Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Seeing as it's New Year's Eve, I decided to do a look back over the past year.

Mileage this year was looow. 2546 miles for an average weekly total of 59.2. Weak in comparison to 2009's 4362 (average week was 83.9). To be fair, last year was a healthy year for me, and I only took off somewhere between 5 and 6 weeks. This year, on the other hand, my year pretty much ended in early August (I had 2368 logged as of August 12th). It would probably be comparable if I measured overall training since I logged a lot of hours on the bike, but I don't feel like counting up cross-training for the past two years and I don't do the whole virtual miles thing.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gear Review: P90X and Its Relationship to Competitive Running


UPDATE: Gear Review: P90X Final Thoughts is now up!

A friend of mine had a question asking whether P90X is a good supplement to running as her Facebook status today, and it gave me the idea to post up a review of P90X on my blog. Now, before I start, I want to say that I'm about 8 weeks into P90X, so I have not yet completed the program. However, I have done all of the workouts multiple times, and have a pretty good idea of what's going on by now.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Short Post Today

It appears that my left side is neutral and mid-foot strikes. My right side overpronates and heel-strikes. My left side is the side that's messed up. Explain that, you crazy Chi-running, barefoot POSErs.

I'll post a real update when the holiday craziness calms down. Or since it seems like the only posts people read are my reviews (going by my my Blogger stats, anyway), I can review something for you. Brooks Defyance? RecoFit compression sleeves? The Long Green Line? Winter clothes? Something else that I have that I'm not thinking of? Give me some ideas, people.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gear Review: Saucony AMP PRO2 Recovery Tight

Compression to promote circulation has been around for quite some time, since it's been used for a while in the medical industry to prevent blood clots in patients. It's a slightly newer phenomenon in athletics though, and the first athlete to popularize compression was Paula Radcliffe with her Oxysox that she wore during her world record marathon in London (among other races). Lately, compression wear's popularity has surged, and everyone from Chris Solinsky to that mid-pack triathlete who lives down the street from you is rocking compression gear.

There are two main types of compression gear: active gear and recovery gear. Both are intended to improve circulation and promote bloodflow, either to improve performance or speed recovery. There are also different types of compression. CW-X became known for targeted support, similar to kinesio taping techniques, in order to support muscles and decrease muscle oscillation. Other companies (Skins, for example) use a gradient where the distal end is more compressive than the proximal end, which is supposed to return blood back to the heart more quickly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There's More to Running than the Marathon

Today at physical therapy, the guy on the treadmill next to my elliptical asked me if I was training for a marathon. A Marathon. The Holy Grail of Running. Everyone and their brother seems to be chasing that same white stag, training to someday run a marathon. Additionally, whenever someone finds out you're a runner, they always seem to ask the same question: "Have you run a marathon?" followed by "What did you run for it?" Never mind that most of these people don't know the first thing about marathon times, and whether I said "2:05" or "5:00" they'd respond the same way, which, of course, is "Wow. Is that good? My sister-in-law is training for a marathon now. She can run XX miles without stopping! I get tired just thinking about it!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gear Review: Bike Trainer DVDs: Spinervals and Carmichael Training Systems

Since I promised it in my last post, and I tried out my new DVD today, I figured I'd do the trainer DVD review. I have a pretty small collection, but hopefully this will help if anyone is looking for a good trainer workout.

Trainer DVDs are pretty useful for getting in a good bike trainer workout, since it can be difficult to push yourself on the trainer alone. It's far easier to push yourself with training partners or a coach yelling at you than solo. Even on a treadmill, you're unable to let up your effort unconsciously, something that can easily happen on a bike trainer. The bike trainer has a tendency to be somewhat boring, and things that you may do to pass the time (TV, videogames, book, etc) also cause you to dissociate and may cause you to drop the intensity. That's fine for easy days, but not so much for quality workouts. DVDs, on the other hand, force you to associate with the workout. Having the coach on the video yelling at you keeps your mind in the workout and the intensity up. Additionally, it's a structured workout with appropriate intensities and recovery, so if you're unsure of how to create a workout (or would just like some additional ideas), a trainer DVD might be a good idea.

Gear Review: Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

As you've no doubt figured out (assuming you've been reading my blog), I've been on the trainer A LOT. At some point, I must have adjusted the roller too tightly too, because it seems I've worn a groove into the roller. 


Anyway, the thing was was a hassle to actually mount the bike on, and the resistance felt unnatural...generally the problems you encounter with a mag trainer with a cheap clamp. Well, seeing as the flywheel is in pretty bad condition, I figured it was time for a new trainer (and an early Christmas present).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Flashback: Why I Started Running

Considering this is supposedly a running blog, I should probably post about running once in a while. Lately, it seems like all my posts have been about P90X or yoga or cycling. So I decided I'm going to go with something a little different today and recount the story of how I got started running.

I started running in ninth grade. Cross-country was offered in junior high, but I was too busy playing basketball. That, and as every high school basketball player knows, running is what your coach makes you do when you do something bad. However, in ninth grade, the high school basketball coach highly suggested we all run cross-country to get in shape. Keep in mind I was the kind of kid who spent hours and hours alone in her basement doing ball-handling drills. I was no stranger to doing whatever it took. (Some things never change?) So, along with several other freshmen basketball players, I joined the cross-country team.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yoga Is Not Relaxing

I spent a couple years living in Boulder, Colorado. In Boulder, apparently it was a normal thing for stores to offer yoga classes every so often. Even Fleet Feet Boulder, the running store that sponsored my team, had yoga classes, and they're a running and tri store, not a yoga store. Well, since they all knew me and I didn't want to make a fool out of myself in front of them (and because I had zero interest in yoga), I never went to their classes. The whole time I was in Boulder, people continued to tell me how relaxing yoga is. My friends Stefani and Elizabeth were convinced that hot yoga was the most relaxing, purifying, and soothing thing ever, and they seemed determined to convince me of the same thing. Well, anyway, hot yoga was out. I hate running in really hot temperatures, so why would I want to practice yoga in hot temperatures when I had the option to practice yoga in normal temperatures (or not practice yoga at all)? However, these were the same girls who got me mountain biking and snowboarding and I liked those things, so I figured I'd give it a try. They convinced me to go to a store class at the shop where Stef worked. I spent most of the class trying not to fall over. Not relaxing. Later, I rented a house with Stef and Susanna, another yoga fan, and I often got to hear about how relaxing and soothing yoga was, and how that one class was a poor example because the instructor was a different instructor than usual and had made us do advanced balance poses. They said this as they stood on one leg with their arms in the air, or as they balanced on their head and hands with their legs folded pretzel-like on one of their elbows. Uh huh, that doesn't look relaxing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mollyyyyyy!!! 1:12:14!!!

Molly Pritz of Hansons-Brooks Distance Project ran a 1:12:14 for first female at the San Antonio Rock N Roll Half Marathon! That's also her 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier (by almost 3 minutes...sick!). Congratulations Molly!

That's also four out of the last five posts that Molly got her name in. You better love me, Molly.

Friday, November 12, 2010

P90X = Hungry

I eat a lot of food. Probably because I run 90 miles per week normally, and even when I can't run (like now), I try to put in a good amount of time on the trainer or lifting or whatever. Two weeks ago apparently involved 27.5 hours of physical activity, between the bike trainer, lifting, and physical therapy. That's like professional triathlete style, right there. And wholly unnecessary...I won't be doing that again. Last week only consisted of 18 hours of working out, AND Monday was a totally off-day. And this week will probably be around 20. But anyway, that should serve as adequate explanation for my dietary habits. However, since starting P90X, my appetite has gone into overdrive. Normally, I eat like a normal, athletic person who works out but doesn't run 90 miles per week throughout the day, and then sometime around 9pm, I decide I want a loaf of bread and half a jar of peanut butter. Most nutritionists recommend against that, but that's just the way my appetite works. However, this last week, I've wanted a loaf of bread and half a jar of peanut butter for breakfast, again for lunch, and again for dinner, and then I still want a box of cereal at 9pm. Well no, that's not quite right, since I haven't gone through more than one jar of peanut butter in one day, so I guess it's not a half a jar every meal, but I digress. And there's a little bit of variety in my diet. Today I had several bowls of oatmeal, polenta, some cinnamon raisin bagels, and a sweet potato, along with the bread, cereal, and peanut butter. So as long as carbs count as variety, I'm golden! Anyway, I cut back on cycling since starting P90X, so I'm down to about an hour of cycling and an hour of P90X per day. And there's no way P90X is harder than 10x1600, so I have no idea what's going on. It's possible that I'm finally starting to build muscle on my skinny little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. However, it's more likely that I'm just getting cycling quads and my arms are remaining T-Rex-like, since that's what the mirror is telling me. Of course, neither muscular arms nor cycling quads are useful for running.

Monday, November 8, 2010

P90X

I waste way too much time at PT talking. Well, today the subject of conversation was BeachBody's P90X, since PT Fran said that a lot of the exercises from P90X would be good for strengthening weak stabilizer muscles because I have no balance. PT Anthony seemed to agree that it was a good idea and also mentioned Insanity, but P90X seemed to get more votes and Insanity seems to involve a lot more jumping around, so P90X it is. Though now that I think about it, that probably means Insanity is better for cardio, but it's a little late for that now.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Go for broke, but prepare to be broken"

In the past couple of weeks, I've talked to quite a few doctors: PTs, OSes, chiros, you name it. Most of them seem to agree that pulled hip flexor led to compensation which led to torn posterior tibialis tendon. So knowing the cause, we then start to talk recovery. And during that conversation, one piece of advice always seems to come up: "I'd highly suggest that when you can get back to running, you cut back on your mileage and take a day off every week." I know that sometimes there's certain medical advice that you really have to listen to, and obviously I trust these doctors or I wouldn't have gone to them in the first place, but isn't that particular piece of advice more my coach's realm? None of the doctors know my training history, and while a few of them are athletic, I'd be rather surprised if they've put a similar level of effort into their training (with the exception of the one OS who, incidentally, did not tell me to cut back my training). I know a lot of people think this is a pointless venture since I'm not a professional athlete nor am I fast enough to ever become one. But I do this for me. I love this sport. And I want to run as fast as my body will let me run...something that doesn't happen without putting in the work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Runner's Trainer Dilemma

Apologies to anyone who reads my Athleticore, since this is just a longer version of today's entry. But considering there's like five people on my "allow" list, chances are you haven't seen this yet.

When I first started cross-training, the trainer kicked my butt. Mentally, it was torture. Thirty minutes on the trainer meant thirty minutes of being bored out of my skull and doing the thirty minute countdown. And no matter what I did, I couldn't get my heart rate up and I was never breathing hard, even though my legs were pushing about as hard as I could manage.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Would Marry Ultrasound if I Could

I totally failed at sleeping last night. Worse than my normal fail too. Usually when I fail at sleeping, I fall asleep sometime around 3 or 4 and then just don't want to wake up. This time, I'm fairly sure I never lost consciousness, and I finally gave up at 6am and decided to get on the trainer. That's Fail #1 for the day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gear Review: Running Movies

Seeing as I watch a lot of movies while on the trainer, I've been doing much more watching movies about running than actual running lately. Additionally, since I doubt none of you care too much to hear about my bike trainer adventures, I figured I'd throw some reviews of movies I've been watching for motivation lately.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stress Eating and Bike Trainers

Ugh, stress eating. I hate it. It's all I've been doing lately. From 7pm on, all I do is stuff my face. It's usually cereal, but there's no more cereal left in my house, so today it was pretzels and cashews. I don't even like cashews very much (almonds > cashews), but I ate an entire container anyway. Started feeling sick, but that didn't stop me. So now I'm sitting here sipping tea and trying to keep everything down, because the only thing I can think of that would be less pleasant than stress eating itself would be puking pretzels and cashews onto my keyboard. Wonderful. I feel fat and soft and gross. In actuality, I've probably gained half a pound, if that (just a guess, since it's been a few since I've weighed myself), and no one is ever going to notice besides me. I just hate looking at myself in the mirror right now, and I especially hate the way I look in cycling shorts. I'd also love to know when my internal clock got messed up. Not that it was ever great, but it wasn't "Go to bed at 2am, wake up at noon, and end up screwed when you have to wake up to go to work" before.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fail.

A couple days ago, I was on a run and my tendon sort of blew up. Total fail run. So I got an MRI, and the results came back with the following findings:
1) Partial tear of the distal posterior tibialis tendon. There is associated tenosynovitis.
2) Joint effusions at the ankle and in the subtalar joint.
3) Small area of signal abnormality in the posterior lateral dome of the talus which may be due to contusion or early osteochondritis dissecans.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Is there anything better than the feeling of new shoes? Well, I suppose a new PR beats new shoes hands down, but besides that. After trying on several pairs of shoes this evening (thanks National Running Center), I ended up with a pair of Brooks Defyances. Hopefully I'll have better luck with them. I'm a bit disappointed with their aesthetics though.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Attack of the Munchies

You know you're running again when your appetite goes haywire. Or at least I do. Last night, my body felt the need to wake me up at 2:00am and demand food. I hope it didn't expect a gourmet meal, because it got cereal. That's about as much effort as I'm willing to put in at 2:00 in the morning anyway, especially when I have to wake up for work in the morning. Usually my body saves late night surprises like that for 100 mile weeks. I'll probably be just above 40 this week, so I don't know what its problem is. The obvious answer would be that I didn't eat enough during the day, but I ramped up how much food I'm eating now that I'm running again, and it's not really like I cut back much (or at all, really) when I stopped running. Plus I had an emotional eating Kashi version of Frosted Mini Wheats feast yesterday evening, so it wasn't like I went to bed hungry (I swear I do eat foods other than cereal...and if we're going to get technical, it was more a bored eating feast more than true emotional eating). Probably just a side effect of the gradual mileage increase (again, emphasis on gradual).

I read a lot of running blogs, and IANandJULIA.com has a really good post on how it feels to come back to running after time off. I tried to describe the awkward relearning how to run once before, but Julia does it a lot more eloquently than I did. Luckily I've gotten past that stage now and for the most part, feel like a runner again.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back on the Road

So I've gradually begun running again. Emphasis on gradually. I ran a 21 mile week two weeks ago, and last week was all of 35. I'm still not 100%, so about twice a week, I've been going to Active Performance Chiropractic for active release therapy on my posterior tibial tendon and my hip flexor. Quite a few people have had really good experiences with Active Performance Chiropractic, and I've seen some improvement since starting therapy, so hopefully I'll be good to go sooner rather than later. I also like going to a doctor who runs, since I feel it gives them a certain background and perspective that a non-athlete may not have, which is yet another reason I decided to contact Dr. Laura. I've also started doing PT exercises and drills for the random little muscles in my lower legs that don't necessarily get as much exercise as they need with straight running. Not something I usually do, since normally, I'm all about running and that's it, but I figure it can't hurt, and with any luck, it'll help. I must be doomed to not be healthy though, because I recently added a sprained wrist from BMX biking to my injury list. My left arm is definitely weaker right now, and isn't pulling its weight as far as pumping and driving, but you don't actually run with your arms, so I guess it could be worse. Looking forward to being able to lift again, hopefully before my shoulders atrophy to nothingness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Barefoot Running...or Not

Earlier today, I was talking to a friend who was having trouble deciding which shoes to wear for a race (incidentally, the same one who asked me about racing flats), and the conversation turned to minimalist shoes (as it often does with her). My friend is one of the lucky few with nearly perfect biomechanics, who can get away with next to no cushioning or stability features built into her shoes. Well, she recently purchased a pair of Nike Jana Star Waffle spikeless flats, which she claimed were giving her Achilles tendinitis. There are a million different possible causes for Achilles tendinitis, which I won't list here since a simple Google search can uncover them if you're interested, but the interesting part about my friend's case is she claims that wearing "normal" shoes has caused this problem before, and wearing Vibram FiveFingers clears it up. Normally I'd think of going the opposite way, from a shoe with a heel to a low heeled shoe, causing Achilles problems, since high heeled shoes can cause Achilles shortening and calf muscle tightness over time. I'm sure there are other forces at work, but I'm not about to try to guess on my blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gear Review: Racing Flats

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that a picture of my running shoes looked like a catalog for racing flats. She then followed it up with the "What flat should I get?" question. While the answer to this question varies depending on your biomechanics, your race distance, and your race surface, here's some information to get you started:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pulling the Plug

Well this is a nice way to start a training blog...with an announcement that I'm pulling the plug for the season. I feel alright doing six mile jogs. Not great, definitely not 100%, but it's tolerable. But it's also how I felt two months ago, and I know that when I start speedwork again, I'll be right back where I was before taking these past two weeks off. I don't want to do the 40 miles per week thing, where I'm not able to do any real training, and then run a 1:28 half at Baltimore, which is what I know will happen if I try to keep training. I feel terrible, since the National Running Center picked up my entry for ING Philly, but it's just not worth it. If I'm going to run, I want to train. I feel like running now is just going to put me in that perpetually injured state, where you never actually heal but can never go all out, and I just can't do that to myself. I'd rather take the time now and then be ready for spring. It's just really frustrating right now. Maybe slightly relieving, since the pressure to get back out there by a certain date is gone, but my main emotion right now is frustration.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Luke at San Fran

My friend Luke ran the San Francisco Marathon a few weeks ago. His race report is up here.


Congratulations to Luke on his Boston Qualifier!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall from Grace

Every so often, I rock a workout and feel totally indestructible. Of course, this is probably when I'm at my most vulnerable, having broken down my body and counting on it being able to rebuild itself again. And every so often, I push too far and I don't bounce back the way I should. It's never a single workout, but a buildup of miles and workouts, that pushes past the line separating quality training and destruction. And unfortunately, I've gone and done it again. I've been dealing with "I can ignore this and run anyway" issues for around two months now, and the past couple weeks have been really hot and cold. I killed a long cruise interval workout without a problem, and then bombed a tempo and took a couple of days off to try to kick a hip flexor problem and some tendinitis. Came back, pulled off the tough track workout I mentioned in my last post while hardly breaking a sweat, and woke up two days later with tendinitis that had completely spiraled out of control. Unrelated to the first bout of tendinitis, but I'm fairly certain was caused by compensating for my hip flexor. It's really discouraging, to get knocked down every time I have what I feel like is a great workout. I'm not so stupid as to assume that they are completely unrelated, though I think the biggest problem is that I really didn't give myself that much downtime after the marathon. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot about it I can do now, other than ice, NSAIDs, stretch, self-massage, hopefully some ultrasound soon, and downtime until it resolves itself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Focus on the Details

Had an awesome workout today. It was a long track workout that mixed VO2 max with LT training. It was one of those days when everything just flowed, and a workout that, by all rights, should have kicked my butt, instead felt pretty easy. But as I'm sitting here, basking in post-workout happiness and drinking my protein shake, I'm reminding myself I need to keep it in perspective. First and foremost, it was a tough enough workout that I really need to make sure I recover well from it, even if it didn't feel that hard. No one gets faster from doing hard workouts. Rather, we get faster recovering from hard workouts. It's something I really need to focus on, since I generally enjoy putting in a lot of miles on recovery days, and even though I take those miles very easy, a 14 mile day isn't always what my body truly needs to recover. That leads to the second point, which is that no one trains for workouts. Everyone loves a good workout. It feels great (in a perverse sort of way), it gives you confidence, et cetera. But each workout is just a step in a long road leading to the true goal: the race. I'm stoked about this workout, as I feel I should be. But at the same time, I don't want to become too excited, just as I need to be careful not to let a bad workout get to my head, something that, for me, is even harder than not bouncing off walls over a good workout. I need to let the workout motivate me, but also stay focused on the goal.

The Middle Miles

Every race can be broken into three parts: the start, the middle, and the finish. The start is always an explosion of nerves, adrenaline, and excitement. The pace feels easy and you feel good. However, while too fast start can lose a race, the race is never won in the first mile. The finish is equally exciting. You can sense the line growing closer, the crowd is going wild, you're trying to catch the guy in front of you while simultaneously holding off whoever is behind you, and you need to hold on for just a...little...bit....more...! However, the races that are made or broken by the finish are usually tactical professional races with money on the line, or college track meets with a slow, strategic start. Then there are the middle miles. The miles where it hurts, but the finish is nowhere in sight. The lonely, solitary no man's land where the lead pack is out of sight, but there doesn't seem to be anyone behind you either. For most of us, this is where the race lies. This is where races are won and lost. This is the make or break point, where you decide whether you want to chase down that lead pack or go with that group that's slowly pulling away, or if you'd rather play it safe and let yourself fall back to your safety and comfort zone. It's also many times the hardest part of the race. It's a tough part of the race physically, but provided you put the training in, your body is ready for it. However, mentally, the middle miles can be pure punishment.

For me, the middle miles are the toughest part of the race. And not only are the middle miles the toughest part of a race, but they're often the toughest part of life, when the initial adrenaline rush of a new undertaking has worn off, but the finish is far enough away that the excitement brought on by knowing the end is near is nowhere to be found. It is there that motivation often flags, but it is there that I am determined to succeed. This blog will be a reminder of that promise.

First post

Considering I'm not all that great at updating my other blog, VO2 h4x!!!, I'm sure there's some question as to whether it's really a great idea to start a second one. However, every so often I find myself wanting to write a serious post, and since VO2 h4x!!! doesn't take itself very seriously, I hesitate to use that and go back and forth between writing styles. As a result, I'd rather go with two less updated blogs that maintain some sort of coherence rather than one blog that's updated more frequently but that also has an identity crisis.
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