Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter sets in: Treadmills: 34.2 Miles

All week long I had been looking forward to a nice mid-distance Friday run and a really long 34 mi run on Saturday- 20 of which I would have great company for. And Then I get the text from my dear friend who was planning to come visit on Saturday when I'd finished my crazy adventure; "Meg, I don't think I can make it with the snow/ sleet this weekend......" I was like... snow? Sleet? So i checked to forecast and NOoooooo! All of a sudden at 34 miles to coordinate into my weekend alone. Not to mention the temperature outside was NOT pleasant.

I actually got this text while I was biking ... after my 8 mile run, I was feeling good and right on my very planned out "day off from work" schedule......When I realized I'd better start ticking the miles off. So I jumped on the treadmill and grabbed 14 more miles finishing up with just enough to time to stretch briefly, stuff my face, shower and hit the road for some appointments and errands.

A common question:  How do you do you train on a treadmill?
  I utilize the change in speed and the change in elevation often, fooling myself into creating intervals of time that make it seem faster (I've also trained on a treadmill in the past exclusively for almost all of my 3yr stay in Northern NJ- and practice helps). If you know you're going to be on there more than hour I suggest chosing a show or movie you actually want to watch.... subtitles- where exhausting actually create a better distraction. Music helps as long as it changes pace enough to keep you feeling like "Hey, I like this song, I can handle 3more minutes and 27 seconds....".

 Also, in my opinion... change sneakers every 10-14 miles.... on a treadmill there's NO variation so you're pounding the same bones in your feet and fatiguing the sam muscles OVER and OVER and so on.

Ppl  might think this one is nutz, i guess it depends on your comfort level on the treadmill, but play with your gait once in a while a few wide steps, and few high knees... maybe pretend you're running around a shallow bend in the road and stay to the more-right side and then the more-left side of the belt (like i said it sounds crazy) but you'll feel the difference in your legs. Take the time to shake your arms out, the positioning of your arms on a treadmill is somewhat restricted by space/ your minds perception of space... be sure you're not running with your back muscles and shoulders tights, let your arms be loose, shoulders in the sockets and relaxed. Keep your lower belly lightly contracted (in & up) to protect your spine from the consistent pounding and finally, since it can't be said enough- practice, get to know your body. Notice your breathing, utilize your lung capacity to oxygenate your cells and breath of waste, not to mention, find relaxation in your efforts.

So my day went on and I made it home with 15 min until a friend came by, so i figured why not grab one more mile... so i did that... now at 21mi complete and the likelihood the I'd meet up with my running buddy- the only one possibly insane enough to try to weather the storm was slim. Once social time was over I downed a little mountain dew and went to rock out the last 13.2 miles of my run.

During treadmill training runs (aka- I'm a wimp, and I don't run in under 28 degrees (unless I have company and a lot of "Hot hands".)  I often try to avoid thinking how long I've been on there and how many people are thinking "What is wrong with her.... how long has she been on there" I often hope they just don't notice I exist.... but the gym in my apartment building really isn't big enough to not notice.

Anyway being indoors this run was less exciting than most, around 32 miles I was done... I was bored and hungry and didn't want to go on. So you start ticking off every 0.1 with a lot of pride, reminding yourself that this just an important step... in the process of learning how to run ultra-distances.  Anyway I made it, and felt good- great actually, only mild pain in my Left ankle...which means despite my efforts the muscles in my Left leg are still not aligned/ coordinated and my gait remains off by a cm or maybe millimeters... hard to tell, frustrating, but this was the least pain I'd been in- SO I'm happy with that.

Coming up:
SF: Golden Gate Trail 50k on Feb 11th!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

31.12 Miles... A New Level of CraZed

After the week before, I wasn't so sure about this long run idea I had previously designed into my training plan. I personally use a very unusual training method, one not commonly used by those aspiring to a specific goal... AKA if you want to be FAST, improve cardiovascularly, lose weight, idk what else, but loads of benefits come from training plans... however, I adhere too tightly to them, as if they are a life line, so instead of following a predetermined specific POA (plan of action) I go off of feel... I run long and slow, or fast and short or any combination  I feel because usually how you ran before makes you feel like you need a harder or easier day to follow anyway creating a natural pattern of pushing yourself and recovering.

My biggest weakness is proper recovery. I believe whole heartedly that what you use/ overuse as an endurance athlete needs rest to repair and strengthen, however any patterned exercise- biking, swimming, running, rowing, etc.... miss enough muscles that there's usually always some sort of cross training to be utilized- even if its just a long slow walk with friends.....(yoga is kind of amazing too- though honestly most ppl, and definitely myself, often go too hard, even at yoga, for it to provide proper recovery.

That being said, yoga is fantastic to get your muscles retrained. If you ran so hard/ lifted- whatever it is you did... your muscles may actually feel as though they are uncoordinated- an effect that is created by fatigued muscles... yoga has a way or rebalancing your body and preparing you to jump back into training feeling stronger and more recovered (not to mention refreshing your mind, provided somewhat of a "clean-slate" effect).

On another interesting note about recovery- if you do anything that requires endurance you probably burn through your body's Magnesium resources quicker than you think... magnesium has become a great source of interest in both sport science as well as psychology for its integral effects on muscles and calcium balance (for those who didn't study bio/ forgot... without calcium- your muscles dont relax=> cramps/ over training etc....). The most basic and simple example of the importance of recovery.... if you muscles dont relax, they dont recover, they dont last long- to say the least. Consider supplementing with a Cal/ Mag supplement. I only once so far utilized the supplements before during and after my run, but felt better during and after my run than usual.... so many factors though, was it the supplements? who knows... but it wont hurt you- unless you go crazy with it (BALANCE.... no need to overdose).

So, there I was, I took the week after Xmas easy, listening to my body and feeling it one day at time, sleeping in till 6am when I needed it, and utilizing biking/ swimming and yoga. Running a total of 14 miles for the week up to Saturday... And what would I do... 16 was definite... but I secretly still hoped to make my 31 mi goal that I had set before to the upcoming weeks since I have other obligations beyond spending 5 hours of my day running...(aka if i didn't do it now, I couldnt schedule 5 hrs for running again until Jan twenty-something).

4:55 alarm comes and goes, the same with the 5:10 and 5:20 alarms. 5:30 I finally convince myself to start to move... prepping myself to have food for the full 31, but only mentally setting my mind on 20 mi...

Meeting my friends at 8 I needed to get the easy starting miles done before they came so I wouldnt be mentally dragging myself for the remaining miles in case I felt like I had on Christmas Eve. I began at 6:25, with my new head lamp (thanks JB <3) and hit the Grist Trail... about 2 mi in I headed up an actually trail, playing russian roulette with my ankles and my fear as it was still completely dark besides the glowing beam from my head lamp (which feels like you're perpetually running in direct moonlight- very romantic. Hills!! I found hills and twists and turns... and a WHAT!... Yea... I screamed out loud in the empty forest as a squirrel that I frightened scattered and scared the %*@* out of me. I laughed and kept on.... Looping back to the main paved trail around mile 6 I headed back to the trail head as it neared 8 am. Completing 9.25 miles and having my second breakfast and some water, a mag/cal supplement and then we headed back in for the next 8.7 mi, All 7 of us... Everyone was strong today the weather was perfect and the later-than-weekday start made for a relaxing morning. Miles ticked away as we chatted about running, jobs, relationships, new years plans and personal reflections.  18 miles into the run... breakfast #3.... a half frozen power bar... my jaw was cramping trying to chew!!

3 of us remaining. We head back in for more miles, leaving just two of us around around my 20 mile mark. Pain has just started to become apparent, a few strange aches and pains, but nothing of concern, we chug along... conversation has dropped to a minimum as we both mentally talk ourselves into taking the next step. Personally, I know I was hoping to think of a great conversation starter to distract both me and my running buddy from our growing mentally weaknesses. Little came to mind....

Mile 22- don't recall too much except that I took my coat off... December 31st, 2011... and it was sunny and warm enough for me (the perpetual popsicle child) to run in just a long-sleeve shirt... what a treat! Yes, I'm serious- it felt so freeing, to have less on...

With a fist bump, a hug and a happy new years, I am alone, with 4 miles left to make my 31... i get back to my pace, 8:50 and chug along... as I watch 28.5 role past on my watch, I know I've made it to a new longest run... and now with 2 miles between me and my car... I didn't have much of a choice- I'd atleast make 30.5.... I could suck it up for an extra 1/2 mile right? Well, yes, I guess so... the fifty people on the public trail, riding, walking and rolling their kids around in strollers must have thought I was crazy- looping back and forth for that last 1/2 mile.... probably the best moment of that last mile occurred as I rounded the top of the last hill and two sisters, I'd guess 5 and 7 come racing one another down the path... and behind them is mom, dad and a 3 yr old younger sister on dad's shoulder... you hear mom call out to her 5 yr old- "Go Meg Go! You can do it, Way to go Meg!".... I mean really- what are the chances? .... I figure... somehow, the universe brought this moment into being... why not let it be for me too? So I borrowed a bit of the support and crossed the bridge to the trail head and jogged till the my watch read 31.1.... DONE. Who'd have thought? Maybe the 50 is do-able... But for now... it was time to rest and prepare for a night of Celebration as we roll into an even year... (never been a fan of odd numbers)... Happy 2012!

And now for a very relaxing week of gentle recovery as I drop to the bottom of my next climb, I will not pass the 31 mile point for almost 6 weeks now... as the next big Thing... happens to be a 50K trail race in SF on Feb 11th!... One step at time, one day at time,... continuing to learn, to grow and to succeed by never quitting.

‎"If he follows his passion with heartfelt intensity, if he dedicates himself unreservedly to his calling, he will persevere and ultimately find fulfillment, no matter where his life may lead him." - Dean Karno (Ultramarathon man).