Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Calf Pain?

So my running has had to be delayed this week because of some calf pain, and it's really frustrating!

I think I've mentioned before that my right calf has been bothering me - it feels different to shin splints (which I've had before). The pain is deeper in the calf, along the bone, but more on the inside of the leg rather than the front. From what I'm reading it could be caused by road running (which I don't really have too many options for), improper stretching or not enough stretching (which I have been doing), or my shoes (which is probably the main culprit).

Has anyone run into this before? (no pun intended)

Normally, I'd just run on it, but it's sore all the time (whether I'm standing on it or not) unless I take aspirin, and then it's only sore when I put pressure on it.  The stairs are particularly painful.

I just rested it yesterday and applied heat, but today I'm applying ice and elevating it while working at my desk.  Any other suggestions? I think new sneakers will be in order. Plus, I'm planning to take a long walk today and do some yoga, which should keep me active without putting my leg through too much impact.

I'd love to get some feedback. I don't want to take too much time off (and won't if you don't think it will lead to further injury), but I also don't want to make things any worse! Today would be the third day in a row I haven't run, and I'm getting antsy.

I've also heard that calf compression can help - I do have some compression socks, which maybe I could wear while running too (as cool as that looks!).


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Will a 30-minute run ever feel "easy?"

This turned out to be a four-run week, as I expected.  I ran again on Thursday, this time doing 2.6 miles in about 30 minutes, an 11:32 pace.  When I look back on Wednesday's run, I think I was actually closer to this distance and time, and just mis-mapped it.  So there's no excuse for me being tired after all!

The run felt pretty good, although I must admit that my legs are really killing me lately.  I don't know if it's that I ran 2.6-ish miles two days and walked another three miles both days, or if it was the travel, or what, but my legs were really sore on Friday.

Fortunately, they haven't been jittery like I've had in the past, but they are really sore.  Despite that, I knew I wanted to run today, so I forced myself to head out - it was warmer and really humid today, so going for a run at 11:30 wasn't the best time.  Now that it's heating up, I'm going to have to start running much earlier.  You may know that I'm really not a fan of getting up early, but I found that even with legs that feel dead, I'm starting to *need* to run.  (When did THAT happen!?!?)

So anyway, I drove to a local park with a small pond and ran for thirty minutes again.  I did five laps around what turned out to be a 0.54 mile path, giving me a 2.7 mile run.  I was at an 11:14 pace, so I am running slow (I need to speed up!).

I'm also seeing how much of my running struggles are mental.  On Tuesday, I really didn't believe I could make the thirty minutes.  And I didn't.  But on Wednesday, I just decided I would. And I did.  There was nothing majorly different between the two days or how my body was feeling - it was all mental.

Thursday was the same - I knew I'd run thirty minutes the day before, so why couldn't I do it again? And today, I started out the run feeling really sore - my knees hurt, my hips hurt, my right calf hurt...but I was determined to get the full thirty minutes in, and I did.  That felt great, even if I've felt sore the rest of the day!

I'm not sure why I'm so tired and sore, and I'm hoping that someday, a thirty minute run will feel like an "easy" run.  I think I just need to keep at it, and keep pushing myself and we'll see how it goes! Tomorrow is definitely a recovery day and then Monday I should be back to my regularly scheduled running at home!

I've also decided to add in some real yoga practices (I've been doing some stretching and light yoga, but I need to really push that).  It's a great counter-workout to running, and my legs could use some better stretching.  A friend suggested just giving myself two days a week to start with when I have to do the yoga (and at a set-aside time) and just committing to it, and I think that method will work best for me.  So I'll say it here - Tuesdays and Thursdays will be my yoga days and let's see if that helps my running aches!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another San Francisco Run

Today dawned much brighter here in San Francisco, and you know I prefer running when it's sunny and cool out! There's just something about a crisp spring day that motivates me to get out there.

I was determined that today's run would be the full thirty minutes. I've got to start adding some time/mileage onto my runs, so I need to make sure my base is solid.  So I pushed myself.  I did feel like I was running a bit fast a few times, and I may need to look into a monitor so I have a better idea of my pacing. I just feel like I'm a bit off lately, when I can usually sense what it is my body is doing/feeling.

But anyway, I ran along the Embarcadero again today, and with my neck feeling a bit better (thank you Bayer, Icy Hot, and heat wraps plus yoga & stretching) I thought I'd be in better shape than yesterday.  I did want to give up more than once.  Like, a lot.

I kept running though and tried to focus on the beautiful scenery, breathing deeply, and settling my body into the run.  I'm not sure that I ever accomplished the latter, but I did make it the full thirty minutes with no stopping. I also ran sans knee braces today, because yesterday they kept slipping down, which was really distracting.  I really need to get some new sneakers, and get them properly fitted....soon, soon.

Okay, so I just mapped my run, and it was about 2.94 miles in 30 minutes 6 seconds - a 10:14 pace.  So that IS faster than I needed to be running today! (And here I thought I was running so slow - no wonder I was so tired).

At any rate, after my run, I walked down to Howard Street to the Starbucks there, and was loving standing in line with all the customers in suits while sweat was dripping down my face.  But a lovely orange mango smoothie did the trick and set me up for the rest of the day.

Later in the day, after our business lunch and doing some work, I spent about an hour and a half wandering up and down the Embarcadero to take some pictures - I went almost the same distance walking as I did running, and the funny thing was that there were SO many more runners out this afternoon!  I mean, I went running this morning at 10, so most people should have been at work anyway, but this morning, I felt like I was the only runner out there, dodging tourists left and right.  And this afternoon, I felt like I was the only one NOT running, and I was dodging runners left and right!

I actually felt guilty for not running this afternoon...despite doing my run this morning. Do you ever feel that way?

It felt pretty good to be wandering around with so many people enjoying the fresh air - a lot of people were on bikes or running, and I wish that was more popular by me! All the runners looked to be in such great shape too - very muscly legs.  I really hope that will be me someday, and that I'll be able to run without looking and feeling like I'm about to keel over! One run at a time...

Tomorrow, I've got to fit in one more run, a business breakfast, and some work before flying back home.  I want to get one more run in before the end of the week, and next week, I'll be running up at my parents - I'm thinking of running at a park near them, so we'll see how that goes!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Running in San Fran

Here I am in San Francisco again, and this time, I'm running it.

But before I get into that - over the weekend, I went for a jog with my college roommate.  If you knew the two of us well, you'd really get a kick out of this, because it was a running joke (no pun intended) that she was not that athletic and I hated running.  In fact, one year, she got one-pound weights and sweatbands as a joke Christmas gift.

In the last few years though, she's been going to the gym, doing yoga, and working with a trainer, who got her started with running.  So she suggested we go for a run Saturday morning while we were having a college girls' weekend.

Our friend's husband pointed us to a bike trail nearby that we could run on, and we decided to do about thirty minutes. I hadn't run that long all week, so I was hoping I could manage it, but it helped that she's a slower runner, so I could better pace myself.  We chatted and ran the whole thirty minutes, and agreed that we felt GREAT when we were done - really nice addition to the weekend!

My plan was to take Sunday and Monday off because of having to fit in a bunch of stuff, and then run this week in San Francisco on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday and either Friday and Saturday back home.  I flew in yesterday, and before I left, I managed to tweak my neck.

For some background - a few years ago, I ended up with a pinched nerve in my neck.  I'm not sure how it happened, but I actually think it's a result of a car accident my friend Sage and I were in while we were in college (we were stopped to make a left turn and a car plowed into the van that was stopped behind us and both of us ended up with some whiplash).  Anyway, it was so bad that I couldn't sit at my desk for more than a few hours, and I ended up working while lying in bed with my laptop on my chest.

Eventually, I had to be put on some painkillers to allow muscles to relax enough that the nerve slipped back into place.  Every once in a while, I get some pain there, but normally nothing serious and after a few days, it's gone.  Normally, it's because I'm lifting things that are just a bit too heavy or carrying a heavy purse too much.

Well, yesterday, I'm not sure what started it off, but what pushed it over the edge was jumping up from the kitchen table funny to check and see if there was a squirrel at the bird feeder. I know, I'm awesome.

And unfortunately, it's put me in levels of pain that I haven't felt since I first pinched it.  I can't get comfortable, the muscles are screaming, and lying down seems to be the only relief I get.  But my hotel is pretty much right on the Embarcadero here in San Fran, so I could run outside instead of at the gym.  And I've been feeling really antsy and wanted to run outside.

I figured I'd just do an easy run and see how it went.  And honestly, it wasn't so bad - my neck didn't hurt any more or less than when I'm sitting up doing nothing.  It was a tough run though, so I just tried to take it slow and enjoy it.  I ran about 25 minutes total, with some walking breaks (and a break to take a phone call when the person refused to leave me a voicemail and just called me three times in a row instead).  Am I really happy with today's run? No, I'm not.

But I'm out of my element, running on crowded sidewalks in an unfamiliar city (I've been here three times, but never run here), so the main thing was that I went out and did it.  And I've got two more days to run here too!

So let's hope my neck settles back in. I stopped at a Walgreens on my way back to the hotel to pick up those neck heating patches, some icy hot, and some aspirin (I only have Excedrin, which you're not supposed to take more than once a day).  I can't take ibuprofen because it's counter-indicated for something else I'm on, so aspirin it is.  We'll see how it goes - but keep your fingers crossed because I'm already fed up with the pain and it's only been 24 hours.  I had big plans to walk around the city today, but I think some more rest is in order so that I'm in better shape for tomorrow (when the weather should be better anyway!).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Let a Bad Run Get the Better of Me

I needed to run today.

I'm not going to have time to run tomorrow, and although I've got a run planned with a friend on Saturday, that leaves me with only four runs for the whole week, two of which were already only two miles.

So although I have a LOT to do, and am stressed out about doing it (and maybe because of that), I needed to run.

I headed out, planning to run about 2 1/2 miles.  As soon as I started, I was sore, my back hurt, my legs hurt, my knee hurt, I felt like it was humid and I could just feel the exhaustion set it.  So I basically gave up. I told myself I'd only run a mile instead of the 2 1/2 I had planned.

Now, granted, I did run FAST today (fast for me, that is).  I ran 1.01 miles in 10:06, which is a 10:02 pace.  I haven't run that fast in two years.  But I didn't pace myself better to start with, which made me feel more tired more quickly and I gave up.

My lesson for today for myself is that everyone has bad days and bad runs.  At least I went out there for those ten minutes instead of skipping the run altogether.  I also need to remember that two years ago, this was right when I lost focus and started to give up - started to hate to run.  I don't want that to happen again, so if I needed to give myself a break today rather than push myself too hard, I guess that's okay.

I'll be back with a vengeance next week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tough Runs and Chocolate Milk

I ran two miles again today, and although it felt like a really punishing run, I was actually enjoying it! That really surprised me because usually I just want to get a tough run over with.  Maybe I'm turning a running corner...

My run today was a fast one too - 2.1 miles in 20:40, for about a 10:15 pace - pretty good! Let's see if I can keep that up.

Also, I learned recently that drinking a glass of chocolate milk when you get back from a run is a good idea, because it has the perfect combination of protein to carbohydrates. Regular milk doesn't have sugar in it, but chocolate milk does. I go for the lowfat kind, of course, and it does taste good after a hard run!

Not too much else to report today. Another run tomorrow, hopefully back around three miles and then I'm planning to run with a friend this weekend.  Next week, I'll be running one day at my parents' and most of the rest of the week in San Francisco! So that will be exciting to report on!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Race Report

I'd been waiting to post this until they got the race results up - and they finally did, but they've put everyone as running 1 mile instead of three.  I'd REALLY have to walk slowly to get a 33 minute mile!
Why yes, I did wear compression socks the
night before!

At any rate, Saturday was a beautiful day for the River to Bay 5k.  I woke up around six and did about thirty minutes of stretching.  My body had been so sore the day before from cleaning the entire house and getting the yard squared away, so I'd done some yoga and stretching before going to bed, and repeated it when I got up.  It was a nice, relaxed way to get ready for the race.

Then, I had my oatmeal and apple for breakfast - and I think this was a mistake (at least the apple was).  Although it was still about ninety minutes before race time, the apple made me feel a bit sluggish.  Next time, I'll just go with a banana, no oatmeal!

I got ready and headed out the door by 7:15, and got to the race around 7:45 - check in started at 7:30, and the one mile "fun run" was going to be at 8:15. This was followed by a one mile health walk at 8:20 and the 5k at 9:00.  I got my bag and race number, did some more stretching and wandered around until it was race time.  My body was feeling really refreshed and relaxed - I was definitely nervous, but not sore.

My number!
Finally, we started to get ready at the start, and this was where it was unfortunate that we don't get chips for this race - those of us who don't start *right* at the start line get messed up on timing.  So I started my own timer when I crossed the start line (though, of course, I managed to forget to stop it until after I'd crossed the finish!).

The gun sounded and we were off! I started off a bit fast, but that was on purpose.  I was feeling really good, so I thought I could set a faster pace.  And I definitely paid for it, but all in all it wasn't a bad run.  As we started, I remembered the course from two years ago, and that helped.  I managed to stay in my own head and run my race - at least for the first mile.

Although sunny days are not always preferable for running
it was beautiful!
I did the first mile in 10:25 - the first year I ran the race, it was 10:47, so not bad!  I felt pretty good for most of it, and reminded myself how tough the first mile usually is.  The second mile was the hardest - I knew the hill was coming up in mile three (or the end of two, I wasn't sure at the time), and I was starting to feel a little fatigued.  Plus, you know you still have another mile and a tenth to go when you're running mile 2, so it definitely feels like the longest!

Mile 2 was completed in 10:49 - also better than the 11:04 I had in 2009.  Not bad for less training time and being sick in the middle of training!  (I think it helped that I've upped my runs to 4-5 per week)  Mile 3 was also a killer, if for no other reason than the huge hill in it.  I had made it my goal to run the whole race and not walk - but that hill really almost did me in.  But I pushed myself and kept going.  It was here that I started to feel a bit disheartened though - it can be a bummer when you're running and still not passing people in front of you who are doing the run/walk combo!

I tried to keep pace with a girl that seemed to be running about my speed, and that helped me keep going through mile 3.  With half a mile left to go (so I'd run 0.6 of a mile), I had done 7:01 minutes (slower than 2009, which was 6:27).  I couldn't wait to see the 3 mile sign!
Getting ready to race

At the three mile sign, I was at 10:37 - pretty good, considering the hill was a big part of this mile.  I pushed myself to keep going on that last tenth of a mile.  As we saw the finish line come into sight, the girl next to me tried to pass me with a burst of speed (according to the results, she's a 28 year old) - but I put on a huge burst of speed that I didn't even know I had left in me, and passed her, and the couple with the running stroller.  My official time came in at 33:03:99, and I know that's high (that would be a 10:38 pace, or five seconds slower per mile than in 2009).  I stopped my timer after I'd started walking past the finish at 32:56:5, and I really wish I'd stopped it at the finish, so I knew what my real time was!  But I think it's not that far off from my race time in 2009 of 32:47.  Let's see if I can beat it next year!

The guy with the flag outfit finishing!
The 32:56 puts my pace at 10:35 per mile, or 3 seconds off my 2009 pace, and since it's definitely off, I'm guessing I was pretty close to my race time in 2009.

So according to the stats, I came in 323rd place and was 158/293 women, and 33/56 in my age group of 30-34.  These stats do beat my 2009 ones, because of the larger entry pool this year - I came in in the top 54% of women, whereas I came in in the top 67% of women in 2009.  And I came in in the top 59% in my age group, whereas I came in in the top 60% of my age group in 2009.  There were 506 finishers this year, in comparison to 260 in 2009, so I came in in the top 64% this year, as opposed to the top 75% in 2009.  I've got to be pretty happy with that!

Plus, I was really pleased that I'd come in faster than the woman who was about eight months pregnant, and the guy wearing an entire flag outfit and carrying a flag. And I came in before quite a few younger women and even some kids! So that makes me happy. Small goals.

Starting to see some lovely muscle in my calves!
Now I've got to work hard at not getting lethargic about running the way I did after my first two 5k's in 2009. I took two recovery days, and in fact, went for a lovely massage yesterday (which actually left me feeling MORE sore than I was after racing!). My plan is to take it easy today and just do about two miles, and then three the rest of the week.  Then, I am thinking about upping my mileage a bit, and Cool Running finally has plans for that, so we'll see how it goes!

PS: I did my two miles today (actually 2.06) and think I should have started with one mile back instead - man were my legs exhausted! However, I did have a 10:26 pace, which is fast for me, so I guess I can't complain! Tomorrow will also be a 2-mile run I think!