Life as we know it

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Cutting back

I’m modifying my training program a bit to cut back and take it easy for a month or so.

After hurting my knee last week I decided, on advice of people who know more than me, that I need to take it easy because I’ve spent a lot of my running time nursing injury. And knees are especially tricky. So I’m trying to prevent further incident.

My program this week added a fifth day of running to continue increasing mileage. I decided I’m just leaving that day off my schedule for now, which will maintain or slightly lower my mileage.

In addition, I’m not going to race in August. I’m also working on slowing myself down and concentrating on my form. My right foot points out and thus kicks out when I run and I am thinking that might be the cause of all my issues.

I’m hoping that with these changes I can quit being so intense about it and save my body.

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Another new PR

So I set another PR! This time I beat my old 10-mile time by almost seven minutes. My new 10-mile PR is somewhere around 1 hour, 53 minutes (old one was 1:59:31). I don’t have my official time yet.

I’ve really been looking forward to this race because as my training has progressed, I’ve found myself comparing where I am now to where I was when I ran the 10-mile race in Black Earth in April. So I was really looking forward to racing the distance again and seeing my improvement.

I really didn’t expect to do that well in this race. I was a little apprehensive about my knee, and we were running late to get there! Not a good way to start a race.

My knee feels completely normal, like I never even hurt it. Every once in awhile I have this thing where I’ll be walking normal and get a pain in my ankle, kind of like the pain when I sprained it (I’ve done it a lot, so I know what it feels like), but I keep walking and it goes away right away. I don’t know what it is, but I’m wondering if this knee thing was something like that. I hurt it when I was bending my leg up behind me to stretch my leg out. So I don’t know. I’m still going to redouble my stretching and strengthening efforts and I’m not going to run five days a week, even though my training program starts going five days this week. I’m going to cut back a bit for a few weeks and see how it goes. Though, other than not running five days, I’m not real sure how I’ll cut back. Thats yet to be determined, though I’m not even sure how to determine it.

It was a little nerve wracking getting to this race.

Doug and I were running late anyway because I had to wake him up. He usually wakes up first, but since he’s been sick I woke up first. He was going to decide this morning if he felt up to going. I was convinced he shouldn’t, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He said everyone needs someone there to support them. He’s SO sweet!

So we left late and get down the road, I realize I don’t have my garmin. I really need it to time my intervals, I’m very dependant on my intervals. We go back to get it and finally get on the road at 6:55. the race started at 7:30 and it was 20 minutes away – cutting it close definitely. We got to Waunakee and only then I realized the directions I printed didn’t actually go to the park, just the city center. So we started driving around and ended up on the race course and saw a water stop setting up and asked them, and they directed us. Doug dropped me off and went to park.

I ran over to the registration area and grabbed my number and chip… SIX minutes before the start! And then I had to jog to the start, which wasn’t real close to the registration area. I just barely got to the start in time to stretch a bit and get my number pinned on. As a result of being so flustered from being late, my legs felt like jello and my stomach felt funny. I finally settled in after about a mile and a half though, and realized at 5 miles that I was on pace to set my new PR.

OK, the moral of the story is, if you’re running a race, leave yourself plenty of time to get there early. I’ve done that in every race but this morning was aiming at leaving at 6:40 instead of 6:30. Whoops!

I kept surprising myself with my mile times. I ran at least one mile that was around 10 minutes. My last mile was under 11 minutes. Despite the rough start, I really felt good during this race. I’m thinking a lot about the 10K I ran in Deforest, wondering what I did differently, and I have no idea. I guess that wasn’t my day and today was.

This race might have been my favorite I’ve run so far. The support along the course was awesome. Even though I was at the back of the pack, everyone I encountered made me feel like a rock star! In the neighborhoods there were lots of people who had set up sprinklers by the road for us to run through, or who were handing out water, or even both! No one could have gotten dehydrated on this race. Good thing, because it was pretty humid.

There were also EMS workers cruising the course on ATVs. As I progressed, I was confident in my knee, but I also decided if I was going to get hurt in a race, this is the one to do it in. Not the best thought, but at least good to be aware of.

The only thing I didn’t like about this race was that they only food they had at the finish was bananas! WHY only bananas? I paid $28 to register, surely they could provide SOMETHING else? There was a booth set up that was selling food, but how many runners bring money along to races?

Anyway, I think the Waunakee race will be a yearly one, as long as I’m able.

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10-mile race Saturday

Well, I ran today and my knee seems fine now. But I’m not going to treat it like its fine. I’m sure this is like my achilles was, where it started hurting a bit and then stopped, only to come back when I increased my mileage.

In talking to my friends on the runner’s world online community, I have decided I need to cut back in some way. I’m just not sure what way that is.

I am, however, still running the 10-mile race in Waunakee on Saturday. I don’t want to waste my money, and I want to get my T-shirt. I’ll see how my knee feels, but the desire for a new PR is there. I will likely just take it as easy as I can, though that’s easier said than done.

I am going to cut down on mileage and probably number of days I run. I’m also going to redouble my efforts to stretch and strengthen my legs. I’m really starting to understand how all these muscles go together, but then I’m baffled at why my knee hurts to begin with. I’ve already been strengthening and stretching.

One of the girls online told me that knee pain is associated with uneven muscle strength, likely the hamstrings aren’t as strong as the quads. And thinking about that, I have noticed that my hamstrings have seemed more tight lately. So I’m going to change up my hamstring stretches a bit to something that will be more effective. I think I just might not be doing my current stretch quite right.

I’d also like to try actually going in to the gym and using the machines once or twice a week. Those machines work better than I do, I’m sure.

I’m hopeful that cutting back the running and increasing the stretching and strengthening will prevent another round of sports medicine and physical therapy. I am finally through the neuroma and the achilles tendonitis. I’m really hoping I don’t have to add runner’s knee (which, coincidentally, is not exclusive to runners) to that list.

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Am I jinxed?

So it was in April, right after I had written here that I only had two months to go until San Diego, that I had my first indication of achilles tendonitis.

Well, I suppose its just ironic that this time around, a few days after I write my “two months to go” entry for Fox Cities, that I hurt my knee while running?

I’m wondering if I’m jinxed. It was Monday I wrote my two months out entry. And I’ve been feeling so good lately, I’ve been talking about how I thought I could run fox cities and then train to a full, if I didn’t have to go inside for the winter.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with my knee. I’ve felt little twinges on the outside of it before, in the spot that indicates an IT band problem. But it always went away.

Today at the beginning of my run, I felt that twinge on the outside of my knee again. I stopped and stretched and it seemed fine. But about a mile and a half farther into my run, when I stopped to wait to cross a road, I bent my leg up behind me and a pain just shot through my knee.

I ran a little bit more, and then stopped to stretch again. The pain was still there but seemed to diminish. At one point it seemed like it was all gone. Then my knees got sore again, but it felt more like the usual soreness I get at the end of a run.

It was at about mile 2 that I first had the shooting pain. I should have just turned around right then and went home, but I didn’t. I ran my planned 7 miles. I have no problem skipping a workout if I need to, but I have never been able to make myself cut off a workout early. Actually, I have done it, but only once.

I’ve iced it and taken ibuprofin. It doesn’t hurt to walk. It only hurts when I’m bending it if I’ve been sitting too long. When I really feel it is when I’m standing up or sitting down.

Obviously I’m annoyed. I’m trying to not jump to the worst conclusion yet. Hopefully I’ll take a day or two off and it will be fine. I’m upset I have to take time off though! Why do I get injured just when I’m feeling really great? My achilles hardly gives me any problem anymore and my neuroma has gone back into dormancy.

And its my right leg, the one I’ve had all my other problems.

If my knee doesn’t hurt in the morning, I think it might still be a good idea to take the day off running, but it will be hard. I don’t know what to do.

I do know I don’t want to make this chronic, whatever it is. I’m finally doing everything right, and I still have these problems! I just hope rest is all I need and I don’t miss much training. And I’ll be really upset if I have to miss my 10-mile race on Saturday.

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Two months to go!!

And I’m feeling great. I ran my first 10-miler since the race and it went well. Today I could tell I was running faster. I am feeling so much more confident. I’ve come back from injury and learned from it.

As annoying as achilles tendonitis has been, ironically it has benefited my training. The exercises I am doing are really making me stronger. That has been very apparent in my last few runs, especially.

I’m feeling like I could run fox cities in two months and then just keep training for a full. Of course I can’t race in the winter so it would have to wait.

So far so good, but that’s what I said two months from San Diego and then I had my neuroma and tendonitis. But hopefully that won’t happen this time. I have experience on my side.

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A good long run, considering

I was right. I ran by myself this morning. I sulked about it for a little while, mainly because I was embarassed. But I ultimately decided it was OK. For these group runs, they leave a jug of water on the route and the leader stays until everyone makes it back. I appreciate both of those things.

But I really didn’t have reason to be embarassed. I think I might go back when I can. I just don’t think I would go unless there are people going a few miles farther than me because I don’t want to make people wait too long.

And really, my run was very good despite the high humidity. I am not sure my clothes have been that wet after a run and I was glad I did it early. I wouldn’t have done anything later in the day. I was actually cold toward the end of the run and when I actually stopped.

My running intervals were under 11:30 the whole time and I did 10 miles in 1:58. I didn’t even think about using a gel until about mile 6.5. I wonder why that was? Maybe I’m getting stronger? I can tell I ran harder today because I have been more hungry than than I usually get after long runs. And its been the whole day. Usually the hunger goes away later, but its still here. I’m sure the conditions I was running in had something to do with it along with my intensity.

Unfortunately my hamstrings and achilles tendons, both of them, are sore now. My arms are too. I was hoping to run a bit tomorrow but I might have to swim instead or rest.

My feet are sore too. I’m starting to get concerned about both of them. I’m starting to wonder if I need yet another new pair of shoes. My feet have stayed unusually sore after runs. But it could just be the distance. Really, most of my training runs before San Diego were 6 to 8 miles, and most now are 4 to 6. So I guess it will shock my feet more when I go that much longer.

But I do wonder if I should be concerned, just because of all my foot problems. I’m going to get some new socks, so maybe that will help. And I really need to tally my mileage in these shoes. Maybe I’ve passed the magic number without realizing it.

Or maybe the toll on my feet is another result of the heat. Its supposed to cool down this week, I think, so hopefully that will help put me back to normal.

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Trying a new running group

Tomorrow I’m embarking on either a 9- or 10-mile (I’ll decide when I get there) long run with a group organized through Fleet Feet Sports, the store I bought my latest running shoes from.

What I really liked about Team in Training was training with my teammates, even if we didn’t all run together. So I’m hoping this group will do the same sort of thing.

But I’m kinda nervous. They say any pace is welcome, but I know I’ll end up by myself. It would at least be nice to meet some new people before and after the run. People are doing anywhere form 6 to 14 miles, so I would think some people would still be around by the time I get done. Maybe some people have breakfast after or something? We’re meeting at Panera.

It will be interesting for sure. It will also be on another part of the Capital City Trail that I haven’t run yet, so that will be cool to see.

I’m undecided about 9 or 10 miles because I cut a run short Tuesday because of the heat, so I could add a mile tomorrow to keep my scheduled total. I don’t know if I will or not. I have my 10-mile race next week so maybe it would be better to keep it at 8. I’ll just decide when I get there.

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Hot days

Extreme heat has come to Madison. The past three days the highs have been 88 or so. Now Madison only has a week or two of these temps per year, so I’m hoping this is almost done.

On Tuesday I was going to run 5 miles at noon and shortened it to 4. Wednesday I went swimming instead. And this morning, I got up at 9 to try and run early.

I’m not sure how well running early worked. It was definitely hot already at 9:30 when I was getting ready to start my run, though not as hot as it got later. I suppose it went well, though realistically I should have cut this one short too. I was on a loop course though, and my thought is always if I keep running, I’ll get done sooner.

Overall I felt OK. But from how my body has felt since then, I doubt I was completely OK.

I got really sleepy later in the afternoon and after I went grocery shopping I ended up shoving lots of salty food in my mouth, along with chocolate, though I don’t think thats what I really needed. I drank two electrolyte drinks instead of one and just kept eating. I couldn’t believe with how much I had eaten that I still got hungry for dinner really early.

Later in the night, my body is sore all over and I believe my feet have swollen. My shoes started to really hurt early in the evening so I loosened the laces and then I had to take them off for awhile. I don’t know what thats all about. I still don’t have them tied. My feet hurt for a long time this afternoon too, before they swelled.

Overall, I know running in the heat is going to wreak more havoc on my body than running in cooler temps.

I don’t know if I should be concerned or if I had some sort of heat-related problem. I’m more inclined to think my body was taking care of itself by making me eat all the salt. I don’t know the whole science of it, but I do know the salt/water balance is important. But I’m thinking my swollen feet are a sign that I went a little overboard.

Tomorrow its supposed to storm and I’m trying to decide what I will do to work out. I am joining a new group for my long run Sunday, so I could run tomorrow or Saturday. I’m not getting up early though. I’ll have to see how my body feels, but I will likely rest, cross train, or use the treadmill.

I really dislike the treadmill though. I try to avoid it because I know a time will come when thats the only way I can run.

Could be worse though. I’m really glad I didn’t end up with a worse health issue and I’m really glad these hot days won’t last too long. In fact, tomorrow its only supposed to be 82!

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My running goals

I set a new PR at my 5K on Sunday or 31:33. A 10:10 pace, I didn’t think I could run a race that fast.

I only walked three times, very briefly, maybe a minute and a half total for all three. I kept running, setting landmarks for myself that I’d stop when I got to this building or this sign… but I kept running!

I was hoping to improve my time, but I didn’t think I’d improve it by that much! I took three and a half minutes off my previous time. I also didn’t expect to run the whole race. I had wanted to train for that, but hadn’t gotten the chance.

I can tell I’ve come a long way.

This has gotten me thinking about my running goals. I don’t know that I’ve really had truly defined goals, other than finishing my first half marathon.

But maybe I should make some time goals? Pace? Running a certain distance without walk breaks? Increasing my intervals maybe? I really don’t know.

I think I can start incorporating some continuous running into my training for my short runs of three to four miles. I wanted to run the whole 5K, and maybe I can work up to a whole 10K? That might be pretty far off, but it would be a good thing to work toward.

I don’t know what kind of time goals I would make other than beat my previous times. I’m interested to see how I do in the 10-mile race I have the weekend after next. I’ve been comparing my running now to how I did in the 10-mile race in April. So it will be interesting to see how this race of the same distance compares.

One thing I might try is increasing my running intervals. My switch from running five minutes to running six has gone very well. I wonder how much I could increase? On Saturday I ran some 10-minute intervals to get a little harder workout into a shorter time. So I could definitely change up my workouts with that and maybe find a better running method for Fox Cities.

Its good to change up the workout anyway, so branching out will only benefit me.

Another goal that needs to be on my radar is to be careful and listen to my body. I cut my run short on Tuesday because it was too hot and my body was just tired. My achilles was also a little sore. I’m almost injury-free and I want to be all the way injury-free and keep it that way.

I’m guessing my main goals will be constantly changing. Right now I’d say my goals are only the time goals. So my goal for Fox Cities is to beat 2:40. For my 10-mile race, I want to beat 1:58. And I’ll use the other things, interval, continuous running, etc, to help my training to get to those times.

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Injury-free, sort of

Well, the good news is I don’t need a cortisone shot – yet. The bad news is the neuroma is just going to hang around. The shot is more for pain and all I have is numbness… so the neuroma is just going to flare up when it feels like it and my foot is just going to feet weird. I don’t need to cut back my training unless I start having more pain.

I also had my follow up on my achilles, and while the doctor was only with me for three minutes, I guess I’m cured. I don’t have to go back. The doctor was kind of mean saying I should have cut back my mileage – though he didn’t say that the first time I saw him. He said as long as I’m careful my tendons could handle it. I guess this is something that is more of a concern the longer it sticks around. But I really think the worst of the tendonitis is gone. It just gets sore at times. I think this is just how its going to be and I’m OK with that.

So I’m sort of injury free. I have slight plantar faciitis, where else but in my right foot, apparently from wearing flip flops too much. I’m going to lay off the flip flops for awhile and wear my regular shoes with the orthotics, which should take pressure of the neuroma and also take care of the heel pain.

I need to continue my exercises for the achilles, but its definitely improved. But its not perfect yet. So I’m sort of injury free.

I do wonder, however, when I should be concerned about the “sort of.” Like maybe I should cut back even though I’m feeling fine to run. But I don’t want to cut back because I’m at a point where if I’m not running, I’m just not motivated to do anything.

I’m modifying my training plan to get an extra cutback week and a taper before the half. And when it hurts, I’ll rest. I just don’t know if I should be more cautious when it doesn’t hurt.

For tomorrow, I’d like to run five miles. But with all the poking and prodding of today I have been a little sore, so I might have to cross train instead.