With my plan of tackling the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon (SF1HM) with run/walk intervals in mind, I decided to do all of my runs this past week on the treadmill. That way, I could stop whenever I felt any pain and not have to walk more than 1/4 mile back to my car. I don’t mind intervals on the treadmill — in fact, if I have to run on the treadmill at all, I feel compelled to constantly change a setting, ANY setting, just to break up the monotony. However, it’s pretty mind-numbing to do 2:1 run/walk intervals for over an hour. Luckily, my gym is awesome in a number of ways. First, they have a ton of machines, so I can be a treadmill-hog in peace and not have someone who’s waiting for a treadmill breathing down my neck and giving me dirty looks. Second, they have a wall of TV screens so I can be constantly amused or befuddled by a combination of cable channels, like the Food Network, ESPN, and CNN. What I have learned is that while CNN may be on a 24 hour news cycle, they basically report the same story (usually something scandalous or tabloid-worthy) on repeat for hours on end. (I realize that this might be common knowledge; it’s just been so long since I actually watched CNN.) Third, they have random treats, like free bagels and coffee on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, which I just happened to randomly come upon this past week. Score! Fourth, and very importantly, they have free wifi, which allows me to watch Netflix on my iPhone. Confession: I started watching Gossip Girl yesterday while on the stationary bike. Don’t judge — it’s pure fluff and doesn’t require substantial amounts of concentration, which is perfect for the gym. Finally, membership is only $10 a month! This makes the cheapskate in me extremely happy.
With 3 runs and 1 bike session, I did a total of 4 workouts at the gym this week. So, it’s a good thing I actually like going there!
Here’s how the week went:
Tues: Run/walk (2 min: 1 min) 4.5 miles. Bonus: free bagels!
Wed: Swim 1200 yds — a new distance record!
Thurs: Run/walk (2:1) 6 miles.
Sat: Run/walk (2:1) 8 miles.
Sun: Easy bike spin. 11 miles.
Misc: almost daily rolling; strength exercises 2 times
How did I feel? While I can’t say that I was completely pain-free last week, my hips did feel tons better. I think the more frequent walk breaks helped to relieve whatever was going on in my right hip. The achiness/dull pain that I did feel was mostly in my low and mid back, so I’ve been taking extra time to stretch, roll, and use a heat pad on my back to loosen it up. I was really happy to run/walk 8 miles on Saturday without any significant pain or hitch in my stride — a world of difference from the week before! As an added bonus, I’ve been able to average ~11:30/mile with the walk breaks, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make the 3 hour cut-off at SF1HM with plenty of time to spare. So, things are looking up!
Despite these improvements, I know that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done in terms of complete recovery. The run/walk thing is just a band-aid to get myself to the finish line at SF1HM. I’ve been reading Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry, which I hope to fully review once I put the advice into action. A main argument of the book is that in order to be a good runner, you should also be a good athlete. That means working on stability (core, balance, posture) and laying that as the foundation, and then building strength on top of that. In Chapter 9, Dicharry outlines a number of tests looking at range of motion, stability/balance, and strength. I did really well on some of them (yay for toe strength and control!) and horribly on others (my squats – both double and single leg – are laughable). After the tests, Chapter 10 is full of basic exercises that help address any deficiencies identified in Chapter 9. So, for the next 3 weeks, it looks like I’ll be up to my neck in clamshells, squats (“chair of death”), donkey kicks, hip hikes, bridge walks, and single leg balances (especially on my right leg). When I’ve finally mastered all of these exercises, I can move on to the advanced strength exercises, which includes a lot of very hardcore-looking exercises with a Swiss ball and plyometrics. I’m hopeful that these exercises will help, but if not, then the next step will be to seek advice and opinions from a medical professional.
And because blog posts are more fun with photos, here’s one I took yesterday at the Run to the Lake 5K:
A special shout-out to RC, who came in 5th out of 17 in his age group and in the top 20% overall! It was really fun to watch the various runners at the finish line. Some people looked like they were in complete agony, which is how I always feel at the end of a 5K, while others looked like they were barely breaking a sweat. The overall winner was a young guy, Carter Mackey, who finished in a speedy 16:44, almost 90 seconds ahead of the next competitor. Anyway, spectating really had me itching to race. I’ve been thinking about focusing on shorter distances for the rest of the year, which seems like a smarter way for me to return to racing. We shall see!