Monday, April 18, 2011

A foam roller saved my life

It's been a stank running week for me. I kept feeling like I was *maybe* coming down with something, I'd be a little bit chesty, a little bit sniffly, a little bit nauseous, but it never got worse. I ran five k's on Saturday, and it was horrid. Slow, painful, and I was locking up with shin splints. Instead of feeling energised and accomplished after my run, I felt depressed and hopeless. If I can't run five k's, how am I ever going to run 20? I massaged the legs out, but they stayed tight. Tight like steel cables, and the more I thought about it...they're always a little sore, those lower legs of mine. Even in bed at night, heavy and stiff and tired. Even on a simple walk, tight tight tight.
I took an extra rest day on Sunday, the first Sunday I haven't gone out to run in what feels like forever. I thought maybe I'm overtraining, and that's why I feel tired and achy, and why my legs hurt. After the rest I headed out on Monday morning to do some hillwork, aiming for 6.5 k's. I managed four hill reps and four and a half k's before limping home in pain.
When I have an injured area or a bad run I feel panicky. The thought of not being able to run, or not being able to stay on plan, makes me feel desperate.
Something had to be done. I spent a morning researching treatment (again!) and decided to go out and buy a foam roller. $90 and one lunch break later, I was the proud owner of one very long bright blue foam tubey thing, and had a good idea of how to use it.

The idea behind foam rolling is that it releases the fascia of the muscle, the coating that surrounds the muscle and causes the tight feeling. There's also an idea that the constant work-tear-rebuild cycle of exercise causes scar tissue or knots to build up on the muscle, and that rolling breaks up those knots. Basically it's like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. It's simulataneously a relief and intensely painful.
So I get home, chuck on my jammies, and hit that roller like my life depends on it. Back and forth under the rear of my calves, then kneeling up on it and working out the front of my calves. The relief was almost instant. I could feel the knots, and yep, that hurt like a bastard, but my legs are definitely looser.
After a walk this morning I repeated the process, carefully rolling and then stretching out the muscles, and I could actually stretch properly! It was still painful, but so much better.
Today my legs feel looser, but also sore (bruised?) from the rolling itself. I'm planning on another rest day or two, with morning and night rolling. I need to work in an easy run somewhere, to test drive my legs, and if they're ok I'll head out for this weekend's long run, which is a whopper at 17k's. If it's all too much I'm ok with reducing my run segments and walking most of the distance, it'll take a lot longer but I'm happy to dial it back for a bit if it means I can keep going and reach my goals.
Wish me luck...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


After a patchy week (rain! funeral! the amount of red wine I drank to get through the funeral! more rain!) I headed out into a comfortably warm morning for a nice run.
4:20am was not kind, and initially I felt even more out of it than I normally do at that hour. I always wake up a bit as time goes on, so just tried to shake it off and get out the door. I was wore capri tights, a tech tee and one of my new bondi bands (I have five now!)
My legs have been a bit sore ever since my long run on Sunday, particularly my old slightly dicky left knee, so I went out carefully. I needn't have worried, after a kilometre I'd warmed up and was feeling fine, and after that I felt so good that I actually started to go FAST! I never, ever go fast. I've been doing all this long, slow distance work and never quite believed that LSD makes you fast, but at one stage I was flying up an incline at 5:30 pace and I was totally blown away! I don't think I've ever gone that fast.
I played with faster intervals, and each time I'd think, "I can't hold this pace for a whole minute, erk"....but then I would. And I'd rest a little, and then I'd do another fast interval. I was breathing hard, and had sweat pouring off me, but I was doing it!
Ended up covering just shy of 7Ks in 54 minutes. Not exactly Olympic time trial-breakneck stuff, but fast for me, and exciting. I think I'm going to include some speedwork like this each week or second week, and of course I'm still trying hard to get myself putting in the hillwork (but that's Sunday's problem :D)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The longest long run (yet)

Yesterday I headed out and completed a 15K long run. You'd think that after successfully completing a 10, then a 12.5, that this would be a breeze, but I was nervous and unmotivated to tackle the distance. It was actually the first time on a long run that I even thought about just turning around and packing it in!
Nevertheless, I overcame those negative impulses and went on to finish strong, even running continuously through the last kilometre at a 7:05K pace!
It was a week of many firsts for me, the first time I've topped 30Ks in a week, first 15K distance, and the first run long enough to require me to carry water and fuel.
I wore my new hydration pack, I made a bit of a killing on it at kathmandu and ended up with a 2L hydration pack for the bargain price of $65 all up, including bladder. It's small and quite lightweight, and bothers me far less than I thought it would. I like handhelds and things like that, but with a dog leash in one hand and a handheld in the other life gets complicated fast! I became adept fairly quickly at filling, packing and slurping fluid out of it, and overall I think it'll be a very handy addition to my gear arsenal.

I also carried fuel for the first time, and this was something I'll need to work at. I carried a gel, and a packet of GU chomps.
The gel was a berry flavoured Winners brand gel. Winners is a natural brand that's available in the supermarket. It had some caffeine in it, was thick and reasonably tasty, but I found it difficult to get all the gel out. I also really hate to litter, so I rolled the empty packet up and popped it in my pocket, which led to a sticky mess. I like the taste and convenience of gels but I always seem to end up all sticky and gross from them. I did, however, feel better after taking it at around the 45 minute point.

I probably had too much fuel with me, as later when I moved to the GU chomps I realised the packet was designed to be used over a period of 1.5-2 hours. Still, probably better to have too much than too little. I thought, given that gels are sticky and kinda icky, that I'd really like the chomps. WRONG!
The packet was difficult to open, and I had to wrestle with it for several frustrating minutes. And if the packet fuels two hours, how many chomps do I take, and when? I also didn't like the texture or flavour of them very much, they were sort of icky and chemically tasting. I didn't finish the packet, and I am typically a fiend for anything sugary, so they must have been bad! So, for fuels we go back to the drawing board!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ten k Tuesday

I've really been struggling of late, feeling down and having difficulty just functioning. I had a big disappointment a few weeks back and I don't think I process things like that very well. After a small meltdown at work yesterday I decided to take today to try to get back in touch with myself and encourage some positive thoughts and feelings.
Unfortunately with the day yawning in front of me I didn't quite know what to do with myself. As soon as I wake up the cloud of depression settles comfortably back on top of my head and I just don't know how to escape from underneath it, so I did what I do when I don't know what to do. I laced up my shoes, grabbed Os and headed out for a run.
We did ten K's exactly in an hour and twenty four minutes, which is a new best for me over ten ks, but that's where the good news stops. This run was just hard, from start to finish. My shins were sore (I'm a little tight there lately, need to work on that), my body was heavy, my mind defeated. But I just kept going, because if I did this thing then at least I'd done something useful and could hopefully brace that up against the feelings of failure inside me, or maybe all the nice chemicals running makes would cheer me up. I almost felt like I was punishing myself, pushing myself onwards just to avoid standing still.
I overdressed (again, grr!) in long sleeves and as the sun came out I became too hot. I didn't carry any gels or fluid, because I don't usually need then over that time or distance, but by the time i got back i was gasping for water and my blood sugar was low.
Even now, I'm showered and have some liniment on my leggies and I'm about to have some protein, i feel awful. Sad. There's just no other word for it. It defies logic, as I know that I just have to wait and eventually this cloud will lift and I'll feel better again, but I can't help but think that I can fix it somehow. I struggle with feeling powerless as I think, deep down, that I can fix everything, but all I can do is worry about everything and fix nothing.
This run was pretty off-plan, so I'll be taking it easy this week in preparation for Sunday's 15K run. I may not feel like it now, but I'm sure that getting to my goal and knowing that I trained through these black spots will make it all worthwhile.