Ending the Run Season in Recovery Mode

run2Three weeks ago from last Saturday, I was out on my last LSD training run for my first half marathon. I was set to run this half 2 weeks ago from last Saturday, on 10/12. As I look over my calendar now, I have it whited out (It’s kind of hard to look at it up there). My training this summer for my half had gone great! A month ago I ran a marathon relay (which I wrote about in my last blog post, making this one long overdue). I had come so far and I was so confident for this half coming up. The weather here in Alaska (even now) has been beautiful. We have been blessed with extended fall weather and on this last long run training day, the weather was just that. A perfect fall day with amazing colors, cool weather, and just enough sun shining through the clouds. One of my friends came out and ran the first 3 miles with me. We went up and around the University and she cut off at the parking lot by the lake where we had left her car. My plan was to continue on, hitting 12 miles and meeting the bf, where we’d have lunch and he’d take me home. I was also excited to finally run all of the Farmer’s Loop trail. I usually do my LSD runs as an out and back and don’t get to do the whole path. So I continued on from the lake, and at mile 6 was feeling a little ache in my ankle. After months of training and running through good pain, I thought nothing of it. Until I hit mile 8. With 4 miles to go, and a pain that that quickly brought me back to memories of an ankle injury from a year previously, I had a decision to make. My choice was to call it a day, get picked up, and nurse my ankle. I was upset, but knew I had trained well enough that if my ankle recovered, I could still run the half. I had exactly two weeks before raceday.

KT Tape KTWrap1 KTWrap2

For two weeks, I did just that. I took days of rest, IBU, ice, ice, ice. Then reverted back to my PT stretches and PT exercises. I started taking Phenocane (natural anti-inflammatory, better for you for IBU and I LOVE it. Check out your local natural food/supplement store), finally got a foam roller, and invested in some KT tape (#1 athletic tape by far – plus it comes in cool colors). So gradually I started doing a little bike/elliptical for cardio and decided on no running before the race. But alas, the ankle was not recovering fast enough. Two days before the race (which btw, the race was in Anchorage, 6 hours away and we had planned to fly there but were waiting to get tickets), I finally threw in the towel and decided it wasn’t worth risking further injury.

So how did I feel? Like a failure. I think it was harder to recover from that decision to not race than having to recover from this injury in many ways. Sometimes, life gets away from you. You feel like you don’t have control of it, and much of it you DON’T. But as a runner, you do. You get up in the morning or you come home in the evening and you put on your running shoes and it’s like putting the foundation under your feet. Lacing up is like wrapping that warm security blanket around you to tell you “it’s ok. you are whole. you’ve got this and we’ve got you.” So what happens when that control is taken away from you? It’s like your foundation comes crumbling down. Everyday my ankle doesn’t feel well to run, I feel lost. I feel like I don’t have a grip of my world anymore. I have to find other ways to center myself again, and that’s a hard thing to grasp.

So how am I coping? Well, for one, I’ve had some great encouragement from a couple of incredible friends. One has encouraged me to train for a triathlon in the Spring, something I didn’t think I could ever do. Although I love biking and running, the swimming is more tough for me. But she is there with me now, willing to train with me and help me improve. After one day in the pool with her, I know I can do this. What’s the benefit of triathlon training? I can do it while my ankle is recovering and put off the running. Her and I are even talking about a long distance bike trip – maybe in Denali or maybe Anchorage to Seward (which is what is on my bucket list).

That same friend has also encouraged to run or walk a Halloween 5k with her and her family this Saturday. To dress up, and HAVE FUN! To do it as a fun run. I’m very competitive with myself, and racing brings out the best in me and my running abilities. It gives me an amazing adreline rush. But being able to go out, run or walk a 5k for FUN with my friends, that is a good way to end the season and I am coming to accept that.

Another thing I’ve realized is that without the training I had done to date for the half, I wouldn’t have been able to do the amazing Marathon Relay I did last month. For that alone, I’m so glad I was training and it was worth it. The Equinox Marathon Relay was an irreplacable experience of the running community, teamwork, and realizing my own abilities.

Now, as for training, recovery, and the like. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate the DREADmill. I also think it’s horrible for recovery running. You have to pick a pace, and its hard to tell where your body wants to naturally be. Mind you, its horrible on your feet. My feet love the outdoors, paved trails and dirt, and love to be able to naturally change pace. When you are recovering, your body needs to quickly say – hey hey! Slow down! At your pace, not at how fast you can push a button on a treadmill. I’ve been a member of a gym for awhile now, and when I joined, it was the best thing for me. I lost alot of weight, did all of the group classes, and used the pool when I was recovering my injury last fall. But I’ve come to realized I’ve platoed and am looking for more. My workouts have to keep up with me, and I have to be able to train on something better than a gym’s stationary bike.

So here I am, gearing up for some changes and Alaska’s winter. This winter’s plan is cross country ski group, women’s run group (I ran 2 miles last week and am hoping to run with run group tonight!), Crossfit-style workouts, swimming, and setting up my bike to ride inside. It’s time to say goodbye to the old gym routine, and start exploring some (hopefully) new-found passions! I’m pretty excited to change things up, train for a Tri and I’m certainly welcoming any advice!

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I Just Discovered Lululemon! … and other gear talk.

I’ve been wanting to talk about my gear loves, hates, dirty comments and looks from others, and the epic battle many of us face getting to where we are when searching for the gear that we fall in love with. All you alike runners, cyclist and yogis (among other sports) know exactly what I’m talking about.

Let me start at the beginning… no no. Actually, let me start with last week. As you all know, I live in Alaska – and not in the “big” city of Alaska. But last week, I was in the city (Anchorage – or ANC, ANCtown, ANCity, Mini-Seattle…among other nicknames) for a 2 day conference for work. I heard through the grapevine that a Lululemon store had opened (THAT’S RIGHT – YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY!). SO, needless to say, I had to check it out. I have been dying to get my hands on some Lululemon gear, and being petite (5′ almost 2″), often loosing weight, and with a, uh -larger -upper chest, it makes it difficult to buy anything online that I haven’t tried on in a store first. SO, the store they opened is considered a “Showroom Store”, it’s small with a constantly rotating selection. (Btw, if you live in AK, here’s the link: http://www.lululemon.com/anchorage/anchorage). I was pretty excited to get in there and try on some running leggings which I have been in dire need of. I tried on some crops (which fit almost like pants for me) and some speed tight full length leggings. They were WAY long, however they have free hemming. Both fit like a glove and are true to size. I ended up with the crops (http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/crops-run/Run-Inpire-Crop-II-55554?cc=11718&skuId=3510454&catId=crops-run) and have since run in them and not once did I have to adjust myself while running – what a relief. I haven’t had that in awhile! Not to mention, my butt looks great in them and if I could, I think I would live in them. I tried on a jacket that I was tempted to buy and a coat that is now on my to buy list, and I ended up with a scarf that a friend of mine has that I have wanted FOREVER. You can wear it probably 35345 different ways (OK – maybe more like 12). Here’s the link, if you too must get one http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/scarves/Vinyasa-Scarf-Luon-Light?cc=11540&sli=1. It was 100% worth it – I’m currently living in the scarf, which doubles as a shirt, or triples as a cardigan. It’s kind of ridiculous(ly awesome).

BUT moving back to running gear. When I buy tights (leggings, tights – whatever you want to call them), they must first serve the purpose of running, but be able to do everything else as well. They also must have a drawstring. If you’ve ever bought running tights, then lost a few pounds, you understand this. I might spend alot on them, but I do look for sales AND use them for everything I do. I have gone through gear that I hate – include tights, tops, shoes, socks, shorts – even my first GPS watch was returned. Bad gear SUCKS. Whether its during spin class where your butt hurts, yoga where that cotton shirt is soaked and chaffing you or your pants are riding up your butt, or any gear that half way through a 10 mile training run – has just failed you. Why do we train with the gear we are going to race in? To make sure it works for us.

That being said, am I the only one who has gotten the dirty looks or presumabley “I can’t believe you spent that much” passive comments from friends, family and strangers alike when they look at your gear: whether its a gps watch, good running shoes, or “brand-name” tops and shorts? I don’t think I’m the only one (well, I know I’m not, I’ve had this conversation in real life with people). I’m not made of money, but considering I literally put on my workout clothes as much as I put on my work clothes, I put just as much effort into buying them (I’m convinced it’s the only reason I have a savings account – and for my  family and friends that are reading, now you know what’s always on my Christmas and Birthday list). If you’re ever lived with shin splints, an overuse tendon injury, chaffed inner thighs, or your gps watch has gotten you home off a trail when you took a wrong turn – this list goes on and on – you definately understand this (I hope there’s at least one reader out there going “heck yeah!”).

Us runners (and the similar cyclists, yogi, etc.) have all had our trial and error with gear. I can tell you I personally hate when people try to sell me on their shoes. Have you had this happen to you? I will tell people what I (me, myself and I) swear by, yes, but it’s usually either after I’m ask or while having a gear conversation and is always followed by “it’s not a fit for everyone.” When it comes to shoes, the one thing I recommend is a gait analysis at a running store. Period. PERIOD. There is no reason not to get one – it’s free. Seriously. I went through a few different shoes, even tried minimalist (even the doc said i couldn’t do those anymore). My bf swears by Asics, personally they have too much side cushion for me – I can’t stand to even put them on my feet. My feet like to breathe. I’m on my second pairs of Brooks and LOOOOVE them. I mean I’m in love with them. I switched from the Ghost to the Adrenaline GTS when I needed to switch my support level (that’s story is for another blog) and my miles had drastically increased. Even if you have to run naked (which I don’t recommend either), at least do it with good running shoes – and when I say good, I mean they are the right fit for YOUR feet and the way YOU run. Function over fashion, my friends!

Speaking of Brooks, I have also become a huge fan of their gear in general. I LOVE their runnings shorts. I didnt think it made a big deal, until I ran in Brooks runnings shorts. I love the length and they flex and flow so good with my thighs. I also recently picked up the Brooks Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip II, its a long-sleeve top. For a cold-weather relay marathon I ran a couple weeks ago, I wore it over one of my Athleta Run On tanks and it was perfect. It’s a 1/2 zip with thumbholes and the hand length and shape eliminates the need for gloves (to a certain temp, of course) and has a zipper on the back right side (the pocket is pretty big actually – it fit my running gloves when my hands got hot and my clif shotblocks). I really do recommend trying out this top, ladies.

Another brand I love is Athleta – which is similar to Lululemon. They make bathing suits that are actually made to workout in – whether its just laps, triatholon, or you want something that will keep your, uh – large – upper chest, in at the beach, they are a large, cute selection! But here I am going to reach out to ask about their running tights. Has anyone purchased them? I love that they 1) Have free hemming as well and 2) Have Petite sizes – YAY! But they don’t have a store in AK yet (Let’s hope they will eventually!). I’d love to know how people who’ve bought them like them. Their running tops are incredibley comfortable. I also love their skorts! (Pictured Below: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13 Shoes, Brooks Women’s Essential LS 1/2 Zip II, Athleta Run On Tank)

    

So you’ve heard some of my gear trial and errors and a couple of my favorites (btw – my favorte running socks are WrightSock CoolMesh II Double-Layer – it’s like a sock inside a sock!). Whats your advice? Struggles? Your favorite gear or most hated gear?