Tapering for D3 – The Herren Project

 

I am in the midst of tapering for my first race of 2017 at Dawn to Dusk to Dawn on May 13th. It will be my first 24-hour race on a track. I trained exceptionally hard for this race as it represents a lot more than just a race to me this year. This is a comeback. Starting around summer of last year, I had developed a very dangerous addiction to benzodiazepines. I could sit here and say it was the result of the PTSD and anxiety I was diagnosed with, but there’s plenty of non-addicts who don’t go to the extremes I did to try to feel better and function.

I very well could have died from seizures with the addiction hole I had become drowned in. Out of the other addictions I have been through, though they were nasty and uncomfortable, to say the least, none of them had life-threatening consequences like this one did. It was scary. It really has taken me a long time to feel normal again in time to race this spring. Maybe in some ways I’m still recovering from the whole escapade. But there’s no time for that. It’s time to race again.

So much of my training just didn’t feel good, and I felt like I was fighting my body to get out and do the miles instead of thriving on it. A lot of it was emotional. I was mentally exhausted and yet relieved that the people I thought I would lose were still there by my side. But there was the physical aspect. Winter was very mild and with that, the trail I have to train on was mostly mud all winter instead of frozen. It was a real mental and physical battle in so many ways. But I wrote out a plan, followed it, and did the workouts, because this had to happen.

Since D3 is a track race, I knew I had to focus on speed this time. This was hard to do on my muddy trail, so most of my speedwork had to be done either on the treadmill or during my long runs on the local track or paved trails. But when I did get the chance to get out to hit solid ground, I pushed the pace. I also simulated a race environment by setting up a table and preparing supplies so my stops were as limited as possible. These long runs ranged from 40-60 miles, and I set 2 new personal records in the process.

Between the mud at home and the fast long runs, my legs were constantly drained, sore, and fatigued all six months of training. I was also doing a downhill session of 5-18 miles at -10 every 1-2 weeks which always produces at least mild DOMS. I maxed out my peak training week with 170 miles, breaking my 160-week record of last year. But this was only two weeks after hitting a 152-mile week. This was a whole new level of training for me, combining a high level of intensity with high mileage. I kept thinking, if my legs ever feel better, I might see what this can do!

So now, I’m tapering. I’ve been waiting for that sign or signal from my body and my legs that we are going to peak right on time. I do believe peaking is highly mental, but there is definitely a physical component that must join the party to at least trigger the mental aspect. Today, I felt it. I just knew everything was perfectly executed. I felt the rebound effect from healing up finally and the mental focus was unwavering. The speed, power, and mental fortitude are ready to go. It is time.

I put my heart and soul into every race I run. The races ARE me. They define me. I am who I am because of them, so I must be everything I can be to go out there and set foot on the course and give it everything I got and nothing less. Do or die. It sounds ridiculous to some, but I know I have to go big or there’s nothing else out there for me.  (At least until my husband and I retire to go bluewater sailing!)

 

In 9 days I will attempt an epic comeback from an addiction only last year. I will run for The Herren Project, because this is something I need to do. Every mile is representative of those suffering from addiction. There’s such a horrible stigma involved with addiction, and we need to change this! It prevents people from getting the treatment they need.  Please, consider donating to my year-long campaign 24 Hours for Recovery so we can not only spread awareness, but THP also brings a valuable message to schools, provides monetary assistance to those in recovery so they can advance their lives, and provides families with help and assistance so they are not alone in dealing with a loved one with an addiction all on their own.

Transformation & New Beginnings!

After many requests, I’ve decided to bring back my blog! If you’ve ever visited my previous blog, “Breaking the Pace,” then you’ll be quite familiar with my story and this is simply a continuation of that.  All of the old posts which appeared on “Breaking the Pace” have been imported here so as to incorporate all my old race reports as well as the illustrative journey over the years which I’ve taken to get where I am now.

If you are unfamiliar with “Breaking the Pace,” then briefly, my story was simple. Around my 30th birthday, I looked in a mirror, and I saw a woman staring back at me that I hoped never would be. I didn’t like what she looked like or who she was and knew dramatic changes had to be instituted. This led to me discovering a passion for running, and I fantasized and dreamed of running ultramarathons. Year after year, I worked and chipped away at getting my way to the start line of a 100-mile race, but by the time I got there, a new fire was burning inside. I wanted to be a podium finisher one day at one of these races!

Things will be a bit messy around here for a short time while, over the next week, I’ll continue to edit old posts, add missing photos, and will begin to include new race reports and other information that will pick up where “Breaking the Pace” left off. I will also be using this blog to keep you all updated on the progress of my upcoming book, “Breaking 100 Miles,” and the concordant launch of its sister website which provides extreme in-depth guidance and advice on the training and racing process of 24-hour and 100-mile races!

Stay tuned and happy miles! Thanks for visiting!

My First 50-mile Training Run

1231274_10200443655085558_1968927308_n

Sunrise at the dam

Sunday morning at 3:30 am my daughter and I were packing our bags and hydration packs so I could dutifully cross out the “50-mile training run” scribbled on my makeshift training plan.  My longest run prior to this one was 42 miles 2 weeks ago, and it was a tough run.  My daughter didn’t join me on her bike for that one, and I ran it on sections of very boring railtrail for the only reason that it gave me the opportunity to use my car as an aid station at 21 miles.  Needless to say, the difficulty I had that day made me somewhat nervous about doing all 50 miles.  For about a week, I contemplated shortening the 50, but as it came closer I was burning inside to do it.

My husband dropped us off at the trailhead about 5:30 am, and we began to make our way down the trail into the darkness.  It was pretty cool during the predawn hours, but it wasn’t long before the humidity set in.  The trail meanders alongside the river, and as the sun rose behind the clouds, pockets of fog settled along the jetting edges of the mountains where they meet the water’s edge.  We both were feeling good, goofing off, taking photos, and doing what a silly mother and daughter do.

We passed the first dam at about 6.5 miles, and it was light enough that we didn’t need the headlamp anymore.  We continued on down the trail with its very boring, long and straight sections that seemed relentless.   For the first 20 miles, I only took 2 GU’s since I knew we’d be eating real food soon.  It stayed pretty cloudy and seemed to threaten rain at any moment but never lived up to it.  Things were pretty uneventful.  We passed a couple of ladies out doing a run/walk routine which we ended up playing leap frog with for several miles.

1176395_10200438233590024_1116302407_n

Ice cream break!

As we got closer to the city, the early bird runners started etching out the closer miles from the trailheads.  Just as we hit the paved section of trail into the city, the sun decided to make its grand appearance through the clouds.  We stopped at Subway right off the trail and ordered subs, half for now, half to take with us, and of course some cookies for the trip!  We refilled our hydration packs and brought along an extra liter of water.  Mallory had to have ice cream which she couldn’t even finish, and after I drank a Red Bull, we headed back out for the longest section of our trip, the 15-mile out and back.

After covering the 3-mile section of paved trail, we were back onto the crushed limestone trail and its slow, long grade up Decker’s Creek.  Mallory was having a hard time biking the grade.  It had been a good while since she’d been out on a long bike ride and was not very conditioned for it.  To top it off, she was getting increasingly nauseated from eating too much which I had forewarned her about.  She was going slower and slower and eventually was stopping from time to time to dry heave.  We were making very little progress.  Eventually, everything came up, and she took the whole experience amazingly well for a 16-year-old girl!

Even though she felt much better after throwing up, she was still having a lot of difficulty climbing for so long and progress was slow.  I, on the other hand, felt very good, but I did my best to wait for her to catch up and give her walk breaks.  The canopied trail provided nice shade from the afternoon sun, and the creek was beautiful and alive with is gushing rapids.  It was a rather gorgeous day for a long run.

About 29-30 miles in, I became increasingly worried about having enough water.  Mallory ran out of water in her pack as she had drunk a lot early on during her “episode” which I didn’t realize.  I refilled her with half of the 1-liter bottle, but we still had a long way to go and it was only getting hotter.  I checked my pack and realized I had only consumed about half a liter of my 2.5-liter reservoir, but with 20 miles to go in the heat and humidity and only half a liter to spare, it would be cutting it very close.  I had just located a stream and very precariously climbed my way up to it to fill our bottle when a really nice older gentleman cycling by stopped and took notice.  He kindly refilled our bottle.  He had passed us coming up the trail earlier and noticed Mallory was having a hard time.  He gave her some seasoned cycling tips that ended up making her ride a lot more enjoyable.  We were very grateful.  Both of us were feeling somewhat rejuvenated afterwards, and the trail was beginning to flatten out.  Mallory was feeling a good bit better for a time, but by the time we came to our 15-mile turnaround, she was questioning the return trip.

The sky was beginning to fill with chunky, thick blue clouds, and rain almost seemed inevitable which would have been a welcome event.  We crossed over a little trail bridge and sat on the ground to eat the rest of our subs.  Mallory asked me if it was possible to DNF this one.  I reminded her we only had 15 miles or about 3 hours left, and I told her she had to make an honest decision:  Was she quitting because of physical pain, the type of pain where injury is at stake?  Or was it because of mental anguish, boredom, fatigue?  If it’s mental, I said to suck it up. I told her that if she chose to bail, I would understand because I would know that she couldn’t make it.  She elected to finish and probably in large part because she was worried about letting me down more than any other reason.

1240264_10200438234150038_2024759538_n

Trail entertainment

We started the 15-mile trip back, and I was feeling great.  My legs were alive and full of energy, by belly was happy with its cheesesteak sub, and we were cruising along the first few miles without missing a beat.  There were only a few miles to go before it was almost all downhill grade and easy sailing.  I told Mallory to go ahead of me for half a mile and I’d catch up.  We maintained this pattern for the rest of the trip home, and she was having a blast.  I put my headphones on for the first time and started knocking out half-miles with speedplay.  I’d catch up to Mallory who sometimes provided entertainment with a song and dance, walk for a short time, and then cruise along almost effortlessly downhill.  Coming uphill, I did have some minor right hip twinges/pains that were totally new to me, but for the most part they had seemed to subside and hadn’t gotten worse.  We ticked off miles quickly and ate one of our Subway cookies every 5 miles.  At mile 45, I called my husband and gave him our ETA for our pickup.

As we got closer to the city, around mile 46, we were passed by some runners doing speedwork while I was taking a short walk break.  Mallory said, “Go get ‘em momma!”  I laughed, and said I’d see what I could do.  She rode ahead and I slowly started to reel in the slower runners one by one until I caught up with Mallory again.  Without stopping, I pointed at the two faster guys still up ahead, and she beamed back at me and took off in front of me.  I quickly realized these guys were really cruising, and it was going to take a hell of an effort to not only catch up but to pass them.  Initially, I thought there wasn’t enough left in these 47-mile legs to push hard enough, but before I had time to think about it, the beast kicked in!  I finally caught up and “chicked” the last guy running about a 6:12 pace, and it took me a half-mile to do it.  I caught up to Mallory, and stopped to catch my breath.  Only 3 miles were left, and I was ready tIMG_0005o bring it in.  Legs still feeling good albeit a little fatigued from all the speedplay during the return trip, we knocked out the last 30 minutes in no time.

Coming around the bend to the trailhead and my 50-mile endpoint, I could make out my husband standing at the trailhead waiting for us!  It was the perfect end to what turned out to be a great day for a spectacular run.  I think my daughter learned her share of lessons on this one and was also a great bonding experience for both of us.  I recognize that it’s not so much the racing aspect of running that I love, but all the good and bad times that lead up to the races that I truly run for.

Now it’s time to recover and heal some post-run lingering twinges before resuming training for a couple weeks.  Then it will be time for taper and race day!

Training for 50-Mile Race

I’ve been training to run the second day (October 12) of the multistage event, The West Virginia Trilogy, which entails a 50k, 50 mile, and half-marathon over the course of 3 days.  I thought I’d post a little bit about how I’ve been training for the 50 miler.  I wrote my “base” training plan based off those in the book “Relentless Forward Progress,” and then modified them to fit more of my style of training and race specificity.  I do tend to slightly modify my training plans from week to week, but generally I do not skimp on mileage but instead increase it or add harder workouts depending on how good mentally and physically I’m feeling.

IMG_0006

Post Highlands Sky 40 I built base mileage back up to about 50 mpw before I really started training again.  Since I had such a strong base coming out of HS40, I gave myself 11 weeks to train for Trilogy 50 mi.  The original plan was to peak at 70 mpw, but the volume was feeling so good with no sign of injury that I ended up hitting 100.  It really felt like the more volume I did the better I felt physically and mentally with running.

During the first 3 weeks of training while my weekly volume was still below 65 mpw, I focused on different types of hill work with some speedwork mixed in.  Then I switched gears the following 3 weeks and concentrated on sheer volume that included long runs of 42-50 miles and peaking at 100 mpw.  For the remaining 3 weeks, I will be dropping mileage down to 50-75 mpw and concentrating again on hillwork, mostly endurance-type climbing, speedwork intervals, and fast-finish long runs with one run of over 40 miles.  Then it’s 2 weeks of taper and race day!

Most websites, books, people, etc. will always stress not to run the race distance in training.  I strongly disagree with this idea.  If you want the body to do something well, you’ve got to give it a rinse-and-repeat scenario.  You want the body to say, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing that again… okay cool!”  Granted a lot of people do not have time to go out and run 40, 50, 60 miles, but oftentimes time can be scrounged for if the desire to do it is strong.

Anyhow, it always bugged the crap out of me when I was marathon training how often I heard this nonsense about not running the distance (especially since I had been running 20-26 mile runs on weekends for fun before marathon training).  Well, if I were training for a 50k or a 50 miler, then running 26 miles becomes pretty standard practice.  So… now it’s okay since the race got longer?  The logic behind it is that it increases chance of injury and recovery can be prolonged afterwards, making some of the following runs suffer or be missed completely.

IMG_0007The benefits to the body and mind of running the race distance in training, in my experience, are quite underestimated.  For one thing, the confidence gained is immense, and this in itself can make for a superior race.  I don’t think that all of these race-distance training runs should necessarily be done at goal pace by any means, but I do think that a large majority of them should, and running the distance should be done as often as humanly possible.  Certainly some people will get injured doing this but, in my opinion, it’s a risk worth taking.  The principal of pushing the body to the overreaching point to further advance your fitness can be well achieved by race-distance runs.

Now obviously once you pass beyond the 50-mile training run it starts to get a little crazy to run the whole distance in training.  I’m tentatively planning to do my first 100-mile race next year, and will I train the distance?  While I don’t want to say it’s not impossible (as I certainly would love to!), I highly doubt it.  At that distance I think back-to-back long runs with one of the runs being in the 50-65 mile range would be what I’d shoot for.  For me, I do believe that any race distance under 80 miles, I would run the distance at least once in training.

Different things work for different people, and I’m still learning what works best for me, but I think the most important thing here is to turn off the computer, put down the books and magazines, and lace up and go find out through constant “trail” and error.

Now go out and get some miles!

Highlands Sky 40 (6/15/2013)

Highland Sky 2010 018

I’ve had a heck of a time writing lately.  I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on running Highlands Sky 40 and am not even sure how to describe how amazing it was.  There’s really no way to recreate the experience.  There are quite a few really awesome race reports, and I definitely could do no better.  The good news is that I finished (9:36:05) better than I had anticipated, though I really had no clue what to expect.  The course was just purely breathtaking!

The scenery of HS40 changes so dramatically and the course is highly technical (FUN!).  The aid station workers and volunteers are absolutely wonderful.  They really make the event a top-notch race.  I think it’s a race everyone should run once in their life, if not twice!

My husband and my son went with me and stayed in Canaan Valley the night before and after the race.  The prerace briefing and dinner was a lot of fun and the homemade beer was fantastic!  We were bussed to the start line the morning of the race, and I met my very good friend, Jennifer, there.  We had talked about running together and had basically agreed to stick together for the first half and then feel things out from there.  If one of us had lots of juice in the tank, then go for it!  The first 15 miles was pretty much steady climbing and tromping through thick black mud which was determined to eat your shoes off your feet.   Shortly before mile 20 where drop bags were, nature called!  Yah, well, I was half expecting that since I wasn’t so honored that morning.  As luck would have it, we ran right past a park restroom.  Seriously!  So while I got down to business, Jennifer went on ahead to the aid station.

1011289_4918934022807_1537480896_n

By the time I got to aid #4, Jennifer had already changed shoes and was fixing to head out.  I ended up eating more goodies than I should have, and it took me longer than I expected to change shoes and reload my pack.  I wasted too much time.  I felt really, really good coming out of the aid station.  I put on some music and planned to soak up some quick miles on the straight stretch of gravel road ahead and possibly, if I was real lucky, catch up to Jennifer.  Time flew by on the Road Across the Sky.  It felt so good to get some speed again after the first sluggish 15 miles.  I finally caught up to Jennifer and stayed with her.  I figured it was a good idea since it would help me keep my pace in check and not knowing what the second half of the course was like.

We talked and laughed for hours and hours.  We both felt really good… almost too good!  Most of the time, it seemed more like a leisurely long run than a 40-mile fell race!  The only time I felt slightly rough was in and around the last 2-3 miles, but it was more of a mental fatigue that would come and go in waves.  Only having 2 hours of sleep the night before might not help.

Approaching the finish line and hearing the cheering and clapping – everything melted away.  Flashbacks of the challenges I took on as I dove into running, fitness, and a better life less than two years ago, and then only a year ago when I dreamed of running my first ultra and becoming fitter than I had ever imagined possible, and remembering lying in the ICU this time last year, crying and scared, deeply aching to run again.  Then when Jennifer and I crossed the finish line together, hand-in-hand, a moment happened for me: I had come full circle… again.

I’m so grateful to my very supportive and patient husband… following me around and making it possible for me to do the crazy outlandish things I thrive on.  I can’t fathom what my world would be like without him.  He’s my backbone and a deep part of who I am.  My very sweet and innocent special little boy, who so intently listens to his momma’s long-winded stories and enjoys being toted around on road trips.  And, of course, my daughter, who gladly joins me for long running escapades on weekends filled with mixed emotional bags and uncertainty and never doubting.  Now that’s a support crew.

Next year, I have every intention of running HS40 again, and I have little doubt that I can run it faster.  I felt so good at the end and still had fuel left in the tank when all was said and done.  What’s next?  I’ve signed up to run the 50-mile day of the West Virginia Trilogy in October.  I’m taking 4 weeks to do some much-needed leaning out as it seems my training for HS40 added a tiny bit of weight to me.  I’ll be hitting the weights hard and building up my base mileage again before I start serious training in August.1014368_4897708532183_409331775_n

Tale of Two Long Runs

931205_4804748248234_223884402_n

My daughter and I headed to Pennsylvania on Mother’s Day to do a 35 miler on the Great Allegheny Passage.  I did consider that an out and back may not have been in my best interest with my ITBS, but I couldn’t resist the urge.  The GAP, as it’s called, is really a unique rail trail.  The towns you encounter along the trail provide very accessible services to trail-goers.  In fact, most of these towns are dubbed “trail towns.”  There are very long sections where you are in the midst of wilderness and only encounter the long-distance cyclist.  The river rapids and waterfalls along the Ohiopyle/Confluence section are absolutely beautiful.310071_4744779749059_1089079875_n

We went out 17.5 miles, and when we turned around we decided to stop in the trail town of Confluence and see if we could find some grub. We ate at a little BBQ shack almost right off the trail, and they were really nice and had some excellent food!  My ITBS felt pretty nasty after we left there but loosened up a lot over the next couple miles.  Then I felt great like I could run forever.  We easily cruised through the last 10 miles and finished in around 7 hours.  Everything went just right. It was by far one of the best runs I’ve had in a very long time, and we both completely enjoyed ourselves aside from the fact that it was pretty cold and gusty.

So last week, we mapped out our next bike/run on the GAP.  This time I was reaching for 40 miles.  We would start not far from where we turned around the previous week and continue to head east.  This section started at Markleton, PA and ended a bit past Meyersdale, PA.   To add yet another element, we decided to start the run at 4:30 am.  I had never run in the dark before due to the fact that I’m quite a weenie when it comes to that kind of thing!  So I felt it was time to face my fear, and the way I see it, if I’m ever going to run a 100 miler, I better get used to running at night!

I donned my headlamp and packed a backup flashlight and LOTS of batteries 😉 and we headed off into the dark trail.  Within a mile or so, we were completely isolated in the woods.  It was somewhat freaky to me the further out we got.  Around 5:20 am, the hue of morning started to glow in the sky, and I began to feel so much better.  I survived!

Strangely, things began to fall apart for me near mile 12.  I was overcome with a headache, fatigue, nausea, and heavy, unresponsive legs.  I sat down and mulled over the possibility of turning back.  I ate a gel, took an electrolyte tab, and drank some water.  We kept slowly moving forward with plenty of walk breaks.  I started feeling much better by mile 15, though the dead legs and fatigue still plagued me.  I was in such a funk that I missed a lot of the scenery, though it was very gloomy with the constant threat of rain.  I tried to keep focus on the task at hand.

The trail coursed through woodlands with scenic waterfalls and river views and into open Pennsylvania farmland with breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains.  It was almost like we were running through completely different states as the landscape changed.   Just before the town of Meyersdale, we crossed the Salisbury Viaduct, a 1,900 ft long train bridge converted to a trail bridge.  It looms high over the railroad and freeway below and offers some spectacular views of mountains and windmills–truly fascinating.947104_4780678966517_1046234287_n

We passed by Meyersdale and proceeded to our turnaround at mile 20, and for the first time that morning began to encounter other people on the trail.  We stopped in Meyersdale and grabbed some Subway.  There’s nothing like a breakfast sub and cookies at 9:00 in the morning after running 20 miles!  It seems that I can eat just about anything and run.  We headed back out on the trail.  I was feeling a lot better.  But it wasn’t over yet…

At mile 34-35, my daughter realized she had a flat tire.  Me and my optimistic and procrastinating nature had yet to get us a small pump for the bike.  It was bound to happen eventually, so it didn’t really bother me at all.  Being a Sunday, bike shops that we knew of were closed; the only option was to get busy walking.  By the time we got back to the car we had gone almost 41 miles and had been out for 11 hours.  My feet had multiple new blisters, which I’m hoping my new Injinji toe socks will remedy in the future.

All said and done, it was a heck of an experience, and we both learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves.  There were many difficulties throughout the day, and those were what made it so worthwhile.  We both can’t wait to get back out and do it again (with a bike pump this time)!

Injury Update

I’ve been incredibly busy since I started really putting in the training time for my ultra.  Between training for 13-16 hours a week, sneaking afternoon naps, caring for my dependant son, and fulfilling my housewifely duties… it’s been nothing short of insane.  All of this on 3-4 hours of broken sleep at night.

My iliotibial band injury has been getting much better.  It still flares up on runs over 2 hours, but I’ve continued to run through pain and have learned to manage it on the trail.  As long as I ice it and take some ibuprofen, the knee bounces back very quickly from long runs.  Granted, I’m certain it would be healing a lot faster if I were not constantly aggravating it, but I’ve ruled that option out at least until after my race in June.  For now, I can live with and manage the pain, and I’m not very concerned about getting through my race with it.

On a more somber note, my compartment syndrome has returned again in full force.  Following a 35 miler during a 70-mile week, my shins started swelling and throbbing only a quarter mile into a recovery run.  I continued to try to work with it last week and finished the week off with a 40-mile run and a 62-mile week where I was just barely sliding through the runs with tight calves and shins.  It was somewhat pathetic, and I really ended up with some poor quality workouts.  This week I’ve shifted into damage control mode in hopes of sparing this weekend’s 32-mile long run.  Next week I’ll be 3 weeks out from the ultra, and it’ll be time for pure recovery.

Obviously I choke all the injury up to quick mileage and distance increases.  I’ve also been doing a lot of intense hillwork during the week which is likely not helping much.  I’ve managed to get through the bulk of training though without much issue until just now.  Being less than 4 weeks out, the majority of hay is in the barn, so taking time to recover at this point won’t be an issue.

C’ya ITBS – Hello 20 Miler!

My 3-month hiatus with ITBS seems to be finally coming to an end!  After taking off from running for 3 weeks, doing Insanity workouts daily, and incorporating a glute, quad, and adductor strengthening regimen to my lifting routine, I eased back into every-other-day short runs.  I skipped the stretching and foam rolling.  I increased my daily intake of fish oil, glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin, and anti-inflammatory foods.  Things seem to be resolving.  I am taping my knee and wearing my ITB brace on all my runs for now until the residual in my knee tightness subsides.  I am still getting some mild waxing and waning pain after 5-8+ miles, but I’ve found if I walk and stretch my quads, I can start running again pain-free for quite some time until I need to repeat.

The biggest factor here, obviously, was identifying the cause.  In my case, it was running too many miles too fast on rugged, snowy mountainous terrain.  Once I stopped, it was just all about waiting for time to heal it.  No doubt that the strengthening exercises could have played a part in recovery as well, and I plan to keep doing those preventatively.  Now, I just have to be careful not to overdo it and continue to baby the leg until all the tightness is gone.  I no longer have any pain or stiffness after runs or when I’m in bed.  I am continuing to ice it after runs.

My mileage for the previous two weeks:  21 and 33!  I ended the week last week with a 20 miler with  mild elevation gain of 1200 ft.  Wow, did that run kick my butt!  It’s amazing how quickly the body un-adapts (is that a word?) and re-adapts to stressors!  I ran it exceptionally slow to baby my leg, since I just wanted to be out there moving as long as possible, regardless of time.  I knew it was going to be somewhat trying for me since I hadn’t been on a good long run since mid-January and indeed it was!  I found myself walking quite a lot the last 5 miles!  I was good and sore the next day, and my recovery run yesterday was a little rough but loosened everything up nicely.

In 5 days I’ll be doing the training run for my 40-mile ultra in June.  I got a feeling it’s gonna be tough on me this weekend!  But what doesn’t kill you makes you run faster!  Ha!  I’m going to try to be careful with my mileage this week and preserve my legs (and IT band) for the stress of the training run…. Right?

Down with ITBS – Back to the Weights

In mid-February my right IT band finally stopped me in my tracks.  On a 30-mile run, only 7 miles in, I was limping pathetically back to my car.  I took a week off from running only to find myself in pain at 3 miles on a 5-mile run.   I knew I was done for and finally gave in to accepting that I wasn’t going to be able to run through this injury.  I don’t care how tough you are, it’s just not possible to run with an angry IT band.  I iced it for a couple days initially, upped my intake of anti-inflammatory foods, and increased my dose of MSM/glucosamine.  I have very little faith in foam rolling or massage as far as injuries are concerned so I didn’t even go that route.  Instead I decided to focus solely on leg strength, particularly of the quads and glutes.  I haven’t done any strength exercises for my legs whatsoever since I started running again after surgery last year.  It makes sense that could be the culprit.  So I pulled out my Insanity discs and have been doing those in place of running.  If you’ve ever done Insanity before, I’m sure you’re well aware of how intense it is on your legs and butt!  I also added weighted side leg raises to my lifting routine.  I did try an IT band strap.  It didn’t seem to do anything at all for me.  Maybe I still had too much inflammation at the time.  Anyway, I’m not even going to attempt to run again until mid to late March which will give me a full month’s rest.  I’m hoping (biting-my-nails type of hoping) with some amount of crazy luck that I will be able to make the first training run for my ultra in early April.  It’s probably a 50/50 shot.  Damn I’m mad at myself now for not taking off in January to address this as soon as I noticed it!  I will never learn!

During all this downtime, I’ve been trying to stay positive and shift focus to my weight training.  I’d love to build a little more mass than I had last year, and now seems like a great time to do it before I start training for my ultra again, so I’ve been eating slightly over maintenance.  The hardest part for me when it comes to adding on some muscle is accepting the fact that there is going to likely be some fat gain.  I just hope it’s smallish!  Then again, any gained fat should shred off pretty quickly when I start building mileage up again.

After only 2 months of returning to lifting, I am lifting at and slightly above what I was before surgery.  Muscle memory is sweet!  I was told I can’t do situps anymore, so I bought 20 lb adjustable ankle weights and do modified leg raises which are quite effective!

I’m still doing a full-body routine, because I really enjoy long workouts.  There are pros and cons to splitting it and not splitting it, but I figure the biggest pro is whichever one you enjoy doing the most!  I think if you are going to stick with full-body workouts, it’s a good idea to change up your routine from time-to-time.  If you always start with pull-ups and pushups, and give those 110%, then chances are you’re not going to be able to give 110% to bicep curls and French press afterwards.  So, I think it’s important to reverse, switch up, or do alternate exercises every 2-4 weeks or so once you’re well-adapted to your routine.  Of course, other good options are to lift in circuits, supersets, or drop-sets.  It’s all something you have to play around with and experiment to find what works best for you.  Nobody has the answers… that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned when it comes to lifting or even running.  Takes a lot of figuring shit out on your own.

Right now, I’m lifting 4x week and stacking it with Insanity.  Some people warn against doing this, but I have yet to see why and plan to find out for myself.  In the past, I did a milder version of stacking the two and can’t say I noticed any negatives in doing it as long as you have the energy.  I lift every other day, and off days are always Insanity days (usually a month-2 workout).  Twice a week, I lift and then follow it with a month-1 Insanity video (preferably something like the Pure Cardio workout).

Enough of that!  Get out there and go long!