Saturday, October 22, 2011

Letting go

Lately, life has been getting in the way of my running (and blogging, sorry!), and I have been faced with numerous little decisions that impact my running schedule.  I spend a fair amount of energy each week figuring out how to fit runs into my over-scheduled life.  Inevitably, I end up faced with the decision to let go of a run or workout.  Other runners know well the angst associated with such decisions.

I have attempted to relieve myself of this anxiety by establishing some ground rules:
  1. My weekly plan is my IDEAL plan.  If everything goes perfectly in my life, then I should be able to complete my training plan as written.  
  2. Most weeks, I will have to shift workouts and runs around to stay healthy and sane. 
  3. I can labor over the decision to skip a run or workout, but once I decide, I have to let it go.
  4. I will always make decisions that favor sufficient recovery over getting in the miles or workouts.
These ground rules sort of established themselves over the last couple of weeks.  I completed my first week of marathon training two weeks ago and really took the bull by the horns.  I had 9 x 90 sec hill repeats @5k pace on Tuesday; ran 10 the next day finishing with 4 "brisk" miles; ran 8 x800 + 1 mile @ 5:40-5:49 pace on Thursday; ran some bastard hills Friday evening; ran a quick 12 miler Saturday at 6000 ft elevation and finished up with a 20 miler @ 6:52 pace on Sunday late evening.  What the hell was I thinking.

The horn ended up goring me the following week.  Luckily I had Monday as a planned rest day.  But, I had to drive for 7 hours to the nether-regions of the Central Valley to monitor a conservation easement.  My butt was killing me and I forgot to bring my lacrosse ball/torture device.  Desperate, I asked my colleague if she minded stopping in a convenience store to try to find a tennis ball to relieve my aching butt.  She found the best device ever.  It's a toy that has a hard-as-rock ball with an elastic string attached to a strap.  I sat on this ball and rolled.  I leaned my butt up against oak trees and rolled my TFL.  I used the side of the rental car to get at my gluteus minimus (sorry about the dent, rental car people).

Despite all of this treatment, my body was still tired when I resumed running on Tuesday.  I skipped my evening run.  My calf muscles had been screaming at me in every run.  When I still wasn't feeling the love by Thursday, my next scheduled workout, I just decided this would be a recovery week.  I did not run Friday, but I did 10 on Saturday and my 20 miler on Sunday.

I ramped up my training again this week, and have felt good.  I had to let a workout go on Wednesday due to a work meeting that ran way over.  This was one where I could have gone out in the dark and run the 10 miles, finishing up at about 8:30-9:00 p.m. then turned around to run again at 5:10 a.m..  I decided that I would be better off rearranging my schedule a little to make up for some of the lost mileage.  Then, I let it go.  This was a great decision.  I had a fantastic double the next day running easy with my girlies in the a.m. and then killing my evening workout.  I'll still manage 86 miles (originally scheduled to be 90).

New stuff

I have started a few new things with this marathon training plan.  First, I have started using some strength training routines that target core strength and hip mobility.  I do these twice a week and am still working out the kinks.  Once I get them where I want them, I'll share.

I have also begun a new way of tracking…well, everything.  I use a Numbers template (a program that only Mac nerds will know) and have a few screenshots of what I track and how below (click on the picture to enlarge).  I like keeping track of daily changes to show trends that I wouldn't see if tracked less regularly.  

My dashboard with summarized data from all of the other spreadsheets.

This is my run log including a shoe tracker
This is the energy tracker, showing the rating system for the various categories.

The novel addition to the usual stuff people track is the energy index.  This is something that is developed in the Squires and Lahane program that I'm following.  I have modified it a bit changing leg spring to leg feel, but the rest is theirs.  The idea is to track how you feel each day and then track the average energy values over time to see if you're headed for a cliff or primed for a good race/workout.  The jury's still out on this, but I'll keep you posted.  Mostly, I wanted a place to keep all of my information and a "dashboard" that would help me see at a glance how my training and body data are trending.

Finally, I am trying out a new shoe model that I actually really like so far.  It's the Brooks PureConnect. I've run about 40 miles in them so far.  The shoe has a bit of a rocker-like sole on it, and, as a mid to forefoot striker, I feel my heel drop with every stride.  This puts an eccentric load on my calf and achilles, and is probably responsible for my calf muscle soreness this last week.  The soreness has dissipated, and I like them better the more that I wear them, despite how ugly they are.

So, all goods things are happening right now.  I'm getting stronger and faster each week.  I also might be getting just a little bit smarter...


  1. I like the idea of having 'letting go' sort of scheduled, so that when it happens there's no agonising over the decision.

    Yes, let us know how the energy tracker idea works as a tool for predicting/preventing ups and downs. That could be useful.

  2. Thanks, Ewen. I do recall the sage advice from one of my past coaches each time I'm faced with that decision: "you never have to worry about being a slacker, only about pushing yourself too hard". That really helps make the decision and be done with it.

    I think the key to the energy tracker is calibrating it properly to the individual. I will probably modify it more than I have done so far so it makes sense to me. I seem to find myself in the "3" range for most of the variables. Perhaps just having tailored descriptions will help.

  3. Good advice from your former coach.

    I was thinking a combo of the energy tracker, hours of sleep and resting HR could be the basis of a useful phone app - perhaps one that keeps a running total or average.