Saturday, May 26, 2012

My New Goal Half and Recent Race Cancellations

Since I am currently en route to California with a lot of flight time still left on my hands (I can never sleep on planes), I figured I would once again grace the blogging world with my presence.

The reality of the matter is that it’s hard to keep up a running blog when you haven’t been running. Even more so when you’re doing anything and everything else to distract yourself from the fact that you haven’t been running. Shocking.

Rewind to a couple weeks ago on May 13th. I had gradually worked my way back to running 3 miles, three times a week. But I was still feeling that all too familiar twinge of ITBS here and there on my runs. Obviously, I was going nowhere fast on the road to recovery. So I decided to take three full weeks off of running and focus on strength training, yoga, and cross training (although since I loathe cross training, I’ve been doing mostly strength training and yoga). I’ve mostly been focusing on my core, hips, butt, hamstrings, and quads, and I’ve been seeing good progress in the strength department. Taking these three weeks off allows me exactly enough time to complete Hal Higdon’s 18-Week Novice I Marathon Training Program before Chicago in the fall. I picked this plan because the mileage starts small (15 mpw) and works you up to 40 mpw very gradually. There is also no speedwork, but I can work some of that in later once I’m back to 100%.

I also picked my new goal half marathon! I’ll be racing the Urban Wildland Half Marathon in Richfield, MN on August 4th. This race has been advertised as Minnesota’s “green” race and describes the course as “mostly flat and fast.” I’ll only have 8 weeks to train for it, and I’ll just be following my marathon training plan. The plan actually prescribes a half marathon the same weekend that this one takes place, so it kind of felt like fate.

Urban Wildland Half Marathon

The time of has been brutal- now I understand why people go nuts during their marathon taper. I’ve thought about lacing up my running shoes several times in the last couple weeks, but I just keep reminding myself that I’ll only be prolonging my injury rather than letting it heal.

In other news, the Midwest has been facing some uncharacteristically high temperatures for May, and as a result, race cancellations have been a problem. The Green Bay Marathon was cancelled after the start last weekend, the Madison Marathon was just cancelled, and there is speculation that the Med City Marathon (my original goal half) may also be cancelled tomorrow. The La Crosse Marathon was also cancelled, albeit for thunderstorms, not heat. I understand that the race directors take a lot of factors into consideration before they cancel a race, but it seems that a lot of runners are angry, and I totally get why. You can train for months and pay a hefty race fee, only to not be able to run or even get a refund. But at what point does it become the race director's responsibility to "save runners from themselves" and not even allow them to start?  

I am so excited to be on my way to California! We’ll be dog-sitting for the first part of trip while my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew are in Georgia. I foresee a lot of walks and lounging by the pool in my near future!

What are your thoughts on cancelling a race due to heat? Have you ever been registered for a race that was cancelled?

Taper time- do you enjoy it, or does it drive you crazy?

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chi Running and the Problem with Comparisons

Hi everyone! My friend Rachael complained to me on Friday that she hadn't felt inspired all week because of my recent lack in blogging. My excuse was something like, "It's hard to blog about running when I'm not really running." Nevertheless, I feel compelled to deliver an extra-inspirational post today ;)

First of all, I found my new favorite drink today:

Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino

Yes, that is chocolate whip cream on top. And yes, you should go buy one right now. It was life-changing.

I've been making progress (albeit slow progress) with my ITBS as of late. You may remember that I had scheduled an appointment with a physical therapist last week. Well, after finding out that it would cost $200 out of pocket for the initial consultation, I decided to just stick with deep tissue massage and my own strengthening exercises. And, I'm happy to say that over the last two weeks I've gotten three pain-free 3-mile runs in. My knee has still been sore, but no debilitating pain, which I couldn't be happier about.

I feel that I owe at least some of the credit for my pain-free runs to a little movement you may have heard about called "Chi Running." I haven't read the book (although I'm contemplating buying it), but the Chi Running website features a little blurb about IT band syndrome and how you can alter your running form to help keep the pain at bay. The two main things it talks about is keeping your pelvis level (both front-to-back and side-to-side), as well as making sure your feet are landing midfoot either directly below your body or right behind it. I've been mostly concentrating on the pelvis part, because I think the side-to-side movement is what's really screwing with IT band. On my 3 mile run yesterday, I noticed that I felt a slight twinge when I got lazy and started ignoring my hip movement, but as soon as I corrected it, the pain was gone! I'm going to continue to implement these Chi Running principles into my training, and hopefully once I'm fully healed it will keep me from suffering from this injury in the future.

I have a bit of sad news, although it comes accompanied by much happier news! I won't be running the Med-City half-marathon on May 27th, because we're going to California to meet my new nephew, Henry! :) He's two months old now, and we can't wait to see him. There will be many more races to sign up for, but we'll never get to see Henry this little again.

Alright, time for a more serious topic- yes, even more serious than my injury ;) Lately I've been struggling with comparing myself to other runners- whether it be people I know personally, people I don't know at the gym, or other running bloggers I've never even met. And I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. Racing brings out the competitive nature in all of us, whether we're racing against others to place in our age group, or just racing against ourselves for a new PR. It can be disappointing when we don't meet a time goal, especially if someone running their first race ever makes the time goal we missed look silly. Or if someone runs a much better time than you (a time you'd kill for!) and yet they're disappointed about it. But that's the thing- we all fall differently on the spectrum when it comes to talent. For example, I just read in the most recent issue of Runner's World that if you can run a sub-25:00 5K, you're a "serious runner." I was confused- by whose standards am I a "serious runner?" I definitely don't consider myself one, but I know that some of my friends might, based solely on my race times. In comparison, I consider women who run sub-20:00 5Ks serious runners. It's all about personal perception. Another example- last fall while running a half-marathon, I passed two girls with shirts on that said "Friends don't let friends run 5Ks." I wanted to smack them across the face- especially since I had three friends who were running their first ever 5K that day, which is a HUGE accomplishment!

My point is, some of us have to work really hard for a sub-30:00 5K, while others might run a sub-2:00 half marathon with minimal training. But as one of my friends told me today, it's those of us who have to work harder for our goals that achieve the greater satisfaction. I definitely think a sub-1:50 half marathon is within my reach, once I'm 100% again. Even though that may not be fast by some people's standards, I've worked hard for it, and endured injuries for it. And when I DO run a sub-1:50 half, I'm going to be ecstatic about it, no matter what everyone else's finishing times are. But first I have to focus on getting healthy :)

What was the highlight of your week?

Any long runs/races this past weekend?

Have you ever struggled with comparing yourselves to other runners?