November wrap up

I have been terrible about updating this blog in November.  I can do better.

The recovery from my knee injury has been going far better than I expected.  I’m now at the point where I’m wondering if I’m taking it too slow.  It’s a tough call to make because if you push too hard to get back to logging the miles you want to be doing, you can end up needing to keep off your feet for even longer.  The runs I have had toward the end of November have been great, and I can tell that the cross training and strength training are beginning to pay dividends.  The pace of my runs have been down below 8:30 pretty consistently, and I haven’t been trying to push the pace at all.

I had planned to run the Thanksgiving Day 10K here in Cincinnati since it was my very first 10K in 2009.  When I woke up that morning I was very dizzy.  So much so, I actually tipped over while walking and bumped my head against my TV.  I decided to skip the 10K, but the dizziness persisted most of the day.  My wife nailed the reason:  I had gotten out of the habit of keeping hydrated.  When I was marathon training, I always had water with me and was doing a great job of keeping my water intake pretty high.  I think I didn’t equate the work I’ve been doing in cross training or strength training as needing as much, but I was wrong.  I’m back on that bandwagon.  The dizziness finally went away in the late afternoon, so that evening I ran my own personal 10K in the wind and freezing rain.  Glad I did.

I’m very excited for December as I get to go back to a schedule that includes running more often.  I’m still keeping the mileage reasonable, and I’m still doing lots of cross training, but I also know I’ll be happy to be outside logging time and miles on the road.

Cross training and strength training

Sorry for the long delay.  I’m now almost a full month removed from the Chicago marathon, but I haven’t been keeping still.

The knee injury that smacked me across the face in the middle of the marathon continues to improve.  I’ve had two runs so far, both of them very easy, short intervals.  Very much like what I was doing when I started this journey last year.  The great news is that I’ve had no knee pain so far on these little runs.

Because I knew I wouldn’t be running consistently for a while, I decided to try to do two things to improve my running long term.

  1. Get better about cross training.
  2. Improve my overall strength.

Cross training has been much more of a mental battle than anything else.  First of all, I’ll admit that I am a bit of a running snob.  I’m really not interested in doing any of the other activities particularly well, so I thought that I really didn’t need them.  The hard lesson of being temporarily away from running has opened my eyes to the fact that cycling or using the elliptical will actually improve my running.  First of all, they both allow you to maintain your fitness level without giving your knees, shins, ankles and feet a pounding like running does.  Secondly, I’ve found that there are leg muscles that get far more engaged when doing those activities than they do during running.  A consultant might call that a win-win.  I might punch him in the face for being consultant-y, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’d be right!

As I got toward the end of marathon training and was running the long (15+ mile) runs, I began to notice that it usually wasn’t my legs that gave out first, but my form, particularly from the waist up.  So, having forced time away from logging miles gave me the perfect opportunity to begin work on strength training.  Admitting that I didn’t know the best way to do this was the first step, and then recognizing that, like running, this will take time before I see improvement was a necessary second step.  So, I’ve been working with a strength trainer for a couple of weeks, and I have to admit I’ve loved it.  I really feel like I’m getting my ass kicked every time I go, but it remains the “good” kind of pain.  He’s also a marathon runner (yes, I can now say also) along with being a certified strength trainer, so the plan he’s put together is specific to what I want to accomplish.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my boys about how it’s important to get over the fear of being embarrassed by being a beginner at something, because everyone starts somewhere.  As usual, that’s an easy thing to say but harder to live by.  On day #1 of strength training, the trainer said, “Get down and give me as many pushups as you can.”  Eight.  Eight pushups was all I could do, and calling that eighth one a pushup was a gift.  I was mortified, then quickly laughed at myself, as I was there on the training mat living exactly what I had been preaching.

My current plan is to continue to easy back into running through the end of November and hope that by then, I feel confident that I can go back to a more regular regimen.  And yes, I’ve already been “caught” by my wife looking for spring marathons.