Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ECLIPSE! and, RUNNING IS HARD! also, DONUT POISONING!

Did you manage to survive the eclipse?? Hopefully no squirrels speaking to you with the face of a child or cats & dogs living together??

We had about 76% totality here & although my camera refused to fully cooperate, there were some cool pinhole leaf images.


There's a partial eclipse in there somewhere....

Running-wise, week 8 wasn't a *terrible* week, but it also wasn't exactly the week I'd planned. As usual, things got off to a pretty decent start with morning strength work and karate on Monday and a solid speed session (9.5 miles) at the track on Tuesday. All paces were hit and nothing felt weird or off.

That is, until I got home, and noticed that some of the painful spots in my shins from the week before had returned. And there was one tender painful spot in particular on the left side that did not get better as the evening went on, and in fact the pain was bad enough to be actively annoying and keep me up half the night and irritate me the entire next day at work.

Generally, I don't freak out too much about painful shins. I've always gotten shin splints, and after years of seeing a wide range of professionals and trying every imaginable intervention on earth, I've come to the conclusion that they're largely due to tight calves, so I do try to roll and stretch them out as much as possible (y'know. When I think about it).

It used to be that the possibility of a real-life-honest-to-god stress fracture was a kind of bogey man that scared the crap out of me any time the shin splints got bad or started to feel a little more localized, but it always went away without ever showing any of the really tale-tell signs of a stress fracture. So shin pain became sort of this ritual where I'd wring my hands and whisper to myself, "Gee, I hope I don't have a stress fracture" but then also roll my eyes at myself going, "For the last time, chill, you so do not have a stress fracture." But, that was before I lived through two of them, so these days they feel a lot more like a legitimate concern.

(For the idly curious: PTs guessed that the first sfx--fibula, left leg--was a result of using my left leg to compensate for worrying about the recently torn muscle in my right hip, and the second--tibia, also left leg--was a result of trying too hard to shift my form to running on the middle of the ball of my foot rather than the outside, which is more my natural tendency (and once left me with tendinitis in both feet). In neither situation was I running even *remotely* a lot, nor had I made any changes in terms of footwear or running surfaces, which I just mention because although those are the most common reasons for stress fractures, they can happen for other reasons, too.)

This pain on Tuesday and Wednesday was weird in that it definitely felt like bone pain (once you've had a bone injury you will never mistake it for anything else) and definitely felt localized to one spot, but I did not have pain while walking, running, or hopping on one leg (key sfx indicators). Also the spot felt as if it was right behind my tibia, right where the muscle attached, which made me wonder if it was some kind of weirdness where my (inevitably over-tight) calf muscles were pulling on the bone in some way and that was what was causing the pain.


Cue allllll the rolling

There was no karate on Wednesday so I'd planned an easy 8-10 miler, but given that the spot on my shin had been aching all day, I figured it was smarter to skip the run and instead take a big dose of extra calcium & then grab a nap. (Fun fact: Not sleeping enough increases your risk of stress fractures, because deep sleep is when your body releases a lot of the hormones that do the work of rebuilding tissue damage from exercise.)

Thankfully by Thursday everything felt normal, though I still felt really, really tired. (Fun fact #2: Lately I've felt like I'm running 60 miles a week rather than low to mid 40s, for which I blame stress, lack of sleep, and not eating as well as I should be largely due to lacking a kitchen.) Friday and Saturday went fine, and on Sunday I had a 14 mile long run schedule; alas, it was cut short due to basically giving myself donut poisoning that morning (don't ask) so I ended up with only 10.3 miles.

So, yeah. It's been a week!

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 8 of 14 * * *

Monday, August 14, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 7 of 14: Cut-Back Week / Cookin' in the Bathroom

A couple of solid workouts still this week, but cutting back on the total mileage a bit. Going into it I found myself thinking, "Do I really need a cut-back week? I feel fine!" Come Tuesday evening, though, the answer was a clear, "Uhhhh, yes. Yes I would very much like a cutback week, please and thank you."

To be honest, I am definitely feeling more beat up so far this training cycle than I ever did training for CIM last fall, and running WAY less mileage on average (and less than I'd planned, at least thus far). I'm not really sure what to chock that up to, except maybe that whole thing about your body doesn't distinguish physical stress from mental/emotional stress, and last fall we definitely, DEFINITELY were not living in a construction zone and, oh yeah, without an actual kitchen. (Until you've scrambled eggs in the microwave and washed your dishes in the bathroom sink, you have not lived.)


Current state of the kitchen

Also we just learned that they want to demo the bathroom in a week or two, so while I'm proud of us for sticking it out for nearly six months, it may actually be time to move out & let them finish the rest of the work without us in the way.

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 7 of 14 * * *

Monday, August 7, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 6 of 14: Drama-Free Training

I'm sure you've all seen this meme floating around:

Now I am under no illusions that I'm one of the truly fast kids, but I generally finish in the top 5-20% when I race and have podiumed my share of small local races here & there, & that sometimes seems to give some people the idea that I feel like the lady in the top picture when I'm running.

I find this hilarious. Like. I've been long-distance running since the mid-90s and I can count on maybe two hands all the times when I've felt like the lady in the top picture. On a good day I feel a lot like the kid in the bottom pic; on the tougher days, I feel maybe a little more like this:

And you know what? I'm really 100% fine with that. Not feeling fresh and peppy every day is the reality of cumulative fatigue and actually training hard enough, in terms of quality and/or volume, to improve. Honestly, if I started to feel like the lady in the top picture too often, I'd assume I wasn't training enough & needed to step it up.

I definitely went through a phase (around the time I started doing races more frequently and actually making an effort to get faster, ca. 2008-2011ish) of feeling like the lady in the top photo is what it should feel like, at least once you're in decent shape. The running blog world of that time did not help matters, with all its #blessed this and #humbled that and post-workout pictures featuring peppy smiles and perfect makeup and nary a hair out of place.

Seriously, I could not figure it out. People seemed absolutely brimming with joy and bursting at the seams with #gratitude after every [flawlessly instagrammed] run. This was before it was trendy to #keepitreal, and I remember wondering as I perused the internet if I was doing this training thing wrong somehow because where were all the posts about "Eh, today was a run" or "8 easy miles, fine" or even "Ugh, tired today, really wanted a nap instead."

As it turns out, those make for less heart-able Instagram posts.

At this point I feel pretty comfortable in my own running skin. I know I don't look like a lady in a Nike ad, even on my best days, and I don't expect to feel like one either. My bar for what counts as a "good" run is a lot lower. (Did it get done? Am I not injured? #winning) I've embraced my slow, comfy 10-10:30 easy pace, even though most of the time it feels more like a shuffle than really running (because guess what, results, bitches). These days, for the most part, the thick of training for a goal race feels neither fantastic or awful. It just kind of...is.

I was reading on some coach's blog or newsletter recently (though I can't find it now) about how that's how he knows an athlete's training is going well. Their training log notes aren't filled with breathless raves about how magical a run felt or how #blessed they, nor with angsty rants about how terrible it was; for the most part it's just full of miles and ticked-off workouts and quick notes about how most runs were just kind of fine.

He referred to this steady, unremarkable, sometimes boring ticking off of workouts as drama-free training, which I immediately wanted emblazoned on a T-shirt, because yes! More of that! I don't need scads of effortless tempos that feel like I'm flying or spiritually fulfilling, life-changing runs that I can plaster all over Instagram. All I need is the work, mostly slow and steady, plugging away, unceremoniously depositing workouts into the First Bank of Training, one mile at a time. I don't need to feel like the Nike ad. I just need to get it done.

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 6 of 14 * * *

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SJRNRHM Week 5 of 14: Getting in Miles, but Losing the Kitchen

Things at our house have been getting interesting.

Did I mention that we're five months into a massive remodel? We're five months into a massive remodel. Now that there's a real floor, stairs, proto-walls, and windows, the (previously unpermitted and very very not-up-to-code) downstairs area is starting to feel like a real house!








The next step is to demo our crappy upstairs kitchen & start building a fancy MORE BETTER kitchen and powder room, and then finally demo our crappy upstairs bathroom & turn it into a smaller but much nicer en suite. Demo on the kitchen starts Wednesday, so we spent a lot of our Sunday cleaning out the various cabinets & drawers.





Meanwhile, the "kitchen" is now in the living room.



There are a lot of unanswered questions currently, like how are we feeding ourselves without resorting to takeout every night, where is the large refrigerator going, and what happens when they finally come to demolish our bathroom. Fingers crossed the vast majority of the work will be done within the next three months, but honestly I'll just be happy if things go back to normal by the end of this year.

In the meantime, training for stuff!

* * * Rock 'N Roll San Jose Half: Week 5 of 14 * * *