Day 29 – Bah Mondays!

Week 5 of half marathon training begins. And what a dubious start. After my longest run since October 2013 on Sunday I started with a 4 mile recovery run at 9.19 min/mile pace. Nice and slow. I thought after my downhill running adventure that I might be sore on this run and after about two miles I noticed knee twinges and quad pain. But I guess I was still sleep-running as it didn’t seem that bad.

As the day wore on the quad pain got more intense. I had forgotten that my legs are not used to downhill running. Yikes! I felt that today my eyes never really opened at all and I was zombieing (new verb) my way through work. As luck would have it (or not) this was a crazy busy day and I got just about 30 mins break to have lunch in a 9 hour day. I spent 20 mins of this break icing my knee – it seemed a little swollen – and lucky for me I work in a lab with an ice machine. So I’ve got that going for me.

Last night we made pear and gorgonzola pizzas for dinner with a Greek salad. What can I say it was almost 60 F and it felt like summer.

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My tolerance for blue cheese is pretty low and I just couldn’t manage to eat the leftovers I brought for lunch. This did not help my energy levels. I think I might have to start eating more than normal – I’ve lost 4 lbs in the first 4 weeks of training which isn’t good. I had extra snacks yesterday while I watched J make more homebrew.

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Carrots and hummus. Yum!

So 4 weeks are done – that’s one third of the way through. Still loving it most of the time but the last three runs have been a bit of a roller coaster of feeling crappy followed by awesome followed by crappy again. Perfect timing for a rest day. And a check-up with the physiotherapist.

Weekly recap:

5 runs

Total mileage: 22.80 miles

Longest run of the year: 8.40 miles

Two strength workouts

Two yoga classes

Two trips to the climbing gym

Why can’t every week be a four day week?

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Day 19 – Happy Valentine’s Day!

This morning I went to the gym and did my usual strength training workout minus lunges, squats and leg-press. I came home to this.

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The way to my heart is definitely through chocolate. You can keep flowers and sappy cards I want me some chocolate. Yum! And a surprise! After all this time (8.5ish years) he still melts my heart. Aww………

I also know it’s the real deal because last night when I was making dinner he spontaneously asked if I wanted a glass of wine at the exact moment when I was thinking “My God, I need a glass of wine right now”. True love.

Dinner was sweet potato and black bean enchiladas plus all the fixins’. You might guess by now that I love avocado and jalapenos. They go with everything.

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I also like to keep my Garmin close by at all times!

Another bonus today – the new series of House of Cards is on Netflix. I loved the first season. Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara – the dream team. Can’t wait to start. Have to finish The Following first though – can’t have any unfinished business.

We’re pretty lucky in SLC that our weather has been pretty warm and mild – especially compared to the East Coast which has made running outside pretty pleasant. But we did get a weird hail/thunderstorm yesterday evening and just when I was leaving to catch the bus.

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Biggest hailstones I’ve ever seen.

Today is a rest day from running and we have plans for a hike and then dinner with friends.¬† Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. My advice is to spend it with people that you love – whomever that may be!

Day 17 – Paying attention

Yesterday I left work at 5.20 PM and was greeted with this –

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Daylight! Spring is coming. Longer days. Wearing shorts for runs. Wearing a hat – not to keep warm but to keep the sun of your face! I can’t wait. The snow is almost gone from the ground and our high today is around 50F – I’ll take it.

Last night I finally got to fulfill my craving for green curry. Tofu is a protein to keep going with meatless dinners. My mission right now is to load as many veggies as possible into each meal – carrots, mushroom, zucchini, green pepper. I also like to finish each Asian-y dish with chopped green onions, cilantro and chopped unsalted peanuts. It was good. Craving is satisfied.

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Today started with a 3.5ish mile run at a medium pace – 8.32 min/mile. I’m surprising myself right now with my ability to get out of bed at 6. I still need at least one snooze but such a big improvement compared to last summer.

My run would have been pretty uneventful if I had actually been paying attention to where my feet where going. Right at the one mile mark I fell – for the second time this winter. This time I couldn’t blame it on a slick patch of ice just an uneven sidewalk that I have run on about a hundred times already. This time I didn’t do as much damage – a small scrape and teeny bruise on my right knee.

Which brings us to…………my right knee. Today was a check-up with the PT. She looked very confused when I told her about my new injury – right knee instead of left hip. But after she “massaged” (this definitely stretches the definition of this word) my right quad it was pretty clear to her what was wrong. Overcompensating with my dominant right leg – tight right quad – inflammation above right knee – and pulling my knee cap of track. Isn’t it amazing how the cause of an injury is usually not where your actual problem is – isn’t the human body amazing/annoying?

I’ve been prescribed foam rolling, knee icing, continuing with glute strengthening exercises. I’m OK to run (yay!) but no speed stuff and I must pay attention to keeping my knee straight. This might also prevent unwanted trips to the ground!

Day 5 – It finally happened!

After a draining day at work yesterday I headed out to pick up some groceries including a stop at Trader Joes. This usually ends with me buying a ton of their delicious treats and spending muchos money. Their English Toffee is my boyfriend’s favorite and I’m usually under strict orders not to buy it. Cos if it ain’t in your house you can’t eat it. He’ll be outdoors doing manly things all weekend so he needed the calories.

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This is pretty restrained – usually I buy their 1 lb (!) bar of Swiss chocolate.

I also stocked up the veggie drawer.

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I’m trying to reduce the carbs I eat and increase the amount and variety of veggies. Also, I like peppers. I have a bunch of veggie recipes I’m planning on trying out this weekend/next week so watch out for updates.

Finally, this was waiting for me when I got home.

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Excited to start reading this.

I decided to run my 3.6 mile loop again this morning. It felt much better than yesterday. Less knee banging. A little more natural. Some parts felt really good – everything was just flowing and smooth. The ground was a little icy in places but luckily I had worn my trail shoes. I was just about to turn the corner to get back to my house and was admiring my confidence and ability to cope with slick sidewalks when disaster struck.

You know the old saying “Pride usually comes before a fall”: well I am now a living embodiment to prove it’s true. The sidewalk leading directly to my house was an ice rink so I decided I would just run on the road. As I was stepping on the road I hit a patch of ice I went down. Somehow I managed to keep my feet on the ground and felt the full impact on my elbow. Warning: Gore!

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This was my elbow under two layers of running tops. It was pretty sore but now 7 hours later it’s feeling a lot better. And on the bright side I didn’t injure my legs at all.

I felt like the universe owed my some good karma and it delivered. On my way to catch the bus to work I again decided to walk on the road and avoid the ice patch and this time instead of a spectacular fall I found $10 (literally) frozen to the road. I peeled that MOFO from the road and took it as an apology for starting my day with a bang. And all is good with the world again.

3.6 miles at 9.04 min/mile pace. Felt pretty darn good.

Monthly mileage: 75.05 miles

Not bad considering this is my back to running month. And 30 more miles than I ran in Jan 2013.

Planning on doing a strength workout and then spending my Friday night in my PJs with some wine, nachos and Scandal. Happy Friday!

Day 3 – A visit to the physical therapist

Today started with a 8.00 AM visit to the physical therapist. Luckily I got a next day appointment with someone who specializes in running and is in charge of the running (I guess you could say she runs (!)) clinic at our local orthopedic center.

I had sciatica and hip bursitis in my left hip (AKA stupid left hip SLH) and have been feeling a slight pain in SLH as I’ve been increasing my mileage. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on biomechanically and fix it once and for all. Well it turns out my bottom is exactly whats at the bottom of all my injuries – specifically my gluteus medius.

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So she pinpointed my pain to this area and then watched me running on the treadmill. I was filmed from every angle and the treadmill measured my force of impact, cadence and a whole bunch of other things. For a scientist like me, it was nice to see bar charts of everything.

I knew already that my running form isn’t perfect – but watching a 360 view of you running really shows up all your faults. There were some plus points.

Positives:

Strong core

Good cadence

Negatives:

Tight hips

Overstriding

Knees collapsing together

Weak glutes

Left hip collapsing

Arms out too wide

Taking everything together she came up with a plan.

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I really like the cartoon drawing!

The good news is that I don’t have to stop running. I just need to think about where my legs are going when I run. And hopefully I should be pain free in a couple of months. I think I’ll celebrate with a couple of easy miles. Although, it’s surprising how much more of an effort running becomes when you have to think about what you’re doing. But I’m hopeful that this will solve my major issues and help me train for all my races this year.

In other news the course for my April half was finally released. It’s a little different from previous years – with a couple of hilly sections. The mile 8 marker is right by my house so I can always reevaluate then. Joke – I’m going to finish. Probably. I don’t think it’ll be a PR run. Not when combined with injury rehab.

But I’m feeling pretty positive. I know what the problem is now and how to fix it – and that’s more than I can say for the last 3 or 4 months. Things are looking up!

Day 2 – cross training

Last night I saw Case Against 8 as part of the Sundance film festival Best of Fest. It’s a HBO documentary following the team of lawyers and two couples who appeal against the Prop 8 amendment in California. It was great – moving, really humanizing the couples fighting for the right to marry and (SPOILER ALERT) has a happy ending. If you get the chance you should check it out. Fun law fact: the two head (?) lawyers arguing against the constitutionality of Prop 8 were on opposite sides in the Bush v Gore case, which gave George Bush his first term. Rest assured fun law facts will not be a regular occurrence on this blog.

We met some friends at the screening. It turns out that grad students like free stuff. Who knew? We had some time to kill before our bus came (still clearing the air) so we checked out Whiskey Street, a new bar in downtown SLC.

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The bar scene is getting a little better in SLC. There are still weird alcohol laws and you can’t get anything stronger than 3.2% beer on draft :(. Lucky for me my boyfriend is a dedicated home-brewer. But if you’re ever in SLC, I’d recommend the Beer Hive, which has a crazy selection of beer and a cool ice bar. Then there’s Bar X, which is co-owned by Ty Burrell from Modern Family and has some cocktails and aged-decadence feel. Whiskey Street is pretty hip too – not common in Utah we are decidedly uncool – long beer and whiskey lists. They just need to work out the kinks for their service.

All this preamble is to say that I didn’t get up for my scheduled cross-training session. Two beers on a weeknight knocked me out. Maybe I’ve been out of Ireland too long………….Day 2 of half marathon training is a cross-training day. So I switched up my day and headed out to the gym after work. It was like stepping back in time – to Jan 1st. Crazy busy. I did my regular strength workout – focusing on core and legs. My workout is basically:

Leg press – 3 x 10 reps

Calf raises – 3 x 10 reps (slower than normal)

Bicep curl/Overhead press – 3 x 10 reps

Lunges – 3 x 10 reps

Goblet squats – 3 x 10 reps

Then hitting the floor for leg raises, bridge, planks, side planks, pushups and reverse crunches. My plan is to do one strength workout per week and a power yoga class on top of that.

Got home to make something I’ve been craving all week – thai veggie broth. Yum.

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Ready to relax for the evening. Was thinking about my hip pain and I’m pretty sure that it’s all related to my IT band. I’ve made an appointment to see a PT who specializes in running and luckily she had an open slot for tomorrow. Hopefully, she’ll give me something to work with and find out what is going on with my left side. Wish me luck!

Sunday recap

Saturday’s crockpot turned out pretty well. Although we have a ton of pulled pork in the fridge. Plus a chunk of guacamole. Lots of burritos for the next week. Yum yum yum. Everything tastes better we avocado. Today also started with crockpot prep. Chicken cacciatore from http://www.skinnytaste.com. It smells pretty good right now. Just 5 hours to go.

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Then it was on to yoga class. My local yoga studio has crazy heard early morning core class and a slightly later and slightly less intense power class. I decided on power yoga (mainly because I slept through the first class). And surprise live DJ. This was pretty cool. The music was pretty chill and flow-ey. In final resting pose they played a Jack Johnson cover of Imagine, which I had never heard before but loved. Afterward the whole class (about 60 people) did rounds of ohms. This might sound a bit new-agey but the acoustics and the energy were pretty inspiring.

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Back home to finish my banana-strawberry smoothie and banana bread while watching Scandal. I’ve just started watching this on Netflix¬† -what a great show. I am addicted.

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Today is a rest day from running. But not from foam rolling and hip strengthening. Recovery is never over.

Weekly recap:

2 yoga workouts

1 strength workout – although I think I need to dial back on the calf raises. I had pretty bad DOMS everywhere (walking shouldn’t be hard) but something strained in my calf. I think it’s better now though.

4 runs – 18.4 miles total. All the runs were easy and 2 were even outside. Thinking about it, it looks as if I’ll have to reintroduce downhill running slowly to try and give my hip a break. My plan for week one of half marathon training should keep the mileage around 18-20 miles but introducing an extra day. And a tempo run. Ugh – these are the only types of runs that I dread. Long runs fine. Hill work OK. But tempos…..No. But I think they’re the most useful for getting fast and staying fast in the race.

I’m trying to drink more water. This is especially important living in the high desert. If you ever visit SLC you will need to bring the giantest tub of moisturizer you can pack. This place is dry. I’m also trying to up the veggie intake. This week has gone pretty well. Now for more of the same.