Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trying to overcome the mental setback that comes from injury

Today marks exactly one month until my half marathon. Before this injury sidelined me, I was well on my way to a PR. It's still not out of the realm of possibility, but my confidence level has certainly been hit hard.

This week I've done a total of 12 minutes of running -- that's right, 12 MINUTES, not miles -- all of which have been virtually pain-free. This is exciting and I'm anxious to start logging miles again, but I'm not naive enough to simply start right where I left off, I'm taking things slow and really waiting until I see a doctor next week. This is the part that concerns me. I feel like I had finally gotten to the point in my running that I didn't find myself mid run thinking that I'd better slow down or else I won't be able to finish. I started having positive thoughts race through my head during each run... more "Run Faster" and "Let's Go" and "You Can Totally Do This," instead of "Just run to that tree and you can walk." This injury is a setback, and it's less about ability and more about mentality.

I'm really new to the sport of running and I've been plagued by a hip injury since the very beginning. I often wonder if maybe triathlon is not going to be the thing that keeps me healthy as I get older. I'm seeing a specialist next week, and, frankly, I don't get paid to do this... but I love it. Seriously, I LOVE everything about it. From the 4:30 a.m. wake up calls to the anxiety on race day. I love seeing how far I can push myself. I love proving to myself that my asthma isn't an excuse. I love showing my kids that grown ups can and should be active and healthy. I love that my own kids want to be triathletes. How can I walk away from that?

How young is too young for a trainer?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The newest member of the disabled list

I'm on the DL. Yup, that's right, I have literally run myself right on to the disabled list.

About 2 years ago, when I really started running, I injured my hip. I was diagnosed with some mysterious hip injury that I can't seem to remember or find out from anyone. Six weeks of physical therapy and a therapist who boldly stated, "Some people are meant to run, others aren't. You just aren't one of them," I was able to run with no pain and have been relatively pain free since. Although the therapists comment is one of the catalysts that put me on track for my leap into half iron distance triathlons.

Anyway, 've done it again. Two Saturdays ago, I was in Delaware visiting my sister and ran what started as a really great 10 miler with my husband. About 8 miles into the run, my hip started bothering me. Ever the go-getter, I stopped, stretched and kept pushing... in fact, I pushed so hard that we were practically sprinting the last two miles. In a lot of pain and holding back tears, I gritted my teeth and just ran. When we got back to the house, I popped some Motrin, rubbed some Biofreeze on my hip and stretched, hoping it would be fine in a day or two. I got a massage that week and basically didn't do anything that would aggravate my hip further

But the pain persisted. I waited a full week before trying to run again. Last Saturday I tried again. I made it 4 miles. That's it. I limped for the rest of the day. Today is Thursday, the fourth day of my recovery week, and I am still in a bit of pain. I'm able to walk without limping, but if I try to run or do anything that involves impact, I can feel the pain. Thanks to some great suggestions by my fellow Philadelphia Triathlon Club members, I made an appointment to see a specialist at the Rothman Institute, but I can't get in until April 5. Until then, I just have to wait it out and focus on swimming and biking.

It totally sucks, but I'm pretty sure I will get through this. I made it through before and I'll make it again. It's just a little glitch in my plans, but I'm thankful to have a really understand and helpful coach and great support group of friends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ask the coach: Triathlon training cycles

Last week I did not train at all. I had some very important personal issues that needed my complete attention so training was put on hold. Fortunately, it couldn't have come at a better time because last week was an "easy" week.

Joanna has me training on a four week cycle. We build for three weeks and recover on the fourth. I can't tell you how happy I am when I get my weekly training schedule on that fourth week and it says EASY week. By that point I'm spent.

Anyway, the last time I had a recovery week, someone asked me on dailymile what I was "recovering from." So, I asked Joanna to explain training cycles and recovery. Here is what she said:

Recovery weeks are there so your body can recover from the usual three weeks of intensity building workouts. Without the recovery, you can keep pushing and pushing, but your body will crap out on you after about six to eight weeks. OK, maybe not crap out but your body will slow down and you will be very tired. 

Your performance will suffer as your body will not be able to push as hard as you need for any length of time. During workouts your heart rate will either rise really fast and get to its max number when at 75% effort quicker, or you won’t be able to get that heart rate to move up at all. 

You are usually at your best performance-wise after a few days or weeks of rest or easy workouts, which is why we taper for our races. As fatigue goes up, performance usually goes down. But there is that little window where the performance remains high while fatigue starts to fall - that is when you want to race or do your monthly testing to see if you are improving. Then once that fatigue falls, you still have a week, sometimes less depending on the sport, to start that training all over again and build for three weeks until the next rest/recovery cycle.

I usually say you can choose to take an easy week now, sleep in and recover, or you can wait until you have no choice but to sleep in and recover which usually is when you are sick, injured or are so tired that even easy workouts seem difficult.

So next time you see a post on dailymile where someone is recovering, it might not be from an injury but that they are taking a break from the intense workouts so they body can heal and be ready for the testing, racing or another training cycle ahead.