Run Fast… or Faster

When I started this blog, the named came pretty easily for me. I have always liked to run fast, and if not fast, faster. Slow runs were not my forte – I got bored, I sped up, I didn’t enjoy them. Basically 13 year old me and (now) 29 year old me aren’t any different. 

When I started training for longer races, including my first half marathon, I thrived on workouts that let me use my speed. Recovery runs, though important, didn’t really exist. My second half marathon (my PR) training involved plenty of speed and recovery was done by tossing in spinning classes. It wasn’t really a planned effort, but more just because I loved it. Granted, I ended the race with an injury, but I don’t think for one second there was a direct correlation between my training and injury; my form paired with weak glutes was the driving force. 
Since then, I’ve become a more educated runner. I have tried to do the “typical” training plan. I’ve tried to increase my mileage and consistency. I’ve paid a coach to write my training plan. I’ve hated it. 

I’ve taken a good four months off from structured running — much like I did last year. I’ve started to get the itch to race again, but not so much for the full blown running schedule of 5-6 days a week.  So the past few times I’ve gone running, I’ve made it a workout; obviously I haven’t been out there back to back days killing intervals. After realizing I really loved it — I’ve always been a girl who loved running intervals on the track, or hitting tempo miles, etc. — I figured maybe I need to figure out how to approach this for training. Could I do it?

I remembered hearing about the FIRST method (The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) which is captured in the book “Run Less, Run Faster”. A quick Google told me it might be exactly what I was looking for in a plan and at something like $10 on Amazon, I was buying it. 

Here I am, a week after starting the plan, and I’m pretty happy about it. I won’t lie, I’m following a loose interpretation of it right now. I’m not using it to PR, but I need something to follow to get me back into where I want to be.  I know if I jump back into a plan, specially this one with the level of speed required of me, I might end up injured. Also, CrossFit is not one of the recommended crosstraining activities — but that’s OK. I know my body enough to know when and what to modify, if I need to, plus we have cardio equipment I can use before/after workouts or during open gym. Plus, one of our friends has a rower in his basement that I could use. 

Running with D is still a thing!
So basically right now, I’ve done all 3ish workouts this week. One I did on my own before realizing I was starting this plan — it was about 50% of the actual workout but it was better than nothing. Plus I haven’t been running much lately besides my dog’s pace, so I’m fine with cutting these workouts short to start. Second workout was supposed to be a 3 mile tempo (not including warmup and cooldown). I didn’t adjust for the high 80s temperature with humidity, or the fact that I haven’t run this speed in 4 months and turned it into 2 mile repeats with a breather in between. And my five mile run was actually just three, and I’m okay with that, too. 

My “goal” race is the Turkey Trot 8k on Thanksgiving, with a goal of feeling strong throughout.  So really, following the plan right down to every rep and pace isn’t going to make or break it. Next week I’m going to start to add CrossFit back in — I’ve had a little shoulder ouchie lately that keeps going away and then I test it out, and go right back to square one. So I decided to take a full two weeks off, get a massage, and see how that feels. 

It feels good to be back, but I did not miss the amount of dedication my legs require from the foam roller. 


Lift heavy or heavier?

Finally I can check one thing off my imaginary bucket list – a CrossFit Competition. Last Saturday I went in with no expectations or goals aside from “don’t die” and “don’t fuck your shit up” (a staple phrase at our gym). 

As an in-house competition, it was all members of the gym so for the most part we all knew each other. One of the members works for an organization which helps families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with so many different services. Our donation to compete, along with tons of raffles went directly to the organization. I think nearly double the amount was raised from last year — it was a great showing. 

The event was organized with 6 heats — the coaches, RX men, RX women, scaled men, and 2 of scaled women.  We all completed three workouts. The fourth was not announced til the top 4 in each division were determined, as that would be to find the top 3 in each group. Spoiler alert: I didn’t even come close to competing in the final workout (no surprise there!) Each person competing has a judge watching their movements, and depending on the workout, helping load the barbell. 

First workout? Six minutes to find a 2 rep max hang clean with front squat. 

The thing with lifting for me is that until now, I haven’t lifted consistently to know what my max for anything is. So I usually start low and just kind of go up 10 pounds; sometimes I get a little gold star in the app showing my PR. Sometimes I don’t. 

PR – right before the squat
I started my six minutes at 55 pounds and told my judge (who’s also a coach, and my massage therapist) I’d go up 10ish pounds each try and my max was once at 80lbs for a clean and jerk — last year. I worked my way up to 80 and had two minutes left. We loaded up 90 and I couldn’t shrug the bar up, I knew I was fatigued and at the max I could lift. We decided to wait for :45 left on the clock to give one more go. I managed to clean it up once, knew I had another rep to go and I could likely nail out two squats in the time.  I can’t complain about a PR in the middle of a complex, and for two reps! 

Wall balls
I had about 45 minutes before the second workout, which J came to watch. They got progressively suckier too, by the way. Second workout was for time: 40 calories on the rower, 40 dumbbell snatches (10lbs for my scales division), and 40 wall balls (10lbs).  I love rowing and did fairly well, the snatches were pretty easy at 10lbs when I’m used to 25lbs in class, but those wall balls? Fuck, man. My quads were on FIRE. I was excited to finish well, but sad to realize I wasn’t hitting the mark on the wall so while I finished ahead of people, I technically scaled the scaled and was last. I was frustrated but after watching the video, it wasn’t likely I would’ve hit the mark 40 times even knowing that. And who wants to do more work than necessary knowing the next workout is coming and you’re not even going to finish in the top four? (Not me.)

Final workout? I was thankful to have a time cap on it — as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes: 400m run buy in followed by 10 thrusters at 55 lbs and 10 burpees box jumps (step ups for the scaled people). This one terrified me. I can run. I can do burpees. I can do box jumps. Thrusters at 55lbs? 10 of them? Repeated? Uh, not so much. 

So I ran. Being one of the runners at the gym, it’s like the only thing I really excel at and can finish ahead with ease. Then I got back inside for my thrusters and it suuuucked. Thrusters, if you’re not familiar involve a squat into a shoulder press, back into a squat, repeat. When you’re out of breath from even a slower 400m (probably ran it at 8:00/mile pace) to jump into a weightlifting maneuver that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath is hard. It’s harder when the weight is heavier than you normally lift for this many reps. But I did it. The limiting factor in my rounds/reps was my strength at that movement. I did 2 rounds and a few reps, so two full sets of both thrusters and burpees box step ups, plus a few more thrusters. 

Then, I ate food and died. I finished second to last, so there’s that. Ultimately, the biggest achievement for me was that I signed up for this. I did it. While I’d come to class and was never ashamed at lifting sometimes half of what my female peers lift, I never felt ready to just do a competition. Also, the whole training for races kind of put a damper on that. While CrossFit has been a great tool to keep me healthy while running, you can’t be good at both. You can supplement one with the other, but it’s not feasible to continually give 100% to both. 

Oddly enough, how I felt after last weekend was very similar to how I felt after Chicago. Sore as fuck, but proud as fuck… And yes, hungry for more. 

Rehabbing and New Goals

In the past six weeks or so, I’ve been focused on rehabbing a little nagging “injury” and setting some new goals for myself that aren’t about running. HELL YES FOR NEW GOALS. 

First, let’s talk about my dumb hip. My hips have always been weak areas #typicalrunnerprobs. My left side has always been the dumber side but this time, it’s my right. After a workout at the gym in the middle of May, I felt a little off. I did box jumps rather than step ups for the first time ever and I’m going to blame that. While training for races, I’ve always opted to do step ups instead of jumps because I’m already stressing my body enough with running.  But I had already started to switch my focus off running and figured now was a good time to challenge myself.  Well, I’m paying for it. 

My last 5k — with Lifting Bae (Heather)
Since that time, I’ve been dealing with a slight pain on the outside of my hip if my walks or runs go beyond 2 miles. If I stop and rest (as in lay on the couch) it goes away. And it literally only hurts during those two activities. I tried the chiropractor for a month thinking things were out of alignment and I did get better, but once I took two weeks off and ran a 5k, the pain was pretty high up there on the “How much does this suck?” scale. 

I just met with my physical therapist yesterday and have some unilateral exercises to do because of the uneven tightness in my quads and hamstrings.  It seems to be I may have some low back issues going on that aren’t specifically an “injury”, but are signs to back off and recover before getting an actual injury. So here I am resting a couple more weeks before I run again and seeing what happens. I’m relieved that I’m in a running hiatus right now because I am totally NOT bummed that I can’t run (and totally happy nothing else irritates it!)

Onto the more exciting thing — new goals!

It’s always been a goal of mine to be able to do a pull up, even since I went to my first CrossFit class 4 years ago. As I haven’t been attending classes regularly, nor have I actually practiced the movement, I haven’t achieved that. But this summer? I’m going to get it. 

I already got my goal a couple months ago of being able to deadlift my body weight, which was a low key goal of mine. I know, I know, so many people can double & triple their body weight but I’ve always been a runner, so this is a big goal for me. Next up? I want to squat and also clean my body weight. I’m only about 30 pounds off it on my front squat, so pretty sure I can nearly back squat it today if I tried.  Right now it’s not in the programming as we’re focusing on front squats and shoulder presses to get ready for Fran.

Also, further goals — my first competition! It’s next Saturday! It’s an in house competition, so it’s not anything too crazy but still a little scary.  I think I now understand how new runners feel at races when they feel “slow” in comparison to the field. I get the “I don’t want to be last!” mentality and just like I tell anyone in that scenario how nobody will care or notice or think differently if you are last… I’m trying to tell myself that as well. 
It feels good to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’m enjoying all the little gold stars I’m getting next to my name at the gym now. It’s funny — I wouldn’t be able to run for a couple days after going to the gym because … ouch. But now that I’m going 3-4 times a week, I could easily come home and go for a run because my muscles don’t feel as dead as they once did. Maybe all along I could balance both running and CrossFit, I just needed to get my body used to this first? Hmmm……