Celebrate the small victories. That is my plan.
On Monday I was able to run 18M with Kim. Heel cups worked to alleviate the pressure on my heel bursa and I felt pretty good. Not 100% but truly much better that after any other long run since this bursa has been aggravated. However, none of these long run are anywhere near the paces I hope to be running at this point in my training.
Just being able to run 18M is a victory at any pace. I will celebrate that.
I have been trying to figure out if I trust the STRYD Pod for weeks now. Today I turned it off and let it quietly collect data while I allowed the actual GPS on my super expensive GPS watch collect my distance and pace data ... the exact reason I bought the super expensive watch for.
When I got home, I took off my shoes and realized my pod was gone. My heart sunk. Oh no! After weeks of wondering if this thing was worth it's weight in anything.... I was sad it was gone. I pulled up my STYRD app to see when it stopped recording while I ran those 18M at the beach 45 minutes away from my house... and it was all there. Hopeful, I headed out to my truck to find it sitting on the floorboard. Another small victory!
I immediately knew that I would miss using the pod in the treadmill because that was the one place I felt like it has value for me. Immediately I removed it completely from my shoe and decided it will live out its life as my treadmill odometer and we both will be very happy this way.
I met Dave on Tuesdays for hills. Today was the Spring Climb repeat workout. But I was worried about my heel. I wore my heel cups in my Saucony Endorphin Pros because that is what I used on Monday and I felt good,
Oh no... do not try to climb a super steep hill with heel cups in your shoes. My feet were falling out of my shoes. Completely out the back. I contemplated just stopping half way up and pulling those cups out but it was only .1M and I was half way up...
As soon as I hit lap to turn back, my feet settled back into my shoes and I all was well... until I started heading down hill and realized my toes were not jammed so far into the toe box that my big toe pretty much blew up before I hit the halfway point. Ugh.
This workout is 5 x 2 up and downs... 10 repeats but we only take a short rest after running two complete cycles. I chose to just continue on until the first break and then I would fix my heel cup issue.
Once I removed them, I felt better. Running felt good. Still not 100% but I didn't feel like I was being held back from pushing myself.
At the end of the 4th set, an older gentleman was walking along the bottom of the hill. Dave just flew into the finish and I was trying my best to run fast on the descent. The man made a joke by holding out his cane across his body as if to brace himself from the impending imaginary collision. When I stopped I said to him.... "Two to go! When I'm done I may need that cane more than you do"... He laughed and then provided a complement saying "You two are in good shape."
As we headed up the hill, I commended to Dave about how kind this man was to complement us on being fit when he is out walking with a cane. Many people who struggle don't have the capacity to be supportive to others who are doing things they can't do themselves. Many can. But many just can't.
As I finished my 10th repeat, I went to find my heel cups that I had tossed along grass on the shoulder.... I found them neatly stacked side by side on top of a rock near where I tossed them. This man had also organized my things for me. Again I commented to Dave about this stranger to use was such a wonderful human being. We need more people like him in this world. I hope we see him again!
In addition to feeling inspired to be a better person through the kindness of a stranger, I also learned that one of climbs was my fastest yet! I can't complain about my heel or my toes when I am still manage to get faster at this really hard workout.
More small victories. I can focus on what is wrong... or what is going well. I have the choice.
One thing I am struggling with, besides the bursa, is fitting in all my strength training. I prefer to do 3 session per week but I aim to do them on the same day as hard workouts. This means Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturday/Sunday depending on which day I run harder.
But Tuesdays are long day for me. Often I don't get home until 8:30 pm or later... The last thing I want to do is lift weights for an hour and then get to bed late than I aim to while aimed up with adrenaline. I have been opting to skip it. I thought about trying to lift Wednesday morning instead... I tried it this week and I could tell that my legs were still tired by Thursday's speed day. I may just need to settle on two hard strength sessions per week and one extra when time allows.
It didn't really matter that my leg were tired. I met Dave for our interval work and after a 2 mile warm up we were devastated to find that all the bathrooms were locked. There are three sets and all of them locked for the first time in forever since I have been training here.
If we had more time to seek out alternatives we would have gone somewhere else but we just both decided it was easier if we both head back home (me to mind, he to his) so that he could beat traffic and just run solo as much as possible from his house before work. He is tight on time in Thursdays. This was a big disappointment. I hope next week they are open.
I decided that my legs were tired from strength training and my bursa was not feeling awesome so rather than do speed work solo, I took a rest day and ran an easy 6 with Sid.
Because I essentially rested yesterday, I felt great when I met Alanna. She had a triathlon on Saturday so we kept it short. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to not rush.
At this point, I was hopeful that I would get my 20M LR in this weekend. I was trying to take it easy and it felt like it was working. I wore heel cups in my shoes at work. I was careful to not irritate the bursa when I could avoid it. I chose my shoes carefully. I got a pair of Brooks Ghost that helped off-load pressure on my achilles. I felt good by Saturday. I decided to run 5 before work and I just felt like running was easy again. It was nice to see a sub-8 minute last mile that didn't feel like I was racing.
But this workout was cleary "too much too soon" for my bursa. By Sunday morning, everything was back to being just a little too sore for my comfort level. I could run. I know this. I most likely would be fine... but why push it. I struggled with this but I made the decision to rest completely so that maybe tomorrow I can get my 20 done.
I started this week with a short run, still trying to determine how I feel about the 745 and the STRYD pod. After a week of messing around with it, watch videos, reading about other's experience, having my own experience where I was running much further than I used to for .3 repeats compared to both my past experience and Daves data, I have decided that I don't want to use it any more to measure my distance and pace.
STRYD suggests that the pod is more accurate than a GPS because it doesn't need to connect to satellites so there is no issue of dropping a connection. But what about connection between the STRYD and my watch? It seems like that drops sometimes and the data on one watch is not the same as the data on another when both are connected to the same pod. I could do an offline sync to see what STRYD collected BUT that will sync months of runs into my STRYD log because I can't just select one run to review. It is hassle. I won't do it.
At this point, I have a choice. Do I want to connect my GPS watch to the complicated government created GPS satellites in the sky to help me identify my distance with the understanding that I may loose a connection and it may not be perfect... or do I want to connect my GPS watch to the "satellite" accelerometer foot pod attached to my shoe with the understanding that my watch may lose a connection there too? I don't see much of a difference... so I am going to use the GPS satellites for a while and see how that goes since I spend too much money for an actual GPS watch. .
I'll keep the STRYD. I think it is more accurate on my treadmill that the actual dashboard display but I can't really be sure of that either. It doesn't matter because I am no using my treadmill much anyway.
It also seems I can keep it on my shoe to collect data, but if turn it OFF it will not overriding my Garmin. That is fine.
Wednesdays are rest days.
Despite horrible sleep because Yazzy was throwing up at 3 am, I was excited to try my new watch for speed day. Then the very first .3 rep happened. As I blew past the mark I knew to be the end of the first .3 while actually pushing myself hard, I suspected something was wrong. The paces for my workout felt physical much faster than what the watch was showing. Dave's watch was in sync with what we did last week. I would run to the end of .3 on my watch and when he stopped his it would say .31 or .32. This isn't much of a difference but it felt like I was running 5:40 pace being told I was doing 6:20... which feel mentally like a big difference. Dave was using GPS + Gallileo and I was using my STRYD to track distance. I will be switching to the set up Dave is set to.
More information on how to choose the GPS set up here: https://expertworldtravel.com/gps-vs-glonass-vs-galileo/?fbclid=IwAR1PiVSW_XIJHVPMgm5fnvVNNzfZiB5VxCcNM8qP-jBhy2t3_-5TEeWxGhc
And more information on how to make a Garmin more accurate here
This week I also had a return of my bursitis. This stinks. I was hoping to be past this. It has been coming and going for the past few weeks but usually it doesn't last long and it doesn't interfere with my gait. But this Thursday it was a little more irritated than it has been last week. I don't need this right now.
Friday: I had actually ordered the heel cups from Amazon while sitting in the parking lot just before meeting Kim for this 16M run. I had hoped that by the morning my heel would feel better, which was the pattern so far. But not today. I wasn't going home. I was there to run so we did but we took it easy and added in a lot of walking which I was grateful for.
Saturday: I found an old pair of Brooks Ghost which are a 12mm drop and with the heel cups in there I practically eliminated all the soreness while running. It was amazing. I felt normal again. It was miserable with a feels like 102 degrees so I kept the run to 6M and figured I could try for my 20M tomorrow if all was well.
Sunday. Bummer. I woke up a little sore again which hasn't been the issue. I can't imagine how running 20M will help me out so I begrudgingly decided to be smart and take today off. I have plans to meet Kim tomorrow. I will wear my beat up all Brooks Ghosts with the 12mm drop and my new heel cups for extra elevation. I ordered a new pair of Ghosts to get me through this phase. I moved my 20M LR to next weekend. Hopefully by then I will feel better and training will be back on track. Hopefully.
If not, there is really nothing I can do but revise my expectations to match my reality
Physically I feel fitter. My Body Composition is showing my muscle mass improving and my body fat decreasing. I am definitely stronger. I did manage two workouts this week but I snapped my screenshot early this AM so it didn't make the cut.
It is nice to see both Garmin and STRYD predict I am sub-4 shape. That is a fair assessment. This bursa is holding me back from solid LRs that will challenge me. So for now I just keep doing what I can do and hope that the pieces fall into place. I already feel like I am running out of time. I not where I had hoped to be at this point. I have been cautious with my heel.
I know that if I can't get into solid marathon shape by Boston, I will still be able to build a good enough base to support me getting as fast as I can manage again by Spring. For now I just need to get this heel cooperating so I can get to Boston!
It is funny how 70+ miles can feel so good, but then a drop back 50 mile week can feel so hard despite being 20 miles less. It wasn't the actual running part that is the hard part. What makes it hard for me is that when I have less running to do, I start to negotiate about when I want to do it... and some bad decisions lead to hard runs. But on build weeks, I know I have a lot to do so I make sure I get out the door to do them first and they just get done. But build weeks makes me tired so I like to sleep a little more on rest week.... and that is just what it is. A struggle to get all the needs met each week.
Monday was the day after 4th of July and I was a bit tired from being up late comforting my stressed out dogs who hate that human celebrate freedom by blowing stuff up.
I asked Alanna to meet me early because I had three things planned today and I wanted to get like 10-12 miles before the entire day went sideways.
The day went sideways before it event started so I should have just slept in. I actually made to the part 30 minutes before Alanna with a plan for me to run about 3 miles before I met her.. and then I would see how close to 10-12 I could get... but nope. I just sat in my car answering emails and doing training log reviews before she got there.
Then we ran 6M and I felt like I had enough for the day.
This week I decided to make my bed more comfortable so I could get better sleep. I got a new gel/foam mattress topper to replace one that was not helping me rest.
I also decided to get a new Garmin. This was a hard decision because they are incredibly expensive. I chose the 745 and looked forward to it's arrival.
After day off Wednesday, Dave and I ran Speed on Thursdays and I was so incredibly happy. My last .3 was at a 5:25 pace. I was thrilled to be able to move this fast. It has been a while.
Like always now, we take the photo for my blog and then sit in the back of his Forester reviewing data and deciding how to revise the workout. Initially, I wanted to gradually increase the distance of this repeat... but I am really happy running .3s. They feel hard and I get to run fast and I enjoy that part (and hate it at the same time). We decided to keep .3's but to cut back the recovery so we can get one more .3 rep in next week. Then grow from there.
I got my new watch and wanted to give it a try. I felt strong and started easy. This was really not supposed to be a workout. But as the time passed, it felt nice to just open up my stride so I did. This is not fast enough to be anything worth labeling but it was harder than an easy day and it felt nice for me to finish in the low 8s. It has been a while since I just went out and run low 8's as an easy day.
Saturday morning I volunteered with NorthStar Pet Rescue to help out at Transport Day. I get up early, get there at 6:30 am and play with dogs who just got off the transport truck while they wait for their meet-n-greets or fosters to come pick them up. It is so incredibly awesome to spend a morning meeting dogs and trying to help them realize everything is going to be ok. I do that by bring a pouch full of freezer dried liver :) It helps.
Check out all the great work NSPR does here: https://www.northstarpets.org
My grand plan was to switch my work shift to Sunday so after Dog Transport I could come home and run my easy 16M... but by the time I started it was late in the afternoon. I was overheating from the start. My new shorts were not working with my bottle and waist pack. I was uncomfortable in every way. I got out to 8M and ran out of water. My stomach started to get cramps from the late lunch I ate before I left for 16 in the hot sun...like that would go well. I ended up having to run/walk maybe 1.5 miles back to the park just to get to a bathroom where I could also get more water. I shut my watch off at 12M called Sid and asked him to come get me. I was done. He was called to work so he couldn't get me.
I decided to walk home the 4 miles, switching my new Garmin to walk mode... which promptly failed to actually function as a GPS and just logged nothing accurately, making me feel really frustrating that I just spent $$$ on something that I wear on my wrist that is supposed to tell me how many breathes I take while sleeping BUT it can't tell me how far I walked? Ugh. (Good news it now it works).
Sid finally joined me for run while I tested out my old Garmin against my new Garmin both connected to my stryd which just caused more frustration. But I sorted that out. One watch has auto calibration of the stryd pod enabled while the other did not.
What I did learn is to never trust a HR monitor. This is data from the same run from two watches.
So Random Stats: Stryd says I can finally break 4:00 hours in the marathon but we are having Trust Issues this week.
Garmin and I are also having trust issues as well. And apparently the new Garmin does not believe in me as much as the old watch that said I could run a 3:36.
The Garmin does collect a lot more (probably inaccurate or useless) data. But I enjoy it none-the-less. It is a new toy. It was a reward to myself for sticking at this for 6 weeks. It makes me happy to having something updated that does actually work better at tracking elevation gain than my 645 did. I can't wait for hill day to see how far I "actually" do climb!
That is all for now.
It has been 5 weeks now and training is finally starting to feel good. My heel bursa issue is not yet a memory. It is so very minor now that it feels like background noise. Although my long run training pace has a lot of room for improvement, I am so very happy to see that my goal of rebuilding my volume is manifesting.
I was able to run 74.4M in 6 days of work over a 7 day period this week. It has been a long time since I ran this much. If there is one thing that I can do that will help me get fitter faster it is to first build up my volume and then work on getting faster. This is not a blanket statement for all. This is what I know works for me.
My goal for "phase 1" was to build up to a 20M LR at whatever pace felt "good enough" under the conditions/circumstances before taking a rest week and then entering "phase 2" (to work on getting faster). I am happy to declare "Mission Accomplished" :)
Monday with Kim at the beach. We are just doing our thing, adding 2 miles per week to each of her runs so she can get back her base again too. We are in no rush, speed will come later. First we build the ability to endure.
Tuesday Hills: "The Tour" is a hilly run but it is also the run Dave and I agree is the "easiest" run we do together. No rush, just climbing. My barometric altimeter is not well. The data is not accurate but it is good enough. We climb hills. It is fun. It is work. We moved this run to Tuesday, after my med-long run with Kim. I could feel the cumulative fatigue in my legs today. I was walking the steep climbs because I just didn't have any power. But I am fine with this. I want to climb tired. Boston's hills are toward the end. I need to practice climbing tired. So this is a good place for hills. They will stay on Tuesdays.
Wednesday. Ah how I love my Wednesdays. Today I rest. I sleep in. I walk the dogs. I try to move a little as possible... but because I am busy it is still around 10,000 steps.
Speed on Thursday: Best decision I could have made was to ask Dave if we could move speed to Thursdays. I needed a do-over with .3s so we did just that. Last week I had trouble hold sub-7 pace! This week we had two .3s under 6! So this was perfect. We decided to repeat .3's one more week since this weekend we have a 20M LR. Once we drop back the LR, we will then increase the distance of speed work at that next speed work.
Friday with Kim. Easy General Maintenance training. No rush. Just miles.
Long Run Saturday. Saturday was supposed to rain. Thunderstorms were supposed to hit us. I stress ate 3 cinnamon rolls in preparation for this 20 mile ordeal. Instead we got to run in one of the best running weather days in many many weeks.
We decided to do another interval workout for this. .9M repeats with .1M recovery for 20 miles. The last 5 miles we worked the .9's hard. It was nice to finish this 20M run at 7:32 pace even if just for a .9M burst.
Sunday! Last run of the week. I met Kim at the beach again and we did her 14M LR today instead of tomorrow.
Random Meaningless Weekly Stats:
Garmin says I am getting slower.
STRYD says I am getting faster.
My Last 7 Days data makes me happy. And my scale data does too. My body composition improving in ways that I care most about (increase in lean muscle with decrease in body fat at a healthy pace.) I am getting more sleep, more steps, and more strength training. My RHR is dropping. This is all good.
In my opinion, the best measure of race fitness is race pace... but I am not racing right now so I can't use that. The next best thing for me personally (I am speaking only for myself) is to use data from my devices and take that information with a grain of salt.
I can see changes in ways that correlate to improved fitness and performance. This motivates me to keep working hard. I am working hard and seeing gains helps.
I can set expectations for myself based upon what I am seeing changing week-to-week. When I race more frequently, none of this matters. Only race data will matter if my aim is to race my best. But for now, for my blog, for my own personal data tracking, I share it.
Supplements (Security Blanket? Waste of $$? Helpful in anyway?):
Without fail people will ask about supplements as if there is some magic pill that will make us fitter, faster, stronger... as if "all runners" should be taking certain things to support training. I don't believe that.
I don't take a multi-vitamin because I don't think I need to overdose on some micronutrients to make up for deficiencies in others. I eat nutrition food and get what I need that way whenever possible. I do also think about what I believe I personally need and I take specific supplements if I feel I can't get enough of it from actual food.
It should go without saying, but it clearly doesn't, so I will say it. Don't do what I do. Do what is appropriate and correct for you based upon your personalized needs and your personalized health issues. Not everyone should take anything they want. Understand your health. Understand your medications. Understand that even OTC supplements can cause issues for some people. Not everything is regulated. Understand and accept the risks. Be responsible for yourself.
Often when training hard I do end up adding a few very personalized supplements to my routine. Do they help? I have no idea. But I do pick them for a reason. Sometimes that reason is simply because I want to test out how I feel when I take them not because I am certain it will absolute "fix" some deficiency.
During this training cycle this is what I have decided to take:
Zinc. I used to eat a lot of oysters. Every other week we would go to this little restaurant that had the best oysters. It was a ritual after LRs or races and I felt it aided my recovery. Oysters are very high in zinc. But we stopped doing this. The restaurant closed. I prefer to eat my nutrition in the form of real whole food, but since my bi-monthly dosing of oysters has ended I opted to add zinc to my routine at night. Maybe it will help? Maybe not? I take it night (if I remember) because that is when I am sleeping (recovering).
Iron. I normally don't take iron, but since I donated blood just before this training cycle started, I have been taking iron to help support RBC development. Either it helps or not? I have no idea.
Two types of CoQ10, Biotin, and Collagen: I takes these in the AM before my training. I want them circulating in my bloodstream when I am training to give them the best chance of doing anything at all.
The CoQ10 is added out of curiosity. I used this once before during very hard training and I felt really good during that training cycle. Was it because of this? Probably not. Did it hurt me? I have no idea. CoQ10 has some research showing that it can increase support of mitochondria development, which is what endurance athletes need. (And it has some research that says it is not helpful and waste of $$). If you would like to read about CoQ10 on endurance here you go. One study is one opinion, not the whole story. Do your own research too: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stefan-Siebrecht/publication/298043174_Protein_and_peptides_for_human_health_and_fitness/links/5eafd84e92851cb267730dff/Protein-and-peptides-for-human-health-and-fitness.pdf
Biotin. I am taking this because I have blood sugar regulation issues and Biotin has some evidence supporting it as helping with this problem. It also has risks. If you don't have issues you don't need to take something that helps regulate issues you don't have.
Collagen. I added this out of sheer desperation when my achilles tendon and heel bursa started to bother me two weeks ago. Today I feel better. Did it help me? I have no idea. Probably not but it makes my nails less brittle so I will keep it.
If I don't know whether or not these supplements are helpful why am I sharing this here? Because this is my training blog and this is what I am doing during this training cycle. I also would have serious trust issues with anyone who insisted some OTC supplement was magical or necessary. I am just sharing my journey and being transparent. I added this here at the end because I really don't expect anyone to read this far :)
Shannon McGinn, MS, MA, JD, EDS, CWHC.