Training Lately

February training has had its ups and downs, that’s for sure.

Downs:

  1. St. Olaf Indoor 5k in 19:50, 3rd (last) place: In hindsight, this was the best thing to happen to me. During the race, and immediately after, I was ashamed and embarrassed. Why? After about 1/2 way through the 5k, I started to struggle to control my legs. No, I hadn’t gone out too fast. The first mile was in 5:52, well within my capabilities. I was running smooth and in control. Then, my legs just started coming undone, turning over clumsily… and my speed slowed lap after lap. I haven’t done the math, but my last mile had to have been a 7+ minute mile. I just couldn’t run! My HR maxed out at something like 172.

My college coach took video during the race as he said he couldn’t believe I was running like that. He asked me if my hip was really bothering me. The honest truth is that it hasn’t been! I definitely wouldn’t have raced had I known how it would have gone… nothing like an embarrassing finish as a 34-year-old running against young women just over half my age. Video of my odd clumsiness in the two clips below. If you’d like to play PT/doctor/internet-diagnosis-guru, PLEASE! Do!

https://www.nicholeporath.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_3893.mov https://www.nicholeporath.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/img_3894.mov

 

I called my PT right away the following Monday and she fit me in that afternoon. We identified that I’m not using my abs to control my legs. At all. Those deep core muscles either aren’t strong enough or just aren’t firing properly, so it’s all hip flexor. That explains why I have no problem with shorter repeats (the hip flexors can rest after 4-5 min intervals). The hip flexors can only be the main mover for so long! My left glute is also much weaker than my right, among many other strength imbalances. Again, if you can glean anything from the videos above, I’m all ears!

I’m glad to identify this in February instead of when the racing season and mileage really ramp up. My mileage and interval length has been shorter this winter and I don’t think I would have recognized these imbalances or control issues until well into March/April. The St. Olaf meet gave me a 1-2 month head start on doing what I need to do to get stronger & faster. Onward and upward!

2. The weather. I don’t mind training through Minnesota winters. I actually like the challenge of it. The bitterly cold days are spectacularly beautiful, and I definitely feel and perform better in the cold vs. heat. However, last week I broke a little. I walked outside in yet another -15 degree windchill day and sighed. This is just getting old.

Also, a few days later it warmed up slightly, then snowed (and the melted snow turned to ice underneath fresh snow) — and low and behold — I found myself flat on my back a mile into my run. I had a splitting headache the rest of the day and a dull ache for the following 3 days. Likely a minor concussion. Should have worn my Yaktrax! (not sponsored, but happily sing their praises!! the link isn’t even an affiliate link… I should really figure that out…). Just a glimpse of Spring would be wonderful just about now…

Jeff was going to pace me through a tempo workout on Monday but the roads were a sheet of ice. Instead I strapped on Yaktrax (man, they should sponsor me!), ran an easy 10k over lunch and went to the YMCA and did a crazy HR-based workout on the elliptical instead. (I cant run hard on the treadmill due to a collegiate hamstring injury – the TM aggravates it). C’mon winter, let’s time these ice storms better! C&J were all smiles because they got out of the workout.
After an early morning run at an overnight staff retreat. It was so cold out everything was just STILL. Even traffic, Some of the coldest runs are also the most gorgeous.

Ups:

  1. Some great workouts!

The first week of February I had my first long tempo workout where I could feel that my core was engaged and legs were working! I had considered moving the 15-10-5 workout to the elliptical, but it was the only 25 degree, sunny day in the long range forecast. Working out indoors would be wasting a beautiful day! Sedge and I decided to try the workout and shut it down if/when I started to lose control. I did 10 minutes of pre-hab before heading out. And you know what? My hip held together great! I averaged 6:00 for the 15 min segment (it was downhill), 6:22 for the 10 minute segment, and 6:17 for the 5 minute segment.

Note to self: add 5-10 minutes into my run time for pre-hab work!

The second week in February I had two great workouts. The first was 5x1k in 3:31-36, on tired legs, done solo on the indoor track. Given last fall I was happy with 3:45s, I’ll take it.

Later that week I had a 16 miler with 2x 4 miles at marathon effort. My legs felt surprisingly good and I had great company, which helped the miles fly by (well, as much as they could for a hard, long effort!). I averaged 6:25 for first 4 miles and 6:48 for the second 4 miles. This was done with an air temp of -8 degrees. I didn’t even look at the windchill – I figured cold is just cold at a certain point!

2. Starting a different lifting program!

I had been following the same program (on and off) for 6 years… it was time for a change! I reached out to a high school friend who is now a body builder and asked her for a runner-friendly strength program. It’s great! I really do love lifting, and learning new lifts is exciting to me. Apparently the first picture I’m doing “renegade rows”. I had no idea, as Sandi had called them something different. See?! Learning all new kinds of things.

I’ll share more as I get further into her program. Stronger runners = faster runners!

3. Signed up for 2 road races in March – and started to scheme on races between then & Grandma’s in June! I always love this part of a training plan & communicating with Jerry.

I signed up for the O’Gara’s 8k in mid-March and the Hot Dash 10 miler. I’ve somehow convinced a few other TNC athletes to race at these races too, which makes it something to look forward to even more! I am really hoping I can pull out a strong 8k. I really need to reverse the racing trend I’ve been on since TCM!

Your turn: How do you deal with a long winter?

Have you ever struggled to control your legs (other than typical fatigue) during a race? If so, what distance? Why? 

Any workouts you’ve nailed or failed in February? Would love to hear from y’all!

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2 Comments

  1. I noticed your running gait at Twin Cities (maybe not quite as exaggerated), but then again I’d never seen your running from behind, so I thought this was normal for you (although I knew it wasn’t an ideal running gait). Do you have the YakTrax with the coils and studs in them? I really didn’t care for YakTrax; I think the NANOspikes by Kahtoola are better. The YakTraxs altered my gait.

  2. Hey coach! I too found out I am not engaging my abs enough and thus my injuries!!! What is your rehab, strength, and prehab? I’m doing bridges, working on deactivating a muscle that tried to overcompensate in my Back, bridging and pulling my feet to butt…. what else are you doing? I’m looking for more moves to help strengthen !!! Thanks in advance!

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