Rest Day Wrap-Up, No. 2

Thank you to anyone who read, shared, or reached out after I posted my first Rest Day Wrap-Up next week. I start this writing project with no particular agenda in mind. Rather, I hope each week will be a reflection on training and living.

The Running

Week 2 was harder than week 1. In part, I think this was due to the increase in mileage over previous weeks to lead up to a 40 mile week. For week two, I only ran 28.2 miles. Part of the drop in mileage was planned to prepare for Sunday’s 5-mile race. Part was unplanned. I bailed on Thursday’s long run (planned 11 miles) 3.5 miles in. It was extremely humid and felt like it would storm. And I was fighting some knee pain from runner’s knee or, more particularly, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. I could see the source of the pain, my right knee diving inward due to tight hamstrings and weak hips and core. Therefore, I would rather cut some mileage now and address the issues rather than run with dull pain for a few weeks until it gets worse.

Also, the humidity. I can’t wait for the weather to change. Every run this week was uncomfortable. Even the “easy” runs hurt a little due to the conditions.

The week had some successes: on Tuesday morning, I did 5 800 meter repeats in 3:09, 3:03, 3:05, 3:07, and 3:05. With morning warm up and cool down and an additional 3 miles in the evening, Tuesday included 8 strong miles.

Racing

Sunday morning was the first 5-miler in the MRTC Road Race Series and, if I follow my training plan, the only 5-miler I’ll race. The humidity made it tough to race, but my legs felt dull from the start. Disappointingly, my time, 37:14.88, came in about 7 seconds slower than my time in the second 5-miler last year and about a 90 seconds slower than my goal time. Even finishing 4th out of 70 in the age group does not quite make up for the fact that it was a disappointing race. In the second half of the course, which is flatter, I did not have the push in me to go harder. The official race photo below captures me in the 100 meters to the finish.

Rest Day

With the beginning of the fall semester now only a week away, I struggle to even say today served as a “rest” day, but I did take the planned day off running. Before heading to campus to do some paperwork and before spending much of the day checking adjunct syllabi, adjusting classroom assignments, and doing other department chair-related tasks, I did make sure to spend an hour this morning focused on relaxing, stretching, foam rolling, and working on hip and core strength. In particular, to deal with this runner’s knee, I made sure to stretch the hamstrings for a while and then to incorporate clam shells and planks.

The Week Ahead

Ideally, the runner’s knee pain will not be a factor this week. As the semester nears, it would be easy to take unplanned days off, so I will focus on the discipline of getting out the door and finishing scheduled workouts, starting with some speed work on Tuesday. This week’s long run, if all goes as planned, will be 12 miles, and other runs will range from 30 to 80 minutes, mostly at conversational pace with some pick-ups and strides incorporated. I intend to pay attention to my form, checking in and taking inventory every mile or so to make sure I’m driving from the glutes rather than the hips, keeping my pelvis neutral, and not letting my knees collapse together. These will be key to gaining the necessary strength to get past runner’s knee and to avoid other injuries that come from bad form, especially IT band syndrome.

If the soreness gets worse and I cannot fix it myself, then I will visit my physical therapist. With a major goal in mind such as a marathon, I know the importance of fixing the issues that cause the small pains before they become bigger injuries and pains. It is also better to have to adapt training now but be able to continue running than be sidelined in a month or two due to injury.

Motivation

As someone interested in the sport and in coaching, I try to keep up with what professional runners are doing as well as coaching techniques and conversations. Therefore, I’ll try to share a recommendation or two each week:

  • Mario Fraioli’s The Morning Shakeout is a Tuesday morning must read in newsletter form. And, more recently, his The Morning Shakeout Podcast offers smart conversations about training and living. Fraioli is one of the many thoughtful runners with a talent for writing, and his podcast also illustrates his ability to interview and pull the best from his guests.

When thinking about motivation to train, I try to find the balance between work and play for my running. The latter is important. I do this for recreation or to re-create myself as better. But I also approach this as work. Even if, at best, I’m an above average but not great age group competitor in Memphis, I approach this as sport with the intention of improving, especially against my previous times on courses or at specific distances. But I also know that some days are not my day and that life goes on if I don’t race well. There’s always that fine line between pushing myself to be better, even if it means being frustrated by a performance, and being grateful about the health I am in and what I am capable to do. But it’s also important to remember that this isn’t easy, even when applying best practices and an intentional plan.

Fundraising

As I prepare for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, I am also fundraising with the St. Jude Heroes program. In 2017, the Memphis Marathon Weekend raised over $10.3 million for the care and research activities of the hospital. You can support my fundraising efforts here.

2018 MRTC RRS 5-miler 1

Official Memphis Runners Track Club race photo.

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