sneaker∙therapy

I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.


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Hello Spring! Running Outside Again

Happy first day of spring, friends! We were treated to a light dusting of snow in DC in celebration of the occasion :) It’s been such a weird winter here.

For my fellow DC-ers, pre-sale registration for Rock ’n’ Roll DC 2016 is currently ongoing (ends this Sunday), and the half or full are just $50! Registration fees can be over $100 for just the half, so this is an incredible deal. I ran the half last year and really enjoyed the unique course (monuments + DC neighborhoods), so I’m snagging the deal for the half again :)

Running Outside Again

I was pretty nervous going into my 6 mile pace run yesterday after work. The temperature was in low 50s and the day was gorgeous, so I had no excuse to take the run to the treadmill, which is what I’ve been doing for the last two weeks (and most of this winter). I know this might sound weird, but I actually like training on the treadmill because I can just set the speed, watch a show on my iPad, and the run goes by really quickly. But this weekend’s race showed me that running on the treadmill doesn’t prepare me well for the harder surface of the road and the environmental factor outside – so my goal over the next two weeks is to transition back to running outside most of the time.

Anyway, I laced up and headed outside as soon as I got home…and remembered how GOOD it feels to run outside. Especially when the weather is nice! Sure, I felt a little hot or cold at times when the sun was beating down or when I was running against the wind and it was harder to maintain my pace with the steady incline in the last mile, but I felt great throughout the run and so accomplished at the end. My music player ran out of battery after the first two miles, so I just focused on my form and my mantra for the run: train_insane_or_remain_the_same_hoodieImage source

Yup, it did the trick.  Whenever my legs were struggling or felt mentally tired, I repeated it to myself over and over (in my head) and found myself picking up the pace again.  So glad I saw it on my Runner’s High page-a-day calendar that day – mantras really help me focus on tough runs.

Paces: 8:44, 8:34, 8:41, 8:26, 8:34, 8:44 – slightly faster than my goal pace (8:47). Most of the miles felt fairly easy, so I can tell that my work on the treadmill is actually paying off. I stopped the garmin a good number of times for the last mile – it’s a slight incline that never fails to slow me at the end of a run. My goal for my next pace run is to conquer that last mile at goal pace without stopping my watch!

I’m looking forward to my long run (12 miles) tomorrow already, even though the weather will definitely be chillier in the morning. We’re going to my favorite restaurant for dinner – Toki Underground – so I’ll just picture that steaming bowl of ramen anytime I get cold :)


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Learning From a Bad Race

This past weekend, I ran the Four Courts Four Miler with Mike’s coworker Colleen, and while I had a great time getting to know her and the race was very well organized, my performance was disappointing given how much I’ve been training (I ran it in 39:15, a 9:49 pace – much slower than my 10K pace).

No one runs a perfect race every time, and I don’t think there’s any point in dwelling on a bad experience – there’s always another race, and holding onto your misgivings about a previous race can ruin or slow you down in the next one.  Running is a hobby for me and I want to enjoy the races I pay and sign up for, right? So I’m going to go over what I can do better next time, and forget the rest :)

Here’s what I learned:

Eat more before the race. All I ate on race morning was a mini-bagel with almond butter before I left home.  This would have been plenty for a normal 4 mile run, but the race didn’t start till 2 hours later, at which point I was pretty hungry. Next time: pack a granola bar or something to eat while waiting to run.

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Dress better for the weather. I knew I was in trouble when we stepped outside a few minutes before race start, and I realized I should have brought my rain jacket. My teeth were chattering in minutes, so I ran inside to grab the thick, waterproof jacket I had left at bag check (much too warm, but would at least keep me dry). As a result, I missed the race start (thanks for waiting for me, Colleen!) and felt mentally unprepared when we started running. Next time: pay more attention to the weather, and bring whatever clothes I think I’ll need (can always leave whatever I don’t use at the bag drop).

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Run outside more. I’ve been running inside for the majority of my training the last couple of weeks to avoid the weather, but there’s a big difference between treadmill surface and road! My legs and feet could feel the difference immediately as we started running. I’m going to transition back to running outdoors as much as possible, which shouldn’t be so hard with weather getting nicer.

- Adjust expectations for race conditions. While wearing the right clothes would have helped, I just don’t like running in the rain, especially after my feet get wet (which they did within the first mile). It’s okay to change your race expectations/ goals if you realize the conditions are less than ideal! Run the best race you can for that day, and know that there will always be another race.

The race itself was well organized (as are all Pacers events), with a fun atmosphere – there was even a bag-piper at the after-party! 0314151020 As for the perks, Colleen and I enjoyed our free beers at the Four Courts after the race:
1378And they gave out a great tech tee! I love race t-shirts :)
0314151110 My original plan was to run a half marathon this weekend, but I think I need a little more time to train (and forget the last race), so I’m going to train hard the next two weeks and run a short race in two weeks instead.  I’m hoping to gain back my racing confidence and go on to run a half marathon PR in April.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from a bad race?


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Knee Pain Update (PFPS)

Hey friends,

I have a knee pain update for you today with the steps I’ve been taking to strengthen my knee and stop the pain while continuing to train. It’s an injury I’ve dealt with successfully before, so I’m hoping others suffering the same problem will find it helpful! Note: Please be smart and see a doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen – this treatment plan has worked for my situation, but may not be suited to yours.

Knee Pain History

My knee pain (left knee) first occurred after a series of hillier-than-usual runs in NY in November 2013. It first felt like the pain was on the outside of my knee (indicative of IT Band Syndrome), but after a few weeks, the pain was clearly at the bottom and inside of my knee. After taking it easy in December and January, my knee wasn’t getting any better so I went to see a physical therapist in Feb 2014, who diagnosed the injury as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), aka runner’s knee, which occurs when the kneecap isn’t tracking well in the “kneecap groove. Thankfully, mine was a relatively mild case – I was cleared to run during my injury – and after several weeks of PT exercises, my knee felt strong and healed (yay!).

I had no issues the rest of last year, but as I started to build my mileage and run hillier routes this year (hills really seem to bug my knee), my wonky knee started giving me trouble a couple of weeks ago. The symptoms feel exactly the same as last time, so I’m assuming it’s the same injury flaring back up.

My Treatment Plan

Here’s what I’ve been doing to keep the pain at bay while strengthening my knee to prevent future incidents:

- KT tape – kinesiology tape is a stretchy fabric tape used to provide extra support to injured areas, kind of like a light cast. It’s pricey (~$15 a roll, which is about 8 applications for me), but I really feel the difference it makes and the extra support it provides to my knee while running and doing daily activities. One application lasts about 3-5 days (you can shower with the tape on), so a roll lasts me about a month. I use the “full support” application technique.

PT exercises – my therapist prescribed me a set of 8 exercises to do at home, and I started doing them again as soon as I felt the pain resurface this year. It’s stuff like squats with a resistance band, clamshells, leg lifts in several directions with ankle weights (similar routine here)– all designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee and in the upper leg. I’ve done my PT exercises 4-5 times each week for the last three weeks and my knee already feels much stronger.

Glucosamine supplements – I’m skeptical about how well our bodies absorb supplements, but my coworker swore that his knee pain disappeared once he started taking glucosamine. I figure it can’t hurt (unless I choke on the giant pills), and truthfully my knee pain has disappeared since I started taking them (although that could be from everything else I’m doing too).
glucosamineWorkout adjustments – My therapist told me that as long as I didn’t feel pain while running, I could keep doing it, so that’s what I’ve been doing this time around too. I stick to flat courses (or the treadmill), and if I feel any pain, I stop – no point in making an injury worse while training! I’ve also added in more yoga; my therapist encouraged cross-training to train the leg muscles (and rest of the body) in different ways and reduce imbalances/ weaknesses throughout the body.

Practical steps – no heels! My work shoes were definitely aggravating my knee, so I bought a pair of low ankle boots that I wear everywhere.

My Progress

After 3 weeks of this treatment plan, my knee feels much stronger and doesn’t hurt 95% of the time. It still hurts to straighten it completely (I may be hyper-extending though), and it still sometimes feels like my kneecap is in the wrong place. But it doesn’t hurt while running (see yesterday’s post, lol) and I’m extremely grateful for that. I’ll continue to do everything for the next couple of weeks or until my knee feels completely normal!


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{Training Update} Finding Consistency

This training cycle, I’ve been having trouble maintaining my weekly mileage from the start. For the last couple of months, my mileage has yo-yoed from week to week for various reasons:

yoyo mileage

I know I’ve taken rest days/ rest weeks for necessary reasons, but I’ve lacked consistency, which is key to building the mental and physical endurance needed on race day. I don’t doubt that I can handle the half marathon distance despite skipping several long runs over this training cycle (I’ve done a couple of 12 milers already), but going the distance week after week in all kinds of conditions is what really prepares me to RACE the distance.

But there’s still nearly half the training cycle left, and I’m finally healthy and my knee feels strong. These last two weeks, I’ve hit my training target times, taken it easy on easy days, and pushed myself not to skip a workout as much as possible. They’ve been awesome, confidence building weeks, and I’m going to push myself to maintain this consistency for the rest of the cycle!

Week 9: Feb 23-Mar 1

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Mon: yoga video

Tue: 5 easy miles on T/M (10:34 pace)

Wed: 12 X 400 meter repeats outside (1 mile warmup, 1 mile cooldown) – this was my favorite workout of the week. I ran to a straight stretch on the 4 Mile Run trail and had no trouble hitting my target pace for each repeat (target 2:00, averaged 1:57, 90 second recovery between each). I got a little tired towards the end, but I pushed myself and felt great when I was done!

Thur: rest day!

Fri: 5 miles @ race pace (8:51) on T/M (1 mile w/u, 0.5 mile c/d) – I really dread doing sustained tempo/ pace workouts on the treadmill, but I tried out one of the new incline treadmills at the gym and the smooth belt and stable base made ALL the difference – race pace felt a lot more feasible and 5 miles went by quickly.

Sat: spin class

Sun: 10 mile long run on T/M (9:44 pace)

Week 10: Mar 2-8

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Mon: rest (sick)

Tue: rest (sick)

Wed: 6 X 800 on T/M (1 mile w/u, 0.5 mile c/d) – intervals went 4:00, 4:02, 3:59, 4:00, 3:58, 3:59 (target was 4:00), 2 minute recovery. I’m starting to love speedwork again!

Thur: snow day spin class :D

Fri: 5 miles @ race pace (8:47) on T/M (1 mile w/u, 0.5 mile c/d) – went pretty much the same as it did the week before

Sat: 6 easy miles (10:20 pace) on T/M – I got on the mill intending to do my long run, but quickly realized I was more wiped than I expected to be from Friday’s race pace run. I decided to just do my 6 mile easy run instead and do my long run on Sunday. Lesson learned – don’t try to do two hard workouts in a row!

Sun: 12 miles on T/M (9:44 pace)

My spring races are getting closer, and I finally feel “racing ready”. My first race of the year will be the Four Courts Four Miler this Saturday, followed by the Dumfries Half next weekend. Then I have five more weeks to train before my second half – probably the Columbia Half in Maryland – at the end of April. I think I’m in good shape to try for 1:55 at Dumfries (my current PR is 1:58)!

My goals this week are to get in all my planned runs, run a good race on Saturday, and bring a little weight-lifting back into the routine.


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Weekend Highlights: 8 Years, Snow, Sushi

Hey friends,

I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday. Daylight Saving Time hit me like a train yesterday morning when my alarm went off, and this morning was no better. It was so nice leaving the house with some light last week – why do we still observe DST!?

Backing up to two weekends ago (because I didn’t blog at all last week):

Mike and I celebrated our 8 year (dating) anniversary at Central Michel Richard in DC, known for their amazing fried chicken. The restaurant has been on our “DC restaurant” bucket list (generated by recommendations from friends and restaurant reviews), and this was our chance to cross it off. We thought the fried chicken was good, but Mike’s rack of lamb took the cake. It was a solid meal rounded out by cheese gougeres to start and the “kitkat” bar for dessert! Central – done. PicMonkey Collage 1
Last week was a short one, thanks to a snow day on Thursday! I love snow days.  The view from my bus stop: 0226151014
We haven’t had a ton of snow here (last week’s storm deposited some 5-8 inches), but the sidewalks have been icy/ slushy so I stuck to the treadmill for most of my runs the last two weeks. A new pair of New Balance 890s arrived last week to make them all a bit more bearable :) new balance 890
And this past weekend, Mike’s dad and sister came to visit us and pretty much all we did was eat:

Starting with the favorites: Korean BBQ, Peruvian chicken, pho… 0308151451 0306152007 0306152016We took a short break from all the food for some bowling Saturday afternoon, where I bowled a couple of great frames and then gutter balls the rest of the time, lol.  I need to work on my arm strength!

And then the highlight of the weekend – an epic dinner at the chef’s counter at Sushi Taro Saturday evening! Mike and I went two years ago and I wrote about it here, so I won’t recap it course by course again. Just the pics:PicMonkey Collage 2 We sat at the counter for nearly three hours as the chef created each course in front of us and discussed each type of fish/ seafood as we ate. It was an amazing and fun evening with lots of good (and strange) food.

I intended to get in my 12 mile run on Sunday morning outside (the weather was gorgeous), but I didn’t wake up in time to get it done before everyone left. We went out for brunch before everyone left, and discovered the gem that is Del Ray Café! Food was great, but the real highlights were the homey setting and cheerful staff.0308151021a 0308151021b I was so tired that I thought about taking a rest day, but I finally got on the treadmill in the afternoon after everyone left for a couple of miles (better than nothing, right?) to boost my weekly mileage. Once I got going though, I realized I wasn’t as tired as I thought – I ended up doing my planned long run of 12 miles, stopping every 4 miles for some water/ gel. 12 miles on the treadmill might sound torturous, but I ran on one of the new treadmills at the gym (very stable with a super-smooth belt), so it actually wasn’t that bad, even with my wonky knee :D

Anyway, the weather is starting to warm up here, so I’m looking forward to some runs outside! I’ll have a training update and a knee injury update up on the blog later this week.


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{Run Tip} Training Around the Weather

TGIF friends! I am beyond excited that this week is over. A quick-turn work proposal, several long meetings, and a couple nights of poor/ no sleep have got me feeling a little run down. I’m hoping to catch up on sleep this weekend, and I’m also looking forward to a little celebration – today is mine and Mike’s 8th dating anniversary! Yep, 8 years ago today, Mike asked me out on the banks of the Charles River as I was wearing his socks (there’s a story there).

We don’t normally celebrate our dating anniversary, but given our low-key V-day weekend, we’ve made plans to go into the city to check out the Smithsonian orchid exhibit and chow down at Central! We’ve never been before and I can’t wait to try their famous fried chicken. #sofancy

On the running front, my knee pain seems to be well-managed with the PT exercises and KT tape, so I’ve been completing workouts as planned this week. My rule is that I can run as long as my knee doesn’t hurt while running and I don’t experience increased pain afterwards. I had a great interval run on Wednesday (12 X 400), and my knee didn’t slow me down at all.

But today, I wanted to talk about what to do when you feel completely de-motivated to run because of the weather (too hot, too cold, too rainy, etc).

Training around the Weather

I have had a hard time getting myself to run outside this winter. In past years, I’ve been ALL ABOUT cold weather running (I’d find my prior gleeful self really annoying right now), but for some reason, I’m totally over it this year. We’ve had a mild winter snowfall-wise, but there are plenty of days where the temps don’t get above freezing and are in the single digits with the wind – I know the northeast and much of the country can relate!

So what to do when you’ve got a long run looming and you’re not looking forward to freezing your face off?

-Take your run indoors. I know, I know – lots of people would rather skip a run than hit the treadmill, but it’s a great option to get your mileage in while avoiding the ice/ snow (you can run in a t-shirt and shorts!). I play around with the speed and incline to keep it interesting (check this post out for some fast+fun treadmill workouts) and cue up Netflix on my tablet.

Swap your run for some cross-training. I’ve done this a lot in the past (for both weather and injury reasons), and spin, pool running, and stairclimber are some of my favorite options. You can substitute cross-training for any kind of run! I’ve simulated interval runs in the pool and on the spin bike (I just match effort and time, e.g. 90% effort for 2 minutes to simulate a 400 meter repeat), and I’ve even swapped back-to-back spin classes for a long run. Try subbing 1 or 2 runs a week on the days that the forecast looks particularly bad.

Be flexible about when you run! Check out the weather forecast for the weekend and find the best time to run. I’ll often move my long run to the timeframe in the weekend that seems most bearable.

weather

Motivate yourself to run outside. If running outside is your only option, find something to get yourself to it and through it, whether that’s a piece of new gear (lots of cold weather apparel on sale right now!), a new music playlist, the promise of hot chocolate afterwards – whatever it takes.

Bottom line: do what you have to do. As runners, we do what it takes to get through the training season or maintain our fitness for the next training cycle.  As for me, I have a relatively “short long run” on my schedule this weekend (10 miles) but the weather looks either freezing or rainy, so I’ll be taking it to the treadmill with a few Mad Men episodes. I’m not too sad about that ;)

How have you been adjusting your workouts for the weather?


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{Training Update} Steady Progress

Hey guys,
After a weekend off from running and a couple days of PT exercises under my belt, my knee is starting to feel stronger already. I’m hoping to get in a week of strong training!

Here’s how the previous two weeks have gone:

Training Log (Feb 9-15)

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Mon: Body Pump class – I was just glad my back felt okay after the weekend.

Tue: 5 easy-paced miles on T/M (10:26 pace)

Wed: 4 X 800 meter repeats outside – I was surprised at how fast the first interval went, and worked to keep each repeat under 4:00.  Repeats: 3:45, 3:49, 3:57, 3:57.  Next time, I’ll try not to go out so fast and try to stick to the same time each repeat.  I also went through a weight/core routine at home.

Thr: rest day!

Fri: 4 miles @ pace on T/M (8:55 pace) – I always struggle with pace or tempo runs on the treadmill (I have trouble running at the same fast speed for such a long time), but this time I varied switched my speed every couple of minutes – just between 6.6 and 6.7 – and that helped me hang on.  I’m getting better at staying engaged during treadmill workouts :)

Sat: 12 hilly miles outside (10:07 pace) – This was a tough run, given the cold and hills.  I’m pretty sure downhills are trigger my knee problems, so I need to be better about doing my PT exercises prior to running hills.

Sun: spin class – I love getting my legs moving after a long run day

Training Log (Feb 16-22)

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Mon: hot yoga at CorePower Yoga on our day off!

Tue: rest day

Wed: 2 X 1.25 miles @ tempo pace (8:40) – This was a tough treadmill run – my knee felt pretty tired so I ended up cutting the planned 2 tempo miles short each repeat to about 5 laps.  I’d love to re-do this workout in a few weeks outside.  Did weights and core at home afterwards.

Thr: rest day

Fri: 4 miles @ pace on the T/M (8:48 pace) – I varied the speeds from 6.7 to 6.9, and took the incline from 1.0 to 0 when I needed the help.  Did another weights/ core session.

Sat: spin class

Sun: rest – I wish I had gotten in some form of a long run (maybe a combo of treadmill + pool running), but my knee probably needed the rest.

I haven’t always gotten to run 3-4 times each week, but I know I’m getting some quality workouts in and I can see steady improvement in my paces, so I’m happy with my current progress!

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