Monday, August 8, 2011

A Hint of Progress

I love progress.  I've seen slow, but steady progress in my workouts these last few weeks.  What makes me even more excited, however, is the progress in my decision making involving my running and recovery.

Two weeks ago was a big, big running week with 85 miles and three tough workouts, so my dogs were understandably tired.  I was feeling great in the Nike Frees so I had been wearing them almost every day.  A week ago Sunday, I ran a hard tempo in my old Mizunos just to give my feet a break from the Frees.  The next day, I ran in the Frees again and noticed a tension across the top and tenderness along the outside of my left foot after I ran.  I've actually felt this off and on, but it was noticeably more sore this time.  My left calf muscle was also really tight.  I knew that I needed to pay some attention to the calf muscle, since I had neglected rolling it a couple of days that week.*

*Note to self: limit training if you can't keep up with the maintenance.  If life is too busy to roll every day, then back off the mileage to fit it in.  No excuses! 

Was this a case of too much too soon with the Frees?  Was it actually the hard run in the Mizunos that aggravated my foot?  I decided to wear the Mizunos on Tuesday and my foot hurt worse, even painful to the touch.  Researching top of foot pain (TOFP) on the internets was a big mistake at first.  Every post was about stress fractures and my mind started racing with the prospect. I finally found a site that provided a more palatable explanation for what I had going on and, based on the ultimate outcome, it was probably the right one.

Regardless of the diagnosis, I knew I needed to take a day of rest from running.  I worked the bajeezus out of the knots in my calf and iced my foot a bunch of times.  I also bought a new pair of Mizunos since my old ones had over 400 miles on them (way more than I've ever run in a trainer).  I had been hopeful that I could get away without buying another pair of them and run Free for the rest of my life.  I reminded myself that this minimalist transition was something I was making up and was not critical to my running career.  I needed to listen to my body.    

The bummer about missing Wedensday's run was that I had a track workout scheduled for that day.  This is why I am especially proud of myself for resting.  It's so hard to give up a day of training, but even harder when that day is a hard workout.  I had a double planned for Thursday and went ahead with the morning 5 miler in my new Mizunos.  All systems were a go, so I added the workout from the day before in to the evening 9 mile run.  This was a risk since I knew fast track running might aggravate the tight calf, but I also knew I could stop if I felt anything bad.  I didn't need to stop, and it was a great workout.  

Currently, the knots are gone from the calf after a lot of work and the foot is fine too.

My second mark of progress came last night in what I saw as my most difficult workout of this cycle.  It was 5 x 1200m @ 5k pace, picking up the pace in the last 300m of each.  It was that last bit that got me nervous.  This workout had a "4 minute pause" between repeats.  This pause thing is new for me, but I figure Coach Squires has good reason for writing the workouts the way he does.  I follow them as written, but I'm just not used to having anything but a jog rest between reps.  You'd think it would make the workout seem easier, but that's not the feeling I got.

I started this run at about 7 p.m. last night, which is my favorite time of day to run right now for some reason.    After drills and strides, I rolled into the first repeat.  I was happy with how I felt at the 1000m mark and even happier when I saw the 3:30 on my watch.  A few weeks ago, I had done a 6 x 1000 workout and averaged 3:35 for those.  This was a good sign of progress--if I could hold it.  I can't say that I really picked up the pace much in that last 300m of each repeat, but I certainly kicked up the effort level which may have served to maintain a good clip.  I ended up doing every single repeat in exactly the same time 4:13.  This result is funny to me because the configuration of each was so different.  The first repeat started with an 80 sec first 400m and then I slowed to find the 4:13.  I worked hard in the last 2 repeats to make sure I started at 84-85 and cut down from there, and I still ended up at 4:13.  I guess that was just my number for the night.

Uncertain of what the "pause" was supposed to look like, I decided to walk for the 4 minutes between each rep.  My legs actually felt really sluggish for the first 100-200m of the repeat following the walk break compared to what I feel like after doing a jog break.  I'm sure it helped me to hold the paces I needed to though.

This was the fastest workout I've done so far this cycle, holding an overall 5:38 pace which equates to a 17:30 5k. Progress indeed.


  1. What made you decide to run in the frees? Why the minimalist transition? I also have been transitioning to a more minimalist shoe. The first step for me was getting rid of my orthotics and going to a more low profile shoe. Would love to hear about your transition and why.

  2. Great job on the workout, so nice to hear you back on track. Googling injuries is always a freakout, glad you found a more sensible possible cause.

    As for the sluggishness between repeats, from what I've read, jogging between clears more lactic acid from the legs than walking, so that's probably why you were feeling it.

  3. Hi Robyn, I talked about that in my post called "Barefoot Jaymee" Basically, I think I will be a stronger runner once I start using the muscles in my feet as they are designed to be used. I also think the minimalist shoes and barefoot running will improve my form.

    Thanks, GIM, for your comment. I think that is a good explanation for what I was feeling. I actually sent a message to the "coach" to find out the reason behind the "pause" and will blog about his response soon. It was very interesting!