And just like that, I've hit my peak mileage for this training cycle. It seems a little hard to believe that I ran 100 miles this week. I feel pretty great, too. No aches or pains: only some ridiculously sore hamstrings from my new strength program (thanks, Tim, for adding the Russian dead lifts and good mornings-ouch!). From here, my running volume tapers for the half marathon on June 16th. Looking back at my running logs, I realized that these last 3 weeks are on par with the highest mileage I've ever run--and that was for marathon training. With another 90 mile week next week, I'll break my mileage record.
After a few weeks of plateauing, I finally had some breakthrough workouts these last two weeks. I ran my fastest set of 400s ever a couple of weeks ago, almost broke 24:00 for my 4 mile tempo (something I've never done before in a workout), and I've done two, 14 milers with the middle 10 miles "hard". Hard has equated to right around 6:20 pace. I've done almost all of these workouts in the heat. I'm not doing that intentionally, but that's just how the schedule has worked out. While it sucks to run hard in the heat, I'm betting on hot weather for Grandma's this year (though my race starts at 6:25 a.m.!). At least I'll be acclimated.
I've also had some not-so-great workouts. Earlier this week, I set out to do mile repeats one evening when I had been feeling like poo for several days due to wicked allergies and a bad case of ovarian cysts. I started the first repeat and knew by the 1/2 mile marker I was not going to finish the workout. I stopped and collected myself a bit and tried another mile. It felt awful, so I decided I would just get the miles in and call it a day. If you're a long-time follower, you know that I typically get in every workout in a training cycle. Some are better than others, but I rarely have to skip one. So, this was a major bummer for me. Coach L said to just let it go and "don't stress about it!" This week was about getting in the volume, but I was also able to get in one of those hard 14 milers last night.
After I had run that fast 400m workout, Coach L gave me some sage advice. He told me to remember the feeling I had during and after that workout. It's easy to find something positive in a workout like that, but he said to try to have that feeling after every workout. Find something positive about each workout and DWELL ON IT. That is an amazing piece of advice, particularly for someone like me who would be predisposed to dwell on what went wrong in a workout.
I've also pulled out my Mind Training for Runners MP3 and started listening to it. The download has a guided imagery track and a track that you play at night with subliminal messages embedded to make you fearless. Well, I always wake up wearing socks on my hands and ski goggles after listening to it, so maybe it's channeling some other message. Anyway, using these two tracks really helped me in Chicago, and I know they will help me at Grandma's too.
I get asked a lot by my colleagues whether I am running right now. Most of them tracked my long injury saga last winter and find it hard to believe that I'm training as hard as I am without any pain. I think I've struck a good balance between strength work, dynamic flexibility and massage this training cycle. My strength program is designed to work with my running training and is tapering right along with my running. My body has definitely changed shape over the last 2-3 months. My legs look like tree trunks to me, though I know they really aren't. I have my football player shoulders back. Pretty swoll in general, but I'm okay with that.
Jen Walker at CMT Sports Therapy has been a major player in keeping me running healthy. I see her once every two weeks. She not only gives me a good tune up, but also gives me a status report on the state of my muscles. A couple of weeks ago, my right hamstring was starting to feel "ropey" though I wasn't feeling any real pain from it. That cleared up with some work by her and extra rolling on my part. During this last week's visit, she gave me a thumbs up. She said that while my muscles were tight, they were healthy, and I had good bilateral mobility.
I have also continued to do the hip mobility exercises that John Ball gave me back in January. I do these 2-3 times per week, and they are key! They only take 10 minutes to do, and I always feel a million times more mobile after doing them.
I feel as though I should knock on wood right now because I've had a history of jinxing myself with posts like this. I know I'm doing everything I can to stay healthy and strong. A little voice in the back of my mind (John Ball) is always there whispering that you can do everything right and still get injured. I choose not to listen to that voice.