Monday, November 21, 2011

Recent Training Shenanigans

Weeks ago, after a marathon that had gone a rye, I braved my soul on here and declared my decree to run a sub 19 minute 5k on December 3rd. Whoops, did I speak a bit prematurely? Probably...

I haven't really been going into much detail about my training's been rather patchy. With a hip that is as feisty as ever, legs that feel like dead weight most days, countless muscular imbalances I'm dealing with these days, the loss of motivation to be held down to a concrete training plan, and an old shoulder issue that has decided to resurface...I'd say running a sub 19 minute 5k 12 days from now would be nothing short of a miracle.

Post marathon I've been dealing with a lot of goofy issues within my body that have prevented me from making forward progress, I've more so been in a "fighting to maintain" kind of state. I'm okay with this, but I think that it's just time to get a grip on reality about this upcoming 5k.

I've been working on a lot of my underlying issues, however these efforts have not allowed for me to focus on the necessary effort needed for a sub 19 minute 5k. Still doing the 5k, just not expecting too much out of it at this point.

In terms of speed workouts:
  • 10x400's @ current 5k pace (6:15 mile). 1:33, 1:35, 1:27, 1:33, 1:30, 1:34, 1:35, 1:32, 1:35, 1:32. Finished these overall under goal pace.
  • 12x400's @ current 5k pace (6:15 mile). 1:31, 1:27, 1:30, 1:29, 1:34, 1:34, 1:30, 1:28, 1:30, 1:34, 1:30, 1:33. Finished these overall under goal pace.
  • 5x800's @ goal 5k pace (6:05 mile). 3:04, 3:03, 3:01, 2:59, 3:01. For the most part was on pace here and felt rather comfortable.
  • 4x1000's @ goal 5k pace (6:05 mile). 3:47, 3:48, 3:50, 3:49. Planned on doing 5 here, but I took the first two excessively aggressive for me and had a difficult time recovering, so I decided to bag the 5th. This workout nearly did me in.
I'm not giving up on the possibility of a sub 19 minute 5k,  I'm just being realistic here. Unfortunately I haven't quite put in the work required, so it would be silly of me to blabber on about how I think that I'm going to cruise through that course. 

On my running form:

If your eye has ever gazed at any of my race photos closely, you may have noticed that I am an avid heel-striker. Have been all of my life. This year I have spent a lot of time reading and studying up on proper running form and how to gain speed, turns out that heel strikers have a tricky time getting faster without compromising quality. Okay really I always understood the logic of this, but it didn't click in my mind until last spring because I thought that I was the exception to the rule.

Raptor arm+heel strike+squishy abs does not equal speed

For me to continue making the progress I want with my running, several months ago I decided that it's imperative now for me to work on my running mechanics. It's hard to run efficiently when your body flails around like mine does. So with baby steps I'm forging on ahead.

  • Stop compensating proper running form for speed. Teach the body how to run naturally, then the speed will soon follow.
  • Transitioning from heel striker to midfoot striker. This has been more difficult then I thought it would be, and requires a lot more awareness of my foot then I have been used to for the past 15 years I've been running. But just like any new skill in life, it will take some time.
  • Trying for quicker turnover. The point of operation abort heel-strike is to turnover quicker with the foot landing underneath the body and not out in front, which takes longer to swing back around and requires more effort in the long run.
  • Remember these beauties that I dropped a pretty penny on several months ago?
I've spent quite a bit of time in these neon kicks in the last 6 weeks

Ideally the goal is that eventually I will not have to consciously be thinking about where my foot is landing during every foot strike and it will become natural for me to land midfoot. But for now, I constantly have to think about it which is mentally exhausting at times. 

Strength training progress:

Post marathon it became rather apparent to me that my body has become a slight mess. While I have always incorporated strength training into my routine, I wasn't exerting enough effort and focus on the benefits of functional strength. I've been making progress in this area of fitness lately by keeping my strength workouts rather varied with a lot of jumping, dynamic movements, and low weight high rep workouts.

Running for 15 years has done a number on my body:
  • My hips are outrageously tight on an almost constant basis
  • The glutes are rather weak from years of neglect
  • A pesky right shoulder joint from poor posture has been raising hell lately
Every session is a new challenge for my body, and there are some days that my muscles and joints simply tell me "no". But I've been a compliant slave to this body, knowing that lately it is rather sensitive and has limits.

My journey with yoga :

Remember several weeks ago when I pledged to make it to one yoga class a week? Well...about haven't been that consistent with this.
  • Went to a few classes where I was extremely frustrated because my body has resistance in nearly every exercise
  • At first I thought the problem was the instructors because I attended several unconventional classes, but really it's me and my funky-dunky body
  • Had an AH HA moment last week where I realized "duh, I'm tight because I haven't been stretching appropriately post marathon"
I actually didn't attend a class for several weeks after an instructor scolded me for cheating on several poses and told me that at my level I shouldn't be attending classes if I wasn't going to challenge myself. Naturally I became defensive and finished that particular practice forcing the remaining poses which left me feeling like I was ran over by a semi and left for dead in a ditch. But after further consideration I realized that she was right, why coast through the practice? Yoga is just like everything else in life, you will only get as much out as you are willing to put in.

The funky Chicago fall:

Tuesday it was 65 degrees out, perfectly gorgeous fall day.

Thursday it was windy and 35. Wasn't dressed appropriately and nearly froze.

Why Chicago? Why can't you offer some sort of weather consistency?

To sum it all up, running has been very reflective of my life lately. Every day brings a new challenge that tests my character that at times leaves me feeling like I can barely keep my head above water. But I'm not giving up, instead I have pledged to myself to keep treading water making the most of what each day holds. There is no permanency in any situation, and life is what you make of it.


  1. This weather has been pretty funky! Especially with the wind making it even harder to gauge how you need to dress.

  2. Those newtons are very cute on you....don't think they'd be quite as good looking on my giant size 9.5 clod-hoppers!

    I have also read a lot about heel strike vs. midfoot, etc. Lots of conflicting information, so I haven't figured out how I really feel about the whole thing. I have seen the info about getting more speed with midfoot. Regarding injuries, I found a couple good studies that showed that there are equal rates of injuries for heel vs midfoot strike, just different types of injuries (midfoot strike = more achilles/foot/calf issue and heel strike = more hip/knee problems).

    Anyway, love the way you analyze your running, you've got it down to a science!

  3. Holy heel strike batman! How is it feeling these days? I like to think my form is good because I'm slow as fuck!

  4. Midwest weather is so tough from day to day. I too have been working on my heel-to-midfoot strike. Unfortunately for me, other problems come with is. The more I midfoot strike, the more calf pain I get. ugh... And I love YOGA! I've gotten away from it this past summer, but have just recently pulled the DVDs back out. My yoga form is too pathetic to show in an actual class though!! Keep pushing Britt...

  5. it's been weird weather here too!!! no 30's yet though

  6. weather has been nuts here day it's 60s, next day 30s, then back to 60s again!

  7. I must say that I enjoy reading about your thoughts on what you need to focus on and how important the mechanics of running really are. I am a hardcore believer that your form is very important and in the beginning you will compromise speed but the rewards you will reap will be greater in the long run. Hope you are well!

  8. i think u've got the right frame of mind going into the race: put in ur best effort but KNO that even if u don't break 19 it is by no means a reflection that u're 'not fit' or that u won't. u've got a lot of things going on, and all of them will give u the rewards of faster times....but u have to be patient.

    the thing is tho, u are very smart and trust me, addressing ur form/strength/core/flexibility will in the end make u a FAR better runner. the good thing, is that getting stronger with weights and core work will also help make correcting ur form easier. keep it up! :)

  9. I empathize with you on so many of these things. I've recently discovered my glute muscles are non-existent which is what I think it causing a lot of my issues. I have found, though, that trying to keep my running cadence around 90 (or 180 depending on if you count both feet) has helped with my form some.

    I also have right shoulder pain (along my shoulder blade) from sitting at a computer all day. So, yeah, I feel you on a lot of the same issues!

  10. Awesome on the Newtons! Eventually I need to get a pair too!

    Sounds like you are getting into a lot of runner mechanics things, I'm curious to read more as you go through it.

  11. DH switched over to Newtons in May and he likes them. Even when he wears his old Mizunos, he noticed he's striking differently. They put more strain on his calves and took some getting used to. I am trying to get away from being a heel striker too.

  12. I WANT YOUR "SQUISHY" ABS. :) Hee hee.

    You are tackling so much at once! But I think that is what all of us runners always feel like. We are always trying to get faster, improve our form, along with flexibility and strength. So I am not saying I think it's bad... just that I hope it all starts to click for you soon!!! :)

  13. I'm exhausted just reading this post! It sounds like you need a break. Mentally as much as physically. And give yourself a little credit! Compared to most of us normal runners you're crazy fast and have a body we'd all kill to have! Squishy abs...what?! You're a rockstar!

    On the midfoot/heel strike topic my vote goes with Neon Blonde Runner. I have actually always been a midfoot runner. (Which means for most of my life I thought there was something wrong with me.) And I'm the perfect example of how you just end up with different injuries. My biggest problem has always been the achilles. I also blame my cankles on my running form. Ha! I'd definitely prefer those "squishy abs."