I’ve been transparent in my struggles with maintaining consistency in my training, so this week shouldn’t be too surprising. Sunday’s run was a strugglefest. Does this “comeback” thing ever get easier?
I wish I was doing the blog “thing” when I trained for my first half marathon so I could reflect on what struggles I had when starting to run again. I did have a blog, but it was entirely Buffalo Sabres related, and while it was fun, I always kind of wanted a running blog, long before I knew running blogs really were a thing (clearly, I was behind the times). I remember some runs being the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I also remember running not being such a challenge with getting out the door. I definitely had less responsibilities than now, or so it seemed. In fact, looking back, life was so different three to four years ago – suburb living, sharing an apartment with a now ex, working a job that ended at 3:30pm, taking grad classes… I feel so much more “adult” today. I honestly can’t believe that life was my life when pictures/statuses/tweets come up on my TimeHop every day. Who was I? [This is what gin infused blog posts look like, folks. Don’t blog and gin.]
Monday was chilly outside, but I knew I had to get out there due to a busy schedule this week. If I missed one day, my entire week would be thrown off and I know I’m not in the place to make up a run before work yet.
I warmed up with some Functional Range Conditioning (really trying to make a solid effort to do this daily) and outside with ankling. Despite starting off at an ‘easy’ tempo, absolutely nothing was ‘easy’ about this run. I wheezed, my right calf and hamstring felt tight, and my form felt forced. The only thing I thought about during this run was my form. I knew I was still overstriding, so I thought about my cues to myself as landing “behind” me; overkill would hopefully help. I attempted to record myself, but I was only able to get about 20 seconds due to the cold air – my phone actually shut off! I ended up running just over 4 miles, not including warm-up or cool down.
Tuesday was CrossFit Endurance and in my opinion, the best class we’ve had thus far. After our warm-up, we did about 50m strides as Chris recorded us on the iPad. I felt confident in my form, despite the “stride” feeling really tough. Will speed ever come back to these legs? We went inside, watched everyone’s videos slowed down with lines drawn over our center of gravity and above our heads. Despite my confidence, I was ultimately shuffling my feet, bouncing up and down way too much, and still overstriding. Sigh.
We then started the workout – 3 sets of 400m run (it’s actually just over .3 miles) and 21 kettlebell swings. On the final run, Chris taped us again. (Yay! I’m tired! Let’s look at my form!) As I came around the turn and saw him standing there I thought about every single thing I needed to fix and hoped something would stick. Upon review, I still overstrided, I wasn’t leaning enough (despite feeling like I was legitimately falling forward) and I still bounced up and down, but I was driving forward with my knees more! So with concentration, I was 25% improved!
I really enjoyed breaking down my form, but the class was a tough reality for me. Anybody can run, but to really learn the biomechanics behind it, including more efficient ways of doing it… it’s hard. Feeling like you’ve made strides (no pun intended) and discovering what you envisioned isn’t happening, well, it’s just draining. I went home feeling pretty upset, but I’ll blame that on the raging hormones (hooray!) more than the critique. I love the critique, but it sure is frustrating. Shower beers for everyone after nights like that. (I’m sensing a theme this week, yikes.)
Wednesday was the Olympic weightlifting class. It was a different group of people than the first one I took and suddenly, I felt incredibly out of place and uncomfortable again. Some of the people that showed up have been doing this sort of thing for a long time and here I was thinking, “just give me a PVC pipe, please.” The class was focused on the Clean and Jerk. You can imagine my reaction when I learned that I’d be shoving a weighted bar over my head in a split stance. No. Nonononono… no.
Well, just like your parents (hopefully) always told you – don’t judge a book by its cover. The Clean and Jerk looks so intimidating, but it’s actually a heck of a lot of fun! In all honesty, I felt more comfortable doing that than the power cleans two weeks ago. I love everything about learning these movements, especially since reading about what Olympic weightlifting can do for me as a runner (more on that soon!)
I had a run scheduled for Thursday, but the weather was less than desirable (hi Spring, come see us in Western New York!) and I felt kind of run down. Typically, Thursday is a great rest day for me but with Friday and Saturday booked, I decided to put a run on my calendar. If we’ve learned anything in the past two months though, it’s that I don’t follow calendars… I most certainly enjoyed my rest.
Friday and Saturday were also rest days. J and I went to see Phantom of the Opera Friday, which was a Christmas gift to me. We did dinner beforehand, which we were both disappointed in, as our belated Valentine’s Day dinner. Fortunately, crappy dinner or not, we just enjoy each other’s company and the night was fantastic. On Saturday, I met some girls from work for a wine tasting day… and I bought gin. One winery had a citrus infused gin on the shelves and since we were the only ones there, I asked the guy what the deal was with the gin — he poured me some to taste. I was blown away. I’m not a gin connoisseur; I have two bottles on my bar cart – one cheap, one decent quality – I can’t tell the difference. But this stuff left aftertastes of orange peel and awesomeness in your mouth. It was well worth the $35 (I cringe still) pricetag.
Of course, day drinking completely throws off that day and the next, unless you’re some kind of superhero. I tried to sleep in Sunday, but it was too sunny. I laid on the couch for about three hours whining via text to J about absolutely nothing other than the list of things I didn’t want to do (read: anything that involved leaving my couch or bed). I don’t know what did it, but I eventually laced up, warmed up, and headed out for a run. Looking at my training log, I knew I should log about eight running miles. Yikes.
I tried to not look at my watch often, just glancing to see what ‘easy’ felt like and was shocked when it was continually clocking off sub 10:00 miles, given what my training paces have been this winter. At mile 6 or so, my left hip started to get tight and I could feel my legs becoming tired and lead-like. My legs were so exhausted that occasionally, my sneakers would clip the cement on the swing through phase of my stride. Finally with a mile to go, I decided I needed to make a solid attempt at fixing my form. It was tough to maintain focus because it requires such physical effort, but I knew that was what I should be doing.
Despite the exhaustion, I focused on leaning at my ankles and the driving of my knees came with it. I glanced at my watch again and noticed my pace dropped another :30 per mile, and I cruised to my “finish”. My cool down was a quarter mile walk to the cooperative market and the half mile walk home. It’s funny because there was a day when 8 miles was just another run, but today, these 8 miles felt like a PR attempt in the half marathon. I walked that store like a mindless zombie – total fog in my brain and a definite slump to my gait. Afterwards, I failed at an ice bath (it’s just too cold in Buffalo still), made a quick dinner, and laid on the couch for the rest of the night sippin’ on gin and
juice tonic. My furthest run since February 2014 was a success – an exhausting, exhilarating success.
I’m really happy with the week of training I had, despite my three rest days in a row. It’s really hard to balance CrossFit and running when you’re a fragile, injury-prone snowflake. Slowly, I’m increasing the workouts and intensity but man am I ever tired these days. I need to add more iron in my life, again. Even though I hopped onto the longest strugglebus I’ve experienced this week, I managed to hit 15.4 miles (which always includes my warm-ups and cool downs, regardless of walking or running) and two hours of CrossFit. It’s a weekly high mileage in probably 19-20 months and everything that’s ever been injured on this body feels great. Tired, but great. This just makes me all the more confident that my training is working and I’ve finally found a good balance in my life.
The goal this week is to not let the mileage dip. I really need to find whatever motivation is necessary because the following week is definitely a cut back since it’s the LOLZ wedding and I can’t guarantee what my running situation will be. Fingers crossed for a strong week ahead — I’m looking at 17-18 miles. I don’t even know what that kind of mileage is like anymore.