Training Log: October 2020

Wow. It’s been a while! September became a record breaking month for me. At 63.3 miles, it was my highest monthly mileage ever! But then my workouts kind of came to a screeching halt. Since my Main Street Mile virtual race, an old hip/hip flexor injury started resurfacing. It came on slowly and is more of a deep ache than any acute pain, but it’s stemming from my TFL on the front side of my body and either the glute med or glute min on the side/back with a deep ache around my illiac crest (hip bone) when I stretch. Running didn’t necessarily make it worse, so I kept running for a bit, but mid-month I finally decided to take a full week off and see if that helped. While it’s not totally gone, it has definitely gotten better. I think at this point I just need more hip/core strength work and to remind myself of the benefits of foam rolling while not running the same route every time. The sidewalks and roads in my neighborhood are banked and I can start to feel the imbalance if I don’t switch things up often enough.

On top of that, in the middle of the month several things came together at the same time. I had completed all of the required hours for my health coaching practicum, so I was ready to take the final exam, which was a two part practical that I needed to pass in order to apply for the national certification exam. That application was due by October 30th, so we were under a bit of a time crunch. In the time of COVID, the practical final meant coaching a standard client for an initial and follow-up health coaching session through Zoom while my instructors watched to assess my coaching skills. If I thought regular test anxiety is bad, it’s nothing compared to knowing I’m being watched with a full debrief afterwards. Oof. So that was stressful. Less stressful was the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam that I took that Friday. Yep, in the same week as my health coaching finals I also sat for a national certification exam. (I also had two major assignments due that week. It was a big week.) I was supposed to sit for the CHES in April, but because of COVID it got moved to June. Due to technical issues, I wasn’t able to take it in June so it got pushed to their next regular October test window. I am happy to say, I passed! I am now certified for all of your health behavior change and community program planning needs!

However, the stress of that week kind of threw me in to an autoimmune flare. I never got the overwhelming fatigue I normally get, which was nice, but my muscles all felt shortened and like they had been packed with wet sand, my stomach was cranky, and I was super forgetful. Like, one day it took me 3 hours and 4 tries to get one email sent because every time I went to do it something distracted me and as soon as I was distracted the thought about sending the email was just gone. So that was fun. I also hit a point where I realized I needed to take a break from my running coach. She was great to have when I was training for Wine & Dine and for accountability at the start of the semester, but I felt like it was getting to be too much pressure having my workouts set for me. With everything else going on, I needed the flexibility to do whatever workout I felt like doing that day for my schedule, stress level, and sanity. Since I’m not training for anything and I often need shorter workouts, I’ve been dropping the run/walk and just running. Since they are short I’ve been telling myself I have to go at least a mile, the rest is negotiable, with the goal being to regularly run a continuous 5k by the end of the year. I have to tell you, it’s been hard. How is it that all summer I did 12-15ish miles of run/walk per week, but 4ish miles run during the week without run/walk is hard?! I used to do this. I don’t remember it feeling this hard. Oh well. Nothing to do but keep chipping away at it. Onward and upwards!

Monthly total: 11 Runs for 25.5 miles (6 hours and 33 minutes); 1 Walk for 2.1 miles (40 minutes); 4 Strength sessions (2 hours and 25 minutes); Total: ~9 hours and 39 minutes.

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Main Street Mile (VIRTUAL) – September 27th, 2020

If you read my last training log and have been waiting to see how I actually did in my virtual mile race, then I’m sorry I’ve kept you in suspense. It’s been a bit of a tough week with school (I had another meltdown about my stats class). But, if you follow me on Instagram, then you already know the results because I couldn’t help posting about it over there after the run.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of virtual races. I love racing for the race environment – the people, the spectators, the excitement. I am able to run times in races that I absolutely cannot do on my own. I am much more likely to suck up the discomfort of running on the edge of my limit if I’m chasing down other people or trying to defend my place from the people behind me who might be trying to catch me. While I am very much a bling junkie, if I sign up for a virtual I feel like I need to “earn” the medal in some way and I often feel like trying to do a sufficient time trial on my own is just not worth it. So when I saw that my local Main Street Mile went virtual, I went back and froth about whether to sign up, but ultimately decided on it because the money goes to some good causes (our local police K9 unit and several of the local schools) and I knew a mile time trial was within my capabilities. I had actually done a one mile time trial in May and was curious as to see how I had improved over 4 months of training. I figured if I was going to do another time trial anyways, I may as well get some bling for it.

The race gave about one months time (ending today, which would have been the live race date) to complete your mile and submit your results. My coach put it on my schedule for September 27th and I was hoping that by then we’d be done with summer weather and the cooler temps would help me fly. So of course after several weeks of amazing weather, I woke up that morning to 71* with a 67* dew point and 88* humidity. After several weeks of low dew points, the air felt very thick and wet. Oh well. I ran in weather like this all summer. I decided to go to one of my local parks to run so I didn’t have to worry about cars and crossing streets like I do when I run in my neighborhood. I started with about a 20 minute warm-up which felt great! My HR was staying low and my legs felt pretty good. My pick-ups and strides this summer suggested I have some speed, at least in short bursts, but I haven’t done any pace work to really know what I might be capable of over a sustained time. I thought it possible I might be able to beat my PR (9:38.8), but really wanted to just run by feel and see what happened.

Usually when I race, I glance at pace on my watch often during the first quarter of the race or so because I very commonly jackrabbit out of the start and while race adrenaline makes it feel easy at first, it’s usually not sustainable and I pay for it later. If I strategically hold back at the beginning, I can usually settle in to a good rhythm and complete the rest of the race without ever looking at my watch. But since training for Wineglass last fall, where I was too often in my head with pace and HR, I took those metrics off my front watch face and instead just have overall mileage and time. However, for this “race”, I wanted to really hone in on effort and figured without the race environment I wasn’t going to rabbit that much so didn’t bother putting pace back on my watch. I was running a loop that’s about 0.4 miles, so my plan was to try to kick it up a tick every half loop with the last 0.2 mile half loop being as all out as I could sustain. It didn’t quite work out that way. When I started my mile, I went out hard, but tried not to make it too hard, however, I wasn’t really sure what the effort should feel like since I haven’t been doing any structured speedwork. Looking back, I was running way too hard. My breathing went from feeling easy during my warm-up to sucking wind before I’d even hit my first half loop. It didn’t get better from there. Rather than taking it up a tick I had to keep taking it down. I wanted to run the whole thing without walking, but at 0.9 miles, I had to take a walk break. Because of the humidity I started overheating. My breathing was super ragged at that point and I was starting to get the “you’re about to pass out” lightheadedness and visual sparkles. At this point I hadn’t looked at my time, but at 0.94 miles I did. I realized if I picked it back up, I was on track to break 10 minutes. So while making sure I wasn’t going to pass out, I finished that mile running and ended in 9:51. My time in May was 11:04. I’d knocked over a minute off my time in 4 months.

For fun, I’ve been keeping an eye on the race results. As of two days ago I was first in my age group, but as of now I’m 4th and 58th overall (out of 21 in my age group and 220 overall). I think people can still submit times through tonight, so that may still change. I chuckled that it was a good thing they weren’t doing age group awards or I’d be mad I was 4th (I’ve never age group placed before, or even really come close). It turns out that while I could have sworn I read they weren’t doing age group awards, they apparently are. Ugh! So close! While I realize a virtual race brings a different clientele than an in-person race, it still feels good to be in the top 25% of both my age group and overall. It’s been a long time since I was even in the top 50%.

Overall, I’m happy with how I did. I think with better pacing I may have been able to break my PR. I had a huge positive split. My quarter mile split paces were: 8:38, 9:47, 10:25, 10:36. Yeah, that hurt. Before the end of the year I’m going to try another time trial, this time looking at my pace while I run and see if I can’t break my PR. I think my favorite part of the race though was in the very first 0.2 miles. I passed a family who was coming in the opposite direction. The dad was playfully chasing after his daughter (maybe 4 years old?) and when I passed them the girl stopped and said, “Wow! Dad she’s running really fast!” It made me smile. I’ve had people at that park before comment on how slow I’m running when they think I’m out of earshot, so it was nice to feel a small sense of redemption, even if it was from a 4-year old.

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Training Log: September 14th – 27th

If you read my last training log, then you’ll know I had a bit of a meltdown regarding my stats class. But after talking with my advisor, I decided to stick with it which meant I had some catching up to do with lectures and getting my first homework assignment done by mid-week. Honestly, I’ve never been a very disciplined person, but something kind of flipped this week and I was able to buckle down each day and get done what I needed to get done for both my classes and assistantship. While the week started in a panic, it ended with me feeling accomplished with the effort I had put in to the week and I actually had the weekend free. However, it meant some long days at my desk.

Monday, September 14th: Rest day. Supposed to be a strength day, but I had stuff to do for my assistantship in the morning and class in the evening and after yesterday’s not great long run, I just wanted a break to reset.

Tuesday, September 15th: 45 min run/walk with five 1 minute pick-ups in the middle. I finally finished the last section of our study’s manuscript this morning which felt like a huge weight off my shoulders (the paper still needs edits before we send it for publication, but at least the hard part is done!). I was so excited that this ended up being a little fast and I think more than 5 pick-ups. I realized around the third one I should probably be counting how many I was doing, so from that point it was basically just a best guess. I think I actually did 6. Also, rather than just breaking into a slightly faster pace, I think they were more tempo-ish/5k pace. Whoops. Oh well. It was fun and I had energy to burn off. I then went to a yoga class at my Y later in the evening. Distance: 3.5 miles; Avg pace: 15:19; Avg HR: 143.

Wednesday, September 16th: Rest day. Again, supposed to be a strength day, but I’ve been spending my week trying to get back on track with my stats class and I had a homework due the next day. I am super proud of how much I got done and felt accomplished for successfully working through the stats problems (especially with as panicked as I was on Sunday), but wasn’t feeling up to a workout when I was finished.

Thursday, September 17th: 45 min easy run/walk + 6 strides. My legs felt like they had zero bounce today. I’m not sure if it’s because I ran too fast on Tuesday or whether it’s the shoes I wore, but my legs weren’t sore, they weren’t heavy, the run didn’t feel hard, my legs just didn’t pop off the ground well. I felt like it took several strides before I got in the groove, but looking at my top speed I topped out at 6:42 today. I would not have guessed that by how I felt. Color me pleasantly surprised. Also, after this run I’ve officially surpassed last year’s mileage…and it’s only September (and last year I was training for a half)! Distance: 4 miles; Avg pace: 15:34; Avg HR: 133.

Friday, September 18th: Because I felt like I may not have actually needed the intervals on last week’s increased interval run, my coach took them out today and challenged me to run for 30 minutes straight. I haven’t done that since…October? November? It felt chilly when I started (it was 65*…I know, I’m ridiculous) but I popped on a podcast and went for it. And…it actually went really well. I started looking at my watch during the last 10 minutes and was counting down the minutes during the last 5, but that was way more mental than physical. Physically I was feeling fine. Most of my strides were a little slower today, but I was kind of expecting that after running two days in a row and without walk breaks today. That 30 minutes equated to 2 miles on the dot, so it looks like working back up to being able to run a continuous 5k is very closely within my reach! Distance: 3.7 miles; Avg pace: 15:19; Avg HR: 142.

Saturday, September 19th: Rest day

Sunday, September 20th: Long run/walk + 5 strides. This wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible either. I went back to the Picky Bar apple oatmeal this week and had zero issues, so I’m guessing my stomach just doesn’t like the trail mix oatmeal for some reason. I started to get bored/tired around mile 3 and looking at my HR, it was higher than it has been on recent runs, so I’m not totally surprised at how I was feeling. My hip flexors also felt like they were working more today. Maybe because I spent more time at my desk this week? But they weren’t cranky during my other runs, so who knows. I just know they got really tired and achy and I was feeling them for the last couple of miles. You would think after running the same distance long run all summer this would be easy by now, but nope! At least the weather was really nice. Distance: 6.25 miles; Avg pace: 15:34; Avg HR: 144.

Week 1: 4 runs for 17.5 miles (4 hours 30 min); 1 hour of yoga; 0 strength sessions; Total time: 5 hours 30 min.

Monday, September 21st: Rest day. It was supposed to be a strength day, but I had things to do during the day and class in the evening.

Tuesday, September 22nd: 45 min run/walk with eight 30-sec pick-ups. Nothing too notable about this run. My HR felt high, but I realized afterwards I was running a little faster than normal, so that makes sense (I don’t run with pace on my watch face – just time and mileage – so I don’t know my pace until I upload the run). Pick-ups were a little fast, but felt controlled. Distance: 3.5 miles; Avg pace: 15:05; Avg HR: 144

Wednesday, September 23rd: Hey! I finally got in a scheduled strength session! Chest, shoulders, tris, and core.

Thursday, September 24th: 45 min easy run/walk (2:00/1:00) + 6 strides. Again, nothing too notable, except I ran in the evening (when did it start getting dark early?!). I was really annoyed all day due to a series of events outside of my control. I let myself be grumpy until the strides. I told myself to pound it out and leave it on the pavement. I’m not sure it worked, but my strides felt really powerful. Distance: 3.75 miles; Avg Pace: 15:49; Avg HR: 133

Friday, September 25th: 2 mile continuous run (no walking!). It was supposed to end in strides, but I forgot about them. Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to run this evening but I am *thisclose* to having my highest monthly mileage ever so I made myself go. And yes, I did the math beforehand to see if I could still hit my mileage goal without this run. I could not, so I went. I ran in the evening again and I think it works well for me. Distance: 3 miles; Avg pace: 15:34; Avg HR: 140

Saturday, September 26th: Rest day, although my calves have been feeling tight on the last couple of runs so I spent some time with my massage gun.

Sunday, September 27th: 1 mile time trial/Virtual Main Street Mile. How did I do? You’ll have to watch out for the race report for that. 🙂

Week 2: 4 runs for 12.5 miles (3 hours and 6 minutes); 0.8 mile walk (15 min); 1 strength session (39 min); Total time: 4 hours and 1 minute.

So what’s your take on morning vs. evening runs? Do you prefer one over the other? When I run in the morning I am 100% mentally done with the day by about 1pm and it’s a struggle to get myself to stay focused and be productive, so I think I’m going to stick with evening runs (at least on weekdays) for a while. Plus it’s a nice way to unwind and create that boundary between work and not work when I live in a one bedroom apartment and I’m working from home (meaning, my office is a corner of my dining room – there are no boundaries unless I create them).

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