It turns out my run with the new shoes was a bit overzealous. I'm effectively couched for this whole weekend, nursing my ankles.
After the run I felt great, and thought the shoes were going to be perfect. I can't be sure if it's simply the distance or the shoes themselves, but whatever it was, I felt it later that day. After remaining seated for a few hours after the run working on things for class, I went to use the stairs in my apartment building on my way to campus. I felt a sharp pain in my right ankle when I put my bodyweight on it, and I retracted instantly. I tried again, same result. I promptly scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist to have my ankles checked out. I spent my evening seething at myself, fearing a stress fracture and the possibility that a doctor would tell me I couldn't participate in the events. You might imagine the anxiety I felt having been training for months only to have possibly put myself in a position of not being able to achieve my goal.
The next day the doctor informed me that he would "bet [his] house" that it wasn't a stress fracture, which was reasonably reassuring. He sent me home with some more ibuprofen and instructed me to stay off them, ice on 30 minutes, off 1 hour, and to try a run again on Monday with my old shoes. Until then I'm sedentary. Hopefully my training will pick up again soon, otherwise this blog will become decidely purposeless.
Firstly I've begun consulting a professional for advice on my running technique and training tips for Goruck. Hi Sarah! I'm confident that this will greatly reduce my risk of injury and most importantly keep my head in the game during the run. Technique is a big focus for me as well, but as my trainer pointed out, with the weight I'll be carrying I won't be able to worry too much if at all about maintaining perfect form.
I buckled, finally, and got another pair of shoes to be used in training and for the event itself. They are New Balance 890s and I knew I wanted them the moment I took them for a jog outside the store. The fact that they are neutral will help me develop my own sense of my form and not over-influence me in one direction. The weight of the shoe makes a huge difference as well. I was used to trudging along in my RocLites by inov8 which weigh in at 312 grams, or about 11 ounces. The 890s are 9.7 ounces which doesn't seem like a big difference, but it's definitely noticeable. The New Balance website does a good job of illustrating the difference a few ounces can make in the long run--pun very much intended. So my old RocLites will be set aside for trail running and my 890s take the forefront. The only thing left to do is see how they perform in the rain and submersion to judge water-retention, and then to finally break them in after another 15 miles or so.
Speaking of mileage, here are the data from today's run:
My heart rate was generally under control and I felt light and strong for the majority of the run. I wasn't experiencing cardiovascular exhaustion by the end of the run, my desire to stop came mostly from muscle soreness. I did buy a foam roller from the running store as well, so I'll be using that often.
Tomorrow will be a light calisthenic/recovery day then I expect I'll do a light run (4-5 miles) on Friday. My trainer suggested I do 4-5 mile runs on Monday and Friday, and a longer run on Wednesday (6-7 miles) and then progressively increase the Wednesday mileage to a point while keeping the Monday/Friday distance the same. I'm still planning on a weighted run on the weekend, but I might substitute that for some weighted lunges around the block since that seems to be particularly important.
Technique, technique, technique. I'm focused on improving my running form now, specifically in minimizing my tendency to heel-strike. I've been reading articles, watching videos with slow-motion analyses of the form, and just generally learning what I can about the theory.
I resolved to tailor my run today into something hinging on proper form instead of brute distance or weight. I went out with my hydration pack and my Vibram TrekSports so I felt light. I've run with my Five Fingers before, but never at quite the distance I did today; my previous bouts were short-distance (~1 mile) on the indoor track at school.
Here are the data from the run:
Lap 1 was the first half of the run, Lap 2 my trip back, and Lap 3 was my walking and stretching after the run. I maintained what I believe to be proper form for about 3/4 of the run, but ended up finishing the route still running, but with poorer form.
As I said, distance wasn't my main focus here, and I did stop occasionally - as you can see from the spikes in Pace - to stretch or get a feel for how my calves were holding up. This particular muscle group troubles me as I am running this way. I consciously critique and adjust my form as I run, trying with each step to land on the ideal and seemingly imaginary "midfoot" and roll into the toes. This seems to put undue strain on my calves. This might just be a result of my muscles not being used to this kind of movement.
In addition to the foot placement I am also meant to make a pedaling movement with my legs as if on a bike while bringing my heels up to my backside after each stride. It's a complicated motion and I found myself thinking while I was running: "I wish my track coach had done some work with the team to establish proper running form". Admittedly, as I was a pole-vaulter, I didn't do much running then and the running I did was all toe-striking long fast strides anyway. Still, I think any athlete whose sport involves running would benefit enormously from developing proper running form early on.
I'm looking into a Personal Trainer who might help me to correct my form. Strength training is still taking the back seat, and might have to remain there until after Goruck. The coming weeks will see TrekSport runs focusing on form, long unweighted runs focusing on endurance and distance, and long weighted runs focusing on mental grit and stamina.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've been taking cues from Ben O'Grady and incorporating a lot more running into my weekly routine. My strength training is almost nonexistent at this point, but it's entirely justified considering my current running ability and the intensity of the event for which I am preparing.
I have a bunch of data to share, and I'm pretty proud of my progress.
I've been going out for longer un-weighted runs simply to get a feel for the distance and I think it's paying off. Here is my run from this past Monday:
These data represent a run from my apartment to Jamaica Pond. I scouted the run on Google Maps before heading down there, and just made my way out. I didn't take exactly the route I planned in arriving to the Pond, but did eventually make it there. I felt light and strong for most of the run, and was just enjoying the exploration aspect of a new path. The Pond itself is about 2.6 miles from my apartment, and then about 1.5 miles around. I ran around the Pond, then made my way back up to my starting point with no walking breaks. I maintained a reasonably consistent pace with the exception of a few hiccups. 6.48 miles was also a distance record for me at the time, and I was quite happy about that.
Wednesday I went out and forged a new path north of my apartment, crossing the Charles. Here are the data from that run:
New distance record again! Almost seven miles now. This particular run felt more like an adventure than a workout. Rain was coming down hard that morning, and I was running muddy cracked-gravel paths along the banks of the Charles. I got a little turned around after finally finding a place to turn back towards my apartment, but my Forerunner has a Navigation feature that showed me an overhead view of my position relative to my starting point which helped me orient myself. From there it was simple to get home. No walking breaks this time, either. I do so enjoy running in the rain. My heart rate was significantly more controlled during this run, which is curious because I didn't feel particularly stable throughout. I ended feeling wiped out, but very accomplished.
And, finally, the data from this morning's run. Following Ben's advice I forewent my weight vest in favor of running with the weight in a backpack as we'll actually be doing in the challenge. Seems logical. I couldn't have known just how radically different it is.
Firstly, I was carrying more weight than the vest alone; the backpack itself containing the 20lb vest in addition to my hydration bladder in its own pack. I'd say I was carrying around 25 lbs.
As Ben mentioned, the weight sits completely differently on your body. Running with a vest - as it's evenly distributed weight over your torso and allows you to activate your spine in keeping a turning rhythm - feels easy compared to this. The backpack is not only heavy on the shoulders and compressing your back, but severely restricts movement of your torso when running. In addition to the restriction of movement the weight is concentrated behind you, rendering heelstriking a significantly more detrimental practice.
My backpack isn't built for this kind of use, either, so I was consistently adjusting straps and fiddling with zippers and the hydration tube while running. Not fun. My freaking iPod headphone cord was unruly, too, and wouldn't stay attached to my hip so I had to feel it tugging on my ears with every step. This latter concern, however, was easy enough to ignore considering the circumstances.
Here are the data from this morning's weighted pack run:
It was a spirit-crusher, but I survived. The mental game was intense and likely responsible for the majority of my inconsistency and the relatively short distance of the run. I'll be doing much more of this in the future.
I felt what I consider to be legitimate and unadulterated doubt in my ability to succeed at Goruck as a result of this run; hence "spirit-crusher". I need more of this, if only to prove to myself that I can get stronger and dismantle that ego barrier. Something that stands out is my outrageously high heart rate, especially during the middle portion of the run. My Forerunner was going crazy, warning me to chill out, and at the time I was not entirely resistant to the idea of slowing my pace. I did some walking during this run, but I never stopped. The peak around 23', and again at 35' represent walking or waiting at a traffic light. The huge plateau in my pace at the end is a period of time after I had finished running and was talking to a friend on the sidewalk as I was going back to my apartment.
I'm going to do A LOT more of this. Maybe 2 or 3 times a week, saving a long distance un-weighted run for the weekend. I think flipping the current setup would be the best way for me to get used to this style of running in a short time. I believe it's also worth noting that this was a solo run; I feel like had I been running with Pete or someone else who was also wearing a weighted pack it would have been much easier to persevere. Hopefully I'll get some of that in the next week or so.
I'm cautiously optimistic, but still very motivated.
I was planning on doing my normal routine to the gym on the 23rd, but I ended up just running instead. It was a great feeling to abandon my plan and run for so long. I think it's a distance record for me. I know I have a lot of improving to do in my distance running, but this run felt awesome, and by no means was I at the point of exhaustion when I finished. Here are the data from the Forerunner:
The path was interesting, too, because I found another small pond below the reservoir. I ran down and around it, then I made my way back uphill to the reservoir and ran around that as well. Something that stands out is my very consistent pace, with the exception of a few stalls. I'm not entirely sure what they are, except for the spike around 40' where I think I was adjusting my iPod. Overall I think this is a great pace and I'll strive to maintain it.
I've resolved to change my weekly schedule and incorportate a lot more running at the expense of the strength training. The lifting routines have been going much better lately, and I'm getting a lot stronger, but I think I would do well to prepare for more intense, longer runs.
I'll likely run Monday, Wednesday and Friday with strength training on Tuesday and Thursday, then a long weighted buddy run on the weekend with one day of rest. I'll also be changing my runs from weighted with the vest to weighted with a backpack at the suggestion of someone who had previously completed the Goruck Challenge (See Ben O'Grady's Review).
Peter and I had an interesting romp through this park on Saturday. I went weighted with the vest at 20lbs and Peter ran with his belt, although I'm not sure how much weight he used. Pete suggested we meet at a place called the Odiorne Point State Park. I arrived after fiddling with a recalcitrant GPS, we saddled up, and went out into the unknown "trails" of the park. Here's a satellite image of the path courtesy of my Forerunner's data and Google Earth.
There weren't really trails out there, but we did a lot of running on the beach, jumping from rocks, and in the deep snow. We would randomly stop and pick up heavy driftwood or rocks and carry them for a while. At two different points we carried heavy logs switching shoulders and holding it up above our heads. We picked paths somewhat at random which led to some turning around but also allowed us to discover some cool opportunities to do PT in the woods.
It was a great run for me overall. I felt strong and solid. Pete was having trouble with the constant stress on the ankles from the sand, rock and snow running.
Here's the basic data from the run. It was not feasible to keep a steady pace during the run, but we did very little walking.