Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Up

Blimey, it's been a long time since I posted anything, hasn't it?

I'm sure it must have appeared that I'd dropped off the planet, but in reality I've just been super busy and finding time to blog has been pretty difficult. What with my kids both starting new schools, my husband working away a lot and my in-laws visiting, it's been all I can do to keep things ticking over. Whilst I've stuck to my running training religiously (well as religiously as an atheist can), I'm no superwoman and I've just not had the extra energy to finish a thought in my head, never mind write a blog post.

So you have my apologies. Sorry. Will try not to do it again, promise.


There's a lot to catch up on. There's good stuff and bad stuff. So let's get started.

I've been training pretty hard, aiming for my third half marathon of the year, the Staten Island Half, which takes place on October 9th. So, for the last 11 or so weeks, I've been running 4-5 times a week, with three 3-4 mile easy runs, one speed work out and one long run every week. This has all been in an attempt to break the 2 hour mark at the S.I. Half.

To give you an idea, a recent week of training looked like this:

Sunday 3 miles easy (10.24 pace)
Monday 3 miles easy (10.24 pace)
Tuesday 6 miles tempo
(1 mile warm up, 4 miles at 8.54 min mile,
1 mile cool down)
Wednesday 3 miles easy
Thursday rest
Friday 11 mile long run (10.24 pace)
Saturday rest
TOTAL 26 miles

It's been great. I've noticed a big difference in my fitness and have dreaded and loved my speed work outs in equal measure. Before this training plan, I'd never attempted 'tempo runs' or 'mile repeats'. Those kind of runs were for proper runners. Well, I suppose I'm a proper runner now. I've even found my way to the local track for some of my speed sessions, which has been fantastic.

At times I've had to pinch myself. Little old me, bombing around a race track, who'd have thought it, eh?

Two things have really helped with my training:

First, I've finally embraced what technology has to offer runners, and have bought myself a Garmin Forerunner 305. It's not the newest model (which means you can get it on sale), but I don't care because I love it and am totally addicted to it. It can do all sorts of fancy pants things, but I use it to track my distance, my pace and my mile splits. Plus I can hook it up to Daily Mile when I get home and record my route, distance and speed, providing me with a perfect online and shareable training journal. I love the freedom it gives me to run where I want to, without having to plot out a route ahead of time. I run and the Garmin tells me when I've covered the miles I intended to cover. Genius!

Secondly, I've continued to train regularly with the lovely Majo, a running buddy I met through Twitter and Daily Mile. Majo has been doing the same training schedule as me and is also planning on running the Staten Island Half, so it's been great to run with someone who is at the same level and who I get on with so well. It's made both the short easy runs and the not so short not so easy runs an absolute pleasure. Majo is also a fantastic writer and has her own blog, so check it out.

So, it's all been going pretty well. Or rather it had been going pretty well, until 10 days ago.

The day before the 5th Avenue Mile race, which I was SO looking forward to, I set off on a 13 mile long run with Majo. I was really looking forward to chalking up the half marathon distance before running the race. It was to be the ultimate confidence booster. We had planned to take in both the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges, running from Park Slope in Brooklyn to Manhattan and home again. Earlier in the week I'd completed my most intense speed session yet, a 7 mile tempo run, which after a mile warm-up had me running at just under a 9 minute mile pace for 5 miles. My iliotibial band (ITB) had played up the next day, giving me some knee pain and instability, but it hadn't stopped me running an easy 4 miles.

So, when 4 miles into my long run I started to feel hip and knee pain and a tightness in my ITB, I was not amused, and to be honest I knew what was coming. I've had problems with my left ITB before, often due to weaknesses elsewhere in my body (rubbish core and hip strength, for example). Despite plenty of walk breaks and stretching, the pain just got worse, and totally disappointed and disheartened, I had to say goodbye to Majo on the Williamsburg bridge.

Anyway, fast forward 10 days and I've had to totally scale down my training. I sat out the 5th Avenue Mile, which was GUTTING. I've missed my speed work out, and have managed just a 3 mile, 2 mile and 4 mile run this week. I've iced, foam rolled, stretched and repeated. I've even forked out for a (bloody wonderful) sports massage. Today's long run was the deciding factor. I was scheduled to run 11 miles, a distance that I'd run easily and happily just a few weeks before. I figured that if I couldn't run that today, I'd have no chance of running the Staten Island Half. So, I set off gently and covered the first 4 miles slowly and comfortably, heading again towards Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge (it's my favourite long run route, what can I tell you?). Anyway, no sooner had I hit Broadway, than things started to seize up again. My hip, my leg and then my knee. I battled on for another couple of miles until I had to be sensible and give up at just past the 6 mile mark. After 12 weeks of training for it, Staten Island is not going to happen for me this year.

It is SO frustrating. My fitness is fine. My fitness is good, in fact. I felt fresh and full of energy - which I suppose I'm bound to after effectively tapering this week due to my decreased mileage. But when the ITB says no, I have to listen. The last time I didn't listen and ran through the ITB pain, I couldn't run at all for months, that eventually turned into years.

But onward and upward. I'm trying to be positive and not let it get me down. There are other races, in fact I have to compete in a minimum of 3 more this year to fulfill my 9+1 guaranteed entry conditions - I do not want to blow that and forfeit my NYC 2012 Marathon chances. So I will ice, stretch and foam roll. I will rest, cross train and strength train. And I'll get some physio, because my oh so expensive health insurance covers it. Lots of it. There's the silver lining, eh?

So watch this space. Just because I haven't achieved my goal, I'm not going to let it get to me. I'll just set myself some new goals:

1. Sort out my ITB

2. Strength train and cross train to reduce my injury risk
(I'm thinking I might try me a boot camp and some of that spinning malarkey)

3. Finish my 9+1 races

4. Set a PR on a 5K or 4 mile race by the end of the year.

There. Goals. Got some. That was easy.

Onward and upward, my friends, onward and upward.....