Thursday, April 23, 2015

LP Run 2015: A First on a Few Levels

The track at the distinguished Rice University.
It's been a few months since I've raced. Finally the desire to do so returned earlier this month much to my own relief. Best place to start? How about this old and quirky little race in Houston called the LP Run. Someone actually had to explain to me why it as called that and why it was an event timed at 33 and 1/3 minutes and placement was based on distance covered-the race is 48 years old, and back then LP records were the thing, turning at 33 and 1/3 revolutions. Hello, generation gap! This was my first time running LP but may stick it on the schedule next year too.

A little background for those not familiar, it is one of the oldest running events in Houston put on by the Terlingua Track Club. It's run on the Rice University track, which felt like it would be fast if the humidity was not 150%! We all had to recruit a lap counter (something I didn't think about beforehand but worked out well) and I found it as low key as they come: music was playing, everyone was very friendly. I enjoyed running on the college track.

Another first for this race is a pretty big one for me: I was not ready to go out and compete. I honestly just felt about 75%-80% but that was fine for my plan. Just weeks ago I was feeling drained and I was good just getting any kind of run in for the day. Those who know me well know I will prepare to death for something and wait until the "conditions are just right" to go out and perform. Luckily, at this stage I have decided that that may be kinda stupid and should just go challenge and enjoy myself.  And I am more and more becoming a believer that the best way to become a better racer (and get fitter) is to race. I also don't have to treat all events with equal importance.

I decided to play it safe and treat is more like an uptempo training day, I needed about 5 miles that day anyway, why not rock my Oiselle kit with My New Balance 1400s and do it festively? I really wanted to work on negative splitting, but changed my mind after the first mile and just held steady. The event was set up beautifully for that.

So I won't bore you all with the details of running in a circle for 33 minutes and change. I did feel like I started and finished strong with a little loss of focus in the middle-the more I expose myself to these situations and paces, the easier it will get.  The conditions weren't that great on top of a lack of fitness but complaining won't do any good and it will only make me tougher.  but I came out with a few takeaways from the event.

The Objective Stuff: 2nd AG (pleasantly surprised with that with a lot of fasties in the field), distance covered about 4.5 miles.  The race shirts were tie-dyed. See I told you this was an old-school race! Only second event of 2015.

All the Other Stuff:

  • I enjoyed reconnecting with the Houston Running Community a bit, I didn't realize that I have been largely absent in a racing sense, and it was nice to do a HARRA event again. 
  • I challenged myself without doing anything stupid. Always a plus. And I may get fitter from this. 
  • I walked away feeling like I put in a good day's work and got out of my "little ego's comfort zone" and ran smart. 
  • Although I would have liked to crank out a faster overall pace, considering the difficulty this Spring has brought, I kept it pretty steady throughout. 
  • I kind of like the feel of the track for racing, a nice change from the usual...except the last 10 minutes or so...
  • Got a nice little mental workout staying motivated and focused in an event with no real  definite 'end point'.
  • Terlingua Track Club did a great job putting on the event and seem like a good bunch.
  • Iron is good for you.
There you have it. Quite the fun evening!

Stay the course. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I Voluntarily Get Stabbed in the Leg Sometimes: A Follow Up Post on Graston Technique

Yes, you read that correctly. And I figured the title would get your attention.

Friday I had another Graston Treatment done by Dr. Derrick Raymer at Athletic Republic.  As many of you know, I have been getting treated every week or two in my quest to a. stay on the roads and b. maintain a major injury-free streak of 12 months or more. I have proven again and again that I cannot do either very well without help!

So cue the most recent foray on the table. After getting some familiar and (oddly) non-painful treatments on the lower legs a couple months ago with successful results, I have come up with a theory that there is a spider somewhere in my legs that likes to put webbing on my joints. Ok not really, but you get the picture....

Being a girl who has the tendency to overthink-especially in things dealing with running, sometimes a simple, often stupid answer works best and then and you just let the pros do their job. So anyway, the 'leg spider', as I am calling it- or more like the spoils of repetitive motion- managed to spin a nice web in my right hip as of lately. Perfectly 'runnable', yet perfectly annoying and takes away from both a smooth stride and my enjoyment of however many miles are prescribed that day.

Tearing down the web today, I'll be honest, did not feel too good.  The good news about this technique is that previously treated parts can adapt to the discomfort (notice I didn't call it 'pain'; there is a difference).  According to the Doc I had 'ropes' inhibiting my movement in my upper leg and hip range of motion. Basically myofascial growth and maybe some gross inflammation to go with it. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?!

After today's round of treatment, I quickly noticed a big increase in ease of movement and much less discomfort. There will likely be some initial soreness over the weekend, as the procedure does involve some scraping and ART-type work. The end result I feel is worth it. Range of motion is often a deciding factor in performance and injury prevention.

Based on research on the web, GT and myofascial  release techniques are not necessarily new, but is becoming more mainstream in sports med treatment.

The key benefits according to the GT website are as follows:
  • Decreases overall time of treatment
  • Fosters faster rehabilitation/recovery
  • Reduces need for anti-inflammatory medication
  • Resolves chronic conditions thought to be permanent
Don't like pills? This is a good option. Don't like to be a slave to treatments? This is worth a shot.  I also use it merely as a recovery method to prevent future complications. That and it is really nice having joints that move the way they are supposed to, even after all the pounding I give them. 

Obviously I recommend this for serious athletes who haven't responded well to more traditional work and I of course highly recommend the always charming Dr. Derrick! 

So there you have it, getting stabbed in the leg doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Just have it done by a trained professional! 

Stay the course. I'm off to run again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Another Year with Honey Stinger and A Little on Goals

Monday afternoon I got a lovely email stating that I was accepted again into the Honey Stinger Hive program. Last year I posted something on how sponsorship works (at least for mortals like myself) and my biggest takeaway was don't just gain sponsors for the sake of having them, but actually represent companies and products you like and trust; basically stuff you'd buy anyway if you didn't have sponsorship.

Thanks @honeystinger! 
At this stage of my athletic career, I greatly appreciate any opportunity to have gear and nutrition provided to me. It's also a big plus when it's organic and actually tastes good! At any rate, a big word of "Thanks" goes out to the crew at HS, as nutrition is a key piece in working towards my goals. 

Speaking of goals.....I have had a lot of time lately to think about that subject. 

So here's the current state of things: let's just say the nonlinear law of progress is on full display this Spring. Spoiler alert: I may have 99 problems but injury ain't one!

I had this really, really weird period starting a couple weeks ago where the running started to feel like work. Like I'm pulling a cart full of rocks behind me with a flat tire kind of work. Like I'm "32 going on 75" kind of effort. Mind you, I don't have an least not on the musculoskeletal level (crazy, huh?!). 

Here's the weirdest part of it all: I didn't want to run. It's one thing when I don't feel like going out and cancelling plans to go back to sleep, but not wanting to run? Not like me at all. I was exhausted, my easy pace felt like tempo and had some wicked trouble getting to sleep. Somehow I powered through work when all I could think about was resting. On top of it all I had some weird upper respiratory thing that lasted a good 10 days. I think we may know where this was going....

Cue Dr. appt and blood work. And I didn't have the motivation to run-so I didn't for almost a week. My body and mind were apparently begging for it and I needed to conserve energy to kick whatever was invading my systems out. To top it off, I had the iron tested and immediately went back on supplementation with Hema-Plex. After getting past some FE difficulty last summer, I had tapered off taking any iron supplementation because of the possible risks and recommendations against it made me leery. By default, one goal for the remainder of 2015 is to listen to how I am really feeling and be proactive about it. If it means I have to deviate from the piece of paper I have for a schedule. The big picture supersedes any one day or week of training. 

Process Goals

So curve ball thrown, the running desire came back over the weekend. Thank goodness! I was supposed to race the Muddy Trails 5k but the thought of running hard through the woods and possible immune consequences was a bit much. So I volunteered at the finish line and had a pretty enjoyable experience doing so. One goal I have this year is to not make it as much about me and manipulating everything to fit my training, as obviously something got out of balance this winter and spring. Probably a lot of it was I had the tendency to try too hard-follow everything to the letter. Good in theory, but not always realistic. Hold a white-knuckle grip on anything and you're sure to get tired eventually. 

Letting go. I have done a lot of training in order to "be ready" to run a time that I respect and put a good showing. This is important, but perhaps I need to actually just get in and race on more occasions and accept whatever the result. Like enjoy it, have fun with it. Racing itself can be valuable training. Case in point: I'm planning on going to Rice University to run the LP Run later this month. Will I be 'in shape' for it? Not really. But does it mean I suck? NOPE. It's just one race and can be good training. 

One thing I will confess is that I have a hard time shaking the fear of "looking bad" in front of my running peers, where my more rational side says "who cares?". Perhaps this has been one of my biggest roadblocks in my training. 

Another thing I really have been wanting to improve on is strategy, especially negative splitting. This summer I really want to dial in on gaining the patience and trust in order to execute it in a race. To do this I have to make a conscious effort in training to work the pace down. Yesterday I had a large pace window to work with, so I simply worked on going from "top to bottom". The hardest part is the first mile or two when you're bored and your legs want to start turning faster. Simple run as it was and not necessarily fast, but I walked away happy with a run for the first time in a while, just by putting some purpose to it. If I'm not caring so much about how one race experience turns out, I can translate this to the competitive situation.

Lastly, I want twelve months with no major injuries. So far so good. Maybe because I'm resting more??;)

Hopefully I can string together some type of "Summer of Strength" this year-lots of good base work to build on. More outcome-focused goals can come later, but these are things I find motivating and attainable and make me want to get out there and improve. Process comes before outcome. When things don't go your way, learn from them and use them. If I attain just one of these things, that is a success. 

So alien illness cleared, new shoes on, red meat in, nutrition sponsor back in the fold. I'm not hurt. Let's move forward. 

Stay the course.