As the training intensifies, my legs are starting to feel fatigued. So, I’ve been reading a lot about heavy legs and I decided that my legs needed some rest, and some long easy-pace runs. That was my focus for this week. I cancelled one of my scheduled runs, and I slowed down my pace. Also, I did my first brick workout of the season looking forward to my first (!) sprint triathlon in June.
With my first ride of the season, a very intense long run, and two HIIT workouts, last weekend was a killer. And I could feel my legs (rightfully) complaining. So, I decided to do a little flushing, with long low-intensity intervals to freshen up my muscles. First thing I did is schedule a rest day for Tuesday, and cancel an easy run I had scheduled for Friday. Also, I replaced a scheduled tempo run with an easy pace five miler. Finally, I slowed down my pace for my long run on Sunday to 7:49 mins per mile instead of my 6:50-7:05 pace from previous weeks. I hope this flushing pays off. Next week I plan to bring the focus back to speed.
A so-called “brick” consists of a full bike workout followed immediately by a full run workout; in other words, it’s a session in which each part could stand alone as a complete workout
I’ve only attempted to do two brick workouts before this season, and I haven’t been very successful. The first time, my legs felt completely exhausted after I started running and had to walk half the way (some people say that this feeling is the reason why they are called “brick workouts”). The second time it didn’t really count because I did a stationary bike workout instead of an actual ride. So, I guess this week I did my first successful brick workout ever!
I chose to do an approximate sprint-distance brick with a 12.6 mile ride followed by a 3.0 mile run. I managed to keep my transition in under 4 minutes. Which is not bad considering I had to walk up to my apartment to change my shoes, leave my bike, get out of my thermal clothes (winter wind on the bike is no joke), and kiss my wife. In fact, I did much better than I expected. It looks like I will definitely be able to finish my first triathlon (scheduled for June) in under 1:30, and maybe even under 1:15.
Menu of the week
Mexican-style steaks and lentils
Baked pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and arugula salad
Exactly 1 day after my last post, I received very good news in my 12 week post-op appointment. The doctor and nurses were very pleased and impressed with my healing progress, and said I did not have to go back for THREE MONTHS!
Three months? Wait. What am I supposed to do until then? Can I walk barefoot? Can I drive? Can I ride? Can I run?
The first great news: Yes, I can drive again! Regarding physical activity, the doctor said I should not increase by more than 10% each week, and that I should not start training for a marathon. Not knowing quite what that meant, I asked for a physical therapy (PT) referral and started sessions last week.
In week 1 of PT, I have been given the following exercises:
Toe curls (trying to scrunch up a towel), 2×10 twice a day
Seated heel raises, 2×10 twice a day
Ankle rotation front and back, 2×10 twice a day
Ankle rotation side to side, 2×10 twice a day
The first couple of days of trying to move my toes caused some discomfort that I was not used to. My foot has not hurt since the second week after surgery and now the exercises make my toes hurt a bit. However, I can already feel how these exercises are helping me walk normally by letting my foot roll onto the toes, and the ankle rotation feels wonderful.
The other great thing about PT is that my I can begin trying out new exercises. I have been pretty consistent with my upper body weight training, but since last week I have incorporated squats (body weight), and brief elliptical and recumbent bike cardio sessions.
I’m incredibly pleased with my post-surgery state. I thought I would lose a lot more strength than I did. I think eating 40%+ protein has really helped maintain my muscle mass, despite the atrophy in my legs. I also started swim lessons and I love being able to work on my goal of becoming a triathlete even though my legs and feet are not ready yet.
After Pittsburgh, I’ll have 1 week rest and then 6 weeks to train for my first (!) triathlon. So, I decided to incorporate some swimming and cycling to my training starting now. I’ve been swimming for a while, but this week I did my first ride of the year, and it went great (which is good so I don’t have to feel bad about slacking a bit on my running).
I planed my bike ride for Wednesday afternoon, but the weather was awful and I didn’t have time to do it before dusk. So, I rescheduled it to Friday and joined my wife at the gym instead. However, I was feeling tired and not very motivated Friday and I decided to ditch it all together. Fortunately, the weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t resist going out for a nice hour-long ride.
Yesterday marked 12 weeks post bunion surgery. It’s incredible how easy it is to fall back into a normal routine and forget the recovery journey, and I find myself randomly longing for the early Netflix-and-napping-all-day days. I’m stuck between “still recovering” and “almost okay” which is a bit awkward.
These are the things that remind me that I’m still recovering:
I cannot drive yet
I cannot wear regular shoes
No exercise using my feet
I still have to wear a toe separator
My foot swells and tingles after being at the office all day
I have a limp when I walk
This are the things that make me feel almost okay:
I can spend 8 hours at the office with only some discomfort
I CAN SWIM (provided I am not barefoot around the pool)
I’ve been killing my upper body weight training
I can sleep normally
I can wear regular shoes (if they have thick, sturdy soles — so not my regular shoes)
I can paint my toe nails 😉
My next recovery milestone is driving and doing some form of exercise that involves using my foot. I am very happy with the pace of my recovery and the surgery results. My right foot does not hurt at all, and now I am noticing the bunion pain in my left foot (which was shadowed by the severe pain in the right foot).
I can’t yet say whether this will make running or cycling better for me in the end, but I can’t imagine how it could not!
It is week 5 already, which means I need to start increasing my mileage (of course this had to coincide with the coldest week of the season thus far).
This week, I did a tough workout to improve the endurance of my leg muscles: three 10 milers on three consecutive days at an increasing pace. With most the running packed at the end of the week, I had a lot of room for cross-training earlier on. So, I did three consecutive days of strength training focusing on different muscle groups.
Monday — Morning: swim workout. Afternoon: Les Mills Grit™ 30:00 min HIIT class
It is a pretty simple workout. First, run 10 miles. Then, run another 10 miles at a slightly faster pace the next day. Finally, run another 10 miles at an even faster pace on the third day. I attempted this workout for the first time last fall and it was a killer. The first two days went great, but my legs were exhausted on the third day and I had to slow down considerably.
This time I took it a bit more seriously. My target paces for each run were 7:40 min/mile, 7:20 min/mile and 7:00 min/mile, respectively.
On the first day I went a little faster than planned, I ended up doing 7:31 min/mile. Moreover, the course was hillier than I anticipated and I could feel some muscle fatigue already. On the second day I was just on target doing 7:20 min/mile, despite crazy winds and really low temperatures. At night, my calves were sore. I started to worry a bit, but there was not much to do at this point other than foam-rolling and getting a good night sleep. I’m happy to report my legs were strong enough to achieve a sub-7 pace on the third day!!! I’m feeling good about Pittsburgh!
Menu of the week
I’ve been doing most of the cooking for the last few months, since my wife’s surgery. Now, she is recovered enough to be able to cook, which means that there is more dish variety. This week, she prepared two meals and I prepared another two. We had:
Turkey ground meat and zucchini lasagna
Chicken with mushrooms and boiled cauliflower
Beef stew with carrots and potatoes
Pan fried salmon, quinoa with vegetables, and roasted beets
Both the zucchini lasagna and the salmon were really awesome!!
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes
If you are anything like me, you are ready to do anything to avoid the treadmill, even if it means facing frightfully cold temperatures and grievous winds. We’ve had a pretty mild winter so so far in central Pennsylvania, but this week we are finally hitting single-digit temperatures (it had to be the week I have three 80min runs scheduled). Here is how I like to layer up to face the winter.
If the temperature is above 15F, I feel fine running in shorts (sure, I’ll be freezing before I start, but I won’t feel any cold after the first half a mile). For colder temperatures, I’ve found a good pair of thermal tights to be enough once I start going. I invested in two pairs of high-quality 2xu thermal compression tights, and I am not disappointed at all. They have lasted me two winters already.
Can’t believe one fourth (!) of this training cycle is over. On the upside, I am feeling strong, am still completely injury free, no more overseas travel for a while (hopefully) and I am hitting my target marathon pace. On the downside, I made some (minor) adjustments to my plan because I was feeling jet-lagged from last week, and my total mileage seems low. This week I think the ups dominate the downs, so I’m starting to feel pretty good about this race!
Monday — Full body lifting session + endurance swim
Started the week with a 3-day trip to Ithaca, NY, for a job interview. Fortunately, Ithaca is just a 3 hour drive from home. So, I didn’t have to interrupt my training (like I had to last week). I got in a pretty decent workout before my trip on Monday, and I got to do some running while in Ithaca.
The town of Ithaca was build around Cornell University which, for some strange reason, was built on top of a hill and not on the valley next to it. This means that all the streets in Ithaca have crazy inclination and it is a wonderful place for a hill workout. So, that is exactly what I did. I left my hotel at 5:30 AM, found myself a nice looking hill and did as many repeats as I could before it was time to get ready for my day-long interview.