Monday, January 26, 2015

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 11

This was a really rough week training-wise because it ended up being more of a rest week than anything. Hence the roughness. Mentally, for me at least, it's nerve-wracking to be taking extra rest days less than two weeks out from race day due to a hamstring issue.

Compounding the mental issue is the fact that I am slow at work so devoting most of my time to studying for the CA bar (yes, I have to retake the bar exam, and it's 3 days in CA). I'm taking it at the end of February so I'm also stressing about that, which means I would have been so grateful for some head-clearing runs. Alas, it was not to be.

[Insert dramatic caption about injuries being like waves breaking on the shore, or something.]

So here's the full ballad of my right hamstring, for those of you who love reading about semi-injuries or moralistic stories about why it's so important to rest/recover.

The Set-Up: My trainer-approved plan was for decreased mileage with some speed work to keep my legs moving. Here's what the two-weeks-out-from-race-day plan was, for those curious:
  • Monday - post-Sunday-long-run rest day
  • Tuesday - 4 mile repeats at goal half marathon pace + regular strength workout
  • Wednesday - easy run of 4-5 miles
  • Thursday - short tempo run with 3-4 miles at slightly-faster-than-goal half marathon pace 
  • Friday - rest
The Climax: Unfortunately, on Tuesday night, as I started my warm-up mile, my hamstring immediately felt off. It only took half a mile for the tender feeling I'd been having on and off to set in.

At no time in my training cycle have I felt pain when running. I wouldn't have attempted any speedwork or long runs if I had, and I would have immediately instituted some extra rest days. Instead, I just felt a tender ache in my right hamstring near the end of a few workouts, and it always disappeared after some icing.

That's why feeling that tender ache in my hamstring so shortly into my run on Tuesday night seemed like a red flag. I jumped off the treadmill and did 20 minutes on the Arc trainer, without feeling any pain, and my planned strength work, just going light on the weights for anything leg-related. Again, no pain. However, Wednesday morning, my hamstring still felt a bit off. I texted my trainer and was told that I was absolutely positively not allowed to do anything until our session on Saturday (which we'd postpone if it still felt wonky).

"Yoga? Some light strength?" I asked, because this close to a race, I always want to do SOMEthing to feel like I'm contributing to my race success (and yes, I know, that is more often than not "rest" and not "extra speedwork!").

"NO, just focus on recovery. Ice, epsom salt, whatever you can do. And lots of water/hydration and sleep."

The Denouement: So I focused on recovery Wednesday to Friday. I slept at least eight hours a night, I iced my right hamstring twice a day, I went through range of motion stretches that didn't put any actual stress on the right hamstring and I drank lots of water. And hey, what a miracle, by Saturday my hamstring was fine! It felt good on Saturday when we went through strength work (lots of core work with some lighter lower body exercises thrown in) and there was not a (metaphorical) peep from my right hamstring during Sunday's final "long" run of 6 miles with 4 goal pace miles thrown in. Rest and recovery FTW!

...Okay, not the best ballad. Frodo had it a bit worse. Maybe I'll call it a fable since it has a clear moral: rest and recovery are so important.

There was nothing I could have been doing two weeks out from the half marathon that would have been more important than making sure my body was healthy and strong for race day, and if that meant no workouts for 4/7 days last week, that was the best thing I could do. It's hard to remember that, I think, when you're filled with anxious pre-race energy, but I'm so glad I had someone to remind me of it.

Training Log: Surf City Half - Week 11

Monday: Rest day.

Quail Hill is currently my favorite place because it's so green and gorgeous.
Walked Mason with a friend from work and her canine at Quail Hill for a mile or so, then grabbed fro-yo and sat outside enjoying the sun. How is this January??? (Random lawyer/law nerd confession: whenever I read about the Supreme Court doing something, I am always vaguely confused for a second, thinking "but the Supreme Court doesn't meet in the summer..." Then I realize it's the winter and California doesn't have seasons, it just cools down a bit.)

Tuesday: 1 mile + 20 minutes XT + strength.

As noted above, one mile was all I needed to know it was time to call it. Thankfully I haven't had to bag many workouts, but it's always tough for me to do that because I never want to keep going in my warm-up mile -- they always suck -- so part of me wonders "am I stopping this because it's hard or because I legitimately shouldn't keep running?" I know I made the right decision this time, but it's definitely a question I struggle with a bit.
  • 1 mile - blech.
  • 20 minutes cross-training on the Arc Trainer - also blech, I generally hate cardio machines.
  • Dynamic stretching.
  • Three sets of 15 reps of two upper body and two lower body exercises (in retrospect I probably should have also bagged all lower body exercises -- thankful I didn't mess anything up).
  • Two sets of 15 reps of three core exercises.

Wednesday-Friday: Rest days.

Iced my hamstring, foam rolled (not on impacted hamstring), slept a lot, repeat.

Saturday: Strength with trainer.

Melanie told me we'd play training by ear but thankfully by Friday night I felt totally normal. I was under very strict instructions to tell her if anything felt off even slightly.

  • 0.5 mile warm-up on treadmill (it felt fine! YES! Rest/recovery success!).
  • Dynamic stretching.
  • Three sets of 20 reps of core exercises.
  • Three sets of 15 reps of total body exercises.

Any day I can catch a sunset at the shore is a good day. 

Sunday: "Long" run.

I set out for this run with the intention that if I felt anything off whatsoever I'd call it quits immediately. Thankfully that wasn't necessary. The plan was a warm-up mile, four (roughly) race pace miles, and a cool-down mile.

  • Dynamic stretching.
  • 1 mile warm-up.
  • (1) 8:33, (2) 8:35, (3) 8:30, (4) 8:17.
  • 1 mile cool-down.

No pain/tenderness/feeling whatsoever in the right hamstring. I still iced it after the run, just to be totally safe in case there had been any inflammation whatsoever, but I felt really good. It was unexpectedly hot and I felt so dehydrated, so it's a good reminder for me to hydrate a lot and get lots of extra electrolytes this Saturday before the race. Weekends are harder for me on the hydration front because I don't have a water bottle in front of me constantly.

Total Mileage = 7 miles :/

Not an ideal week before taper week, but if it means my hamstring is feeling healthy for race day, it was worth it! I'm getting excited for the race. Only five days before I'll be taking on my seventh 13.1!


  1. So glad it was feeling better by the end of the week. Sending good vibes your way - yay for race week!

  2. Hey, you can't have a good race if you show up to the start line at anything less than 100 percent--and everything you did this week puts you on the path to toeing the line healthy and injury-free, which is huge. YOU'VE GOT THIS.