Tag Archives: Strength Running

Marathon Pause

When I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, still high off of my spring half marathon PR, I was ready to crush training and run the race I know I’m capable of running. I had plenty of time to train, a great coach, and enough dances with the 26.2 distance to know what was required of me. My schedule was going to be a little hectic with wedding festivities almost every weekend in September and October, but I figured if that was the only hiccup I would be able to manage. A wrench was thrown in when I wound up moving – which was both exciting because I’d finally be in a location I wanted, but stressful because moving is stressful! – but I still had every intention of racing the Philly Marathon. Well, sometimes life gives you lemons and lemonade all at once.

Training was getting done, but I wasn’t running the way I wanted to. I had to skip a few long runs/cut them short due to being just straight up tired, and others were a mental battle to not only get out the door, but to actually finish the prescribed distance (though oddly enough one of my best runs was an 18 miler during a downpour). With all the weddings, moving, working, and trying to train, I think my strength work suffered. So I wasn’t shocked when I noticed the all too familiar twinge outside of my knee after a quick but easy 4 miler at the beginning of October. I took a few days off with some extra strength work and foam rolling and everything seemed to be okay – I ran 17 miles last weekend, and had an awesome fartlek workout last Tuesday. But then this past Friday during my long run (which was moved due to a bachelorette party this past weekend), the little twinge outside the knee I had felt two weeks prior slowly but surely developed into a sharp pain. Dreaded ITBS had reared its ugly head on my left side (I had an issue with it this past January on my right side). I made it to 10 miles, stopped, and spent the next mile doing a little run/walk combination in hopes it would somehow just go away. It didn’t, so after a few expletives left my mouth, I had to walk two miles home.

It was during that two mile walk home that I knew I needed to let go of my hopes to run the Philly Marathon. The thought had crept into my mind when the pain first appeared, but I was hopeful I could still salvage things. But this was the nail in the proverbial marathon training coffin. There hadn’t been enough mileage put into the bank earlier, and the last thing I wanted to do was run yet another marathon that my goal was to just finish. The next time I train for and run a marathon, I want it to be the race I know I’m capable of running. I e-mailed Jason and let him know what was going on and he confirmed what I was thinking: I will not be running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd. Or the half. There isn’t any running on my schedule for the next week, but starting tomorrow I’m getting back into strength work… and then I’m going to take it from there. I joked that maybe I should swear off marathons and Jason said I can’t just yet. So when am I going to attempt my next marathon? Who knows. Maybe this spring. Or maybe not until next Fall. But I know that I can’t let my dream of a successful marathon go just yet – I have visions of myself crossing the finish line with that goal time flashing on the clock and I get butterflies thinking about it. So it’ll happen… one day.

Of course I’m bummed, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big of a deal. I’d much rather deal with the pain now, rather than during the race! So, onward and upward!

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Marathon Spectating: Boston 2014

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of cheering at the 118th Boston Marathon.

Even though I didn’t run and am far from qualifying, it was a truly electric and magical weekend. It took only a few minutes of being in Boston to understand why runners so desperately want to run this race. It’s about more than the prestige of hitting a qualifying time. It’s about banding together with thousands and thousands of people just like you – people that love a sport that can be so uplifting and heartbreaking – and having an entire city there to support you, like you’re a rock star.

My magical weekend started on Saturday with a 4.5 hour drive up to Boston after my last longish run before this weekend’s half marathon. The first event on the list was a Strength Running meet-up in Clarke’s at Faneuil Hall. Since Jason is actually my running coach, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet him in person. Of course, being the awkward turtle that I am, I simply introduced myself as Danielle and just assumed he knew who I was (who do I think I am?!). Since the e-mail I use for running related things is tied to my blog, it would make sense that a lot of people know me as “Foodosaurus Rex.” So it wasn’t until I was leaving that I mentioned my last name, and of course felt like a jerk for not having said something earlier. But at least we got a picture together!

Me & Jason!

Me & Jason!

After the meet-up I went to Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge for dinner and had a phenomenal veggie burger. I always like to search for vegetarian restaurants when I’m traveling since there aren’t a lot in my area. So when I saw this was a vegetarian diner, I was pumped to give it a try. I started with a beer (of course), and ordered their Kendall Square burger (hello beer battered onion rings) with a side of french fries. It was so delicious.

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Since I was in the area for work, I drove back up to Lowell (about 30 minutes north of the city) and crashed hard. And before I knew it my alarm was going off and it was time to head back down to the city – this time for an Oiselle Team meet-up! I got to the city early to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem with parking, and did a quick lap around the expo. After the expo I made my way to our meeting spot and we posed for a picture before heading off towards the Charles.

A gaggle of birds

A gaggle of birds

I had three miles on my schedule that day, so I decided to run with a group that was doing a 4 mile shakeout, including Stephanie, Mollie, Mary, and Sara. I also had a nice mini-reunion with (two out of three) of my favorite North Carolina runners, Allie and Ellen! While on our run we actually passed Desiree Linden, and we got a little head nod and wave from her. Of course I geeked out and tweeted about it, which she favored… which resulted in more geeking out. After our run we took a short walk to Render Coffee, which a teammate’s brother owns. They were kind enough to offer free coffee for all of us, and I thoroughly enjoyed my hazelnut latte. Of course I continued my geek fest when I sat down next to none other than Lauren Fleshman, and wanted to say everything but instead said pretty much nothing. She was (no surprise) super friendly and down to earth, and I wish that I actually had things to talk to her about!

Hanging outside Render Coffee

Hanging outside Render Coffee

After coffee I took the T and wandered around Harvard a bit, had a delicious Easter brunch at Beat Hotel (in running clothes, while everyone else was in their Easter best… whoops), and then got to meet up with one of my college swimming teammates for dinner and drinks!

When my alarm went off Monday morning I was ready to go. I knew that the earlier I made the trip from Lowell to the Boston area, the better. I wanted to cheer around mile 23, figuring it’d be far enough from the massive finish line crowds and at a point where people really start to need encouragement. I made it to Brookline around 8am and stopped in to Eagle’s Deli for a breakfast sandwich to fuel the day of cheering. I walked up a few more blocks and positioned myself a few hundred yards away from the mile 23 marker. I had expertly staked out my spot, and was ready as soon as the first wheelchair competitors came whizzing by.

Rah rah!

Rah rah!

I’d been following the elites on twitter, so I knew what was going down in both the women’s and men’s race. At the beginning of the race I – along with almost everyone else – was completely consumed with the women’s race and Shalane. Unfortunately her race started to unravel a bit by the time she reached me at mile 23, but that didn’t stop me from screaming basically in her face as she ran by. I could see the discomfort and disappointment in her face, but I knew she was doing everything she could, and everyone in Brookline was thrilled to see her and applauded her gutsy race. And then, all of a sudden, we realized that Meb was leading the men. I’ve always been a big Meb fan, but my appreciation for him grew after the 2013 New York City Marathon, where he struggled but ran it in with someone and was so humble about it. To think that at (almost) 39 he was leading the race was such a thrill. He was almost 5 minutes ahead of the chase pack when he flew by, and we all screamed as loud as we could in hopes of propelling him those last 3.2 miles to the finish. Of course I was mesmerized by the thought of Meb winning, and followed along on the live stream… I was ecstatic when I saw him cross the finish line!

After the elites went by, I focused on trying to find all of the people I was tracking either via the app or text messages. It was kind of hard to keep track of everyone – for whatever reason I had a hard time figuring out from the 30k alert how long it would take them to get to me at mile 23. Plus, I was so afraid I’d look down at my phone and miss someone! I saw almost everyone I hoped to cheer for  – Jason, Jess, Jenny, Laura, Mary, Sara, Corey, Lindsey, Dani, Mollie, Julia, Stacey, and a few others I’m probably missing. It was tricky to try and yell loud enough for everyone to hear me and see me, but I was able to pierce the sound of the crowd around me for a few runners. My favorite was Mary, who happened to be running right on the side I was cheering. I basically screamed in her face – I’d like to think it helped propel her to her amazing PR! Unfortunately I missed a few people, and some people didn’t hear me, but I spent four solid hours cowbelling; I have the bruises and raw skin on my hand to prove it!

I was exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel, but it was so worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat – and I hope I can be back up in Boston for Patriot’s Day 2015! Next up on my cheering schedule is this Sunday at the New Jersey Marathon. So if you’re running, let me know… I’ll be sure to cowbell for you! But first, I need to run my own race – Asbury Park Half Marathon tomorrow!

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Running Update: Setbacks & Moving Forward

Running was going really well for me during the late fall and early winter. I PR’d two races (5 miler and 5k) and was crushing workouts and loving the run. I was running 6 days in a row with a long run, a tempo/workout run, and 4 “easier” days of running all together. It was a big adjustment to the type of “training” I’ve done in the past, but it was already producing results, and I felt great. I was being diligent about my pre-run warm-ups, and was actually doing post-run prehab, albeit not as frequently as I should have. I let time get in the way of things, and found myself coming in from a run, hopping right in the shower or getting started on dinner, and then going about my business and forgetting to do the routine that was scheduled. Well, that naturally resulted in a little bit of an overuse injury – dreaded ITBS.

I noticed a twinge when I would go from sitting down to standing up after a 10 mile run on December 21st. I didn’t think much of it, and continued the next week as normally scheduled. Looking back, I should have spent some extra time foam rolling and doing some strength work, but I didn’t. By the time I got to Christmas Eve, as I finished up an epic tempo run, I felt that dreaded tightness on the outside of my right knee. It’s a feeling I know all too well, as I’ve experienced it during almost every marathon I’ve run around mile 21. It wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was. Since it was slight, I was hopeful that it wasn’t much of anything, and Christmas morning’s 4 mile run would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Christmas morning’s run was painful, and I knew the ITBS I thought I had was, in fact, ITBS… and that it wasn’t going to just go away. The run on 12/25 was the beginning of a month of on and off runs, most peppered with knee pain. The pain would start about a mile and a half in, and come and go depending on my stride. Sometimes it was brutally painful, and other times it was manageable. But I’m happy to report that after a month of rest and rehab, I’m back on the streets and running! I think it’s so important for runners to take the time to do a warm-up before they start a run, and to also do some type of post-run prehab routine. There are a few things in particular that I found to be extremely helpful as I battled ITBS, and I wanted to share them with you!

  •  Strength Running’s ITB Rehab Routine – If there’s one thing I’ve learned with the injuries I’ve sustained over my short running career so far, it’s that having strong hips, glutes, and core can be the difference between pain free and fast running, and sitting on the couch whining about how you can’t run. This routine focuses on strengthening the glutes and hips, which is where the ITB starts. All you need is a resistance band and about 5 minutes post-run. I did this daily during the month of January, and now do it 2-3 times a week.
  • Mrtyl Routine – This also focuses on the general glute and hip area, and doesn’t require any equipment. I also do this about 2 times a week.
  • Core work: Strength Running’s Standard Core Routine & Dr. Lesko’s Dozen Routine – Let me tell you, having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core (not that my stomach is flat). I always thought my core was decent, since I swam for so many years and a lot of power comes from your core, but I’m learning that is not true. Both of these routines are more than just crunches, and they work your entire core. The supine leg lifts in the Standard Core routine are killer, and I dread that part of the workout every single time… but I know they help, and I’m looking forward to the day where I can get through it without shaking uncontrollably and not counting down every second of the minute.
  • Foam Rolling – it’s awkward and it hurts, but it works. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and for awhile, I just didn’t do it. I bought a foam roller about 2 years ago when I had tight hips, but I just couldn’t get into a regular routine. I learned quickly, though, that the foam roller is really helpful – whether you have an injury or not. I try to spend about 5 minutes everyday foam rolling my hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. If nothing else, it helps build my upper body strength as I’m trying to hold myself up while using the roller.

I’ve been running again consistently for two full weeks and am just starting my third. I have my fingers crossed that this little bout of ITBS is behind me, and I can carry on with training as scheduled for the month of February. How do I feel about finally being back in action? See below.

Hooray for pain free running!

Hooray for pain free running!

That being said, I don’t think the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16th is going to be a PR attempt. Unless training over the next few weeks goes fantastically (and it warms up and stops snowing and being icy), I don’t think I’ll have my fitness back up to where it was in December. So, my plan is to run the Shamrock Half as a workout, and run a goal half in April instead. There are quite a few around me, so after weighing my options and chatting with my coach, I decided on the Asbury Park Half on 4/26! This is the day before the New Jersey Marathon, so I’ll be able to cheer for everyone running the half or full on Sunday! Since it’s down the shore it should be relatively flat – I just hope it isn’t a windy day. I’m also planning to work a few other short local races into my schedule, but I haven’t committed to anything yet (as you can see from my Races page).

Tell me…
Have you ever dealt with ITBS? 
What’s your favorite runner specific strength routine?

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2013: Year of Running

When I saw Jen post about a fun running year in review link-up hosted by Amanda [Miss Zippy], I knew I had to participate. While this year wasn’t exactly what I hoped it would be in terms of running (stupid ankle), it was still pretty great. I managed to set a bunch of PRs, meet a lot of awesome Internet running turned real life friends, and most importantly, have fun! Without further ado, here is my 2013 year of running.

Best race experience?: I think my best race experience was the first RVRR Summer Series XC 5k I completed this past June. It wasn’t my best experience simply because I won my age group and was the second female to finish, but because it made me realize that I am a strong runner, and with consistent training and believing in myself, I can be competitive and the type of runner that I want to be. I realize I’m never going to win prize money, I’ll be lucky if I ever make it to Boston, and on most days I’ll be lucky to get in the top 5 of my age group (let alone overall) at small races (forget about big ones!), and I’m okay with that. Every once in awhile it’s nice to get those little confidence boosters, and this race definitely provided that for me.

Best run?: This is hard to pick, but I think I’d have to pick just a casual weekday evening run with elite Oiselle teammate Kate Grace. This run happened a few days after her great performances in Des Moines at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and before she jet to Europe for more racing. It was just a casual 5-ish miles in a local park and on the tow path, but it was so much fun. It’s great to run with friends, and getting to run with an elite runner, who treated it just like any other run on her schedule (albeit a super easy run for her!) was awesome.

Best new piece of gear?: Another one where I want to list multiple things, but I think I’ll have to go with my Oiselle lux layer. This long sleeve running shirt is the cat’s meow, seriously. They refer to the fabric as “cashmere for runners” and they aren’t joking; it’s so incredibly soft, yet manages to provide warmth without having you overheat. I wore two shirts for my freezing 5k on Sunday, didn’t feel bulky, and was nice and toasty without getting too warm. I want to wear all lux, all the time.

Best piece of running advice you received?: It isn’t always about your pace. I try very hard not to fixate on paces, but I seem to do it anyway. I worry that I’m running too slow, or running too fast… and I become consumed by the paces, worried I’m either not working hard enough, or I’m working too hard and will wind up hurting myself. After expressing my frustrations to Jason over at Strength Running and asking for advice, he told me not to worry so much. It’s a lot more important to run based on how you’re feeling, rather than what pace you’re running. One day a 7:50 run feels “easy” for me, yet another day 8:20 may feel like a struggle. It’s all relative, and I need to remember that!

Most inspirational runner?: I’m picking two here, sorry. My first and foremost inspirational runner is my dad. He actually doesn’t run anymore, but I think it still counts. My dad grew up playing basketball and running, and loved to run. My mom likes to tell stories about how he’d go out and run “for hours” in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and come home sopping wet during the summer, or with frozen eyelashes and eyebrows in the winter. Neighbors used to say things like, “That can’t be good for you” when they’d see him pass by. He also had no problem putting away a buttercream layer cake after said runs (hello inspiration). Unfortunately he got sick in his early thirties and due to neurological and nerve damage hasn’t been able to run since, but he’s still a runner in my eyes! Second is my very good friend Kir, who like me, started out as a swimmer. We both swam throughout middle school, high school, and college, and somehow became runners after we graduated. Running also runs in her family (she has a super speedy mom), and she is so incredibly fast. She puts her mind to something, and she does it. She doesn’t brag about it and she doesn’t obsess over it; she just goes out and runs (fast). While I know I’ll never be at the same level as her, it’s amazing to see her race so fast. It’s truly incredible.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?: Roller-coaster. I started the year with some arch pain that prevented me from completing the Goofy Challenge, but had smooth sailing and quite a few PR’s between February and June. Then I developed some nagging ankle pain and foot issues that plagued me from the end of June through September, causing inconsistent training and a lot of frustration. I’m finally back on the up-and-up (I do have a little ankle soreness here and there, but nothing like what it was), and am happy to be ending the year on a high note. I just hope 2014 stays high!

Tell me…
Do you have a favorite running (or other) moment of 2013? What was it?

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