injuries

SETTING GOALS

Inspiration and drive are sometimes in short supply. After this year’s San Francisco Marathon, I didn’t have much of either. It was much, much more difficult than I ever thought it would be; the training for it alone gave me burnout and took all the fun out of running.

So, as I was running last night in preparation for the Giants Race half Marathon race this Sunday, I had to think of ways to get the excitement back into running. After this race, I’m not signed up for anything. It’s not because I don’t want to race, it’s really lack of funds. I need to buy new running shoes this month, so spending more money on an upcoming race won’t happen for at least another paycheck or two.

During the last few weeks of marathon training, I realized that for the first time in a very long while, I had very little motivation. I still ran, but I barely stuck to my way of eating, which resulted in weight gain. I had promised myself that I was going to lose weight this year and here I was, not accomplishing what I wanted. In 2015, I had set out a goal to run 3 marathons this year and that seemed like a galaxy away. Obviously, that was asking too much of myself. But I also started wondering if marathons were for me at all….

I can’t accept that.

So, I took a few days off of thinking about my future in running and just lived my life. I admit that I didn’t workout as much as I should have, I didn’t go to the gym as regularly for a week, but it was the space I needed for a new perspective.

And it was during my run yesterday when I started thinking about my last marathon. I don’t want that memory to be my only memory of this race. I want to create better memories. There’s only one way to do that, to run it again next year, but this time, plan better, do better.

I have a full year it’s time to think about how I’ll do it. The California International Marathon, even though the same distance was nowhere near as difficult or taxing on me. It could be that my IT bands weren’t stressed out as much at the time of my race or maybe I was more prepared, or maybe this race is just harder on them because of those blasted hills. But none of that matters. What matters is if I am serious about doing it a second time, I need to make this time count!

So, I will keep you informed about my ongoing training. Up until next July, there are some shorter races I plan to do, including my half this Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, no stress at all.

Cheers!

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2016 San Francisco Marathon

Yesterday, I finished the 2016 San Francisco Marathon. This was the first time I completed the entire course and it was the most difficult race I’ve ever run. All week, I was stressed out over my IT band. Would it bother me? Would it keep me from finishing?

SF Marathon

Pre-race

Let me start from the beginning….the race start time was 5:30am, but because I’m a slow runner, my corral start time was 6:22am. I woke up at 2:45am, groggy, blurry-eyed; it took me a while to have my sense about me. I’m really glad I woke early though. I had gone to bed at nine Saturday night, so I got plenty of rest. I had everything ready to go, but of course, I had to check everything two and three times, to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

I’ve never understood those non-elite runners who don’t carry anything with them when they run. I have to take so many things with me that I at least have to take a running belt with me.

After waiting and waiting for the MUNI Bus #38 that never showed up when it was supposed to, I walked to the starting line. It’s only about a mile and a half away, so it was actually a nice warm up and probably helped get me ready.

There weren’t enough porto-bathrooms, so I spent a long time waiting for one.

Marathon stop

Water stop at Chrissy Field

As I started running, I felt good. In fact, the whole first half went very well. I would have done great if I had just signed up for a half. It was after 15 miles when my right IT band and hamstring started giving me problems. I had to stop and walk a few times. I was very happy I brought my hand roller and used that a couple times. I also made two visits to Medical tables and iced the area. That helped a lot!

But as I got nearer to the end of the race, I wound up walking for about two miles. I couldn’t help it. The pain on my side was bad and there was NO WAY I was going to stop, but I just couldn’t run the entire way to the finish.

marathon GGB.jpg

Packed race on the Golden Gate Bridge

I managed to push myself to run the last half mile and I was even smiling finishing. My time was awful, but I don’t care. I finished and that’s good enough for me.

There were others who finished after me, but not many. By the time I ended the race, most of the cool goodies were gone and the sponsors were folding up their tables. I treated myself to a scoop of Nutella-Banana ice cream from Shoot the Moon in Embarcardero Center. It was delicious!

Since I’m not doing full marathons for a while, I probably won’t do this full course again, at least not for another year anyway. I may do the second half again, but I really don’t want to run on the Golden Gate Bridge anymore. Listen to me: RUNNING ON THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IS OVERRATED. I hear people have this on their bucket list all the time. There are far, far better places to run than that bridge around here, trust me.

First, if the weather was like it was yesterday, it’s freezing, windy, wet and VERY cold. Second, there are metal grates in the street to keep the cars slowed down but are hellish for runners. It’s very easy to slip, trip or fall. I saw it happen. It wasn’t pretty. Third and worst of all, there were two lanes, the right going north and the left coming back south. Since I was towards the back of the pack, there were more runners in the South lane and they kept jumping into our lane to get ahead of the runners in their own lane. Because I had to deal with walkers and run/walkers, I tried to stay to the left of them, those lane hoppers were nearly running into me. It was like a video game! It was making me a little cranky. I was very happy to be off the bridge.

I do have a question for race directors. Why are aid/water/food stations always set up at the bottom of hills? The last place I want to take in nourishment is before I tackle a tough hill. I have never understood this. Since I wear a hydration vest I was able to pass up most of these until towards the end, when, unfortunately, many of these were folding up, just my luck.

I do want to give a big THANK YOU to the volunteers and workers. All the station workers, the police officers and the bikers who helped out with traffic and just making us runners smile, even when it hurt to smile. I love all of you!

The Expo the day before was nice. I was able to meet Lupe from one of the Facebook running groups I belong to and my friend Steve, so that was cool.

And, even though it was so difficult to finish, I DID finish. I made it and got my medal. I also had time to think about my future training goals and I will let you know once I get these more cemented.

Cheers!

Medal

My medal with Buster, my running mascot

This Is It!

Sunday is my next race – the San Francisco Marathon. I dare say it’s been really difficult getting there, perhaps even more difficult than the California International Marathon last December. My right IT band has been troubling me and lingering doubts over whether I could even finish have plagued me.

This past week I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve gotten a couple small runs in with lots of stretching and rolling. My leg has felt good and I am mentally in a good place going into race weekend.

The military have a saying “Embrace the suck.” So I’ll be doing that if it gets real bad Sunday, for I do NOT plan on giving up…I WILL finish this race.

But my goals have changed, for the next year anyway. I no longer think I should try to keep going longer. I think after Sunday, I’ll stick to half marathons and shorter and lose about 15-20 pounds, to be in prime shape. I want to run faster before I go farther. If I can kick this IT band thing, then I can run marathons much more efficiently and relatively pain free. RELATIVELY.

So, I’ve been quiet in here, at times frustrated, and trying to stay positive, which isn’t always easy. But it is always necessary. I will write all about my race with lots of pictures after it happens!

Cheers!

Finding Grace Through the Long Run

Opposites, they happen in running, especially during long runs. One week can be sheer disaster; they can be all pain, horrific to get through and then the next can be everything you want it to be: smooth, relatively pain free, even FUN.

Today, as opposed to last week (When Runs Go Bad), was incredible. I ran 16 miles and except for a couple tight spots, it felt good the whole time. I spent extra time at the gym on my core and rolling. Endless rolling. I’ve been nervous about this run for days. I was so nervous about it that it was hard to get to sleep last night.

I woke up early this morning, had a good breakfast, coffee of course, as I can’t live without it, and went out into the morning. I chose a route that didn’t have many hills and I had to pick one away from my normal spots because the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon happening today.

About Mile 2 I got nervous; my knee started getting twangs of pain, but it went away after a couple moments and I sighed, relieved. It wasn’t until after Mile 8 on a long, straight stretch of 3rd Street that I had to roll my leg out. I thoughtfully brought my hand roller with me. It was a life saver!

Dancers on the pier

Dancers on the Pier

I only used once more a few miles later, but the rest of the run everything felt great. I kept my pace nice and slow, but not super slow, at least for me. It was a nice pace and one that if I could keep up with in the full marathon, I would be very happy with. I’m so pleased with my run and grateful to be able to run. There was a feeling early in this run that I would be OK, though. After my knee scare, I knew that if I could keep my pace slow, the rest of the way would be fine.

And the weather was quite warm, which I think it will be in late July at the time of the race. I’m a happy runner tonight. Next week, I go for 18 miles. Let’s have another week of good runs!

Cheers!

WHAT IS CADENCE?

I raw 12 miles yesterday morning. Most of the run went great. I did have a couple problems at the end; I went out late last night and was probably too dehydrated, so during the 10th mile of my run, I felt nauseous. I ate a Shot Blok, drank water, but then started to get cramps from drinking too much. HAHA! Sometimes we can’t win. But I got my run in.

I never like going on the same route each time because I get bored so easily. This time, I switched it up by going down some side streets, first starting in the Mission District and then running down one of my favorite walks in Mission Bay along the water. I love it there; it’s rarely crowded and when the weather is good, it’s a beautiful place.

Mission Bay

Mission Bay

During my runs I observe other runners. I see if I can learn from them and sometimes I can’t help pointing out areas they could improve. Many young and/or novice runners don’t understand the importance of Running Cadence.

Cadence is how many steps per minute one takes in a run. And easy way to determine this is to count one’s footfalls for 30 seconds and then times two. Or, if one has a Garmin watch like mine, it tells you on the website your cadence.

For distance runners, the best cadence to have is 170 or above. It helps with one’s form and prevents injuries, as a higher step count lowers the stress on one’s ankles, shins and knees. I counted no less than 10 runners bounding across the sidewalk like springing gazelles. I could only imagine their cadences would fall far short. OK, if they were all sprinting, I can understand it, but something tells me they weren’t all testing their 440 meter limits; they were simply never taught about step counts.

The pros make it seem as if their step count is really low, but that’s not accurate. Their cadences are usually around 180 but they move so fast it looks like less.

It’s not as important when one runs three miles or less each time. However, if one wants to keep running for many years and be injury free or if one wants to expand out and start running half marathons and more, proper step count is vital. It may mean changing a little in one’s running at first. Take slightly smaller steps and see how that feels. It may make running easier. I can’t imagine myself lasting long if I took those giants steps running that I saw a young lady take today. It looked as if she was practicing for the triple jump!

I do love looking at my Garmin uploads after my runs. I can see where my steps may have gotten a bit too long and where they looked the best. The best is where I probably felt the best too, not surprisingly.

Running is a sport comprised of lots of physio-mechanics and I think it’s fascinating to find out all about everything.

Cheers!

PLANS CHANGE

The last few weeks I had been ramping up my mileage in preparation for my upcoming marathon. I was also getting in plenty of strength training, doing lots of rolling and stretching.

But I have found that I am mortal after all. My IT band on my right leg, the bane of my existence,  started bothering me during my last two long runs. After today’s long run, I decided to switch from a full marathon to a half.

This saddened me, but I knew it had to be done. I know that at this time, with the nagging aching of my IT band after eight miles or so, I couldn’t finish 26 miles. I can handle 13. It might not be the best half I’ve ever run, but I’ll do it. I’m already registered to run the full San Francisco Marathon, held in July, so I’ll start training for that at a much slower increasing pace with plenty of time.

It’s only been three months since the California International Marathon, much too soon. I know that now. I guess I thought I could handle it. Now I know.

After a few hours, I’m looking at it in a more positive light. I will work harder, be a better runner, get as fit and trim as I can. And I will write all about it.

Cheers!

 

GROUP CHALLENGES? I’LL PASS BUT THANK YOU

It’s a big thing now for running and fitness groups to set up challenges, especially at the start of the new year. It’s been a growing trend. A lot of people love these. I’ve joined a few myself in the past. They were fun, because I was able to help set up the guidelines and rules about the challenges.

But the new ones I’m seeing are more and more extreme. “Run 2015 miles in 2015” “Run 100 miles a month!” “Run 3 miles or Walk 3 miles or bike 3 miles every day!”..and more.

I understand that there are very good intentions behind these challenges. We all want to get in better shape and feel better. But, not everyone can do what everyone else can do. We all achieve our goals at different paces. And each of us have different levels of goals. There is no One Size Fits All. And these unfortunately make it seem as if everyone should do the same thing.

Add to that the appearance of competition and people feel badly if they’re not doing as much as someone else. I don’t mean to sound so politically correct, but running shouldn’t be keeping up with the Jones’, it should be a sport where one challenges oneself, not a group of other people.

I haven’t even mentioned the whole Rest Day. Many people who dive head first into these challenges don’t like rest days and don’t take them. It’s not a surprise that injuries happen. A runner’s rest day is JUST AS IMPORTANT as a running day. I truly wish runners wouldn’t look at a rest day with dismay. Enjoy your rest day. Indulge if you like, but realize that without a rest day, no muscle growth, and your chance of injury multiplies.

There are those runners who are “Streak Runners” – meaning they run without taking breaks in between. It’s not something I would ever do, or even think it’s a good thing to do, but a few people are okay doing that, the rest of us are more likely to get hurt, fatigued or sick. It’s better to slow down, take a day or two off and enjoy giving your body the rest it deserves.

And if you send me a request for yet another challenge, please don’t take it personally if I say “No thank you.”

Cheers,

No Running This Christmas

It’s been a bit of time since my last entry. These past few weeks haven’t been the easiest. I’ve been on the mends; my IT band problems are getting better, although I’m not at 100% yet. So, as of this blog entry, I’m not running.

Christmas this year was fun, I spent it with friends. It was nice and quiet. I’ve been sharing Christmas with this great group for years now and it’s something I really look forward to. But no running for this girl. My last run resulted in some not-so-fun IT band pain that told me if I did NOT stop and take some real healing time off running I’d have bigger and worse issues to deal with.

In fact, I took a few days nearly completely off, as walking was difficult without feeling pain. I kept doing my elastic band stretches and rolling though, and now I’m dragging myself back to the gym. It’s not easy going right now, but it is definitely worth it.

I’m going to take a trial run on Sunday and the minute I feel any discomfort I’ll stop and go home. I will not push myself too far or do anything stupid, but I have to keep trying.

PATIENCE…

I’m dealing with “issues” concerning my ongoing IT band/knee/hip problem. It started out a few months ago as that dreaded knee pain every runner dreads. I got it checked out and the orthopedist said it was because my thighs and core weren’t strong enough. So, I’ve been working really hard at the YMCA with specific exercises to get that area stronger.

So, that helped with the knee pain; it went away for the most part, only occurring if I did a particularly tough run or hard workout.

But then, I started getting tightness in the right IT band above that knee. And this part Friday while walking home from the gym, the pain in my IT band was especially bad.

Now I’m realizing that it is my hip that needs to be stronger. So, I have to do a few things. I have to do more strengthening and stretching of that part of my body AND I need to cut back my running to three days a week. Obviously four days is too much right now.

I feel like I’ve been doing everything right; I’m focused on my posture, my running form, trying not to run too quickly or too far too soon, but I need to get my body stronger to run more frequently. Maybe it’s age, I don’t know. I’m not weak, but I’m asking too much out of my poor legs right now.

I’m not a patient person. But to do the thing i love doing more than anything else in this whole world, I will need patience.

I take a deep breath, ask for the patience I need, gather all the information I can about hip strengthening and prepare myself to get this old body feeling better and ready for running.

Cheers!

Run, Run, Run

I can’t tell you how AMAZING (!!!) it feels to run again! My mileage is still really low since I’m only doing 2-mile runs, but after not running for a month, just being out there doing what I love the most is truly a blessing.

The saying we don’t know what we have until it’s gone have proven to be very accurate for me and I can never take my runs for granted. Over the years I’ve been a runner, I’ve only had a couple injuries and I want to keep it that way. I can’t say that my knee is 100% back, but it feels better than it did and it felt great after my short run last night. In fact, it felt great all day today. And, BONUS….no pain last night!

Today was a rest day, but last night I’ll be back at it getting another run in after work and then on to a Tech in Motion event I’ll write about Friday.

I also may have a very cool opportunity I’ll telly you about in an upcoming blog, but more about that soon.

Cheers!!

Martha