The last 2 weeks of training have been challenging. Each week has had their own unique occurrences, both positive and negative, that have had lead to doubt and concern. Ironically though I’ve seemed to gotten under control the Plantar Fasciitis issues…
Week 5 I finished the week without finishing my long run of training (14 miles). We had some thunderstorms roll in and I was in the middle of my run when I ran into my friend Shawn. He had just finished off a 20 mile training run and I ran with him on his cool-down. As we chatted for a little bit a few strikes of lightning hit and I realized I was going to have to finish my run later (that never happened though). That same day I ended up having some chest congestion and generally feeling tired and worn down. I decided by days end on that Sunday I probably needed a couple of days off from running. For the next 2 days I felt sluggish and generally tired. The week leading up to my long run I was feeling ok and my training runs were about where I had been heart rate and pace wise. But, by that Sunday, my body was telling me I needed some rest. It was a good decision.
Week 6 saw Christmas and a shorter run week because of taking off a few days for some rest. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and that was what I was doing. I took off Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Christmas day). I went out Thursday for a 4 miler. I also decided to not run with my heart rate monitor and just run at a comfortable but closer to my target marathon race pace (7:45-50). Friday, being out of time off for taking off of work, I decided to bring my bike with me to work and ride over to the trails by the river at lunch. I ended up biking for about an hour and 20 minutes. It was a fun ride but I noticed later in the evening my knees were a little sore.
Saturday I decided to to run from Sope Creek parking area and run down along the trails to Cochran Shoals parking area. It was the first time I’d tried running hills since starting my training using my heart rate monitor and the 180 method. I had a solid run. I also ended up not using my monitor because I couldn’t get it working properly. I ran comfortably and ended up putting in a pretty solid time. I could definitely tell that my fitness level has improved a lot since I was last running these trails in prior months leading up to my 1/2 marathon training. One thing to note on this run was my left knee and some pain I felt on the outside of it.
Sunday I had to cover a 10 mile run for my week 6 long run (essentially a step-down training week). I decided to keep things interesting and ran a small trail loop up into the scope creek trails from the river fitness loop befpre heading towards Columns Drive out to where it intersects with Johnsons Ferry Road and then returned to where I started at Concern Shoals to finish off my run. I felt good and strong. I got my HR monitor working again so I ran within my maximum aerobic HR to continue my 180 method training. I knew on the trails the hills would get my heart rate up quickly so I was ok with my HR getting into the 140’s.
One cool thing I want to mention is a tip I’ve picked up on listening to a few running podcast. The advantage and technique didn’t really hit me until this day (for whatever reason). When running hills I’ve heard multiple times that you should attack the hill with quicker and smaller steps. It hit me that the same technique applies when mountain biking on trails and hills. You use your lower gears (faster cadence/pedaling) going up the hills instead of “longer” slower pedaling or strides. I thought about this and so applied it to running the hills, pretending that I was on my bike pedaling the hills with my steps. Amazingly I found my times on the hills and trails was noticeably much quicker than in the past and I also found that I had much better control of my HR on the hills. Good to know that listening to podcast and the amount of reading online about running actually can pay off 🙂
After finishing my trail loop in the hills I popped back on the main fitness loop and stopped at the Columns Drive parking area for some water. After a quick 45-60 second break or so I progressed onto the road of Columns Drive. About a half mile on Columns I started to feel a bit of discomfort and pain on my left knee. I ended up stopping to walk twice because the pain started to become very uncomfortable. I debated each time on whether I should end my run or not. I was feeling very concerned by the feeling at my knee. The second time I started running I decided to increase my pace a bit and also really focused on running more mid and forefoot. I noticed immediately this seemed help. My pace increased and I was also maintaining my HR too. I finished off my run with an 8:11, 8:02, 8:12, & 8:12 for my last 4 miles. I was happy about the progress in my pace, but not happy about what I was feeling on the outside of my knee 😦
As I sit here typing this I’m still concerned about my knee. The knee didn’t bother me last night sleeping and it does feel a little better today but I do feel it from time to time. It seems that the bike riding is giving me some issues and I also realized I might of been riding with my seat too low (which was having my knees bent too much while pedaling). today is a rest day and I will be running easy miles tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the knee is just sore from the biking use and just needs rest.
Another challenge that hit me night before last is that I woke up with vertigo. I’ve been suffering with bouts of it now, off and on, for the last two years. It started in South Africa when I was living there. On several trips back and forth from there and the States I would seem to suffer from vertigo after about 3 weeks from my travels. When I returned back to the states I had hoped that it would go away but I’ve still been having bouts with it from time to time. Thankfully I’ve learned how to deal with it, but it is still annoying and I wish I could figure out what is causing it to happen.
So, as you can see, the last 2 weeks have had some challenges. I’ve listened to my body to give it some rest and I’ve mixed things up a bit in my training. I was feeling like I had plateaued on my aerobic training and I think between the rest and the few runs with hills and a faster pace has been very helpful. As my last 4 miles on my 10 mile run shows I dropped nearly 15 seconds from my long run peak from couple of weeks ago (Week 3 at an 8:27 pace). See the charts below for comparisons of each of my last 3 week’s long runs. I’ve pointed a few items out in the graphic worth noticing.
Oh, and Happy New year… I probably won’t post again till we are in 2014… Have an enjoyable and safe one… Cheers!