Wednesday, October 3, 2012

CIM Week 5 of 14: Hamstring Blues & Long Run Highs

So last Wednesday I pulled a hamstring stretching at karate, which totally sucked for about three days during which even walking was a little bit unpleasant. Part of my development as a runner has been learning which things you can kinda-sorta run through if you keep things short & easy & foam roll like it's your job, and which things are only going to get worse without complete and total rest. Over time, I have definitely learned that running through a hamstring pull that makes you walk funny is just a non-starter. No good can come of it.

By Saturday it was feeling almost normal, though, so I decided to give the easy five on my schedule a try. I got through the whole thing with nary a twinge, so declared myself good to go for my Sunday long run.

Officially the workout was 14-15 at 8:43 pace, and I kind of went back & forth about whether I wanted to do 14, 15, or somewhere in between. It was a warm day so I decided to wait until early evening. Admittedly I ended up waiting a little longer than ideally I meant to, but the upside was that it was early dusk when I finally got out there and the temperature could not have been more perfect for a run.

I decided to park my car by Kezar Stadium & run loops of the eastern half of the park (one loop = ~3.7 miles). This is one of my favorite ways to do long runs because I can throw BodyGlide / Nuun / gels / dry clothes in my car & grab them if I need them and also because it means that rather than running basically downhill for 3.5 miles & then basically uphill for 3.5 miles, I can get more of a gentle rollers-type of workout. I also wanted to try running part of the way in my relatively newish Brooks Launch(es? Pluralizing that feels weird), & looping by my car would give me the option of switching into the Adrenalines if when my feet got tired.

If you've never had a late-evening run through Golden Gate Park, you should really make a point of it sometime.

This was just one of those runs that felt fabulous right from the start. I settled into a nice, easy, super comfortable pace & just cruised. My first mile was in 8:51, which made me happy because 1) my first couple miles always tend to be the slowest, and 2) it felt really, really easy. I don't know if this happens to other people, but on some runs I just feel "out of phase" - like my limbs are an awkward mess, my muscles & joints bumping awkwardly into each other, I can't manage anything even remotely like good form to save my life, & the whole process just feels horribly inefficient & like I'm expending three times the amount of effort I should be. On other days, I feel like I'm hitting my body's "resonant frequency" - my strides feel smooth and quiet and natural and everything is in perfect rhythm, with all the different parts of my body working together effortlessly. This was one of those from the first miles.

Technically I'm supposed to be running my easy & long runs at around an 8:43 pace, but realistically I pretty much always run them by effort & try to aim for a pace that's comfortable, without pushing or dawdling too much. Depending on the day, this can mean 8:10 or it can mean 9:20. I figured a first mile of 8:51 was a good indicator & I would probably be able to hit 8:43ish just about perfectly.

I wasn't trying to speed up, but mile after mile, my splits kept dropping. I tried to slow down a little, but I didn't feel like I was working all that hard, & slowing down too much started to disrupt that wonderful, smooth, effortless feeling. Eventually my pace settled right around 8:20-25ish, which was more or less where I stayed for the rest of the run. Around maybe 10-11 miles I could feel my hamstring starting to talk to me a little, but I wouldn't even call it pain, just the sensation of working maybe just a little harder than it really wanted to.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't so gradual...

After 4 laps I was at 14.75 and still felt great so I figured there was no harm in just jogging another quarter mile & making it a nice round 15. I felt strong & comfortable, the entire way, and like last weekend's 16 miler, this one was over before I knew it. Also in the category of "Things That Never, Ever Happen," we can file the fact that I had no shorts chafing or sports bra chafing whatsoever. (This may in fact be the first time in recorded history that I have run farther than 10 miles without one of those things happening.) No pain, no injuries, no soreness.


So, hamstring issues aside, here's how Week 5 shaped up:

Grand Total: 25.4 miles, all easy.

    Monday: Abbreviated karate class, thanks to the most epic clusterf*** on the Bay Bridge that I have ever seen. It took us over two hours to get from the Trader Joe's in SoMa to the dojo in Berkeley, which is just under 10 miles. We seriously could have walked there faster, if they would have let us on the bridge.

    Tuesday: 5.2 easy. Not great, & still some Achilles/calf pain (seriously, what is UP with that???)

    Wednesday: Karate + strength work + hamstring fail

    Thursday: Rest.

    Friday: Rest.

    Saturday: 5.2 easy. Surprisingly good!

    Sunday: 15 long.

Not a terribly impressive week, but that fantastic long run made up for a lot.

Barring any stupid injuries, I'm hoping to get back up to 40ish this week, which should not be too difficult since I have an 18 miler on Sunday. (I'm starting to remember the realization I had during CIM training last year, that when you're doing legitimate long runs on a weekly basis, getting in high-ish mileage becomes a LOT easier. Stupid injuries nonwithstanding, I mean.)


  1. That was a fantastic long run! Double points for no chafing- that is winning for sure. I hope that your hamstring continues to be a non issue, but it sounds like after your 3 days off it is. I am so jealous you are running CIM.

  2. Nice! Sounds like you're hitting your stride at just the right time. Glad the hamstring issue went away.

    1. Here's hoping! Who knows, I might actually have a decent race in Healdsburg. :)

  3. That night time park photo is amazing!! I was running there this morning, it's such a treat to run in GG Park!! Fantastic long run, well done!!

  4. Bummer on the hamstring pull, sounds like you managed it well.
    That run pic looks awesome!
    3.7 mile loop is perfect. Sounds like you have a good spot!
    Eventageddon in SF this weekend, what event are you going to? I'm only going to the Stanford game, I think they'll get back on the winning track over Arizona.

    1. Heh, yep -- definitely not driving if I can avoid it! (Or planning my driving strategically.) Going to the Stanford game for sure, maybe some of Hardly Strictly, & we'll see whether the weather ends up being friendly for seeing the Angels or not.

  5. Super nice long run! I have never run late at night in GGP. I sometimes (lately very rarely) run in the dark in the morning, but always figured in the dark at night was more dangerous (not true, but my perception). This makes me want to plan a group run to try it one day, though!

    1. I would totally be up for an evening group run! I run in my neighborhood & the panhandle in the dark pretty often (mostly by necessity) & there are enough people around there that it doesn't feel too sketchy. I feel fairly safe on JFK & Kezar/MLK because there are lots of street lights & usually other people around, but I don't like going much further west than that if it's getting dark. (I did it once and it was pretty nerve racking.) Late evening/dusk is perfect, though!