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Marathon Training Week 17 Recap – Tapering Down

no. 17, somewhere down the jaisalmer highway by nevil zaveri from Flickr

no. 17, somewhere down the jaisalmer highway by nevil zaveri from Flickr

It’s the second to last week of marathon training and my training program has me tapering down before the race.

I was supposed to run on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but I got too busy to run on Tuesday, so I rearranged my schedule. It’s been a challenge to make time for running lately. The temperature has warmed up again, but I’ve been busy with work so by the time I have time to run, I have to either run in the dark or use the gym at my complex. The gym is convenient but I don’t like running on machines. Running outside is more fun, has better scenery, and my options are to walk or run. In the gym, it’s boring and I have the option to switch from the treadmill to the elliptical, and even to the stationary bike.

On Wednesday, I did 6 miles in the gym – 2.5 on the treadmill and 3.5 on the elliptical. The treadmill makes my shins hurt and the elliptical makes my feet go numb. I’ll admit it was pretty boring staring at the walls and the machines. On Thursday, I ran 4 miles outside. I could tell my legs weren’t as used to running on pavement as I would like but it still felt good. I had some chest pain in the first mile, but it settled down by the end of the run.

I had my last long run on Saturday – 8 miles, and I ran them outside. It felt good to be out running in the first light of the day. My body didn’t fully appreciate it. I had a little shin pain starting around Mile 3 and some arch pain by Mile 4. I was already planning on getting both calves taped for the race and I think I’m going to get my left shin, arch, and post-tib taped too. I’m going to look like I have bionic legs. My chest hurt a bit from the beginning of my run and got worse around Mile 6.  Focusing on my running form seemed to help keep it in check and it was never bad enough where I thought I should stop or walk for safety reasons.

I have the No Pants Light Rail Ride on Sunday so I’ll be walking all over Phoenix before and during the ride so that will be my substitute for cross training. I don’t wear a GPS or a pedometer so I won’t know how  far I’ll walk but I’ll be walking and standing for the better part of 5 hours.

My plan for my last week of training and rest for the marathon is to make sure I stretch, foam roll, and use The Stick on my lower legs every day. I need my calves to be as limber as possible. I’ve heard stories about lots of runners having to stop during the last few miles to stretch their calves. There is a slight incline on the route starting around Mile 20 so I want to make sure my legs are ready for it.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  14.5 miles
Elliptical:  3.5 miles

Marathon Training Week 11 Recap – Geez that Hurts!

11 by MaretH. from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

11 by MaretH. from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I am 11 weeks into Hal Higdon’s 18-week marathon training program. It was mostly a good week of training until this weekend when the excruciating pain started. I switched up my aural entertainment from podcasts to mostly music and it made a big difference.

Here’s the recap of the last week:

Monday: Monday is usually a rest day, but I knew I’d be hiking on Thursday so I did the 4.5 miles I was scheduled to do on Thursday today. I entertained myself with my race day playlist. It’s easy to zone out with good music and just run in time with the rhythm. It was a little chilly but it felt good towards the end. I didn’t have any real pain until Mile 2 or 3 when I started having a little discomvfort in my hip, left calf, and left shin/post-tib. I was pretty sure I was going to need KT Tape on my left shin and post-tib for Wednesday’s 8-mile run and Saturday’s 16-mile run.

Tuesday: I accidentally slept in today so I ran my 4.5 miles in the afternoon. It was an uneventful run – just my standard pain in my left shin and right hip.

Wednesday:  I ran 8 miles early morning and watched a beautiful sunrise. It had hip pain from Mile 1, but it wasn’t that bad. I wore KT Tape which helped but it didn’t stay in place very well. I ordered Tuf-Skin when I got home. That stuff makes tape stick like glue.

I’m stepping up my push-ups this week: 5 sets of 25.

Thursday: Today was the Annual No Guilt Thanksgiving Hike with my cousin Marian. We hiked 5 miles up Shaw Butte. It was a good trek with good conversation, and as a bonus, I felt no pain.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I had a Forrest Gump moment during today’s 16-mile run. I started my run just as the sun was coming up and I was running next to a park that has some beautiful red rocks. There weren’t any cars or people around and I could just begin to see the sun peaking up over the horizon. It was very peaceful and gorgeous.

The run went well. I listened to Profiles with Malone and Mantz followed by my race day playlist. I put KT Tape on my left shin and post-tib and I was annoyed that it wasn’t staying on even though I followed all their directions – and then I realized that I got this roll of tape almost 2 years ago. The adhesive is probably drying out.

I felt good after my run until the evening when my entire body started to hurt – especially my chest. I felt like someone stomped on my sternum and kicked me in the ribs.

Sunday:  Holy crap my chest hurt this morning – but some ibuprofen helped take the edge off. Instead of biking, I went hiking with my friends at the Wind Cave Trail. It was 4 miles with a lot of rocks to climb. Toward the end, my legs and glutes could definitely feel it. After the hike my chest was killing me. Some of the people on the running Subreddit suggested that I might have a posture issue. I definitely plan to hit the Runner’s Den injury clinic this week to get their opinion about this.

After a nap I felt much better and cranked out 4 sets of 25 push-ups.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  33 miles (130.6 miles total for November)
Hiking:  9 miles
Push-ups:  225 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 10 Recap – Masochism Begins

under 10km/h by kssk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

under 10km/h by kssk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I am 10 weeks into Hal Higdon’s 18-week marathon training program. I needed KT Tape last week and after a few days, my leg felt well enough to run without it. Yay for that! I’m still having ongoing hip pain but my physical therapist friend suggested a stretch that helps a lot.

Here’s the recap from last week’s training:

Monday:  It was a chilly 46 degrees this morning. I didn’t feel like running in the cold and I definitely didn’t want to take the time to find my cold weather running gear. So I ran on the treadmill for 4.5 miles, and I ran my face off. I was done in 37.5 minutes. I wanted to be done so badly I cranked the speed up to 8.5 for the last few minutes. Hat tips to The Creative Giant Show and The #AskGaryVee Show for keeping me distracted and entertained.

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday:  I ran 7 miles today. It was 52 degrees outside when I started so I ran in long pants and long-sleeved shirt. I was warm enough that I could have been in shorts and t-shirt by the end. I was entertained by an episode of the Dr. Drew Podcast with guests Anna David and Mike Carano. I laughed out loud several times.

When I got back from my run, I cranked out 100 push-ups: 4 sets of 25.

Thursday: It was another chilly morning, and since I worked from home today, I waited until 9am to run my 4.5 miles so I could run in the sun. I made the mistake of listening to my Christmas playlist today. Although it has some awesomely powerful songs, there were way too many ballads in the mix to be good for running. Plus it made me sad because it reminded me that I’m away from my family on Christmas.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I ran 15 miles today – the longest run I’ve ever done. Ever. I filled the 2.5 hours by listening to episodes of The Dr. Drew Podcast, The Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart, and a repeat of Profiles with Malone and Mantz featuring John Hughes. My hip handled the pain pretty well but it still hurt, as did my foot and my knee by the end. I started hating myself around mile 11. The last few miles were not pretty, but they got done and that’s what matters. It takes a true masochist to voluntarily run this far “for fun.”

Sunday:  I did a 19-mile bike ride today for cross training. It was only about 50 degrees when I started and I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so it was pretty chilly. On the upside, it was like I was icing my body as I was inflicting pain on it. I can definitely tell that my quads are getting stronger and have more definition.

When I got back, I finished my push-ups for the week with 4 sets of 25.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 31 miles
Biking: 19 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 9 Recap – Back in KT Tape

Number 9 Sign by tedeytan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Number 9 Sign by tedeytan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

KT Tape is my friend. When I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half marathon in 2013, I think my feet and legs were taped up from November until after race day in January. Since doing physical therapy for my shin splints and re-working my running form earlier this year, my pain is greatly reduced, but I’ve been plagued by post-tib pain in my left leg lately. So I’m back in KT Tape for the foreseeable future. Here’s how this week of training went.

Monday:  Rest day. My quads definitely feel like they ran a half marathon yesterday. My neck and back are bit sore too.

Tuesday: It was a chilly start to the day – only 58 degrees when I started my run. I’ve given up on running on the treadmill and elliptical at the gym. Running in the real world may take longer, but it’s a lot more fun. I listened to an old episode of the Evo at 11 podcast wile I ran 4.5 miles – thanks for making me laugh.

When I got back, I cranked out 100 push-ups: 4 sets of 22, 1 set of 12. I wonder, once I get up to doing 4 sets of 25, if I could increase it to 6 sets of 25, twice a week. I think that would be more efficient than doing 100 push-ups, 3 times week.

Wednesday:  Another chilly morning run with Evo at 11 – 7 miles this time. It wasn’t that painful, but I felt like I was running exceptionally slow for the last 2 miles.

Thursday: I had an early morning event so I moved today’s run to tomorrow. I finished my push-ups for the week in the evening: 4 sets of 23 and 1 set of 8. The last 3 reps of each long set were a bit challenging. I expect to be up to 4 sets of 25 by the end of next week and hope to be up to 6 sets of 25 within 2 weeks after that. I love having muscle definition in my arms.

Taping my Post Tib with KT Tape - I'll probably have my leg taped up most of the time until after the marathon

Taping my Post Tib with KT Tape – I’ll probably have my leg taped up most of the time until after the marathon

Friday: I was in hurry this morning so I didn’t heat my hip before running 4.5 miles. That was a mistake.  It hurt like hell by Mile 2. The Creative Giant Show, a new podcast by Charlie Gilkey, kept me somewhat distracted.

When I got back from my run, I decided it was time to step up the care for my left post tibialis that’s been sore so I taped it up with KT Tape. You can wear KT Tape for as long as it stays in place so I’ll be wearing and sleeping in knee socks for the next 9 weeks to keep it from rolling and catching on things.

Saturday: I ran 10 miles today, and yes, I heated my hip before I headed out. It still hurt but it was much more manageable. As usual, I was entertained by the lovely Scott Mantz and Alicia Malone with their Profiles podcast. They featured Julia Roberts this week. I was bummed when they announced that they’re taking next week off so I’ll have to find something else to entertain me during my 15-mile run.

Ironman Arizona is tomorrow. On the second half of my run, I saw a lot of fit people riding very expensive-looking bikes. I assumed they’re all Ironman athletes getting in one more ride before turning their bikes in for the race.

Sunday:  It was weird getting on my bike after having a week off from cross-training. I rode for 19 miles and I noticed the ride is starting to get easier, except when I ran into a pretty strong head wind around Mile 3.  I hope it doesn’t cause any problems for the Ironman athletes.

I think I’m starting to experience the constant soreness I’ve seen in other friends who are marathon runners and triathletes. Sometimes it hurts less to run than walk, and sometimes it hurts all the time, especially my hip when I go from sitting for period of time to walking around.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  26 miles
Biking:   19 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 4 Recap – More Strength More Pain

Fence Number 4 by Ze'ev Barkan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Fence Number 4 by Ze’ev Barkan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I ran into quite a bit of pain this week as my miles are increasing, but it seems to have calmed down this weekend. I basically lived in KT tape the last time I trained for a half marathon. I put on fresh tape every Sunday and I’d wear it until after my run the following Thursday. I’m curious if that will happen with this training cycle.

Running
This week I ran 4.5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, 6.5 miles on Wednesday, and 9 miles on Friday. The 9 mile run was scheduled for Saturday but I moved this past weekend so I knocked it out early. I had quite a bit of pain in my shins and my right hip. My physical therapist told me that a lot of runners get hip pain from lack of strength so I’m trying to keep my strong by doing lateral walks (side stepping) with a resistance band.

I ran my 9 miles on the canal where I ran on dirt most of the time. The pain was much less than running on pavement. So my trail-running friends were right about that. I just wish there was an easy way to keep the little rocks out of my shoes.  The 9-mile run did a lot of good for taking the edge of my shin and hip pain.

The miles increase pretty fast during marathon training. When I did the half marathon, the longest run I did was a 10-mile run during Week 11 of a 12-week training program. The fact that I’m already at 9 miles and doing fine makes me feel more confident about this race. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t increase you miles more than 10% week to week, but I’m pretty sure I’m doing more than that with this program some weeks but I don’t think there’s any getting around that.

Cycling
I moved this past weekend so now I have to figure out all new running and cycling routes. I thought about riding to Changing Hands bookstore which is about 9 miles away from the condo so round-trip would be 18 miles. I didn’t read my directions carefully and I don’t know that area of Tempe very well. I didn’t get lost but I didn’t know exactly where I was. Moving is stressful for me so my appetite has been non-existent so I opted to ride until I started getting tired and turned around.

I checked my mileage when I got back and saw I only did 12 miles, but it was fun to ride on the awesome bike lanes in Tempe. I’ve spent plenty of time in Tempe, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to see it from my bike.

Push-ups
Push-ups were awesome this week – 100 push-ups on Monday and 100 on Wednesday – 8 sets of 12 or 13 each time. I think this week I want to do 100 and 100 again and start increasing a few sets to 14 to start building myself up to doing 4 sets of 25 push-ups.

I can tell I’m getting stronger legs too. There’s more definition in my quad muscles. I’m glad they’re not as sore this week as last week, except when I have to climb stairs.

Week 4 Totals
Running: 24.5 miles
Cycling: 12 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Treating my Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis with ASTYM and Dry Needling

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon every year from 2010 to 2013, and every time I did the race, I seemed to have more problems with shin splints and foot pain than the previous race – and yes, I follow a really good half marathon training program by Hal Higdon. My legs hurt so much during the 2013 race, I was pretty sure I ran the race with three stress fractures in my tibias (two in my left, one in my right).

After the 2013 half marathon I rested my legs for months, but I was in pain within weeks of trying to run again. I decided to suck it up and get professional help. I started with an informal evaluation at one of Runner’s Den’s weekly injury clinics. I described my pain to the doctor and he immediately referred me to Endurance Rehab for ASTYM®. And then he warned me – ASTYM hurts.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. I used to be a gymnast. How bad could it be?

The next day, I called to make an appointment at Endurance Rehab and relayed the injury clinic doctor’s recommendation that I receive ASTYM and she warned me – You know it’s going to hurt a lot, right?

Ok now I started to worry a little bit if the receptionist was warning me. I did some research on YouTube to get an idea of what I was in for.

A few days later I met with my physical therapist, Eric, who did a full athletic history and evaluation. He said my shin pain was due to the fact that I had a lot of scar tissue my legs, which is why they didn’t get better with rest alone. His plan of action: break up the scar tissue with ASTYM, strengthen my leg muscles, and train me on a better running posture to prevent recurrence.

My calves after a session of ASTYM - early in the process

My Legs after ASTYM – Early in the Process

My ASTYM included both anterior tibialis muscles (front outside lower leg), my left posterior tibialis (front inside lower leg), both calves, and the bottoms of both feet. The video above must have been done on a person who didn’t have any injuries because Holy Fucking Shit ASTYM hurts! The first time Eric did ASTYM on me, it hurt so much I was shaking by the time he was halfway through. (He said I was the first person he’s seen have that reaction.) I never shook again, but it is not uncommon for me to cringe, grunt, scream, swear, and pound the table during ASTYM. I’ve pulled my foot away a few times, and each time Eric patiently holds out his hand until I give it back.

And did I mention the bruising? We’re all glad I did this during winter because if I wore a dress or shorts outside, everyone would wonder who’s beating me.

The good news is the pain gets better and the bruising decreases over time as the scar tissue breaks up. When he works on me, Eric uses ASTYM and manually massages my tibialis muscles. His hands are bright red from the pressure he’s putting on my muscles and except for a few small areas on my plantar fascia and my post tibialis, I’m pretty comfortable compared to when he first worked on me.

Dry Needling - 20 Needles in my Post Tibialis

Dry Needling – 20 Needles in my Post Tibialis

We also did some dry needling in my post tibialis during physical therapy. Dry needling uses the same gauge needles as acupuncture but they go all the way into the muscles. It’s based on the premise that the needles cause micro-trauma where they’re inserted which stimulates the healing process. There are people on both sides of whether dry needling is an effective treatment or only placebo. I don’t care. It seemed to help me.

It felt really intense when the needles were in my leg, especially when they were going in. I had an urge to point and flex my foot after the needles were in but I figured that would hurt a lot so I opted to do it with my non-needled foot instead.

I’m happy to share that my legs are on the mend and I’m starting to run again. I’ll write another post soon about the process of learning to run with a completely different running form.