It’s all about the base… mileage

Good morning! Happy monday!

So according to the 50k training plan for June I was following, I was supposed to run 16 miles on Saturday for a total mileage of 40 miles. My mileages the last two weeks of January were 21 and 31, respectively. And before that, basically nothing. Like one run a week. So I wasn’t sure about running 16, although 14 last weekend went pretty well. My concerns were:

– My right arch has been bothering me for a while. I’m pretty sure it’s just the way I strike with that foot puts more pressure on the big toe and I’ve strained that tendon a bit, but whatever it is, it’s annoying and painful to try to run with. I didn’t want to get 8 miles out and have that happen and have to walk back.
– My ribs are inflamed! Hooray! (Based on self-diagnosis and webMD) Since about the beginning of last semester, in September, my sternum/upper ribs have been getting progressively more sore. I stopped lifting for upper body and climbing, but it’s still getting worse. It doesn’t hurt when I run, but then for the rest of the day it hurts when I breathe. So there’s that.
– My right shin has been sore too. Red flags all over the place.
– The main concern was bumping up my mileage too quickly – as always. I have a problem. The book plan assumes you already have several months of solid base mileage training in, which I super duper don’t. Hence the arch and shin pain.

All this is bascially my run-up (ha) to saying that I don’t think I’ll be doing the 50k in June. Or if I do, I won’t be following that plan. Which is a bummer, but a quote from I think Rob Krar in this month’s trail runner really resonated with me: “It’s better to toe the line a little unprepared than not at all.” After a year and a half of not being able to run, really, I’m still just grateful to be able to get out at all. Waiting a few more months – August or September – is worth not getting injured and not being able to run at all. I’d rather only be doing shorter runs up to about 13 than trying to run 24 and failing.

I’m still going to train with a 50k in mind as soon as possible, but I’m going to focus on just building up a good distance base like I had in the past. I’m just not going to fixate on any one race for now. It’s been three years(!) since my Golden Year of Ultras and I like to think that I didn’t peak in 2012 at the ripe old age of 19. Which of course I know isn’t the case. I got really, really bummed when I decided not to do my run on Saturday – I was already two miles out, but something was just off. Nothing hurt, really, but I just felt heavy and tired and burned out. I think I probably just psyched myself out, which didn’t help as I trudged back home, arms folded and head bent, trying not to cry on the trail. I felt like a failure and a quitter and like I was losing who I was – a runner – and that the one thing I knew I wanted out of life, running ultras, just kept slipping away and I didn’t know why. I beat myself up way too much about really what amounted to just one bad day. Hell, not even a bad day – I was just having an off running hour. So I moped for a while at home, but a few hours later, after hanging out with my family I was fine. Running is really, really great, but it’s not everything.

Safe training and a balanced life!


The overzealous runner

I, like most of you, like running (to say the least). When injury sidelines us, whether for a week or a year, our whole life is thrown out of balance. We get anxious, depressed, irritable – generally unpleasant to be around. So when we’re finally ready to run again, we run the risk of letting our excitement cloud our judgment. Maybe it’s a lack of self-control, or maybe it’s just an overabundance of enthusiasm, but personally, once I can run pain-free again, I go at it 110% and repress the memory of my seemingly distant months of injury.

In my mind, I’ve been back to running for what feels like months and months, but really, it’s only been since the beginning of September. Had I been keeping track of my weekly mileages like a responsible runner, I would have seen that my averages of 20 to 30 miles were far from the lofty 60-, 70-, 80-mile weeks dancing in my mind. Had I been keeping track of things, I would not have run 22 miles two Sundays ago and attempted 26 this past Sunday. Had I kept track of things, I wouldn’t have had to bail on my long run a mere six miles in because of shin pain, hip weakness, foot cramps, and a fun new outer-ankle pain that appeared a few days ago.

To wit: I was so excited to be able to run kind of far (18 miles) with relative ease that I let my mind get ahead of what my body is currently capable of doing safely, which is especially dangerous coming off of a long period of injury. I had this idea of myself as still being in the shape I was in 2012; I couldn’t accept that I’m not exactly in great distance shape right now. Mentally and cardiovascularly, maybe, but my shins aren’t ready to jump into the 45 miles I did last week (a huge jump from 28 the week before).

I spent a while yesterday reading sections on running addiction, overtraining, and shin stresses and fractures (as well as the female athlete triad) in The Lore of Running. While reading each of those sections, I found myself thinking, “Yep, that’s me. Exactly.” Increasing volume too rapidly – check. Vague shin pain – check. Reliance on running for mental stability/happiness – check. (Delusions of grandeur – check.) What I got out of it was a simple message: be realistic and be smart about running. Recovery and mileage buildup takes a long time. I can’t expect to be back in good, safe 50k shape after two or three months of running, no matter how many times I’ve read Eat & Run or To Be A Runner in that time.

So I’m going to bite the bullet of being realistic and aim for about 30-35 mile weeks for the time being. I cringe typing it when I think of my heydays of 70-80 mile weeks, but I’m at a different point in my running life right now, and that’s okay. I’d rather take as many months as I need to safely build back up to higher mileages than push too hard now and end up out of commission for another year.

Because if I’m grumpy for an entire year again, I will have no running buddies left.

peace love and grudgingly being smart about running,

PS. My long run on Sunday turned into a 6 mile run out, then a 4ish mile walk through the woods, which allowed me to take some (iPhone, but still) pictures. The park is beautiful this time of year; pictures don’t do the colors justice.

Sprints and shin splints(?)

Hopefully not, but it rhymed, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I ran down to meet a friend at the gym to lift (at long last), but the weather was perfect for running and I hadn’t run at night for such a long time, so I jogged over to the track for a quick 4×200 with 200 rest and a 400 cooldown. I want to make a nighttime track workout a weekly thing – at least until winter settles in. The track is only lit by two stadium lights in the parking lot behind the back straightaway, so most of it is in that perfect half-light that lets you feel fast and light and everything is a little out of focus. Surreal. I didn’t wear a watch; I just ran on feel. Pushing it the second half, running through the finish. It felt good.

On the shins: they’re sore, but (other than today) I’m giving them a break, which works out well because I want to spend a while getting used to the idea of lifting almost every day again. (Not obsessively, per my last post, just a good amount to help lean out and restore my hips.) Dig out the calf compression sleeves! Refreeze the ice packs! The time for shin recovery is upon us.

– bec

PS. Here is a vegan cupcake from The Lunch Room in Ann Arbor. It’s our go-to spot for vegan eats. And it is damn tasty. (By “it” I mean “every item on the menu.”) After this cupcake (and the last of my vanilla almond milk), I’m going to try to eliminate as much non-natural sugar as possible. I think it should be pretty easy. I might keep putting some maple syrup in my oatmeal, though, Because and For Reasons. And I’m diversifying my protein more this time around. All-soy (soy protein powder, tofu, etc.) worked well last time but I’ve been reading about how it can mimic estrogen and do strange things – and just because balance is good. So I’m getting hemp hearts and hemp protein powder and eating more beans and quinoa and things (peas!). Beans are delicious anyway. This should help get me back into cooking, too, which is another thing that helps balance out my mind. 🙂

PPS. I should start yoga again… it does wonders…

PPPS. Here is a good picture of Audrey looking photogenic and fluffy.


Black bean burgers that actually stick together, and shin woes.

I used this recipe plus an extra T each of flaxseed and water. Oh, and black beans instead of white.

So Friday I ran just half an hour in one of the parks right by campus. It has some actual hills. I am decidedly not in trail-hill shape. Not surprisingly, the hills felt great on my shins, though – got a good Achilles stretch on the way up. I took it pretty cautious on the downhills, though. Once I hit 30 minutes, I walked home because I didn’t want to strain my already sore shins on another 3/4-mile of pavement.

That being said – my shins have been sore. Pretty sore. I’m a teensy bit worried that a full-blown stress fracture is threatening my right leg (the one that didn’t already have one) in the same area. Given that I’m definitely not overtraining or ramping up my mileage too quickly or changing shoes, I’m beginning to wonder if my shin issues are related to something different – chemical and/or mineral imbalances, that sort of thing. Vegan? Hormones? (Mine have always been notoriously low, or something. Ultrarunning kicked it off and my system hasn’t been normal since.) So I’m going to set up an appointment with a new running doctor, ask about that stuff, and inquire about bone density scans (which require injection of a radioactive tracer, hence my hesitation) or MRIs to check it out. X-rays didn’t show anything a year ago. And it’s been over a year. I’d like to know what’s going on in my legs.

peace love and healthy bones,

Adventures in calf compression sleeves

Just got these in the mail! Popped the ice sheets in the freezer, can’t wait to see how they feel!

I’ve never really even thought about compression gear until very recently – and even then, it wasn’t for the compression aspect. I saw these babies in Trail Runner and wanted them not for compression, but for the ability to ice my shins without sitting with my legs out and an ice pack on one leg and a bag of frozen veggies on the other (I only have one ice pack). They were a little pricey at $75 and I was a little unsure about my decision, but then they came in the mail and I put them on.

Pure. Heaven.

Even before I put the (reusable) ice packs in, it felt like my calves were being hugged. All the right places felt comfortable. The ends of the sleeves aren’t circulation-killingly tight. Then I put in the ice packs.

And I thought I was in heaven before. Pssh.

I don’t have too much else to say other than the fact that I will definitely be wearing these for many hours for many of the days to come. I slept in them last night, wore them under my jeans yesterday, and ran 3.5 mi in them today. I didn’t feel a huge difference while I was running, but when I added the ice right afterwards, I noticed that my soreness/tenderness went away pretty quickly.

I’ll update you if things seem to progress more quickly from wearing them. Only time will tell. In the meantime, they’re damn comfy.

They may not be the sexiest things with the ice packs but dear god they feel heavenly. I might live in these. Worth the money. 

With the ice packs (and my blurry arm, sorry).

peace love and springtime running!

Snow-induced running

As much as I dread the dark, frozen days of January through March, I’ve woken up the past few mornings hoping to see a little layer of the white stuff covering the leafless limbs outside my window. This morning, my wish was granted. That, combined with an annoyingly persistent mental slump, led me to more or less leap out of bed and into my winter running gear.

I did a loop that’s a little over 4 miles, 3 of which are basically flat pavement. It was windy and snowy and cold and wonderful. I did a very flat/slightly midfoot landing in an effort to minimize stress on my shins, and it worked for the most part. I just had to stop and walk for maybe 300m not for pain in the stress fracture spot, but more vague pain around the top of my left foot and up into the ankle. So that’s a fun new thing.

It was a slow run, and I experience a burning sensation in my chest that I haven’t felt in years. I’m actually out of shape. Like, really. Jogging along at maybe 9 min/mi. But a run’s a run.

peace love and winter running,

I spoke too soon. (subtitle: pity party)

I had a great run this morning. I drove out to Pinckney Rec Area and ran a gentle hour on the trails there, out and back, didn’t pound any of the hills. Perfect weather. A nice mix of lush green and just-changing trees. I stood and looked at the lake, clear and blue, in the quickly warming sun. I thought about how great running is and how insanely glad I was to be able to run again. I went home, ate food, and read Trail Runner and Ultrarunning for two hours.

And just now, crossing my leg over my shin made The Spot sore.


It still didn’t hurt while I was running, or even walking, so I’m taking that as a good sign. But come Monday, I’m making an appointment for a bone scan ASAP. It’s been months; I want to know what’s going on.

I was going to say, I just can’t get a break, but an actual break is that last thing I want.

Ha.    ha.

At least I got a few runs in for the fall.  :\

peace love and desperately fighting off waves of self-pity and disappointment,