Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Know When to Hold 'em, Know When to Fold 'em

So Kenny Rogers sang a great song that really is a life lesson.

Sometimes you have to know when is the right time to stop and walk away.

Well I had been doing so well on my base training run plan. I was getting out each day for a decent run. Nothing too fast, and often just a short distance (5 km or so). After 2 weeks I had banked almost 95 km of easy running.

Now let's turn back time a bit (and not in that Cher kind of way). Before I began this Odyssey of mine, I had been running less frequently but greater distances. Two weeks before starting I ran 21.3 km followed 2 days later by a 16 km run. This is the point where I noticed perhaps my shoes were done. I had developed during the second long run a bit of pain in my shin. So off to Aerobics 1st I went for some new New Balances (see a couple of posts back).  I got these shoes but then went on a business trip where running wasn't easily doable. So I figured a little rest before base training wouldn't be a bad thing.

Once back from the trip I began running and as I said, 14 days later I managed a decent 95 ish km. But on the last run I did (13 km), that shin began to hurt a bit again. Now this isn't the type of pain that makes you scream out loud, nor does it persist. But you can tell it is there. And you just know that it has the chance to get worse. And frankly stress fractures or long term shin splints are not where I want to be. Running needs to be fun as much as training.

So I took my cue and called a halt to my daily running experiment. And now 4 days later I still haven't run. Instead I have made my bike commutes more challenging, and upped my swim distance the other night. And I have been getting back into yoga and my stretch/ strengthen routine that I received from my Chiropractor. Now my shins and ankles are still slightly sore, but more in a tired muscles kind of way and not an injury kind of way.

I think that I may try a run maybe this weekend and see where things are. And if it feels good, I will go back to the drawing board and rethink my running plan. Perhaps if I hadn't run on worn out shoes a month ago, things might be better. But I can't fix that past problem, and can only fix what I do going forward.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Run Base Season and Forming Habits

So November came and went and here we are in December. 'Tis the season for base training to begin I guess as all my races are well and done for the year.

Base training was never my forte. I rode or ran as I saw fit, when I was feeling up to it. That suited me at the time, though it did nothing to help me become a better athlete.  Then over the last few seasons I finally gave in.

Last year I learned about long, slow running from Shane MacLeod during a Tri Nova Scotia training camp. For me running slow seemed counter intuitive, but I did it anyway. I began training with runs much slower than race pace and much longer. And I loved it. By the time winter made it too hard for me to continue my long runs I had been up to 17 km. I backed it down to 8 and 10 km runs as I lost my trail and then road side to ice and snow. But as the distance slipped my speed came up. I was actually really happy.

But as usually happens to me, I tend not to like to pull back. So as the snow and ice melted away and I was able to run further again (and I was training at this point for the Bluenose Half Marathon) I started going the distance but with my new found speed.

As one can imagine, I eventually over did it. Leading into the month before the Bluenose, I had to drop my distances back and the speed too, and and also the frequency. And as you can imagine, once you get a little injury and start spending less time running / training and more time on the sofa, the desire to actually head out kinda goes away.

Well a few chiropractor trips and some ART as well as a packed early season of racing cured my desire to stay on the sofa.

So here we are back in the fall and base season. And it is time to try something new. I have loads of time before the Bluenose comes around, and I now know I can make the distance so trying to cram long runs in right now just isn't that appealing to me (darn dark evenings and living outside the city). But I still want to get the sort of distance in that I was before. So my new plan is to try my best to run every day.

Now that seems excessive doesn't it. But my plan is slightly well thought out. Right now I am aiming for light paced runs of varying short distances. Yesterday was in fact my longest run of the week at 12km.

My runs for the last 8 days have been from 4.4 km to 12 km. Some on the trail near my house, some on the road, and one at Dalplex on the inside track (that was not a long one at all). And it is working from many standpoints. I am getting my distance in (actually slightly increased distance) per week, I am enjoying the runs and most of all I am not achy, sore, in pain, hobbling around or waking up stiff. I run just fast enough to give my legs a bit of a workout (around 5 min pace or so) but not enough to cause any need for taking time off. That was a major problem with my long runs in the past. They were long enough that it meant I usually had to rest for a day or 2 in between.

As it stands, I will continue this system until running outdoors just gets too hard / not safe / not convenient. By that point I hope to have formed a good habit. I will slowly increase my mileage at a safe rate and not worry about going particularly long until my body is ready for it, probably by March or so. Of course if I know for soem reason that I won't be able to run the next day, I leave myself the option of going a little harder or a little further that day, knowing I will have a rest.

This all seems smart in my head. We will see if for once I can get into Spring in one piece, with medical need, and still have what it takes for a good hard half marathon, followed by a fast paced Duathlon season.