Blog Subtitle

Reverse-engineering the Ultramarathon

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Return

Hard to believe how long it's been since I've posted anything. Pretty poor excuse for a blogger, I guess. The thing is I tend to 'go dark' about my running when things aren't going so well, and then pop back up when the hard work of getting it back under control is well along and I'm feeling better about my running future again.

So what happened? Where have I been? What am I doing? For anyone who cares to know these things, details below.

What happened?

After Mendon Ponds last fall I was beat - and I don't mean tired, I mean beat up. I had been planning to cut way back and take an off-season between Mendon and the new year, but I really had no choice.

Right heel pain that had started before Virgil Crest had not improved. More issues developed up-chain from there: significant pain on the outside edge of that foot, wrapping around the ankle bone, pain in the calf/Achilles area on the outside of that same leg, pain both above and below the same knee, some sort of persistent 'knot' in the glutes - same side - and  generally deficient mobility in that leg. In short, my right leg was in full rebellion against me.

I cut back to running no more than twice per week - and only a few miles at a time. It was not good. It soon became obvious that the most serious issue was tendinitis on the outside of my right calf, low in the calf and radiating around the ankle into the outside of the foot. My own diagnosis: peronneal tendinitis.

Where have I been?

My weekly average over the next eight weeks was less than ten miles. I wanted to just keep a little work going as a way to really gauge how things were progressing. It was rough going. I'd wake each morning with it feeling pretty good, and then the burning sensation on the outside of my leg would reappear and slowly worsen through the day as I sat at my desk. Some days it was bad enough that it was hard to walk normally.

Things did slowly improve though. By the end of December I had begun to think that it was ready for me to start slowly building mileage back up - carefully monitoring to make sure that the tendinitis continued to improve.

What am I doing?

Training Log - Jan-Apr

The first week of January I ran four days for a total of about 22 miles. I was also playing around with my new snowshoes that I'd bought at a bargain price at the end of winter last year, so some of this was hard miles in snow over at Green Lakes State Park. This went well. My 'long run' was about 7.5 miles. The next week I ran by feel: run a day, rest a day, run one, rest two. 'Long run' 9.35 - again, with snowshoes and +700' elevation.

The third week included a hard lesson. I was feeling so good that I decided to try my old Thursday night tempo run. Bad move - I could barely walk Friday and Saturday, my foot was so painful, and I did not run again for four days. Lesson learned: no more speed work until leg and foot pain are entirely gone (and I have not yet run fast again).

Following that setback I settled into my 'standard' base-building pattern: two high-mileage weeks followed by an easy week. The easy weeks were at about 60% of the average mileage of the previous two weeks. I resolved to keep a few hard rules that I think will help me keep this under control:
  1. Run higher mileage the second hard week. If I get into a mode where the first hard week is leaving me spent enough that I have to pull it back the second hard week then I'm 'falling behind my training' - by which I mean that I'm over-extending myself.
  2. I always run on Sunday (the day after my long run) - short and easy. If I can't do that, again, I'm over-doing things and I'd need to pull back.
  3. If at any time I start having to push myself to go out and run - to overcome a real reluctance to do it - then I don't run. That way lies pain and sorrow!
So far, these things have been working. I have found the work of building easy, with full recovery week to week and no general decline in performance or desire to train.

I've emphasized building up the Saturday long run, and those have definitely gotten harder. In mile terms I've built it like this (after that last 'bad' week): 7.1, 8.76, (rest), 10.24, 11.25, (rest), 12.26, 14.5, (rest), 16.2, 18.2. These have all been run at a constant pace without walk breaks. All but the last were on a flat course (the Erie Canal tow path - a packed dirt/gravel trail).

The last was on pavement, with 1300'+ elevation gain. That's all of the elevation gain of the Strolling Jim ultra I'm running on May 4th in half the distance. I've got a few more weeks to train for the Jim before I'll have to start tapering. I think it may go ok - and in any case I'm mostly going to meet some friends from online (and hopefully get the finish too, of course).

If I survive the Jim I'll do a loop or two at Highland Forest and then I've got nothing else on the schedule until the CanLake 50M in October. I had been hoping to do the Laurel Highlands 70M this year, but the injury and resulting limited training made that impossible - or at least too foolish even for me! The real goal now is to have a little fun this year and - above all - finish the year healthy and ready to train for the 2014 LH70 in earnest.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you're being really smart about your building back up. I'll send good vibes your way, and I'm hoping for Laurel 70 next year too! It's good to know where you've been, and I'm glad it's getting better.