Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Month of August....Gone (huh?)

Wow…a whole month has come and gone, and no update on the blog. I had a work situation change, which prevents me from updating this as often as I would have liked, but that is really no excuse (at least not a very good one), since I could have done it in the evening or on the weekend. I suppose that blogging has to take a back seat at times. That being said, let’s catch up on what has happened since I last posted (August 7th).

I’m doing the buildup for my next marathon (which I mentioned last time), and I believe things are going well, with only 39 days remaining till the race. I’m not on a particular “plan”, as in something you could look up on the internet or find in a book, although I do have a general idea about some key runs. Mainly, I’m focusing on just getting in a couple of long runs, and dialing in my lead up to those runs, the runs themselves, and more importantly (and I STILL don’t have this right yet) the recovery from those runs.

I almost always “feel” better and more able to run soon after a long run than my body is actually ready for, and by the time I realize it (usually about a week after the long run) it is too late…I end up with a minor, nagging injury every time. The long run I did on August 12th is no different, and I’m still dealing with issues in my right calf muscle.

I had strung three days in a row with a little over 8 miles per day starting on August 7th, and on the last run I noticed some tightness in my right calf. I took a day off, had a really light day the day after that, then did my 20 mile run….all with no issue. However, I took just one day off after the long run (actually I cycled 15 miles, it wasn’t “off”), then ran 8.2 the following day, feeling great.

However, the next day’s run is where the tightness and soreness of the calf was really noticeable. It was that way for a couple of miles at first, then eased off (so I completed an 8 mile run..smart, huh?). I’ve taken days off here and there ever since, and I’ve been foam rolling and icing it in the last week. It is much better, but not what I would call 100% yet (probably more like 80% at this point). I think I know how to plan out the time after my next long run, so we’ll see if I have the right idea. It has to be better than what I did this last time.

On my personal 100 Days Without Soda challenge, I've completed 72 days as of this writing. Nothing else really to report on this, just that soda is really not something I’m craving at all at this point. I drink low calorie Gatorade on my runs longer than 6 miles (a 10 ounce container on my runs in the 8 to 11 range), and Crystal Lite the rest of the time (with the odd bit of plain water occasionally). At restaurants, it is usually water with a packet of Sweet & Low, which tastes pretty much like iced tea to me (and saves a couple of bucks of the price).

All in all, it was a really good month, with a new high weekly mileage mark of 52.39 during the week of August 12 – 18th, and I ended the month of August with my second highest mileage month at 164.51 miles. I just REALLY need to dial in a better recovery method from my long runs, and ensure that I back off more conservatively than I’ve been doing.

From a cross training perspective, I focused most of the month on pushups, with about 4 sessions of quad and hamstring work at the gym spread over the time between August 7th and September 2nd. I worked in some pull-ups and abdominal work as well during that time, about 5 times for each of them. I find that I tend to “play it by ear” a lot of times, and not place it on a strict schedule. That being said, I only missed doing some type of cross training 4 days during that time frame.

I completed the August pushup challenge with 1200 pushups over the course of the month. It was fairly straight forward and not overly difficult for me, due in large part to the way I did them. I didn’t enforce a set time between sets, and would do 5 sets of 10 each day (or for 24 of the 31 days during the month).

This month’s challenge is 100 minutes of planks. To say I’m not a fan is putting it mildly, but I’ll give it a shot. The last time I did this challenge (March) I did 101 minutes total. I’m doing them this time in sets of 5 (5 one minute planks with 45 seconds of recovery between each one).

OK....for the boring part. I wanted to capture my log here for historical purposes during the month of August, so feel free to skip all this....in fact, you are REALLY bored if the following is entertaining. :-)

Happy Running Everyone !

These are the entries from my running log over that time:

  • (080512 - 0406) (82 degrees, S@9(G15), H62, clear) (8.24 miles – 8:51 avg. pace) Although I didn't really want to get out of bed, once I was two blocks into the run all felt right. The legs were a bit on the tired side, but things just locked in and flowed really well again this morning. 
  • (080812 - 0359) (83 degrees, S@6(G14), H61, partly cloudy) (8.30 miles – 8:56 avg. pace) I saw a couple of things on the run I hadn't before...nothing special, but just different. I saw a man riding a recumbent bike with full lights front and back (nice to see he was being safe), and a man riding a bike alongside his wife / girlfriend as she ran (neither with lights or reflective material...not real safe). The run itself just flowed steadily along, with my mind just sort of "along for the ride". 
  • (080912 - 0423) (73 degrees, S6(G18), H82, clear) (8.33 miles – 8:55 avg. pace) After the rain yesterday, followed by the clear skies overnight, we had a nice drop in the temperature (although the humidity was elevated). I probably should have taken the day off or cycled, but the cooler weather called me out for a run. I was a bit tired today, and my right hip and calf complained a bit during the first several miles. At 7.5 I was tracking towards a 9:03 average pace, but I picked it up from that point on to the finish. Tomorrow will definitely need to be a down day prior to the long run. My splits today were (9:08, 9:01, 9:00, 9:07, 9:05, 9:05, 9:00, 8:21, and 7:33 for the last 1/3 of a mile). 
  • (081112 - 0542) (72 degrees, W@1(G11), H54, clear) (2.50 miles – 9:09 avg. pace) Started this morning at 4:13 a.m. doing a bike ride over tomorrow's 20 mile long run route. On the back side of that route, I was riding on a sidewalk to check out where I'll be running, with a high fence on one side, and a grass patch between the sidewalk and the curb (with no driveway close)...when what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a skunk about 30 feet ahead. I slammed on the brakes and turned towards the grass to my left, unclipped my right foot...but not my left, and fell over. The skunk faced off to me (thankfully, it wasn't the other end) about 20 feet away. I wasn't hurt, and the bike was OK, so I got up, put the bike on the road, and pedaled off. I REALLY didn't want to be sprayed this morning :-). After the ride, I put on some running shoes and did a quick couple of miles on this beautiful morning. Tomorrow should be fun ! 
  • (081212 - 0318) (77 degrees, E@1(G10), H63, clear) (20.04 miles – 8:59 avg. pace) As far as 20 milers go, this went really well. Things didn't start getting tough until about the 15 mile mark, where I was just tired of going. Managed to complete the goal distance though without undue stress and was able to pick up the pace a bit in the last mile. Fairly even splits throughout the run as well, even though I would say that the first several miles were a little too fast. My splits looked like this (9:11, 8:47, 8:50, 8:44, 8:45, 9:03, 8:55, 9:04, 8:56, 9:11, 9:11, 9:10, 9:05, 9:09, 9:07, 9:01, 9:06, 9:02, 8:52, 8:39). Took a GU at 4, 8, 12 & 16, and went through 40 ounces of Gatorade light during the run. Really tired at the end...glad it was done !
  • (081412 - 0421) (75 degrees, E@6(G9), H49, clear) (8.23 miles – 9:12 avg. pace) What a wonderful run this morning. It felt so pleasant outside that I just eased back on the pace and enjoyed being out and about. The whole run felt nearly effortless...if only they were all like this. :-) 
  • (081512 - 0538) (70 degrees, SW@9(G31), H94, cloudy). (8.22 miles – 8:59 avg. pace) Started the run in a light, misting rain, with some pretty tight and sore calves...especially the right one. It was that way up until about mile 2 where I slowed a bit, but from there the run was just very nice. No pain or stiffness, the mist stopped about that time, and the breeze was nice and cool. By the end of the run, I was sort of sad it was ending...that good. 
  • (081712 - 0412) (72 degrees, WNW@5(G20), H88, clear) (8.24 miles – 8:54 avg. pace) Once again, the cooler weather (relative to where it has been) is nice. There was a lightning show off to the SE which flashed more or less throughout the run, but the storm itself was 30+ miles away. If it hadn't been for the tight right calf, this would have been absolutely perfect. Even at that, since it didn't really hurt so much as occasionally call attention to itself, it was pleasant this morning. 
  • (081812 - 0618) (73 degrees, S@10(G30), H75, cloudy) (7.66 miles – 9:04 avg. pace) Nice cool morning, but my right calf and ankle are pretty tight and sore. I should probably haven't taken the day off, but I wanted to get out this morning...I'll take off tomorrow. The legs loosened and felt better by about 4 miles, but never "right". Still yet, I enjoyed the run. 
  • (082212 - 0412) (66 degrees, SW@2(G7), H90, clear) (6.27 miles – 9:05 avg. pace) The weather was nearly perfect, and not a bad run for the first one back since Saturday. The calf tightness / soreness I mentioned last week was actually a strain in either the soleus and/or some of the other deep muscles in the right calf. My plantar fascia was also really sore, and necessitated a few days off. The bike ride yesterday went well, and today's run was good as well. There wasn't a lot of tightness, and there was no pain. That being said, the calf and the bottom of the foot were "noticeable" during the run...just gently calling attention to themselves without actually "hurting". I cut back on my normal distance, and will play it by ear as to whether tomorrow needs to be an off day or not. I'll be at least attempting to err on the conservative side so I don't sideline myself with something more serious.
  • (082312 - 0420) (73 degrees, E@8(G12), H66, clear) (8.21 miles – 9:00 avg. pace) First run with new Brooks Glycerin 10s. They felt nice and comfortable throughout the run, although right at first it seemed like they "slapped" the pavement...probably just me. Was able to have a nice, easy run this morning with no calf pain, but it did feel a bit tired and worked afterwards, so I'll knock off tomorrow and get out again on Saturday. 
  • (082512 - 0706) (79 degrees, SE@8(G18), H78, overcast) (10.32 miles – 8:38 avg. pace) I'm still not sure what really happened, but this was just a fantastic run. For some reason nearly every mile felt easy, and I established a nice flow early on. Just people watching, taking in the scenery, and enjoying it all. The overall pace never felt rushed, yet it was quite a bit faster than normal...still don't know how that all happened. This one also officially put me over 1,000 miles for the year ! 
  • (082712 - 0336) (74 degrees, calm, H91, clear) (9.32 miles – 8:56 avg. pace) The city where I live was doing mosquito spraying overnight, so I had to drive to the gym and do the run in that general neighborhood. Ran a nice loop, and it was a smooth, easy run even though there were some rolling hills. They never seemed bad though, and it never felt like I was having to really work at it. Slight detour to avoid a skunk (what is it with me and skunks..? :-), and saw a raccoon. Kind of pain having to drive 20 minutes to start the run, but it wasn't all that bad. 
  • (082912 - 0407) (73 degrees, NW@2(G10), H54, clear) (9.51 miles – 9:05 avg. pace) This is a hard one to categorize. The weather was wonderful, and it never really felt like I had to put in any effort...just flowing along. A new loop as well (an extension to an existing one really) that was also nice. That being said, my right foot started to hurt in heel, the inside of the arch, and the first metatarsal joint at about the 4.5 mile point, and was a problem for a couple of miles. At 8.2 I had a momentary "cramp" in my right calf, which passed quickly but hurt like the dickens. Didn't have to stop as it only lasted for a stride or two, but Hey ! I'm not really sure what is going on, but my right leg from the knee down apparently would like a vacation. Thinking of leaving it at home on the next run and giving it a chance to think about its behavior lately. :-) 
  • (083012 - 0417) (77 degrees, NNW@1(G17), H56, clear) (8.21 miles – 9:11 avg. pace) The full moon was out and shining, with the occasional cloud passing by just making it a really nice outing. I took it a little slow today (first couple of miles around 9:20), to see how that affected my foot / calf. The calf was just a bit tight, but no real issues this morning. A calm, relaxing effort this morning. 
  • (090112 - 0431) (80 degrees, S@9(G24), H70, clear) (11.34 miles – 8:53 avg. pace) I didn't think it was a "go" at first because the right calf was sore and painful for about 2 blocks, but things settled quickly after that with no pain or problems after that. It was a bit warm when I was heading away from the breeze, which made it seem like a bit of work. Had a car come pretty close to me (hate it when that happens), happened upon a young man walking in a darkened area which was a bit odd (but no big deal), and had a truck blow its horn at me for no real reason. Not the most peaceful run I've ever done, but the pace was nice and steady and from a physical effort perspective it was a good one. 
  • (090112 - 0835) (79 degrees, S@7(G24), H77, Sunny) (1.00 miles – 9:57 avg. pace) My six year old wanted to see if he could run a mile without stopping (he had never done it before), and he made it all the way !!! So proud of him. :-) He wanted to stop a few times during the run, but just a bit of encouragement kept him going. At several points he said (Wow...I can't believe I'm STILL going !). Pretty cool :-) 
  • (090212 - 0348) (78 degrees, S@8(G16), H71, clear) (6.31 miles – 9:21 avg. pace) After the longer run yesterday, and to take it easy on my calf, I intentionally slowed this one down and just made it an easy effort. I just sort of wandered around the neighborhood, enjoying the early morning peace and quiet. :-)