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Training

Pool Purgatory (Cross-Training)

Laps are mind-numbingly boring and I hate doing them. It’s part of the reason why I call pool workouts “pool purgatory.” The other part is due to my lack of gills. However, pool workouts are undeniably great for cross training, recovery, range of motion, flexibility, and your breathing. Sure, a lot of people wait to incorporate swimming until they are injured, but I think it’s highly beneficial to get in the pool (or lake or ocean) BEFORE you are chronically injured or sentenced there by a Physical Therapist.

From a runner’s standpoint, swimming is great for strengthening hip flexors, promoting ankle flexibility, strengthening the back muscles to help with running posture, and increasing lower abdominal strength. If my legs are too sore and inflamed to go on a recovery run, then I jump in the pool and swim some laps to get the recovery benefits from the circulation.

Lengthy swims are particularly good for endurance athletes. Everyone has their limits to how much they can train before any more is damaging to their muscle endurance. But because swimming is zero impact, it enables athletes to push past those limits and build a stronger, more efficient cardiovascular system.

Swimming is a full body workout and it is tiring. It feels odd for me to be physically tired without feeling skeletal muscle fatigue. But besides getting the running benefits from pool workouts, it’s also a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise – as long as I can remind myself of all the benefits on the days when I really dread the pool.

Categories
Training

Rest and Recovery

Rest is training, too. Everyone needs rest and recovery, both physically and mentally. For me and my training, I take recovery pretty seriously. Physiologically speaking, growth only happens through rest and repair. Most of the time it’s like a set of stairs, in that you don’t always let yourself fully recover before working out again until it’s time to taper.

I have at least one day a week that is completely workout-free and usually work-free. I don’t use run streaks as part of my training because I’m not physiologically on board with them, though I understand there’s a mental factor in the reasoning behind it.

There are a few basic recovery principles I use besides rest. After all, rest is only a small part of recovery.

  1. After a long and/or hard effort, I’ll usually do a recovery run the next day. It helps keep the blood flowing through those tired, achy muscles desperate for nutrients.
  2. Speaking of nutrients, fueling is crucial. Know what you’re going to have after your workout before you start. There’s two different windows I try to hit. The first is within 20 minutes post workout – the sooner the better. I opt for a carb/fluid/electrolyte focus (VegaSport Recovery Accelerator). The second window is between 60-90 minutes after my workout, with a protein shake (VegaSport Protein).
  3. I’m not a fan of ice – unless you have an acute injury. I like to soak in a hot bath with Epsom salt after a hard or long effort. See http://www.struckbystride.com/the-fire-in-the-flame/
  4. If I have a muscle or tendon that’s starting to nag or I’m just really sore, I’ll apply a comfrey ointment or other herbal lotions.
  5. I try to set aside time set aside for foam rolling and use of other self-care tools for at least 20 minutes every night (with the exception of my rest day). I use foam rollers, tennis balls, a thumper, cupping therapy, a lacrosse ball, Roll Recovery R8, and various others that I’ve accumulated over the years.
  6. I do get at least two professional massages per month, partly due to my job, but I think it’s important for athletes, too. You can do a lot yourself, but nothing beats someone else doing it for you.

Getting a good sleep regularly has been a struggle for me since…well, since I graduated high-school and started to adult. Part of it is my personality. I tend to stress and be more anxious than I have to be. But sleep is the body’s time to repair, and it’s crucial to a high-intensity active lifestyle.

Recovery is a lot of work – that’s why I consider it 50% of training. There’s a lot of different and conflicting methods of recovery out there, but everyone has something. Find what works for you and make recovering just as important as the rest of your training.

Categories
Training

I’ve got the runs

Tempo – maybe my favorite, maybe. Done at a comfortably hard pace, they’re key to making my marathon faster. I try to push the pace, but also keep the splits even. If I’m coming off of a rest day the pace might be faster than one done in the middle of the run-week, but the goal (effort) of the workout remains constant no matter how tired my legs are. Depending on where I’m at in the training cycle, these runs are anywhere from 3-10 miles and once or twice a week.

Easy/Recovery – for active recovery and getting in the mileage. The body needs time to recover from hard workouts, more than just that half mile jog at the end of a session. These miles make up the bulk of my marathon training.

Intervals – The distance and number of reps will vary depending on what I’m training for and where I’m at in the cycle, but the shortest I’ll do is 400s and the longest, 3 miles.

Long – My long runs for marathon training vary a bit, but with purpose. They could be anywhere from 12-28 miles and either at a steady effort or easy pace – sometimes a mix.

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San Diego Half Marathon 2018

The San Diego Half Marathon brings out lots of competition and presents a fun event. It’s a relatively flat course for 8 miles and then a HUGE hill followed by a downhill fast finish. Not only was I excited to come back for my third whack at it, I also knew a lot of my old track club teammates would be there. Plus, I was hopeful in trying to snag a little PR since I had been able to run more regularly (though I’m still not on a good cycle yet).

Sleeping the night before in the hotel was a real challenge due to outside noise, but really the night before isn’t the issue – it’s the week or two before that you need to focus on getting good sleep. I didn’t have a problem getting out the door though when it was time to go, and pre-race “festivities” went fairly well. Nerves weren’t a thing, it was just excitement to race and race hard. My time goal was 1:21:56. I truly felt that if everything went perfect I had that in me.

Everything did not go perfectly. Starting off, my breathing felt way more labored than it should, and trying to keep up with the 1:25 pacer was a struggle. I don’t know why, but my lungs were so tired. My legs, however, felt pretty good. My watched buzzed at every mile, but I chose to ignore it and weigh how I was feeling against how many miles I had left. By mile 5, my time goal was well out of stride and I was struggling, but I was still within 10 yards of the 1:25 pace group. There was a girl that kept leap frogging with me and I decided I was going to beat her. She was hanging with the pace group, but huffing and puffing too. At mile 7, I watched them fade away in front of me as I realized my right toenail was going to disappear as well (hashtag, it’s the little things). EVERY. TIME. I forget to cut my toenails. That girl was able to hang on better than I was until…

The timing mat at 8.2 had me chipped at a 6:22 pace, just before the hill started. Of course, it slows you down, but I definitely underestimated it. It brought me to my slowest split of 7:37. It also brought me closer to that girl that had now fallen off the pace group. After cresting the hill, I slowly starting closing the gap between her and I. Another runner (male) came up alongside me and recognized me from Instagram. With a few encouraging words, he gave me a boost to chase her down. I caught up to her just before the decline and passed her, but realized that when the course flattened out just before the finish, she would probably catch back up to me. She did. We were both spent. But it wasn’t about fitness, strength, or speed anymore – it was about mind games. I knew my best shot at beating her was to attack right then. We had two-tenths of a mile left, but I darted away in a burst of speed, slowing down just a few seconds later, but banking on momentum carrying me through the finish ahead of her. It worked. I finished five seconds ahead.

I raced hard, and I am happy with that. My last two miles were back down to 6:21 and 6:23. I know I got good physical benefits from the day. I’m disappointed that my time was so much slower than my goal, but disappointing races are starting to get less and less disappointing. It’s not what I wanted, but it was a good effort. I can be patient for the work to pay off. There will be more opportunities to to prove myself. For now, I’m happy to keep racing and gaining.

Final Stats

Time – 1:27:04

66th 5816 overall

12th of 3155 female

3rd of 494 in age group

 

Categories
Equipping

RockTape

Kinesio tape has gotten a fair amount of attention since the 2008 Olympics, though it’s been around for over 35 years. I first learned about it back in massage school, and it seemed pretty neat, but I didn’t really understand the “science” and reasoning my professors gave me as to why it was so beneficial. The one thing I understood was that kinesio tape is different from traditional athletic tape because it still allows and even encourages movement, while athletic tape is used to decrease range of motion. Regardless of my confusion, I tried it (the Kinesio Tex Gold brand) and actually noticed some benefits, so I kept a roll around from then on. I used it periodically when I felt like tendonitis was threatening.

A few years later I decided to go to a taping seminar, but this particular class was by the brand RockTape, and they were/are calling it “Fascial Movement Taping (FMT).” I enjoyed the class and felt like I learned more of the research behind kinesio taping, but the instructor informed us all in the class that the old theories of how to tape were obsolete – whether from the origin of the muscle to the insertion or vice versa, how much stretch to put on the tape when applying, and trying to tape for inhibit or facilitate a particular muscle.

RockTape gave me three main positive outcomes from kinesio tape: swelling reduction, rehabilitation aid, and improvement in performance and recovery. Here’s why:

  1. It decompresses the skin for improved circulation and pressure relief. Because of this, it can immediately reduce the perception of pain.
  2. Sensory nerve stimulation and the brain response. In simpler terms, think about your first reaction when you stand up into a cupboard and hit your head hard. Your first reaction is to rub it. That’s because by doing that, you’re stimulating more sensory receptors which bombards the brain with signals to down grade the amount of pain you feel. It’s called the “pain-gate effect.”
  3. Posture/form taping. This is a pretty easy concept. The back and shoulders are a common spot. When you tape your back while sitting pretty, whenever you slouch back into poor posture you will feel the stretch on the tape and instinctively correct yourself.

Are you ready to try it? It’s relatively cheap, quick, and easy to use. You don’t have much to lose, especially if you’re willing to try ANYTHING to overcome an injury. You can buy most brands of kinesio tape on amazon, or at a pharmacy. Some sporting goods stores may sell them as well. The most popular are KT Tape, Kinesio Tex Gold, and RockTape. I’m partial to RockTape because not only am I certified through them, but their tape stays on longer, they have the largest selection of styles, sizes, and colors (oh yes…it matters), and I liked that the company takes the approach of “here’s what we know, we’re still learning, let’s do this together” approach.

After you’ve gotten the tape, and have an area to try it on, YouTube some videos of taping patterns, just to get you started. You can make up your own patterns based on your personal need, but if you’re new to kinesio taping, YouTube has a lot of ideas. Make sure you skin is clean and dry. If you’re hairy, I highly recommend shaving. After I’ve cut a piece from the roll, I round the edges to help keep the tape from fraying as easily. Before you remove the paper backing, rip both ends of the tape.

     You can either apply from the middle out, or have one end as an anchor and peel off the paper as you go. Be in the position of desired movement or stance when you’re being taped or taping yourself. How much stretch? I would say definitely no more than 50%, but usually I do anywhere from 15-25%. Rub the tape after it’s on the skin for a minute to help in bond faster. They say it takes about an hour for it to bond completely. Viola! You can shower with it, just pat dry when you’re done. Typically you can keep one application on for 3-5 days. If need be, trim any edges that start to peel.

When it comes time to remove it, take it slow, but the older the application, the easier it is to take off. The RockTape H20 is obviously a little harder because it’s meant for water sports, but baby oil does the trick.

If you have sensitive skin, test an area first with a small piece of tape. RockTape is latex free, but sometimes the adhesive bothers a small amount of people. Other contraindications for taping would be open wounds, skin infections, active cancer, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Kidney Disease, or Congestive Heart Failure. The latter few are due to fluid movement in the body.

I recently used/am using RockTape to aid recovery for a foot injury and felt pain relief and had a quicker recovery.

To buy, click here: https://shop.rocktape.com?rfsn=1017568.8dec5

Categories
dont look

RRS Craft Classic San Diego 2017

Last year I said this course was harder than the La Jolla half marathon, but then I did La Jolla again and started second guessing. After completing this race again, I still can’t decide. It’s a toss up. The Road Runner Sports Craft Classic in San Diego is a pretty tough course. It’s basically a 10k race, and then you die. See elevation chart below:

Because it’s a hard course, I didn’t have my heart set on a PR. My time goal was sub 1:30, I was aiming for a top 5 finish, and I wanted to keep my heart rate steady (pace myself) and my head focused on form. One of the perks of this race is free photos, but they aren’t up yet, so we’ll see how I looked, but I felt like I was doing better with gait, posture, and arm swing.

Having to use the shuttle service, I got up at 4:00 a.m. on race morning. I got to the start line without a hitch, feeling good, staying calm, and ready to run. I watched my splits for the first few miles, but made sure I was listening to my heart rate. When the first set of hills came, I still felt strong. The big hill was a struggle to get up, but once it leveled off, I was impressed at how quickly my lungs AND legs recovered. I finished in 1:32:37 feeling like I paced myself well. Despite not meeting my time goal, I didn’t know what I would have done differently. I placed 4th overall, and after chatting with the top female, realized that everyone was a little slower than usual. Maybe it was the humidity, maybe it was a bit warm, but regardless of time, it was still a good workout.

Final Stats

25th of 1099 overall

4th of 562 female

1st of 89 age group

 

Categories
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San Diego Half Marathon 2017

Going into this race, I was pretty excited. I felt like I had good training gains, despite not quite getting my pace back from before my “end of season” break. This race last year gave me my personal best to date, and I was ready to PR again.

Something else that I was trying to keep in mind was that for the previous year’s race, I hadn’t had the four weeks off running at the same time. My break was earlier in the year, due to a January marathon. So, trying to pay attention to the differences in my body and training paces was important to me. All things considered, I felt like I had a 1:23-1:25 half marathon in me.

The morning of the race I felt tired, not sleepy tired, but my legs felt tired. I had had a long day at work the day before. Figuring that my adrenaline would take care of it once the race started, I wasn’t too concerned. During the first three miles, I avoided looking at my Garmin in order to simply focus on steadying my pace and breathing – finding my “groove.” But after mile 4, I could tell I still started a little too fast. I tried to focus and regain control as best as I could. I steadied out, but couldn’t find the “comfortable” burn I was looking for. The feeling of light and smooth eluded me. There was a big hill at mile 9, and after that it was a smooth downhill finish. However, I still couldn’t get my legs to turn over like they should have. I finished the race realizing I just barely beat my previous time by a mere 36 seconds. This disappointment set in. It wasn’t a good effort, and I knew it. I didn’t feel exerted enough, but my legs were so heavy. You can’t have a good race every race, and I’m not saying it was a bad race. But I think I had more in me at my current level of running fitness.

Regardless of my disappointment, it was still a slight personal best. All I can do is keep learning and reflecting. Real progress is coming in the year ahead – I can feel it in my bones. For now, I’m looking forward to a hopeful redemption race with a 15k in a few weeks.

FINAL STATISTICS

Finish Time – 1:27:51

Overall – 89th of 5044

Female – 14th of 2701

Age Group – 4th of 462