Due to injury and work overload, I had to cancel my plans to run the Erie marathon in the fall. Instead, I ran a couple of half marathons and some 5ks. I PRed in both distances and I won my first race (sure, it was only 70 people running it and everybody was hangover from new year’s celebrations, but I am still counting it and crossing it off my bucket list).
A lot has happened since I last posted! Since I started physical therapy for my foot, I have been progressing quickly. My goal was to get to bike and run as quickly and sensibly as possible.
I was nervous about standing on the bike, since there is a segment of each revolution during which one foot is bearing all the weight. First, I tried an upright stationary bike with programmable workouts (not a spinning bike) during PT. That didn’t go so well… I could not get the resistance to go up high enough to support a real standing climb. So, I took it upon myself to try it on a spinning bike at a local YMCA. I did 8 minutes, then 10, then 15, and tried standing for bits in between. I started with regular training shoes, then my cycling shoes with SPD cleats. This progression built my confidence enough to try riding outside for the first time!
The ride was 7.3 miles at 12.3 miles an hour. It was the windiest ride I’ve ever been on, so I was uncomfortable, cold, and nervous. I broke off from the route Bruno had planned and cut it short a bit. Close to the end, my body had relaxed a bit and I remembered that I really love cycling. I’m excited to try again tomorrow! I’m not quite (mentally) ready to get on my road bike and clip in, and I have a feeling my foot will be ready faster than my head will be 🙂
On the running front, I told my physical therapist early this week I was ready to start running. I have been doing some stuff on the elliptical and some fast walking, and I felt it’s time. She had me try the treadmill and run at a comfortable pace, and I discovered it was actually less painful than walking! So, we’ve been upping the speed and distance since, and today I completed my first outdoor run of 1.83 miles!! I’m feeling very accomplished.
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.
That is exactly what I need to qualify to the Boston Marathon. Last year, I ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh in 3:31:43. This was nowhere neat my Boston Marathon Qualifying Standard of 3:05:00. This year, I plan to run my second marathon. It is exactly the same race, but this time I will try to shave 30 minutes off my time to quality to Boston. Here is my 5-step plan to accomplish this task, let’s hope it is enough!!
1. Faster cadence and better form
Last year, I was following a very long (30-week) training plan, but I injured my right hamstring 16 weeks before the race. It took me 6 weeks to come back to a regular training schedule, and another 4 weeks for the pain to subside entirely.
My physical therapist told me that what felt like a hamstring injury was actually a lower back issue caused by a weak core and bad running posture. He also told me that my cadence was too slow and my muscles were too tight, and gave me some pointers to improve my form.
I started doing more core strengthening exercises, stretching better, foam rolling, doing running drills, and taking rest days seriously, and I have focused on keeping proper form and fast cadence during my runs. Increasing my cadence hasn’t been easy. I have gone up from 155 steps per minute to 175, and I am consciously trying to push my normal-pace-cadence all the way up to 180.
I am happy to report that I have been injury free since then. I hope my improved form and cadence helps me continue to be injury free for a long time, and to be more efficient on race day!
2. Smarter race
Last year, I was hoping to finish under 3:30:00. I probably could have, but I made a total noob mistake. Since I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, I stuck around the 3:15 pacer for around 15 miles. At some point, I realized I couldn’t keep up any more, and then I hit the wall. The last 10 miles were absolute hell. I just wanted to stop and wait for someone to pick me up. I did my fastest mile in 7 minutes, and mile 25 took me more than 10. Starting out too fast was a terrible mistake.