Monday, February 10, 2014

Recovery Observations + Shoe Updates

GOD, it is such a gift to be able to run--for any amount of time, with any level of frequency--again. The 8-10 minutes I get on the treadmill every couple of days? Priceless. After years of countless treadmill runs where every minute seemed to stretch into at least three and I couldn't WAIT to do something, *anything* else besides stare at those little red LED numbers, it's amazing how these runs are always over before I know it. (Am I seriously wishing for more time on the 'mill? How's that for irony?)

When you only get 10 minutes and you're trying to savor every second of it, it's amazing how aware you become of everything about what you're body is doing. And apparently, for reasons I don't understand, in my six weeks off from running my form has actually changed dramatically for the better. I find myself leaning forward with no problem (something I was working on but struggling with before the stress fracture), landing on the inner part of my ball of foot / midfoot with less effort, and engaging my glutes & hamstrings so much more easily.

(After the AlterG post I got a question about why I'm trying to run more on the inside part of my foot. This is why:

Left: Windsor Green Half Marathon, May 2012.
Right: Healdsburg Half Marathon, October 2012.

The left foot, I pretty much have under control at this point. The real trick has been getting my right foot to land flat without my right knee collapsing in, which my PT thinks may have played a nonzero part in my hip flexor tear last May. So I've been doing extra strength work for those particular muscles.)

Part of me wonders if this has to do with spending so much time on the bike. With that I definitely find I have to use my glutes & hamstrings a lot, especially doing speed & tempo workouts, so it makes sense that those muscles would be stronger now. (Triathletes, you may have more insight into this than I do!) Also, the fact that my average speed on the spin bike at easy-but-not-too-easy effort has gone from 12 mph to nearly 14 mph seems not insignificant.

The nice thing about being forced to run in short intervals and not having the pressure of an upcoming race is that I have the luxury of focusing on form instead of mileage. I mean yes, I was working on form a lot when I had Berkeley Half and KP Half and NVM on the schedule, but if in the middle of a run my legs would get tired from running with really good form, I was definitely more likely to be like, "Okay, I did a bunch of form miles, but [x] race is only [y] weeks away, so I HAVE to get the miles in, even if my form for the rest of this run is maybe not so great." For the time being, I think I want to institute and all-form-all-the-time rule -- If my legs get too tired to keep up good form, I'd rather take a little walking break & end up with slightly less mileage than get all the mileage but wear myself out too much to run well the whole time. (So basically it'll be like the Couch-2-5K of running form.)


OK here's the thing about getting injured towards the end of the year: You get to spend all of January getting all kinds of crazy coupons & emails about sales & discounts from all your favorite running stores, sometimes on shoes you've been eying for a while.

Boring responsible angel brain: You don't need those shoes. You have plenty of running shoes, and oh BTW, did I mention you can't even use them right now???

Smooth-talkin' rationalizin' devil brain: You know you're going to buy them anyway, and who KNOWS when there'll be another sale/coupon/whatever like this? Really, it's irresponsible NOT to buy them!

You can probably guess who won the majority of those battles. And then just as you're starting to be able to run again and maybe put some of those new shoes into use, you get sent a prototype pair to wear test. So I guess what I'm saying is that maybe sometime around March, I'll have some shoe reviews for you that I'm really excited about.

Aw, what's this, now?????



* * *

Grand Total: 61.65 miles

    * 5.35 running
    * 30 easy (bike)
    * 6.7 speed (bike)
    * 8.3 tempo (bike)
    * 11.3 elliptical


Afternoon 1.4 run (4 x 2:00 on / 2:00 off); p.m. karate + light strength

For I think the third week in a row I woke up on Monday feeling like absolute death. At this point I've pretty much concluded that our house is harboring some sort of mold that I'm horrifically allergic to & being in the house over the weekend is too much. I had to skip my usual Monday morning strength session because of a classroom observation, but honestly I think if it hadn't been for that I would have stayed home because I just felt that bad.

I've really been enjoying getting back into karate, although I have learned that I have to take it easy on my leg & give myself lots of breaks. There's even been some protest from the non-injured parts of my legs--they're still in the process of getting used to kicking high again, which tends to cause achey hamstrings (and whatever those tendons in there are as well).


a.m. 3.75 elliptical / p.m bike - 3.5 warm up, 4 x (5:00 @ 5K effort / 3:00 easy), 5.35 cool down = 14 speed.

I usually try to do 45 minutes of bike or elliptical on double days, but I was still feeling pretty crappy Tuesday morning, particularly in the chest / sinuses / breathing areas, and just making it to half an hour was miserable enough as it was. Fortunately I was feeling relatively human again by the afternoon & was able to make it up on the bike.


a.m. strength work / afternoon 12.9 bike / p.m. karate (at which I did my first flying axe kick in nearly two months, which was pretty sweet. Alas, no camera!).


a.m. 1.75 run (5 x 2:00 w/ 2:00 walk breaks) & 3.5 elliptical / p.m. 4 elliptical

THE GOOD: No leg pain on the treadmill! I think the healing may be far enough along that I can start running every other day instead of every three.

THE BAD: On Thursday afternoon I suffered massive carb fail. I felt like I'd eaten enough & well throughout the day & even had a couple of teaspoons of honey in my tea right before I left work for the gym, just to be safe. But WOW, not 15 minutes in and I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out from hunger. I did 30 minutes instead of my usual 45 (because I'm pretty sure I would have passed out otherwise), scarfed the banana I had in the car, then gunned it home & proceeded to devour half a box of Triscuits (which are my new favorite source of whole grains).


Strength work + bike - 3.2 warm up, 2 x (16:00 @ marathon effort / 3:00 easy), 2.1 cool down = 13.6 tempo.

Thanks to some schedule weirdness on Friday, I got to do these two workouts back-to-back, which suuuuucked. I did slightly less strength stuff than usual because I didn't want to ruin my tempo, er, ride, but even so, I could tell as soon as I started that I was tired & it would not be a particularly speedy ride.

Saturday: Rest / beer it up, yo.

All sours, all the time at The Monk's Kettle. Not joking, I cannot
remember the last time I was out til nearly one in the morning. SAD!

Sunday: 2.2 run (6 x .25 run w/ 2:00 walk breaks)

Technically I did violate the terms of my parole PT on Sunday by running on pavement, but the weather was nasty & I just wasn't all that enthusiastic about spending as much time driving to & from the track as I would actually running.


  1. It's so nice to read your silver lining to your injury. You'll come out of this with awesome form.

    Nice shoes - I officially have shoe envy.

    1. Thank you!! Hoping I'll be able to get some use out of them soon. :)

  2. Which Altras are those?? I love the Superior, but since they're more of a trail shoe, I'm looking for a good road version. Anyway, glad you're able to use them soon! :D

    1. In the second-most-eye-roll-inducing shoe name ever, they're "The One." I still feel like overall the Altras seem to have thicker soles than I really want, but as far as I could tell, this is the "sveltest" one of the bunch.

    2. I know, the names are horrible. There used to a minimalist Altra shoe called "The Eve" (I think - the male version was "The Adam". Ugh). Not sure what happened to them. The Superior has a 12mm sole and doesn't feel that thick, so I wonder if The One, with a 13mm sole, will be similar. They just came out with an update to the Superior and they are SO ugly. Might have to stock up on the original version...

    3. So far I've only walked around in them, & they seem to have a pretty nice ground feel (not too squishy or anything). We'll see how running in them works -- I did as they suggested & erred on the side of too big (I'm usually a 7.5 or 8 depending on the brand so I went with an 8) & they feel REALLY loose on my feet. I know part of it is getting used to the toe box (which I like) but the rest of the shoe feels like it might slide around on my foot. I feel like I have to lace them up super tight to keep them in place. But who knows, it may be totally different when I'm actually running in them.

    4. (But OMG, they really are ugly as sin. My boyfriend says they look like giant clown shoes, or duck feet.)

    5. A few online reviews and the ShoeFtr on the Running Warehouse site suggests 1/2 size down for The One vs other Altra models. They should feel roomy, but not loose... though I do have to wear thicker socks with The Superior. If I wear my ultra lightweight Injinjis, I slide around in them.

      And yes, they are so ugly, especially looking down at them. But in photos they look okay. ;)

    6. Ah, interesting. We'll see how they work!

  3. Hopefully you are able to get back out there training soon - you have had a tough year and a half it seems. Seems like you are battling injuries a lot. If you've always ran with the form of your foot landing like that, then maybe it is fine - but I don't think I've ever seen anyone run like that before.

    1. Oh, believe me, it's most definitely not fine! The crazy supination is how I ended up with tendinitis in the outside of my feet after CIM '12. (I definitely don't do it anywhere near as severely now as I did when those pictures were taken.) But other than that, it seems to be more of a symptom (of weak / tight muscles in certain places) than a cause.

  4. For me the honey would have been a big mistake. I struggle with regulating my blood sugar, and a source of straight sugar like that before a workout would be a disaster: my glucose would spike and crash hard. Do you think that could be the case for you? I know I'm much more sensitive than most people, but it's possible.

    1. I don't *think* so, which I only say because I pretty routinely have a gel right before a race or speed / tempo workout which is always fine (& at least theoretically should prevent blood sugar spiking), so I wouldn't think honey would be all that different. I'm at least half-guessing, though, so who knows. Since I've been tracking my carbs lately and coming up woefully short just about every day, though, I'm more inclined to blame it on that.

  5. I think you're right, in theory -- that biking and even swimming engage the hamstrings and glutes more naturally than running. (I've seen this as one of the biggest points in favor of triathletes getting a bike fit: you can make sure you're actively using your hamstrings/glutes to save the other muscles in your legs for the run.) I'm still so stupidly quad-dominant that I have to REALLY think about engaging the back of my body while I'm biking, but I think people with less- (or differently-)effed-up bodies do it more by default.

  6. You did the right thing by buying those shoes! I'm serious, you will use them soon enough. I bought 4 pairs of new running shoes in the beginning of January, I was in the US and couldn't pass on the sales.
    Great that you are running again, enjoy!

    1. Thanks for helping me justify it. ;)

  7. Did you ever get your bike fit? Because if you've been biking more and it doesn't fit you right, then it can definitely overstress your hips and stuff. And, yeah, you have to be careful about weak-ass hamstrings/glutes.

    1. Alas, I'm limited to the gym spin bikes, where the only thing you can adjust is the seat height. I suspect it's not perfect, but I feel like I can use my glutes/hamstrings pretty well, and it's not actively uncomfortable. (I am terrified of real actual bikes....)

  8. Whoa, that is a crazy-looking foot landing! How does that happen? In fact how does that become an automatic (rather than 'natural') position for you?

    And...are those the Mizuno Ekidens? Let us know how they work for you! I'm eyeing those, the New Balance RC1100 or the Saucony Type A5 for my next pair...

    1. Yes, they are the Ekidens! I'm hoping to compare them to the Hitogamis & see which I like better. I also really want to try the A5's, but I'm trying to exercise at least a *little* restraint!

      I suspect I developed the crazy supination over a period of years when I was having REALLY bad shin splints (probably from over pronating) & actively running on the edges of my feet was the only way I could get some relief. Over time that habit just kind of became my new normal. It's not nearly that bad now, but I'm still working on a happy medium.

  9. Serious YAY for legitimate running shoe usage!!!!!