Sunday, May 31, 2015

Legit Speed Work & No Pain!

This week I finally started doing some legit speed work, which I had been putting off because my right leg had been getting complainy again post-skiing wipe out. But after reading this article and then really focusing on my left foot and throwing down 14 pain-free miles Sunday when I could previously barely get through 8, I was feeling optimistic enough to at least try some faster running and see what happened.

I think I would probably call Tuesday's workout more of a threshold-type run than speed work. The assignment was a 2 mile warm-up, a four-mile progression run moving from 8:30 pace down to sub-7:00, & a 2 mile cool down. It was a windy day, but I figured at least I had in my favor the fact that it was a headwind going out and a tailwind coming back.

The first mile felt depressingly hard, but it gradually got easier & I was able to find the higher gears. I think I must have gotten at least a little boost from the tail wind towards the end, because I remember in the last mile thinking, "Yeah, this is hard, but I could actually do it for a while," & then being startled to see that I was already running ~6:50 pace.

It probably also helped that I was hyper-focused on what my left foot was doing. During my Sunday long run, I worked really, really hard at trying to bear my weight on the inside of that foot, over my arch, rather than more on the outside of my foot (my usual bad habit), and although it was work and made my foot kind of sore, it seemed to 100% solve the problem of constant pain in my right leg. But I think focusing on that maybe distracted me from the fact that O HAI, FAST RUNNING! You got super hard in the last nine months.

My leg seemed totally fine after that run, which was I think the confidence boost I needed to go into Thursday's fartlek workout (read: *actual* speed work) without being terrified I was about to break myself again.

The assignment was 12-15 x 1:00 fast/1:00 easy. McMillan is not super picky about how fast is "fast," and personally, I didn't want to get too caught up in trying to hit specific paces. For me, this workout was more about getting my head back into running hard and reminding myself that, yes, it kind of sucks but you'll probably survive it. So I just tried to run the fast minutes at a hard-but-not-red-lining level of effort and kept the jog recoveries as slow as I needed.

The first few going uphill & into the wind were in the 7:30-7:40 pace range, but as I got over the hill & the wind died down I eventually got down into the 6:15 range. (For comparison, RunningAhead tells me that when I've been in good shape in the past, I've done similar-ish workouts on the track in the 5:30-5:50 range, so that gives me something to shoot for. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I've never done more than 8-10 at a time, so that's new.)

True, I didn't do this workout 100% accurately in that I had to stop for traffic lights sometimes (though I tried to time it so that I wasn't stopping in the middle of fast minutes), and I definitely took a two or three minute walk break about halfway through the set. (I really felt like this was fine for my first *actual* speed workout since last July.) But my biggest fear all along was that I would have too much trouble trying to control my left foot at high speed, or that I would get too fatigued & start having pain in my right leg again later in the workout, and that never happened.

In the last couple of years, I've learned that there are sort of different tiers, time-wise, where the pain can show up. For example, I might not have pain during a run, but afterwards, once I've relaxed, suddenly something hurts. Or maybe nothing hurts that day but then the next morning I'm limping. Or suddenly it hurts when I try to put on pants. Or it hurts two days later. So I've been waiting all week for it to pop up again, but so far, so good. In fact, the lingering pain that's been there for weeks is actually getting better--I actually put on pants Friday morning completely pain-free in that leg, which hasn't happened in almost two months.

As I've been getting ready to start training for SRM in earnest, my ability to do faster, harder workouts on the regs without screwing up my leg has kind of been the last hurdle, both mentally and physically. I am definitely still taking it one day at a time & ready to back off at the first sign of (more) trouble, but I would be lying if I said getting through these two workouts comfortably wasn't a pretty huge deal to me. :)


  1. You're the first person I've heard say that putting on pants hurt - except me! My doctors look at me like I'm crazy. I never did pinpoint the cause: osteitis pubis or hip labral tear.
    Glad you continue to be pain-free!

  2. This is the kind of good news that's fun to read on a Monday morning. You must be so excited to not only not be in any pain but to have also had two good speed workouts last week!

  3. Getting through the workouts pain-free should be a big deal and should be celebrated. At least most runners would agree.