Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The 7-week itch

It is somewhat hard for me to believe that it has been 7 weeks since I was taken out of action by this calf/achilles injury.  I am happy to report that I have been making steady progress with my rehabilitation and have returned to regular, pain-free running.  Up until last week, I had been testing my leg by running consecutive days.  While I was keeping these runs short, by the third day of running, I was generally pretty sore and had to rest from running for a couple of days.  I finally started running slightly longer, every other day and found this to be sustainable.  Last week for instance, I got in two, 8-mile runs including strides and two, 6-mile runs.  With each day of running, my leg felt better and better.  This week, I'm working on running nearly every day in a long, short pattern for a total of 40 miles.  That is a big week.

My fitness world has been transformed from a fixation on running mileage to focus on how many total hours I work out (not including strength training and yoga) during the week.  However, I do like to convert that back to the equivalent amount of mileage I'd be running for that amount of time, since, I am after all a running geek at heart.  For instance, a 10-hour week would roughly equate to an 80-mile running week assuming an 8 mph average pace (a little on the slow side).

As I'm returning to running, I realize that all of the cross training has paid off.  I generally feel pretty fit, though I haven't started doing hard workouts yet.  Still, striding along at 5:30 pace feels good and doesn't require a ton of effort.  I've even thrown in a couple of 800m intervals at marathon pace (6:10) and those didn't feel too bad either.  Believe it or not, I think I'll miss some of the cross training activities, except the ellipti-devil, when I get back to higher running mileage. These past few weeks of biking and pool running have been fun.

Last week, I rediscovered a great yoga workout video featuring Rodney Yee called Yoga Conditioning for Athletes.  My coach had recommended it to me a couple of years ago, and I used it a lot for a while.  As with most other non-running activities, my yoga practice fell by the wayside after a few months.  I relied mostly on the TP massageball kit to work the kinks out of my legs thereafter.

I didn't realize how tight I had allowed myself to become until I did the video the other day and had trouble doing poses that I had easily mastered the last time I tried it.  While I've read conflicting reports on the importance of flexibility for runners, I know that I am tighter than I have ever been in my life and I have to assume that's not a good thing.  I don't suspect I will be a good yogi for long, but I want to believe I'll find the time to do this yoga routine now and then to keep a little Gumby in my body.

I'm still not out of the woods, but I am making good progress at this point.  This week will be a good test of my readiness to return to running workouts.  I hope to run 6 days this week for a total of 40 miles.  I will try an 11-mile 'long' run including some short intervals around a moderately hilly lake this weekend.  If all goes well, I will be trying on some harder running workouts next week and will hopefully start up my speed-demon training in preparation for a couple of short, focus races.  I can't wait to get out there and start tearing it up again!

P.S. Sprinkles I promised I wouldn't mention DiaB.  Proud of me?


  1. i think it can be common to get especially tight when you start doing a ton of new exercises that you haven't done before. though i only took about a week off when i had a sore hamstring several months ago, i cross trained quite a bit on the eliptical and the bike. i found that my hips and butt became incredibly tight. when i started running again, it took two weeks to get my legs back to feeling truly "normal" after putting them in shock from all the cross training.
    i'm not surprised that you are still pretty fit. when you go into a running break incredibly fit, you are able to come back from that break surprisingly fast. look at all the women who get pregnant and then are able to run great times shortly after giving birth. i experienced that myself: i was shocked at how fast i was able to get back into racing shape. so...if a woman can gain 25-30 pounds and miss nearly a year of intense training, and still get back to good racing shape within a handful of months, then you surely can get into great shape soon, too.

  2. I'm holding my breath on this and hoping it's an injury about which a month from now you won't be sure whether it was the right or the left leg that caused you so much trouble.

    It's a good sign that you're able to go at different speeds without a problem, including pretty quick ones.

  3. 6:10 marathon pace. Holy fuck.

  4. Steady as she goes "J" Looking forward to reading all about your future progress.

    All the best


  5. You're coming back well. The hours of cross-training have paid off. Nothing says you can't keep a little of the fun stuff going (if there's time) once the mileage and workouts are back to normal.

    On the value-of-flexibility debate, there was a good blog post from Steve Magness on the subject:
    Apparently if one is too flexible then muscle "stiffness" is less, and it's this stiffness that helps the running stride. A happy medium perhaps? Enough flexibility to have a good range of movement, but not "yoga guru" flexibility.

  6. Great job on maintaining your overall fitness. I am sure your running fitness will come back quickly! And all this cross training will make you so strong. Makes me wish I cross trained more regularly. And I have that DVD and I use that DVD. I love that DVD! To me yoga is like foam rolling... I can't stand putting in the time for it, but when I do I feel amazing for at least several days afterward.

  7. t-meat--thanks for your encouraging insight. I think the tightness was primarily from running and not necessarily the cross training. Either way, I was tied up in knots and feel relief from the yoga!

    Joe--Feel free to breathe. I've had 4 days of successful running since this post including a big 10 miler last night with 10 strides. No issues so far!

    Julie--that's the pace reflects what my brain thinks is my MP right now. Probably a delusion, but a fun target nonetheless!

    Scott--thanks for the shout out.

    Ewen--I agree about keeping the fun stuff in my program. Time is the limiting factor, as you point out. I have read that article and that's what prompted my comment about flexibility, actually. I do believe it is a Goldilocks issue and am looking for the level of Gumby that's just right for me.

    GB-- I should have guessed you would have that video! You know what I'm talking about then! It's great. You are dead on about pulling teeth to get on the yoga mat, but being so happy you did it after the workout. I hope this inspires you to dust it off and get your yoga on. I hope to do it tonight!