One Month until Grandma’s Marathon?!?

I feel like I’ve made good progress with this mysterious “injury” but am not quite there yet – and am not willing to give up and live with what I have, at least not quite yet! The last month I’ve done a few things to help further my knowledge of what’s going on and fix the root of the problem. It is SO much better than 2 years ago, but again, it’s just not 100%. Maybe 75% if I had to put a number to it?

I had PRP injections in both hamstring insertions last month. The first one on the right side last year seemed to help a lot (post from last year’s injection and results here), but now my symptoms are more on the left so I opted to have both done at once this time around.

I also had a 3D gait analysis done at Northwestern Health Sciences. I didn’t run on the treadmill for very long so I’m not sure if we were able to capture what is really happening or not. Dr. Greg seemed to think that the inefficiency is there while I feel good, it’s just that over time my compensating muscles fatigue and that’s when the clumsiness comes in. I think I agree, although would feel better if my leg started to get sloppy during the test, for sure. The main findings were:

  • Left hip rotated 3.5x the right when I land. He said this is somewhat typical of people that have grown up “on the track”, but the 3x rotation is a lot. Other high level track athletes he has tested (Heather Kampf, Meghan Peyton) have had more like a 1.5-2x rotation.
    • This could also be why running on the right side of the road is better for me than the left. It doesn’t allow the pelvis to rotate as much before the left foot hits the ground.
  • Left foot is lifted more than the right (although that seems like a small detail, I feel like the clumsiness is something to do with weirdness in how I carry my feet, extend my knee? It’s like they’re locked up and buckle at their worst, if that makes sense?
  • Lower left than right abduction throughout the entire stride/contact/toe off
  • Slower reaction of the right side in general, assuming a product of an old college hamstring belly injury. A byproduct of everything going on vs. a cause?

Dr. Greg gave me a few exercises to do, which I’ve been doing diligently. I’ve also forwarded the results and the MRI from last year to an orthopedic doctor at Summit Ortho who is going to take a second look at everything. She’s a high level runner acquaintance from the Run N Fun team. Nice to know people!

Another cool opportunity that came my way was an offer of a free DexaScan. I went to the DexaFit in Minneapolis which is actually in Edina. I’ve had a couple of athletes express interest in it, and having only done the hydrostatic body fat testing at the U of MN, I wasn’t able to comment on it. Now I am! One of the nicest things about it is that you’re able to have it done while laying down, still in your clothes. No need to get into a swim suit, get wet, worry about exhaling all of the air in your lungs so as not to skew the data, etc. Waaayyy nicer way to get your body composition tested!

The other nice thing is that it also takes a measurement of your bone density. I’ve always been curious about it… I’ve assumed I have pretty strong bones as I’ve never had a stress fracture, but didn’t really know. Now I do! Turns out, my bone density is 1.2 g/cm^2, well above the recommended zone of .98-1.1.

I was also glad to see my body fat percentage of 21.3% (“glad” might be a strong word… read on). DexaScans generally give a higher reading than other forms of body fat readings because they’re looking at all fat in your body, but still. Even if they measure a little high, 21% is on the high end for an elite marathoner (and even on the high end for me?).

Since working on losing the stress-weight from this winter and seeing some results (below), I allowed myself to ease up on caring about nutrition and weight. I started snacking on things (read: lots of things) before bed even though I wasn’t hungry, eating about 1/2 of my calories after 5:00p, drinking more coffee than water… all of the things I know I need to do better on if I want to be lean for the marathon.

I know I can do it, it’s just easy not to! Time to jump back on the UCAN bandwagon more consistently, plan out snacks during the day so I don’t find myself wanting a lot at night, plan a few fasted runs each week, and back to meal planning. I find adhering to a marathon training cycle so FUN — adhering to a targeted nutrition plan, not so much :). Anyone else with me? Please leave a comment if you have tips, also share in the struggle, etc. I’m glad to have this feedback now, 1 month out from Grandma’s, so I know I have time to work on it. The biggest challenge will be this weekend (Memorial Day) with Nate’s family at the cabin…

All in all, I’d definitely recommend DexaScans as a way to measure body fat. I don’t know how their VO2 tests (they offer those as well as resting metabolic rate tests) compare to the ones done at the U of MN, so I’d say for the complete package, I’d probably still recommend the U of MN’s performance lab.

Training has been going pretty well, minus a few hiccups. I’ll peak at 88 mpw this cycle, which I’m planning to hit 2 weeks out from the marathon. That’s a little unique, but also a product of the hip hiccups earlier in the training cycle. It is also a product of moving from 9 months of lower mileage with Gary to higher mileage with Meghan. Turns out, you can’t just jump from 50 to 80 in one cycle and have your body immediately soak it up just because you’ve “been there before”. Ha!

Some workouts in the last month have been:

  • Get it Dunn 1/2 Marathon
    • I ran it in 1:27:high. Not happy with the time at all, and I’m not exactly sure why I was so slow… I was hoping to be 1:24 or below. You would think that I’d be able to do that as I split 1:24:high in the middle of TCM! My legs were cooperative, I just settled into 6:30+ pace and couldn’t find anything faster. It didn’t help that I ran the entire race solo – couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. I also missed one turn because the volunteer was reading a book and not directing me where to go (oops), so that added a little distance…

    • The REAL excitement of the day was Jeff L. Read his Athlete Bio. Then take a minute to marvel that he just ran a 1:15:49 1/2 marathon WHILE PUSHING A DOUBLE STROLLER. Wow. He has set personal bests in the 8k, 10k, and now 1/2 marathon (even though he was pushing a double stroller!) this year. I am so excited to see what he can do at Grandma’s this year. #tncendurance rocks! 🙂

  • 5×1 mile at tempo w/ 1 min recovery-based on a tempo “feel” as well as “pace”
    • This was done on tired legs, just 2 days after a 1/2 marathon. Austin helped me through this one. He could talk throughout, I definitely couldn’t get out more than a yes, uh-huh, oh, really? comment every now and then. 6:28, 6:23, 6:22, 6:18, 6:28. Not too shabby!
    • My workout log said: Love, love, LOVE workouts like this! I also have a sick sense of “feel” for tempo as my HR got up to 200 on the last one. I know tempo isn’t supposed to be that hard of an effort, it’s just what I’ve taught myself over the years. Tempo = hard. Need to dial that back a bit, I know. 🙂
  • 20 miles: first half easy, second half progression from 80% to tempo (about 92%)
    • Did this with Jeff on the Carleton trails. It went GREAT. My leg didn’t start to tighten up until mile 17, which is the best it has been on a long run! The easy miles were between 8-8:20 and the progression we went from 7:45 to 6:40. I couldn’t quite dig for sub 6:30 on the last mile, which was my goal, but I’m really happy with the effort!
  • 3 miles of a 3,2,1 fartlek at 5k pace with 2, 1, 1 mins recovery
    • Done with Maria. I don’t know if I was getting sick or what, but this was HARD! The cool down felt like a death march back to work. I looked later and my HR was at 175-180 on the 8:00 pace cool down afterwards. Uf! Paces during the workout were fine, and HR was only up to 195 then, so who knows. Both Greta and Anna have been sick lately so I’d be surprised it I’m not warding off something.
  • Lots and lots of solo miles, enjoying MN spring! I took these pictures yesterday on the most gorgeous rolling country road. Pictures don’t do it justice! I really do love high mileage marathon training and the scenery I get to enjoy every day because of it!

And, to end the post, a couple of cute family pictures just cuz 🙂

Your turn: Is there a part of marathon training and racing that you struggle with most? What?

Any nutrition tips or tricks to pass along? I’d love to hear them, as well as everyone else here!

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  1. The nutrition part of marathon training is a lot of fun for me (oddly). I find it like a game to eat as healthy as I can–making as many things from scratch as I can, eating whole foods, and meal planning. Yes, it takes time and energy, but I think it makes such a difference in my training–and how I feel, that it is worth it to me. Some people meal plan, some people meal prep–find what works for you and your family. I feel better about life and having everything planned out for the week in advance. I think it saves us money, and I’m not temped to eat eggs and toast for dinner every night. Ha!

    1. I’ve never thought of it like a fun challenge/game! It is all about planning ahead of time (which I love! and excel at when it comes to being creative about getting my workouts in!) — so maybe if I change my mindset and think of it as a challenge and game… you have me thinking!! 🙂

  2. I’m going to go on the record as taking a different approach- while I care about healthy eating, I really don’t have time for meal planning, counting calories, or anything of the sort. I trust my body to tell me what it needs and when (yes, I actually get fruit and vegetable cravings!). My strategy is to go shopping once on the weekend and buy tons of produce along with the usual staples. Some lean meats, grains, beans; a few pre-packaged but still fairly fresh items. I get the latter from Trader Joe’s, although I know those stores are not in everyone’s area. Not too much “junk” apart from pretzels, ice cream, and some dark chocolate treats (usually involving nuts). Once the week starts, my goal is for most of that produce to be gone by the next shopping trip. If I don’t know what to do with a random vegetable, I put it into google and look at recipe images until I find something appetizing (and easy).

    The other thing that works for me is that I snack a lot at work. Fruit and yogurt with granola, nuts, maybe a protein bar, pretzels, whole grain cereals, a bit of dried fruit… It’s just little bits at a time, but I feel like I am constantly eating (and drinking- water or tea); I have been made fun of in meetings for this! Guessing it keeps my metabolism up. It also prevents me from getting so hungry that I pig out. When I got home in the evening I snack a little more while the kids have dinner (gotta sample their food to make sure it’s ok, right? 😉 ) and then don’t really need a huge meal myself. Apart from a bit of ice cream I don’t feel the need to eat anything else before bed.

    I guess the main takeaway is to be mindful of hunger (or lack thereof). I try to eat right away when I sense a bit of hunger, and stop when I feel satisfied. Cravings are rare– unless I’ve just done a huge run without UCAN and desperately need to refuel.

  3. Nutrition…struggle bus picks me up daily! I try, but I suck at it. I will say…I was doing UCan while in marathon training mode and it dropped my weight down. I finished the marathon and didn’t think about UCan until this weekend (3 weeks post race) and I started back on the wagon. I have to say…it makes a difference to me when I use it vs not.

    You definitely have more muscle definition than I do…keep it up! I have shoulder surgery the 5th, so I’ll be tracking you as I sit on the couch recovering!!! Miss you coach!!!

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