3 miles of 2 minutes on (7:10-7:15 pace), 1 minute off; cool down.
What actually happened: 6.25 miles total on the TREADMILL. 1 mile warm up at 8ish pace, then  4.25 miles of 3 minutes on (7:08 pace), 1 minute off (8:06 pace); 1 mile cool down
Total fail on knowing the workout before I started. I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, but apparently not. Still, the 3 minute intervals felt manageable. I pushed myself, but definitely wasn’t dying. I forgot to do the lunge matrix beforehand, but I did it after along with some static stretches. I don’t love what the treadmill does to my form since I tend to over stride and heel strike when I’m on it, but it’s been too cold to get outside every day.

Thursday
What I was supposed to do:
Recovery run – 4 miles no faster than 9:05
What actually happened: Recovery run – 4 miles at 8:46 (8:59, 8:36, 8:33, 8:57)
I was ready for an easy day by Thursday, and I took it. I did my speedwork in the evening on Wednesday, and then ran these miles Thursday morning, so my legs were fairly dead. Good, though, because I needed to take it easier.

Friday
What I was supposed to do: 
Rest or Cross Train
What actually happened: 24 minutes of HIIT – upper body and core again, just an abbreviated version of Tuesday’s workout; PHYSICAL THERAPY
I really want to keep up with strength training, so I’m trying to incorporate it wherever I can fit it in. This was a quick workout, just enough to (hopefully) help me get strong. I haven’t been doing leg work to keep my legs fresh for running.

I also had PT on Friday, and he dry needled my TFL and hip flexor, plus the crazy knotted spot I have on my left gluteal/hamstring area. It helped loosen things up a lot. I also did lateral dips, side steps, hip bridges, and a few other things that I can’t remember. Oops.

Saturday
What I was supposed to do: Easy long run – 10 miles @8:25-8:35
What actually happened: 10 miles @8:21 (8:29, 8:17, 8:29, 8:12, 8:12, 8:31, 8:19, 8:25, 8:17, 8:17)
As long runs go, this wasn’t awful, but wasn’t great, either. It was pretty cold (around 28* with a windchill in the upper teens), and while my legs felt ok, it still felt like a struggle. Not much to say about this except that I was glad when it was over.

Vancouver Marathon Training Week 1

Sunday (today!)
What I’m supposed to do:
Rest or cross train
What I’m actually doing: REST!
A nap on the couch, catching up on the DVR, and some stretching and foam rolling.

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As far as this blog goes, if there’s anything you’re curious about or want me to talk more about, let me know in the comments! Otherwise, I’m just glad you’re here :)