Monday, March 25, 2013

Running Lessons...

I just finished Week 10 of half marathon training. Six weeks until race day!  And I have missed exactly ONE workout. Go me, right?

Sunday's distance run was 8 miles, and this week brings me a little bit of a taper before the 10 miler, which will be the first time I've ever run double digits. I'm maintaining a 10 minute mile. It's not the most impressive speed, but I'm OK with it. I'm aiming for endurance. And it's still fast enough to be considered running.

My 7 miler last week was the catalyst for several running lessons. Michigan, like most of the country, decided to ignore Puxatowny Phil and go with 6 more weeks of winter instead. So, I got to run 7 miles in about 3 inches of snow. The snowy spots were soft, a little unstable, but nothing too awful. Some businesses decided to use snowblowers and salt. They are my heroes. But some people decided to do a half-assed job of shoveling their sidewalk. This was actually worse than those who did nothing because my foot would land on half dry ground, half packed snow. Every kick of my leg was a slip and by about mile 3, I was feeling it.  Add to the beautiful conditions my ignorance about hydration. I learned pretty fast that you can NOT run more than an hour without some form of additional fuel.

I made it home, but my left calf locked up on me tighter than my puppy's jaws when she's stealing one of my running socks! I tried rolling, elevating, warmth, and more. It was sore, but I figured I could manage.

I went out for the week's 4 miler... and Michigan decided to drop from the 40s back into the high 20s. About 3 miles in, Abby started pulling toward something across the street. I look back to find a Pomeranian playing in traffic.  Of course, we went to rescue dear Fuzby (seriously?), who quickly taught me that Pomeranians are pricks (sorry if you have one). He was harassing Abby, peeing on EVERYTHING, and in general annoying the heck out me. Worse, while I stood around and flagged down someone who had a cell phone to call the number on Fuzby's tag, I was getting colder and colder. By the time we had returned Mr. Prick to his home, I was chilled to the core.  Off we went on the remaining mile home. And about a block from home, fingers numb, mood cranky, I felt a popping sensation in my left calf!  I walked home and placed my already frozen leg on ice while I sat and debated total and complete panic.

In a moment of clarity, I reached out to the Facebook world for ideas. A friend who just ran a full marathon suggested a few things I had already tried and then mentioned her husband swears by compression sleeves.  I had been icing, using the foam roller, soaking my feet and calves in epsom salts, so with another 4 miler looming, I hunted all over town for some compression sleeves. (hint, try a running store instead of a 'sports' store).  I picked up some sleeves by CEP (Allsports Sleeves) and I am obsessed.  I wore them on my 4 miler, and left them on for quite a while after so they would aid in the workout and the recovery. No pain. I did the same for my 8 miler.. only a teeny bit of tightness!!  No dreaded derailment of training!

The other important lesson of the week.... hydrate!! I wizened up and bought a little water bottle to take with me. Runner's World actually makes one that fit my hand well, and wasn't so large that it would be obnoxious. I filled it with the old standby, Gatorade, and sipped as I ran along.

I picked up some energy chews, but haven't noticed a sure difference. I can't be the only person who finds them miserable to chew, right? Way too thick... and HOW would you chew that while running? I also picked up some Power Bar performance energy blends. Problem fixed, question answered! They are basically fruit smoothies in pouches with extra carbs for burning. Made with real fruit, and gluten free! They taste good and can be used before and during activity. Win. I tried the blueberry banana flavor this weekend, and YUM! (seriously). Plus, no stomach issues or problems. I will definitely be picking up more for the rest of my training and race day!

The only downside? My running buddy seems to have a 5 mile limit, so I still take her on my mid-week runs, but she's been forced to stay home on long runs. And yes, she knows she's missing a run, and she cries the whole time I get ready.

What strategies do you have for long runs? Have you tried compression sleeves?

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