Sunday, May 21, 2017

What Went Wrong This Training Cycle

I had a super strong winter training cycle. 

I registered for the same spring marathon that had gotten me a 3:41:12 in 2016.  I was out for redemption and feeling confident on where I could shave that time to earn my 3:40 BQ.  I started a bit earlier than usual (just after Christmas) and hooked up with a great group of runners who were all qualified and training to run Boston this year.  It was a fantastic fit for me and our long runs kept me at a solid pace and pushed me to tackle very hilly routes I would not have chosen on my own!  I had been consistent with weekday 5am runs and Tuesday track.  I was feeling confident, solid and proud of myself for putting in the work. 

Then peak week arrives......I was pushing myself to hit the high mileage and stay strong.  I started to feel uncomfortable-ness in what I thought was my hip flexor but turned out to be my quad muscle at the insertion point, so I rested it for a few days to take it easy.  Had my final 20 miler coming up that weekend and decided to still give it a go though I wasn't sure how it would go.  Well, the rest worked wonders and I felt incredibly strong and even finished the final 2 miles at race pace.  If that day had been my marathon, I would have been golden. 

I was feeling on top of the world and ready to tackle my marathon.  I was looking forward to a well earned three week taper.  Unfortunately, I was also feeling invincible.  Later that night, we had plans with my BRF Kara for dinner and it was about a 2 mile walk from our house.  With it being a gorgeous night, I suggested we just walk.  The hubby suggested metro but in my mind I thought, what's walking 4 miles after a 20 miler when a marathon is 26.2miles?  I can surely handle that!  Why couldn't I?

The walk there was fine.  On the walk back, I took a step and felt my quad on my right leg seize up/tear in a very sharp and sudden pain.  Then it seemed to sort of go away.  It didn't hurt as bad and I was able to walk home, albeit gingerly.  I decided to rest it because I was not sure what that was or what had happened.  Two days later I tried to run with my daughter to get in her run club miles and the push off to accelerate was very painful.  I decided to just rest it.  I tried a few other times testing out the leg and each time, I could feel that right quad.  I decided to play it as smart as I could and rest it completely during my taper along with lots of ice, rolling, dry needling, massage.  This even meant taking a DNS at the BAA 5k while in town for the hubby's running of the Boston Marathon.  But of course a taper is supposed to be a gradual descent of less mileage not a steep cliff of no running at all.  

 After much rest, the week of the marathon I decided to test out the quad with a 10k at marathon pace.  I didn't have pain, but the quad just didn't feel peppy or strong.  Then two days later, I took it out on a five miler with a race pace downhill section.  The leg felt good.  So I decided I was probably okay to race my marathon.  


Long story short, I flew to NV and ran the race.  I felt if I didn't try- I would always wonder what if and perhaps feel I missed my shot.  The quad made it until about mile 19 when I started to experience pain.  I decided to play it smart, reduce risk of further injury and took a solid walk the final 6-7 miles in....mental torture. 

The rest of my body recovered in a matter of a few days, but the quad not so much.  Now being 3 weeks out it is finally feeling a bit better and I have been taking it very easy.  This week I ran a 1 miler, a 2 miler, a 1 miler and a 4.5 miler. 

So what went wrong?

Every experience is a learning experience and room to grow.  With lots of thinking, here are my insights.

1.  I should NOT have walked those 4 miles that day and that will haunt me.  My leg was in a over-tired state and I should have remembered that.  My muscles don't seem to like to be in recovery mode and then be forced to do work.  I think it would have been different if I walked 4 miles directly after my 20 that morning, but allowing my muscles to cool down and begin their recovery process along with some dehydration, I think they were just not happy and decided to tell me so. 

2.  I did not make cross-training and weight training a priority this training cycle.  Past training cycles I had the spin class I instructed to keep me honest about cross-training and I did a weight session once per week.  This training cycle I was so focused on high miles and to run, run, run.  I thought the more miles would get me that BQ this time around.  It is really hard for me to make time for high miles, cardio cross training and I just ran.  With no longer having a gym membership since I gave up teaching my spin class due to developing vocal nodes, it was much easier to just grab my shoes and run.

How will I move forward?

It will be hard.  I am trying not to feel a bit down on myself and not feel like I am having to start over a bit.  I can tell I have lost a lot of fitness being a slug these last 6-7 weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been the model example of an injured runner and swimming laps, water running, weight training, spinning, etc to stay in shape while not running and I haven't.  I have swam laps like two times.  I did just join a gym moving forward cross-training WILL be a priority. 

I am gearing up for another marathon training cycle (Chicago Marathon) but I am trying to not place any goals on myself.  I don't think this will be a BQ attempt.  I know myself and I know that I don't train well in the summer heat.  And knowing Chicago it could also very well be a hot race!  My goal for this training cycle is just to become a better all around runner and I plan to accomplish that with not neglecting my strength training and my cardio-cross training.  I plan to take advantage of the summer - outdoor lap swimming, open water swimming, paddle boarding, and trail running.  Plus I plan on hitting up the new Orange Theory Fitness opening just a mile from my house!  I can run to it!  Wahoo! 

I thought about giving up on my BQ dreams...that maybe I was not cut out for this, but I refuse to give up! 


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