The Rocky Road Back to Running


Haven’t had any Rocky Road recently but I took full advantage of a Girl Scout cookie ice cream sale a few weeks ago…

In my last post (which was ever so long ago) I was feeling hopeful about slowly returning to running and tackling a few spring races.  After one week of complete rest I thought I would start with some easy miles, gradually add 5 miles per week and build to a 30 mile week, and then add in a little bit of speed work.

At the beginning of February I entered the lottery for the Broad Street Run which is happening in Philly on May 7th.  It seemed far enough away that I could recover from the marathon and then work a bit on my speed.  Broad Street was my first 10 mile race way back in 2010.  It’s a great point to point course with a slight net downhill but I had a miserable race due to unseasonably hot weather and starting too fast.  Since then I’ve managed to PR at every 10 mile race I’ve run, going from 1:22:22 to 1:15:57.  When I signed up I knew I’d lost some speed from months of marathon training and then recovering from months of marathon training but since the course is so fast I thought sub-1:20 would be achievable; maybe I could pull off sub-1:15 if my training went perfectly and the weather cooperated.

I also signed up for a new-to-me 5K in April so I could see how my training was going.

Broad Street training kicked off on February 27th.  I chose this Hal Higdon plan as a training guide.  It’s definitely lower mileage and less speed work than the last time I trained for a 10 mile race but that seemed like a good way to ease back into actual training, especially since my re-introduction to running after the marathon was rough.

That whole add-5-miles-a-week goal (and that whole train-for-a-race goal) did not go according to plan:

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Weekly running mileage

I felt OK the first week back– definitely tired, but I think I still had enough of a post-marathon high to override the fatigue.

Week 2 is when I had several days of really bad migraines (usually I only get bad ones once or twice a year).  I only managed 20 miles because I rallied and ran 10 with my running group on Saturday.

Work was absolutely nuts during week 3.  I also randomly woke up with a fever in the middle of the week.  This was another weekend warrior week– most of my mileage was on Saturday and Sunday.

On Week 4 I wanted to break the weekend warrior pattern and managed an 8 mile run during the week.  Then I decided that attempting a progression run on the treadmill would be a good idea– nope!  My marathon pace felt like a sprint.

Finally, things started to click during my fifth week back.  I did a little speed work on the track, which is always much better than the treadmill since I don’t feel locked into a certain pace.  I ran 8 x 200m repeats at “as fast as you can go” pace with 200m recovery.  I didn’t check paces during the workout but saw later that my fast paces were about the same as they were during marathon training.  (I definitely needed a longer recovery though.)  But all in all that was promising.

My best run since the marathon (by far) was during week 5. My running group does a run to Mount Bonnell every few months. I’d been dying to join one of these but travel plans or marathon training conflicted with all of the previous runs.  So, I was really excited to run some hills and explore a new running route.  The weather was great and for once it didn’t feel like a herculean effort to maintain a sub-10:00 pace, even with the hills.  I actually ran an 8:18 mile on the gradual downhill towards the end.  An 8:18 mile is something I haven’t seen in quite a long time!

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Hilly run!

And then came my first week of Broad Street Run training.  I felt a little beat up at the beginning of the week after my hilly weekend run but I felt optimistic again after my first track workout in the plan (4 x 800m @ 5K pace).  When I’ve been doing 5K pace speed work consistently I can hit 3:30 for these without too much trouble.  I knew that wouldn’t happen now and I honestly didn’t even know if sub-4:00 would be possible.  But somehow my body was able to lock into something that felt like 5K effort and resulted in 3:34, 3:32, 3:34, and 3:30 splits.  I definitely had some work to do but it was nice morale boost to know I could still run a little fast.

Unfortunately, that was my last good run for a while.  I’d felt some discomfort in my shins during my track workout– possibly shin splints, I thought at the time– but figured a few days of easier running and rest would fix it.  The next morning (Monday, March 6th) I went out for a short easy run and noticed that I was sore only in one area near my right shin.  When I got home and pressed my thumb up and down to the left of my shin I noticed that the sore area was very localized.  Basically, it felt a lot like the time I had a stress fracture.

I was able to see my doctor that afternoon, which was awesome.  One takeaway from my 2014 stress fracture was that I do not want to stick my head in the sand and ignore something problematic until I’m in unbearable pain.  My doctor confirmed that I have a “stress injury”, i.e. not a stress fracture, but it would probably turn into one if I kept running through it.  He told me to take 3 weeks off from running, then start back up slowly with 2-3 mile runs.  He was optimistic that I could still do Broad Street, though probably not as an all out race.  My endurance is still pretty good, so covering 10 miles is not a challenge– running a faster pace is the hard part.

That means that right now I’m still following my original training plan, except I’m doing the easy mileage on the elliptical and workouts on the stationary bike.  So, instead of 5 easy miles on Wednesday I did 50 minutes on the elliptical and a 30 minute tempo turned into 30 minutes of what felt like roughly the same effort on the bike.  I am not thrilled about so much cross training but at least I have several seasons of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix to keep me entertained.  (Seriously, this show is pure magic even if I get confused when anything with jelly or pudding is not what I pictured).

While it’s frustrating to have a setback just as running started to feel good again, running generally has not felt good for the past eight weeks.  I’m cross training with the plan to still run my 5K in April and Broad Street in May but honestly– even if I’m able to return to running without any issues– I may skip one or both races.  The 5K is a charity race, so the money I spent will go to a good cause, and I can defer my Broad Street entry to 2018 and spend more time eating cheesesteaks during this spring’s trip to Philly.  And the only other race I’m currently registered for is over five months away:

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I’m running the Reykjavik Half Marathon on August 19th in Iceland!  Some friends from my running group started organizing a trip at the end of last year and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit a new country.  My boyfriend and I have been talking about taking a trip to Europe for a long time but we could never settle on a destination, dates, flights, etc.  This gave us the push we needed to finally commit to a trip.  The race course is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous– there are views of the ocean, glaciers, and various historic buildings.  I was really tempted to sign up for the full marathon (and I can actually still switch my registration anytime up to a few days before the race) but I went with the half because I think training for a full during summer in Texas would make me miserable.  Also, I’m tentatively planning on running the Dallas Marathon in December.

So, lots of ups and downs on the running front in the two months since Houston but nothing too bad.  I’ve returned to running after injuries and multi-year long hiatuses, so this is a relatively minor blip.



This entry was posted in Cross Training, Injury, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Rocky Road Back to Running

  1. Angela says:

    Oof, watch that bone stress thing…..You can never be too careful. :-/


    • Rungry says:

      Thanks. I’m leaning more and more towards skipping my spring races so I’m not tempted to run too much too soon and wind up with a full-on stress fracture.


  2. Pingback: Three Weeks of Cross Training | Rungry

  3. Pingback: ASH Dash 5K | Rungry

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