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!

Snow, Ultras, and a “Crew”

WIMG_0009inter has finally made its presence known to us.  It’s been mighty chilly and snowy lately.  I enjoy the different challenges
winter brings to running.  I had a blast this week running 10 miles on trails near my home in 3-4 inches of snow (some areas of drifted snow were knee deep, yikes!) while climbing 1,500 feet.  Taxing, yeah.  Fun… You bet!  I actually even managed to keep my feet relatively warm and dry by putting a plastic bag between 2 layers of thin socks and wearing gaiters.  I felt like my Salomon Crossmax shoes did exceptionally well in the snow, mud, and icy patches.  These shoes have yet to disappoint me.  However, I think for muddy or very slippery descents, the Salomon Speedcross would be even better.

I ran my first 30-mile training run (or was that just for fun?) a couple weeks ago.  I just really took my time and wanted to enjoy being out there more than anything.

There will be a time soon enough to focus purely on training.  So I lollygagged some here and there and took some photos.  I ended up wasting a good deal of time trying to adjust my new hydration pack.  I bought the Nathan Endurance Vest to use for my runs over marathon distance, and I really, really love it, but I’ve just had issues getting it adjusted just right.IMG_0008  I’ll figure it out.  So, I did a 15-mile out-and-back with 1,966 ft of elevation gain.  Took me a little over 5.5 hours.  I felt really strong almost the entire time.  I hit one spot of funk around mile 21-22, but by mile 24, I was completely mentally rejuvenated and had a very strong finish.  I felt really good about this one.  By the way, I discovered the magical powers Almond M&Ms have on my long runs!  Those things will definitely be accompanying me on every ultra run!

I finally decided on my first ultra race for next year.  I’m planning to run the Highlands Sky 40M held near Canaan Valley, West Virginia on June 15th.  I figured it’d be a pretty good entry into ultra running.  I definitely did not want to do anything “flat,” but neither did I want to destroy myself on monstrous climbs either for my first ultra.  The HS 40M has an elevation gain of 5,474 ft which I feel I can train for quite reasonably.  I definitely need to do more training on technical trails in preparation.

I’m ready, I’m ready!

Another awesome development is that I have a “crew member” in training!  Oh, yeah!  I’ve finally managed to get my daughter interested in fitness.  She bought herself a mountain bike just so she could accompany me on my long runs and provide support.  How cool is that?  It definitely eased my husband’s apprehensions about me going out for 40-50 mile runs.

Last week my daughter actually went running with me.  I told her we’d go however far she could run and just have a good time.  We ended up doing 9.5 miles!  What??  I was thoroughly impressed.  There was plenty of walking involved, but I was just out for the active recovery aspect post my 30 miler.  However, she did really well considering that she almost never runs.  The best part was that she actually ENJOYED it.  I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more had I known just how freaking cold it was going to be.  Regardless, I was thoroughly impressed with her perseverance and determination to hang in as long as she could.  We had a great time, and I feel she will be a great asset and companion for me in the long, long days ahead.  (Now she can feel honored to adorn the pages of my blog! LOL! j/k)

Weight lifting… yes, I was cleared to resume heavy weight training!  I’m more than a little nervous about it, but I’ll take it easy (err… try to take it easy) and see how it goes.

Racing, Hills, and Lifting!

IMG_1145Last Saturday I went ahead and completed one of my goals for the month: to run a 5K race or longer.  I entered a 15K somewhat last minute and went into it with no expectations.  I ran it much faster than I even really thought I was capable of and finished 2nd overall female with a time of 1:07:15.  Every time I glanced down at my watch, I was weaving between a 6:30-7:20 pace.  Instead of doing as usual and trying to hold back, I just went with it.  I figured I’d keep it up as long as my legs would tolerate.  Needless to say, it was nothing short of painful.  The hills were just a little brutal!

Running anywhere in West Virginia except along rivers is quite a feat.  The mountainous terrain is completely unforgiving.  I used to think anyone who attempted running in this state was out of their mind.  Of course, it’s all relative to what you’re used to.  I grew up in the South on very flat land, so West Virginia was kinda like terrain shock!  There are definitely great advantages to living and running somewhere challenging.  You don’t really have the option of avoiding hills all too often.  You’re pretty much forced to do it if you want to get out and run.  We all know how important hillwork is for developing those running legs.  So I guess it could be safe to assume that a person who lives where they run grades on just about every run would most likely have the upper hand versus an average “flatlander.”   This is also one of the speculations or observances made about the elite African runners in relation to their training terrain.

I’m continuing to work on increasing my distance runs.  I’m planning 22-24 miles for this weekend.  The plan is to keep increasing up to 30 miles since by that time I’ll need to focus on marathon training and work on my speed.  I saw this quote in a forum recently that just made me smile.  It said, “Never f@ck with someone who runs 26.2 miles for fun!”  There’s definitely something to be said about that kind of runner!  During the rest of the week I’ve been mixing in a decent amount of hill and speed interval training which I had neglected for some time.  I’m really enjoying those workouts.

IMG_1139I added some spice to my weight training days also in hopes of maximizing gains.  I’m doing upper body/abs 3-4 times a week and legs 1-2 times a week.  I’m really worried about working my legs too much and exhausting them prior to a run, so I’m keeping weight training at a minimum on them.  I upped my sets from 3 to 5 and kept my reps at 8-12 except abs which are 5 sets at 12-15 reps.  I really like the longer workout and increased sets.  I’ll keep this up for a month and see how it goes.

My upper body routine looks like this:

Cable crunches
Pushups wide
Bicep cable curl
French press
Bent-over side lateral
Rear delt rows