Monday, April 27, 2009

Major changes

After much back and forth on the "to marathon or not to marathon" question, I've decided not to marathon this year. I was able to withdraw from the training group, and I'm going to spend the next 3 or so months concentrating more on strength training and less on cardio.

It's been a hard decision to make, especially because I don't have to stop running. In fact, my hip and hamstring are feeling much, much, much better. But could I get back in shape, ready to run a 1/2 marathon in a month and ready to start marathon training in June without getting re-injured? Maybe... but I'd be taking a big chance. But on the other hand, I did have a great running year last year, and trying to BQ has been a goal for me for a long time. When I sent the e-mail to get out the training group, I felt something like grief over losing running. It's nothing compared to real grief of course, but I am losing something that has been a big part of my life for a long time. There will definitely be a void to fill.

But on the other hand, I think it's time for a change. My plan is to do three shorter cardio sessions 3x a week and weight training 3x a week with one day off. The goal will be to build strength and work on speed. I'm still going to run as soon as I feel my leg has had time to heal, and I still plan to do some 5ks, but at least for now I'm not going to do anything long distance. I think my body may react more positively to this kind of training, and I hope to be able to lose a little Madison weight because I won't be having wild swings in my eating and energy levels that come with really high volume training.

So is it scary? Yeah. Do I feel a little sad? Yeah. But am I also hopeful that this will be a good experience? Sure.

Sometime soon I'll work on updating my blog to reflect my current goals.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It needs to be said

Wow. I had a really strong reaction to this post over at Heather Eats Almond Butter. My post here comes partially from a comment I left with a little more detail now that I've had time to process things in my brain.

I'll start by stating the obvious: I'm injured (just temporarily- I can still bike, spin and elliptical). But here's the not so obvious: after 5-years of running, part of me wants to try something different and not be an endurance junkie. The problem is I feel like I'm actually caught in a triple loop.

For one, I'm stuck in the eat to run/ run to eat thing, and it's not a fun way to live your life. You run so you're hungry so you eat so you have to run MORE because you're afraid you're going to gain weight. Plus you have to lift weights, do yoga, and walk, and XT just to make sure you're burning enough calories. And it's hard because I've gotten used to being able to eat a lot of crap and not gain weight. Who doesn't love the post-long-run ice cream binge?

Second- and maybe this is the most important point- I had a really great running year last year. I How can I possibly quit now when I think I can improve this year again? And maybe qualify for Boston this year or next year? I'm already signed up for a marathon training program that starts in the summer. And we bought a treadmill. And a bike. Plus, when running is good, I really love it. I love getting up early and being outside. And the feeling of accomplishment when you run a great race. It's just when it's bad (like now) it's really bad.

Last, I'm a runner. This blog is called EarlyRunner for a reason. There are a fair number of people I can count on to ALWAYS ask about my long run on Saturdays. What if I don't want to do one? How can I admit that to them without sounding like a quitter and a failure? And my friends are all runners or triathletes and all our social time involves working out together.

So I guess that's what it comes down to- wanting to change but not wanting to be a quitter. And not wanting to give up on goals I've had a long time (like BQing). I'm flirting with the idea of taking the next two weeks off of not just running, but hard-core endurance stuff as well. That means walking/biking to work, yoga, gardening, and strength training are all okay. Running, biking for a long time, and spinning are not okay. Then at the end of the two weeks I can decide if I miss running more than I can possible describe or if I feel relief kicking the cardio beast. It won't be so long that I totally lose fitness (I doubt I'd be able to run much at the conference in two weeks anyway) but enough time to see if a change has taken place.

I honestly just do not know right now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This is it

Well, after a slow, ultimately painful 6 miles this morning, I've decided to stop running for the next two and a half weeks. It makes me sad, but I know it's for the best. I want to improve my endurance and be in good shape to start marathon training over the summer, but I just can't do it battling pain and tightness the whole time. That means no race this weekend either, which stinks because that's two races in a row I've skipped. Once I get back from my work conference I'll experiment with adding running back slowly. Hopefully I'll be able to do the Madison Half in May, but if not, I'm just going to continue working toward being ready to start training for Lakefront in June. Planning to do a bike ride tomorrow.

Just had to share

I'm taking some time off running- that's the topic of this afternoon's post- but I wanted to do some research to make sure what I'm feeling is muscular and not possibly a stress fracture in my pelvis. Anyway, here's the description of symptoms of a pelvic stress fracture from The American Journal of Sports Medicine. It sounds- well- pretty awful:

We suggest that a diagnosis of pelvic stress fracture or stress fracture syndrome can be made with confi dence, even in the absence of radiographic evidence, if the following three features are present in a long dis tance runner presenting with groin pain: First, activity causes such severe discomfort in the groin that running is impossible. Second, the athlete develops discomfort in the groin when standing unsupported on the leg corresponding to the injured side (positive standing test). In some cases the pain is so severe that standing on one leg is impossible. Third, deep palpation reveals extreme, exquisite nauseating tenderness localized to the pubic ramus and not to the overlying soft tissues.

Fortunately I'm not experiencing any "exquisite nauseating tenderness" so I think it's safe to say I'm just dealing with some soft tissue stuff.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taking a break

Whew. I've been working on writing the introduction for my paper pretty much all day, and I have my first draft finished. All three paragraphs of it. I don't feel like I have much more brain power for work today. Good think I'm leaving in a half hour to go to the gym. I really need a break before I try to get back into it tomorrow when I start the discussion section. I don't know if that will be harder or easier.

Ran yesterday again. Still having a lot of tightness in my hamstring and hip. The ART therapist worked on me again and recommended I do a lot more hamstring/hip strength exercises and work on stretching both my hamstrings and my quads and hip flexors. I'm actually thinking about changing up my strength training routine to only do hamstring and hip exercises rather than quad stuff. I already get a lot of quad strengthening from running uphill, spinning, and stair climbing. I don't want to keep keep pushing my muscle imbalance in that way.

On a sad note, I only have one more episode of season 3 of The Office left to watch tonight. Although I did hear that they play re-runs of the previous season on Tuesdays, so I'll have to look into that. The Office has been like Harry Potter for me. I simultaneously wanted to get through it as fast as I could to know what happens and savor it forever. Unfortunately I won't see my The Office freebie source for a few more weeks so I guess I'll have to rely on re-runs of Good Eats to get me through it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beautiful day!

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful: 70 degrees, sunny, just a slight breeze. Perfect weather for being outside and enjoying the city I hid from December through March.

I had a good run yesterday. 12 miles in 1:50. A little slower than I would have liked, but that happens. I think I actually got overheated at the end with long sleeves, an ear band, and gloves on. I can't believe it's going to be warm enough to run in just shorts and a t-shirt soon.

My leg seems to be doing better. I still have some hip and hamstring pain, but I have confidence it's going to clear up with ART, stretching, and rolling. I'm incredibly thankful that I can still run, and this thing doesn't have me completely out of the game. I just have to be careful.

We didn't get any garden work done yesterday because it started to rain in the afternoon (and I was tired from running and D. wanted to go to the gym). I went to the farmer's market opening weekend with some friends, and D. got a hair cut and his quarterly Arby's fix. We have the International Club potluck at church today, D. has school work, and I have grocery shopping to do, but hopefully we'll get out there in the late afternoon as long as it's not raining. It was supposed to rain all day, but so far not a drop.

Hope everyone has a beautiful Sunday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


So I went for my first ART appointment yesterday. It was pretty interesting. It's kind of like a massage except way more intense and involves lengthening the muscle being worked on.

The "diagnosis" was that my hamstring, hip, and low back are all really tight and pulling on each other, which makes my whole right side hurt. Sounds about right. She did ask if I'd ever been formally diagnosed with scoliosis because the right side of my back is so overdeveloped (I haven't- No MD has ever thought there was reason to do the X-rays), and because I said no, she said we'd work on getting some of the tightness out of that area. I also got a new pair of shoes in case that was contributing to the problem.

Like I said before, the actual "treatment" is intense. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and she actually stopped to ask me if I was okay once because I wasn't complaining that it hurt. Yesterday evening I was pretty sore, but this morning I felt a lot better. My back is bugging me a little bit, but my IT band feels much more relaxed. I'm supposed to try running again tomorrow and report back on how everything was doing. I'm excited to run again, and I hope I'm in shape to run my 10k on Saturday.

Today's workout was actually really good. I've had great power output during my last few spinning classes, and today I hit a major average watts PR of 197. I'm thrilled to get them so high, but I was disappointed to miss breaking 200 by such a tiny bit. I also lifted weights before spinning and did some push-ups and abs before I left the apartment this morning.

Looking forward to my shows tonight. I'm turning into a major TV-holic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Time for an update!

My 14-miler Saturday went pretty well despite dropping both my gels somewhere. I finished in 2:08- I think I'd have finished faster if I'd been able to refuel during the run- but my endurance felt like it was where it needed to be. It was a beautiful day, too. The sun was shining, just a slight breeze, and I didn't get (very) lost. I can't wait to run through the arboretum when things are actually blooming

Unfortunately my right hamstring/ IT band is not cooperating. I've had some weird aches and pains in this area since maybe January??? Nothing that made my change my stride or even really hurt, but it was something I definitely felt as my runs were getting longer, especially running uphill.

Well, I felt it a lot on Saturday. Again, it wasn't a pain/injury kind of feeling, but an irritated/tight kind of feeling. I've tried to be proactive about icing and stretching, but after I felt it a lot on my Sunday easy run with no hills, I knew I needed to do something about it.

So first I'm taking time off running. I'm not sure how much good that's going to do because I've taken time off before (like when we went to St. Louis), and it didn't seem to change anything. I'm also stretching, icing, rolling, but I'm considering trying something new...

I've heard a lot of runners talk about active release therapy (ART) for running aches and pains. It's kind of a hybrid chiropractic/ massage kind of thing. Anyway, after doing some investigative work, I found out that our insurance covers it because it's considered chiropractic treatment. I'm on the fence because I'm leery about the whole chiropractor thing, but on the other hand I've heard great things about ART, and I'm kind of concerned that this thing isn't going to get better on its own. I thought about looking into physical therapy, but again, I don't think it's an injury.

Anyone have experience with ART? Anything I should know before I start down that road?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Run envy

I feel like all my internet "friends" are gearing up to do big spring races, and I have to admit, I'm jealous. I wish I were in shape to do a marathon soon, but at least it's inspiration for me to get out there are do my long runs.

Running, lifting, etc. has been good lately, and I nailed a 184-ave-watt spin class yesterday. Now I have to try to break 200 ave watts- not very likely, haha. I hit a second 8-miler on Wednesday with 12x1min sprints and also lifted yesterday morning before spinning.

It's funny because this time last year I was knocking out double digit runs with no trouble at all. This year I've been doing a great job with interval training, but my endurance is totally gone. If only I could be good at doing both at once... then I'd be unstoppable... right...

Today is nice and easy- just biking to work and walking home. I think the bike has a flat tire. Add it to the list... the screw that holds the seat in place (and about 2 inches too high) is stripped, and we have to get someone to replace it so the seat can go down and my feet can touch the ground. I love the flexibility of riding the bike to work and the gym in the morning, but my "cheap" bike is starting to get expensive.

Last, I'm thinking about moving the blog either to the Runner's World blog site or to Wordpress. RW would be nice because I think I'd get more readers that way, but I like the tabs on Wordpress, and it seems like it would be easy(er) to make a pretty header. The thing I like least about Blogger is that my blog is so plain. I try to add a little picture, but that's kind of lame. Anyway, if I ever get it together and move it, I'll put up a link from this one that will send you to the right place.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I'll be up early trying a new route for 14 miles.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some tuuunes

I had a great idea for a post earlier, but after about 2 hours worth of changing 4s to 5s, it's totally slipped my mind.

Anyway, I have a new mission for this week. Our tri club spinning leader told us that if we wanted to make a CD of songs for spinning, she'd use it in one of our remaining workouts.

I've actually thought about this quite a bit, and I already have plans for both an all-Led Zeppelin and an all-Beatles spin workout should the need ever arise.

But silly other people like variety so I'm going to have to try to mix it up. Her workouts are pretty hard so I have to think of some fast, peppy songs for sprints and slower, longer songs for hills. The whole thing should be about 60 min long with a warm up and cool down song on each end.

Right now I'm thinking:

Not sure yet

I've Just Seen a Face- The Beatles
Hey Ya- Outkast
Black Dog- Led Zeppelin
I Believe in a Thing Called Love- The Darkness

Enter Sandman- Metallica
Take Five (No, not really - no one would get it, and I'd probably have to throw myself head first off the bike during the drum solo)
Hook- Blues Traveler

Under the Bridge- Mazzy Star (This may actually be too mellow.)

Any suggestions?

Today's workout was pretty tough. I hit 168 ave watts and we did lots of hills (which I actually prefer about 100 times to sprints). Should leave to do some strength in a few minutes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

No more snow!

I was thrilled to wake up to find that it wasn't snowing today. We had just a little bit yesterday, but it looks like all the snow and rain they'd been predicting for this week is not coming our way any more. That can always change, but I've got my fingers crossed that yesterday was the last of the "real snow" until next fall.

My long run last Saturday was definitely better than the week before. I finished 12 miles in a little under 1:50. Not exactly where I'd like to be, but pretty good all the same. As soon as I was done running, I inhaled breakfast and hauled it down to our apartment's community garden for the opening work day. We didn't actually get to see our garden plot, but we did help move a giant pile of weeds. Needless to say, 2 hours of running + 2 hours of pitchforking = a tired, hungry Chelsea.

Sunday was an easy day. I did 5mi on the treadmill in between loads of laundry. Got it all done before Ultimate Grandpa came down to do his.

This morning I was still a bit tired from Saturday, but I did remarkably well on my progressive tempo run. For this run, I do 15 minutes of warm up, 15 minutes at tempo pace, and 15 minutes at 10k pace. It was super windy so my paces were slightly off- 8:30 min/mile tempo and 8:14 min/mile 10k- but if felt tough. I finished up with an easy lap around the big field for a total of 8.2 miles.

Otherwise I'm enjoying the sunshine even though I'm stuck inside. I'm planning to walk home unless it's really windy and cold and do some yoga when I get there. I've been loving the Rodney Yee Power Yoga Flexibility DVD I bought several years ago. I hadn't used it much before because I remember it being hard to follow. Well, I'm not sure what I was thinking. It's a great strength and flexibility workout that only takes 25-min.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Famous

Well, not really. I asked a question over on Every Gym's Nightmare, and it was answered.

Check it out!

I read through the comments, and they pretty much confirmed what I was already thinking: feeling puke-y at the end of a race is totally normal and I just need to work through it. Maybe some practice "races to the finish" after tempo runs are in order?

It's definitely not a food thing, and I don't think it's because I'm overexerting myself. I am talking about the end of a race after all. I don't push myself to throw up at the end of regular workouts (I think that would certainly be excessive).

I was hoping for a magic cure, but I appreciate people taking the time to give me feedback.

Runs have been pretty good this week despite the wind. Tomorrow is a day off and I'll be up early early to do a long run Saturday before we have our first gardening work day.