Monday, June 29, 2015

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 4 Workout Log

Last week was pretty awesome on the training front,  until it wasn't.

Friday after work, I hit the hills for some trail miles, and apparently I rolled my ankle pretty badly. The problem with me and rolling my ankles is that every single time it's happened, it seems incredibly minor and I don't feel like I've done any damage. I trip on a near-daily basis, and it's difficult for me to tell the difference between rolling my ankle and losing my balance. So every single time I've rolled my ankle, I don't really realize I did any damage until it starts hurting the following day, when I think back to what could have caused the pain and realize, "oh right, I kind of rolled my ankle while running, didn't I?"

Trail miles are so pretty, why can't my legs cooperate...
I guess my "minor trip" on Friday evening's trail run messed up my ankle, because late Saturday it started hurting, so I canceled my planned Sunday morning trail run with a friend.

So, I'll be spending the first part of this week avoiding weight-bearing cardio. I'll see how my planned lower body weights workout goes tonight, and will scratch anything that seems to hurt my ankle. Cardio will be swimming for the next few days because I'm determined to rehab this ankle ASAP so I can get in some mileage while I'm up in WA. It's going to be gorgeous up there this weekend! I AM SO EXCITED. Country July 4th's are the best.

In terms of future preventative care, once my ankle feels better, I'll be adding calf raises and more ankle exercises, because I love trails too much to give them up, but I've rolled my ankle out there too many times. I'm also going to look into purchasing trail running shoes with greater ankle support that are closer to the ground. I've been wearing my beloved Saucony Kinvaras, and apparently the added height can increase your chances of rolling your ankles.

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 4 Workout Log

Since my sister and brother-in-law were visiting, I didn't want to spend much more than an hour at the gym or running most days, so I changed up my workouts a bit, only doing cardio and weights together on one day.

Monday: Lower body lifting workout.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles at Back Bay.

Wednesday: Upper body lifting workout.

Thursday: 20 minutes intervals (3.65 miles total, incl. 5 min. w/u and c/d) + lower body lifting workout.

Friday: 5 miles on trails at Crystal Cove (I start from Coastal Peak Park for free parking).

Saturday: Off (walking around Santa Monica and Venice Beach).

I had never explored the canals, so it was fun to walk around the beautiful little houses and feel jealous of the people who live there. We briefly chatted with someone as she walked from a neighbor's house to her own, and apparently a lot of the people in the area actually grew up there, so they aren't all millionaires (in terms of salaries, at least; the homes are all worth well over $1 million).


Do I have good looking family members or what?

Sunday: Off, RICE-ing my ankle.

BOO. I'm annoyed. Running has been feeling great lately and I was excited to get in a long run with my friend Allie while she was in the area.

Total Mileage = 13.15 miles

Do you have any ankle strengthening exercise recommendations? Trail running shoe recommendations? General tips to not hurt myself?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 3 Workout Log

As I've been focusing on building a strong base for marathon training, I've been trying to figure out exactly what caused my previous training cycle to go off the rails. I've never felt like my legs were so completely dead before. As I mentioned in last week's post, my symptoms were somewhat similar to overtraining syndrome, but I clearly hadn't been putting in the mileage to suffer from that.

The only conclusion I can really come to is that a heavy work schedule in April and May coupled with personal stress resulted in body breakdown. I think that in stressful situations, there's always something that has to give, and I think it was my body.

I didn't go into much detail about the personal aspects at the time because I didn't know what the outcome would be. I spent Mother's Day in Urgent Care and then the ER with my mom, who had started having intense pain in her abdomen. Urgent Care thought it was a gall bladder issue and wanted scans, so we were sent to the ER. There, they did an ultrasound, and they found stones and an unidentified mass.

This was where things got scary. I can't hear "mass" without thinking cancer, and given the past five years, during which I watched my best friend battle and eventually die of cancer, any suggestion of my mom having an unidentified mass was terrifying. No subsequent scan in the coming weeks could get a clear enough image to rule out cancer, although we were told it was extremely unlikely (like, a one in 1,000 chance), which helped, but I was still worried. Without a doubt, I think this was part of whatever happened in those last few weeks of training. I was able to remain calm on the outside, because I didn't want my mom to bear the burden of comforting those around her, but I was awfully tense worrying about the outcome.

I'm writing about it now because I am thankful to report that my mom just had surgery to have her gall bladder removed, and there was nothing inside the gall bladder but stones. In fact, after a couple weeks of antibiotics, the inflammation had died down enough that they could remove it laparoscopically, so she can go home tonight.  I am so incredibly relieved that she will be okay. I'll be going up to WA to visit for July 4th, and I can't wait to see her and give her a huge hug!

Love you, Mom!

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 3 Workout Log

Last week, I got back up to about the same weights I was using prior to my time off from lifting. I'm excited that my strength came back so quickly! It was also a busy weekend, since my sister and brother-in-law are currently visiting.

Monday: 20 minutes intervals (3.56 miles total, incl. w/u and c/d) + lower body lifting workout.

Tuesday: Chest/back lifting workout + 20 minutes swimming.

Wednesday: Off.

Thursday: 20 minutes intervals (3.58 miles total, incl. w/u and c/d) + lower body lifting workout.

Friday: Off.

Saturday: 10 miles around Back Bay with Kristina.

After dropping Sourabh off at LAX, I headed back to Orange County to meet Kristina for 10 miles around the Back Bay. The marine layer burned off pretty quickly, so it was a gorgeous (and sweaty) run.

It was also awesome to run outside after my runs all week being on the treadmill. I could take those interval runs outside, but it would add a good 20-30 minutes to the workout, so since it's just 30 minutes on the treadmill, I prefer to do them inside. Plus, I can really track my progress with the speed and intensity on a treadmill.

I had a gloriously lazy afternoon post-run then picked up my sister, Priyanka, and her husband, Jason, from the local airport and we headed to one of my favorite local restaurants, Eat Chow, for dinner. Next up: sunset at Inspiration Point in Corona del Mar.

Sunday: 5 mile hike + biceps/triceps lifting workout.

We started Sunday off with a hike at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. I hadn't hiked there before, but will definitely be back! It was gorgeous.

Next, we hit up the Farmer's Market in the Great Park to pick up fruits and veggies for the week. And quickly succumbed to all the delicious specialty items that vendors had, like fresh small-batch salsa (I'm such a sucker for those kinds of things).

We brunched at SOCIAL in Costa Mesa (the bacon... so thick, so crispy, so good), I showed them Fashion Island (an upscale outdoor mall, not actually an island, always good for people watching), we did some grocery shopping for the week and I showed them my fancy work-subsidized gym while I fit in my biceps/triceps workout.

Total Mileage = 17 miles (22 with hiking)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pre-Marathon Strength Training: Week 2 Workout Log

Only four days late on this workout log for week two... I find it harder to write recaps about training right now since it's weight lifting focused, and there's not much I can say that's interesting there. Still, I like to keep a record here, so I'm going to keep them up until the end of July when I start marathon training.

Blog Stuff

Quick "housekeeping" note: I added a page to my header titled "Resources". It's basically just links to websites, apps, etc. that I like and use, and I also listed my favorite pieces of running clothing there. (Note: No affiliate links, in case you care. Honestly I don't even know how to set that up...)

The Resources page also has a link to my Pinterest page. A few weeks ago I cleaned it up and have been pinning every good running-related article I've read recently, with boards being categorized into things like "Running Workouts", "Strength for Runners", "Playlists", "Healthy Running", etc. There are also, of course, the normal boards for recipes and cookies and such. Figured I'd point it out to those of you who just can't get enough reading about running! Might be helpful.

Outside Magazine's Article on Overtraining Syndrome

If you recall, I mentioned that part of the reason I didn't want to run RnR San Diego was because my legs were feeling like total lead in the weeks leading up to the race, and I couldn't hold any speed whatsoever. I read this Outside Magazine article on overtraining this week, and while I don't think it's exactly what happened (since I peaked in the mid-30s mileage-wise), I think the stress of personal and work things on top of training led to a similar effect for my body.

I also think it's just a valuable article to read since so often in the running world we see people being glorified for more, more, more. More mileage, more marathons, more of everything. One thing that my trainer in Orange County really hammered into me when I trained with her (before she moved to NYC, sniff sniff...) was the importance of rest and recovery. She was a former professional runner, so she was someone who had worked at the highest level of the sport, and she constantly stressed the importance of real rest in order to truly recover. In fact, she said it was even more important for those of us who aren't professionals, and don't have the benefits of very little stress other than training and competing.

Week 2 Workout Log

Ok, on to a recap of last week's strength workouts. I did three out of four of them, and moved the workouts around a bit due to some firm events.

Monday: Intervals on treadmill + lower body lifting workout

Can't complain about the treadmill view!
Cardio: 5 minute w/u; 1 minute sprinting, 1 minute easy for 20 minutes; 5 minute c/d. 3.50 miles total.

Weights: Upped the barbell by 5 lbs (from 45 lbs to 50 lbs) and felt good.

Tuesday: Mini progression run on treadmill + chest and back lifting workout

Cardio: 2 mile progression run on treadmill, increasing speed every 1/2-1/4 mile as I progressed for a fast finish.

Weights: Upped all the weights slightly. Chest press still giving me major problems I didn't used to have -- apparently I lost a lot of muscle in my pecs while taking time off from lifting?

Wednesday: Off.

I was planning to run, but when the second most senior partner in the firm asks you to hit some balls on a driving range because you're on his golf team at that Friday's event, you go. It was supposed to be for the summer associates, but since I was on his team, he ended up spending most of his time giving me pointers. I'd never played golf before, but was able to hit a few decent shots by the end of the hour.

Unfortunately, though, the partner wanted to take us all to dinner afterwards, so I wasn't able to fit in the run I'd intended on doing. I mean, I wasn't that bummed, because we went to Taco Asylum, which has really fun and inventive tacos. But it didn't help my running or leaning out goals for the month. Why are tacos so delicious and impossible to say no to?

Thursday: Intervals on treadmill + lower body lifting workout

Cardio: 5 minute w/u; 30 seconds sprinting, 30 seconds easy for 20 minutes; 5 minute c/d. 3.54 miles total.

Weights: Again, upped the weights from the previous week a bit. I hate around the world lunges. I think because they take so long.

Friday: 1 mile "run" + 3 hours of "golf"

Set out to run but it was overcast and humid, my body felt tired, and I'd gotten a late start so running more than a mile meant that I was choosing between washing my hair or not. Since we had a firm event that evening, I decided to opt for cleanliness and only got in a mile.

I think I mentioned last week that while I want to maintain a strong base, I also don't want to force myself to run a bunch of runs that are miserable right now. I want to enter marathon training feeling excited to train. Since I knew I was on track for decent mileage for the week, I felt fine cutting it short and just doing a mile-long loop of the area.

Spent three hours "golfing" (quotes because I don't golf, so I can't really describe me hitting a golf ball with a club as anything other than a rough approximation of golf) with my firm as part of a summer associate event before eating delicious, delicious tacos at a partner's house. Yes, more tacos. Goddamnit, California, why do you have so much fantastic Mexican food.

Although let's be honest, if by some cruel twist of fate I had to choose between having access to amazing Mexican food and losing those pounds for marathon training, I'd choose the Mexican food every time.

Saturday: 8 miles on trails + 7 mile hike (~2500 ft elevation gain in total)

Saturday was SUCH A GREAT DAY. It was basically nonstop friends, food and being outside for almost the entire day. I met up with Kristina for 8 miles on trails in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, which was really fun, and then Sourabh and I drove up to Santa Monica and met up with our friends Leah and Björn for a 7 mile hike up Los Liones Trail in the Pacific Palisades.

We'd planned an afternoon hike so we would be able to enjoy what are supposedly stunning vistas of Santa Monica and the Malibu coastline, but that damn June Gloom didn't go away until we'd almost gotten back to the trailhead.

I think it's pretty funny how Californians seem to love June Gloom. "It's so cloudy! I love it!" people in my office have said to me. After 18 years of the Pacific Northwest and then 8 years of the Northeast, I am a total glutton for sun. I'm sure I'll eventually succumb and start loving the two months of cloudy mornings, too, but for now, I am resolute in my love of all things sunny and cannot wait for June Gloom to end.

Gloom over Santa Monica
Anyway, enough of my ridiculous bitching about a couple months of not-quite-perfect weather. (SORRY.)

We had a fantastic dinner at Art's Table in Santa Monica (get the Sloppy Fries, which are fries with a fantastic sloppy joe mix and smoked cheddar sauce). We were slightly food shamed by the waitress for ordering so much. She doubted our ability to finish everything we ordered, but we proved her wrong. Then we dealt with 405 traffic to get back to Orange County. It's the worst, guys. Always. For no reason. Every time we go to LA, we spend half the drive talking about how grateful we are not to deal with LA traffic on a regular basis.

Sunday: ~45 minutes yoga

We spent most of Sunday doing errands, which included buying Sourabh some sandals. Which turned into me buying a pair of Birkenstocks (these) because I need to get serious about foot health and not wear awful shoes with zero support anymore. Now if I could only find a good, work-appropriate flat with support that isn't heinously ugly... Any suggestions?

I had planned to do the skipped biceps/triceps lifting workout from Friday on Sunday, but I was having a lot of muscle pain in my neck/shoulders, so I decided an upper body lifting workout wasn't the best idea. Instead, I signed up for Jasyoga to try out their athlete-focused recovery yoga routines. I did about 45 minutes worth, and also used my yoga therapy balls to try to knead out the knots.

I highly recommend those balls, especially if you have hamstring issues. When I went to Finish Line Physical Therapy while in NYC in May, the physical therapist said they're one of the most effective ways to get at hamstrings. This video has a good overview of how to use them.

Total Mileage = 18 miles (25 if you count the hike)