Running continues to progress. All my muscles are sore from grinding the lacrosse ball into them. I spend a really disconcerting (to me) amount of time with Thera-bands wrapped around different ones of my limbs / joints. I still don't sleep enough. (I never do.)
No pedicure comments plzthnx.
I've been doing my weekday runs on the gym treadmill & my Sunday runs outside at home. The first time I ran on concrete after a couple of weeks on the treadmill only, it freaked me out a little. There was uneven sidewalk, startling changes in grade, unpredictable pedestrians, those knobbly yellow panels on the corner sidewalk ramps that are supposed to provide extra traction when it's wet out, but that actually just make it more slippery...
You guys this is not better.
(Update - So I just learned from bt that these are for helping blind people find the ramp in the curb, not for giving me traction in the rain. It is always good to know when things are not in fact trying to kill me.)
All this meant that, in addition to focusing intently on my form & footstrike (which takes a lot of brain space just now), I also had to think & react to a bunch of other things in order to not slip/stumble/fall on my ass. Which made me feel like sidewalk running was maybe still a bit advanced for this stage of recovery & I should just stick to the nice, uniform, predictable treadmill belt.
And I do think there's something to that. On the treadmill, I really can focus on how I'm running without having to think about anything else and work on adjusting minute details. On the other hand, I have to choose a specific pace & then try to fit my form & stride into it, which is sometimes okay & sometimes kind of uncomfortable. Mostly it's a game of speed up/slow down, trying to calibrate my effort level/cadence/stride lengths so that it feels natural & effortless.
Outside, I do have to think harder about footing & not running into things/people, but I can also pretty much let my body run however it wants within the bounds of good form. For the most part I've been ignoring pace during my outdoor run-walk interval sessions because I'm not training for anything & have only really been focusing on form. Last Sunday, though, I paid more attention to my pace & splits on my outside run for the first time, and it suddenly became clear (I think) why trying to run with good form & cadence & all that on the treadmill is so difficult.
I took the first interval semi-easy to get warmed up, the on the second one just tried to settle into a good cadence at a nice, comfortable level of effort while still keeping good form. At a certain point I felt like I was maybe working just *slightly* too hard for an easy run & should back off just a little.
And then I looked at my watch & realized I was running sub-10K PR pace. Those are numbers I haven't seen in months. Even once I'd forced myself to settle back into the nice, comfortable cadence from before, I was still running pretty close to half-marathon race pace.
Seriously. Until I'm back to doing tempo/threshold runs, I would never try to run on the treadmill at those paces. Marathon pace (low eights) has felt like as quick a clip as I'm comfortable with. But outside, if I'm going to run with good form & foot strike & cadence & all that stuff I've been working on, mid-sevens seems to be about as slow as I can manage. Could this be why I feel like I can never get the treadmill speed just right? Should I just crank that baby up & see if everything falls into place?
(Sidenote: Am I excited that mid-sevens are feeling this comfortable so quickly? Of course I am. But I won't be that excited about it until I'm doing it for more than four minutes at a time, sans walk breaks.)
THE PART ABOUT GOALS:
A few weeks back, I had some (very scientific & in no way completely arbitrary) goals for running on my 33rd birthday, which I did not quite make. In descending order: run for 33 minutes, run 3.3 miles, run 23 minutes (my birthday was 2/23), run 2.3 miles. I did run 3.33 miles, but I did it by running ten third-of-a-miles with 1:00 walk breaks. It was still the farthest I've run since the stress fracture and felt really good, so I was not too sad about still being in a place where I need the walk breaks.
BUT. My PT has said that in not too long I'll probably be able to run for twenty straight minutes, and you know what twenty minutes is. For me, on a good day, that's damn near a 5K.
It's been a while since I stood at a starting line & in spite of the fact that I know it'll be a while before I'm in racing shape, I'm kind of starting to miss it. A lot. So before we go out of town for three weeks on April 20, my goal is to make it to some short, local races. The candidates:
MARCH 15: Get Lucky 5K (Rohnert Park, CA).
As I'm sure you guessed, this is a St. Pat's-themed fun run, & put on by the same folks who do the Santa Rosa Marathon. Sure, it's a bit of a drive just to run a 5K and admittedly kind of pricey (I usually top out at ~$30 for a 5K & this is $50), but it's not like I've been spending tons of cash on entry fees lately & it looks like it would be a lot of fun. Also the $50 includes a hoodie, beer mug, and (to quote the website) "beer, beer, & more beer!" With an 11am start, a post-race Irish buffet, & being close to Santa Rosa (read: wine country), I may be able to convince Don to come with & then go do some local wine tasting after, which would make the drive more worth doing.
(Update #2 - A couple days after I mentioned this to Don, I posted on the social medias about how everyone should come run this race with me to celebrate my return to running double digit minutes at a time. When he saw it he got this horrified look on his face. "Wait. You didn't mean you actually want me to run this race with you, right?" I gave him a reassuring pat on the leg & was like, "Oh. Oh, honey, no. No no no. I just want you to drink with me." & he was like, "*Phew*!" We are not one of those RunCouplesTM. Not even a little bit.)
APRIL 5: Spring Forward 5K/10K (Mountain View, CA). This race is a fundraiser sponsored by Microsoft & takes place partly on the Microsoft campus in Silicon Valley. I've had it on my radar for a while, but recently I was down at that campus for work so I've gotten a look at the course, which was kind of neat. I would really like to run the 10K if I'm up to ~45 minutes by then, but if not, it's good to know there's a 5K I could drop down to.
APRIL 19: Big Bunny 5K (Cupertino, CA). Another charity race down on the Peninsula. This is literally the day before I get on a plane for Italy, so who knows how well that will work out logistically. It's pretty close, though, & I got a $5 discount code on it, so I'm keeping it in mind.
It should go without saying that none of these would be target races. They'd be more just for fun, just to get out there & race again & convince my brain I'm not injured anymore & see how I feel. (It's also highly unlikely that I'll end up running all three, though I did go ahead & register for Get Lucky). By April I might actually have done enough running that Spring Forward could serve as some kind of fitness gauge, but still, I have no illusions that I'll be able to *really* train for a fast 5-10K by then. I just want to run hard & fast & see where I am (y'know, before I go to Italy for three weeks, do almost no running, & gorge myself on wine & pasta).