Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mystery Suck-Run Theater + an actual kinda-sorta (ish?) long run

It's funny how individual patterns tend to emerge with runners. For example, I remember reading a while back about an elite marathon runner (can't remember who) who invariably had her worst workout of the season on the Tuesday before going on to have a fantastic "A" race on Sunday. She would feel awful, her stride would feel off, everything would feel super hard, she wouldn't hit her paces, the works. The first couple of times this happened she had a total freakout (as one might), but a few marathons into her career, she & her coach just accepted that this was a thing that happened, completely unrelated to anything they could control (sleep/nutrition/hydration/rest days/etc.), and that it didn't predict how Sunday's race would go. Eventually they were just like, "Well, it's Terrible Tuesday, let's get it over with & move on."

I noticed this happening this summer when I started running on most Wednesdays for the first time in a while. Generally in the past I haven't run on Mondays or Wednesdays because a) there isn't generally time before karate unless I leave work early, and b) it can be tough sometimes to do an honest run and then go do a solid, cadiovascularly-demanding martial arts workout as well. (I can do it, but the quality of my karate tends to not be as good, which as an instructor, I feel self-conscious about.)

Never miss a chance to throw down with your significant other. (I am wearing one glove because at that point we thought my finger might be broken.)

But I wanted to experiment with a six-days-per-week training schedule, so I decided to make the sacrifice while training for Santa Rosa & try to leave a little early on Wednesdays to get in a short, easy run before class.

And OH MY LORD those runs universally sucked. I think I maybe had one good one all summer. The rest of the time I felt exhausted and inevitably had to deal with some kind of not-that-insignificant pain. (It could be foot cramps, tight Achilles/calves, shin splints, back/shoulder pain, sore quads or hamstrings, etc., things that almost never happened on any other day of the week.) Sometimes it got better a couple miles in; sometimes it didn't. Sometimes I'd push through the entire assigned mileage; sometimes I'd claw & crawl my way to four slow, achey miles & call it quits.) Thursday would be better, Friday better still, & inevitably I'd have my best runs of the week on Saturday & Sunday. After taking Monday off, my Tuesday track workouts were generally fine-to-good, and then Wednesday we were back to the ninth circle of hell.

It was kind of liberating to just accept that it was a thing that happened. At least I could mentally prepare myself for it. But I always felt like there had to be some explanation. Like, maybe Sunday long run + Monday strength & karate + Tuesday track + Wednesday morning strength work was just the wrong combination, even though I took Monday off from running. Maybe I needed to sleep more on Tuesday nights. Eat better. Something. But I never did find that smoking gun.

I am not marathon training now (except in the largest-scale terms) and feel no need to run six days a week while I base-build, so in general I'm back to taking Monday & Wednesday off from running. Schedules get funky sometimes, though, and this week, it's just worked out that running on Sunday and Tuesday was not going to happen. So instead, I've worked a little more on other days, left early on Monday & Wednesday, & shoe-horned in my usual easy six miles before class. And honestly, until Wednesday, I had not thought once about those horrific ninth-circle-of-hell runs from this summer.

But holy hell. Precisely .1 miles out my door on Wednesday, I was already having my worst run in months.

My feet hurt. My Achilles tendons felt like they were going to snap. I felt utterly drained. Heart-rate wise, I've been mostly staying in the 140s on these easy runs, but even running in the 10:00-10:30 range, it felt so hard and my heart rate was up around 160.

Wednesdays!!!! I shake my fist at you.

Oh, you guys. It was so, so hard. When I hit one mile, I couldn't remember what my life had been like before I started that run. At that point I had already turned around and started heading back home. To do what, I didn't know. Quit? Maybe. Sit in the floor for a while? Not sure. But as I was running back (so slowly. So, soooo slowly), it hit me that the shoes were not helping. They felt too squishy, too sloppy, were obscuring the ground too much for me to get a good feel of it. And suddenly I desperately wanted nothing more than to get out of them & back into my good ol' Kinvara 5's.

Which is a little bizarre, because the shoes I was wearing are ones I've been running in all summer. I don't absolutely *LURV* everything about them, but they have their good points, particularly on days when my feet are feeling a bit sore from a lot of pounding. (In fact, I've had a review sitting in my 'drafts' folder, 99% done, for months now, which I should just freaking publish already so I don't have to look at it anymore.) It wasn't that I thought the entire problem was the shoes, but man, I just felt so sure they weren't helping and putting on the Kinvaras would feel so much better.

And, it did. Once home, I wiped my sweaty face off with a cold towel, switched my shoes, took a few deep breaths, & headed back out the door, just to see if there was any chance of getting anymore running done. I stayed close to home, and though I still didn't feel great at first, my feet and legs felt better, and gradually I settled in to a reasonably comfortable groove (though even the slightest incline still felt considerably more difficult than it should have). I finished my planned six miles, at a slightly lower pace & heart rate than I have been, in fact, so that was something. (But seriously, I would not have blamed myself nor anyone else for just throwing in the towel, with how absolutely awful I felt in the beginning.) On the other hand, there goes my theory about how this summer's Woeful Wednesdays were the fault of a long run on Sunday & a track session on Tuesday, since in the five days prior to this run I'd had four rest days & one easy six miler, on the heels of two pretty low mileage weeks.

So yeah. Running is weird & bodies are weird & they do weird stuff together, sometimes in patterns, for no good reason at all.

* * *

Originally I was kind of following an actual schedule, but like I mentioned, life has been wacky lately, so more and more I've kind of just been running *about* the number of miles on my schedule whenever I have time, because who knows when time I'd planned to spend running will suddenly disappear without advance notice. This week worked out better than my last two, thankfully, and in addition to shoe-horning in all the mid-week runs, I got my long run in as well.

Doing the low heart rate stuff makes long runs kind of confusing. Mentally, I don't usually think of a run as properly "long" until it's at least 14 or 15 miles. Because I'm running so much slower now, though, the time it takes me to run 12 miles is the same time in which I'd normally run about 15 miles I think, so it definitely feels long time-wise.

WEEK OF 10/20-10/26

Grand Total: 36 miles

    * 24 easy
    * 12 long
    * 3 x 45:00 strength workouts

Monday: a.m. strength work / afternoon 6 easy / p.m. karate

    Since I didn't get my Sunday long run in the day before, I started the week off with an extra run on what is usually my non-running day. I'm not sure why (since I was coming off of three days of basically complete rest), but halfway through this run, I started having some of the old familiar pain in my right leg. As usual, most of the pain was in my adductor and wrapping around my quad from my outer hip to my inner knee. It was very mild, but continued in to karate, to the point that I had to bow out of some of my basics because I could barely lift my right leg without a lot of pain. Thankfully, I spent maybe half an hour just working with students & not physically doing much, & that seemed to take care of things, because I was able to pull out a set of actually pretty awesome-feeling kata in the last half hour or so of class. Still, it makes me nervous any time I feel even the faintest hint of that upper right leg stuff.

Tuesday: Rest

    We spent the evening interviewing realtors again, which kind of precluded any running. Which was fine, actually, because for some reason my quads were TRASHED. Currently I'm blaming it on my first triple in god knows how many weeks/months.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / afternoon 6 easy / p.m. karate

    GOD that run sucked. It got better, but it still sucked.

Thursday: 6 easy

    Much better than Wednesday, but for some reason the narrow toe box & snugness of the Kinvara 4's started bugging me on this run, almost to the point of causing my feet to cramp up. Maybe because I've been running in the wider 5's so much lately.

Friday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 6 easy

    A lovely, cool, breezy run. I tried out the Newtons that I've been wearing less and less and less over the last few months; eventually they were semi-okay, I guess, but much like with the K4's the day before, they felt kind of tight and crampy on my feet for the first few miles. They also felt really stiff, & honestly, every time I wear them, I see the point of the lugs less and less. (Honestly, it kind of makes me feel a little like I'm running in those clip-in cycling shoes.)

Saturday: Rest/football

    All my week day runs had worked out as planned and we had a football game in the middle of the day, so it seemed like it made sense to take Saturday off before Sunday's long run.

    When we left Stanford, it was warm and sunny. Twenty minutes later halfway back to the city, not so much. :-/ At this point, though, hey, we'll take any rain we can get.

    Honestly, for most of this day, I actually really felt like I wanted to go for a run, and almost did! I tweaked my right hamstring on Friday and it was still a bit sore, though, so I forced myself to channel all that enthusiasm into Sunday's long run.

Sunday: 12 long

    I did the first four miles of this run in a new pair of shoes, then switched into my trusty Kinvara 5's for the rest. This was my longest run both distance- and time-wise since Santa Rosa, and it felt great, so that's encouraging.

One more week of all super-easy miles, after which I'm planning to start doing some marathon pace / effort (?) runs on Tuesdays, which, given that I haven't seen a split faster than 9:40 in nearly two months, should be ummmmmmmmm interesting.


  1. It's weird that your sucky run is the same day every week. Mine just appear randomly. It must be something to do with your schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if you were spot on with your Sunday/Tuesday run combo theory.

  2. I couldn't imagine working out 6 days a week - I guess right now I generally do 4 days? I also subscribe to the "sucky run prior to race day" - I remember that I had probably my worst run in months the Wed before SJ Rock N Roll, and I promptly went out and got a PR, and it's among my best races ever lol.

  3. It might have more to do with all the other life stuff that builds into Wednesday. Like Wednesdays are usually exhausting period.

    But, yeah, or your body just does it's own shit. and that's just how that goes.

  4. Do I have poor reading comprehension or did you not mention which shoe you are in? As a fellow Kinvara-lover, I'm always looking for shoes to try or avoid. I am sorely tempted to go back to my not-so-stable kinvaras. I adored that shoe.

    1. Heh, no, I just felt like I should put the damn review up rather than being a tease in this post. But apparently that backfired!

      The shoes were the 2nd incarnation of the PureFlows, the cushiest of the Pure line. (In fact I've put the review off for so long that the 3rd incarnation is apparently out now....) The super short version is that for me, they have a very specific niche where they work really well, but they don't work for much else at all. Real actual review coming soon, I promise!

  5. My sucky run day used to be Tuesdays because after my long run over the weekend, I'd indulge in tons of junk food and alcohol through Monday, which was always my rest day. Then I'd pay for all of that indulgence hard on Tuesday morning. Now that my schedule varies a lot more, and I might be *slightly* better about eating/drinking (well, definitely better about hydrating at least!), Tuesdays aren't too bad. Actually, when I started MAF training, Tuesdays were awesome because I felt really fresh and I was usually reaping the cardiovascular rewards of a long run over the weekend.

    I know how you feel about running marathon pace/effort after doing so many weeks of easy runs, but seriously - you will be FINE. It will be tough at first, but then your muscle memory will kick in and I bet you'll feel great. Nice job on the 12-miler, btw!