That Sinking Feeling

You know that sinking feeling when you suddenly are aware of a niggle, a sore spot, or a pain that wasn’t there 5 minutes ago. Oh well it’ll go away, you say. Then it doesn’t go away. You only become more aware of it. Is it getting worse, or am I only noticing it more? Then 5 minutes later and you are quite sure it is getting worse. That blister is growing, that muscle is stretched too far, that knee is overused. Do you turn back? Do you push through it? Do you slow down for a bit? Do you take off your sock mid-run to analyze the situation?

My lunch run on Tuesday started out very well. The sun was shining. I was aiming for 10 km along the beautiful river. But at just over 1 km in, I started feeling a tightening of one calf. “What, my calf? Since when do I have calf problems? I never have calf problems.” Within 200m the tightening turned to pain, and the pain caused me to slow down. 500m later I turned around. I knew I would never make 10 km. In fact I walked part of the way back.

Panic set in. How did I get into this? How is this going to affect my training plan?

Well I was smart enough not to run the next day. And the day after, I only did 3 km. I essentially took the whole week off. It helped that the week was super busy anyway and I wasn’t in a critical phase of my training plan.

That was two weeks ago. So I took the one week off because I was injured. Then I got “lucky” enough to get the flu and a deep chest cold for a week. So I essentially took 2 weeks off, almost completely without running.

So my calves seem much better. I haven’t even noticed them on my two inaugural runs since then.

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So the lesson learned is that if you are going to get injured, do it well before an event so that you can easily convince yourself to take it easy, and not have to worry about training. And then after you think you are injury free, take another week off, just to be sure.

Unfortunately, this is WAY easier said than done. No one ever does this of their own volition. Do they?

Train smart!

Should I Run Today? – Decision Tool

To run or not to run today, that is the question.

Have you ever had trouble deciding if you should go for a run? Well you aren’t alone. We all have those indecisive days.

Introducing this FREE simple tool to help you decide if you should run today.

Just input 7 factors including the weather (from “perfect” to “hurricane”), how you feel (“not feeling it” to “awesome”), how long ago your last date was, and the importance of the other things you could be doing instead of running.

The tool makes the decision for you.

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Bonus feature: This tool can be used as ammunition to prove to your loved ones that yes indeed you do need to go on another run. “It says so, right here”

And it is fast enough that if you are lying in bed at 4:30AM trying to decide whether to get out on that run, you can find out in mere minutes before your brain kicks in.

So why not get started with these 7 simple questions.

Step 1) Click here to enter the decision factors.

Step 2) Come back to this blog page and refresh this post to find out below if you should run today.

We can’t leave these important decisions to our own hapless selves. Let a computer do it for you.

When is Too Sick to Run?

Flu season is awful. And we are in the middle of it, at least in our part of the world. If you’ve stayed healthy this far into the winter, there’s a pretty good chance you are not going to make it much further before hitting the meds and taking a few days off.

What do we do when we are trying to get all our training sessions in but sickness is threatening to derail the training. We are all worried about lost training days, especially the closer it gets to the event. And this time of year there are so many people ramping up their training for spring races.

Around here, the weather has been unseasonably warm for several weeks now, and the sun is inviting me to get outside as much as possible. But two days ago I woke up with a low grade fever and sniffles. It slowly got worse and today I am taking the day off work. I haven’t run in several days, even though my legs are aching to get out there. And my training has had a rotten start to the year so far. So I need to hurry up and get on with the regimented training. The pressure is on.

How do you decide whether to run or not?

Everyone has their own line in the sand when to cancel that run. The answer is not a simple one and can often be influenced by how critical a particular training run is to our running goals.

Here’s the rules of thumb that I try to stick with for myself, but aren’t necessarily true for anyone else.

Don’t Go – Throwing up, fever, coughing, dizzy. Take meds, go to the doctor, stay in bed. No brainer!

Go Anyway: Technically sick but…  “Just” the sniffles, foggy brain, low energy, “just” feeling rotten. Sometimes a short run will temporarily improve things a bit.

If it is not obvious whether to go or not, my rules:

  • if the cold is neck and above, get on out there. The fresh air does most of us a lot of good.
  • If it a lung / chest cold, better stay home. Don’t be coughing up a lung on a run.
  • Any level of fever – Stay home!

Remember that a few days (or even two weeks) of not running is not going to reduce your fitness. It may eat away at you psychologically but it is far better to get better first so you can put in solid training. A return to solid training after a few days off is way better than mediocre training when you’re feeling rotten.

Get better, and train on.

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What are your criteria on when to cancel that scheduled run?

 

5k Royal Flush

A royal flush in my books is 5 consecutive kilometers where each kilometer is faster than the previous. I don’t think I have ever knowingly achieved this. And it is definitely easier to achieve when you are hearing the splits in your ear than if you would just do it on perceived effort or perceived speed.

Well, today I was on an “easy” 5km run and was surprised when I heard my 3 km time as being faster than the previous 2km stretches and wondered if I really was going faster. I hadn’t started particularly slow, in fact my first km was faster than I had run in a couple months. Then I thought I bet I could do the next one even faster. After the 4km mark when I heard that I was indeed still faster, I had to challenge myself to finish this “easy” training run with an even faster last kilometer. I hadn’t run that fast in 6 months or more. But I did already have a good warm up in so I booted on it, risking it a little more than normal on the icy spots. I would normally have slowed a little more on the ice, but there was now a challenge in the works. And challenges are meant to be taken head on.

And I did it!

I hadn’t started out with any particular goal. And I definitely was not planning on speed work. I just needed to stretch my legs. But when you set out a goal, there’s no telling what’ll happen. Either you’re up for it, or it gnaws at you for another whole day.

5:03/km, 4:40, 4:31, 4:28, 4:03/km for an average of 4:33 / km

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Foiled by a blizzard

It’s super cold and windy out there this morning! A blizzard has descended and my outdoor running plan for this morning has been foiled.

I am on a business trip and I evidently didn’t bring all the right winter running stuff. I thought I was ready for Winnipeg winter running, but not quite.

I gave it a shot but didn’t last 5 minutes before turning around.

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I still have the option of a treadmill run but now that I have had a big breakfast I might just be skipping the run. I could try again this evening. But oh yeah, it’s Superbowl Sunday. And I have a feeling my running priorities might be lower this afternoon.

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My Introduction to Mountain Races – #tbt

My second ever race was a half marathon mountain race about 10 years ago. I had just run the Vancouver marathon a few months before and felt the need to keep going with this running thing. The closest thing to a race near our small town in northern BC was the Emperor’s Challenge about 2 hours away on the edge of the Rockies. Someone casually told me about it and as I looked into it, I got excited. It sounded crazy. But crazy was good. Basically it was 600m up a mountain following a creek bed and then back down a mountain road. I don’t remember having a good idea how much 600m is but I knew it was going to be excruciating. And I was going to have to do some hill training and learn how to do trails.

So I set about with hill training. Having grown up and still living in the prairies I didn’t really know what hills were. And trails? I didn’t know where to find them. All my marathon training had been on dead flat roads.

By accident I discovered that one of the dead ends near the river valley had a deer trail down to the bottom. So one day I went down it. Straight down it. Then straight back up heaving like never before. Over a matter of months I upped it to three times in one go. This dead end at the top of the hill was one of the romantic lookouts where cars came to park for a while, so I’m sure there were a few couples who wondered at my sanity. I wondered too.

On the way to this hill, I would run pass one of the farms that housed dog sled dogs. In the summer they trained on wheeled sleds on the adjacent road. As I would pass them, it would be very noisy with all the yipping, but all their training worked to inspire me to train harder.

A couple times, I also ran down the highway on a 5 km downhill stretch that was 5% slope for 5 km. And then I had my wife (and 3 and 5 year olds) pick me up at the bottom. I couldn’t contemplate going back up. She is amazing.

I never really got my trail training in except a couple times while camping, but I did a good effort on the hills.

I didn’t really know what to expect for the race, but now as I look back it was not that abnormal from a trail race. Maybe 100 competitors. Very casual start. Very crowded, confusing first kilometer. I wore too much at the start but was freezing at the top and warm again at the bottom. I wore my road shoes since I didn’t know there was such a thing as trail running shoes.

I was quite happy with my finish. I was very encouraged by being able to pass people even to the end, and even after the 14 km of continuous downhill.

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We had warning that it was going to be a steep one!
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My daughter’s first race, and my second race.

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It was a great introduction to trail running. But oddly that was the last trail race I did for a few years. I’m not sure why, but at first it didn’t stick. It took a couple more trail races before trails got into my blood. And now they are in my blood.  I would love to go back and try my hand at that race again.

The views are spectacular (if you notice them between all the huffing and puffing).

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http://www.emperorschallenge.com/ – Tumbler Ridge, BC – Babcock Mountain

 

Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it

Some people reward themselves with chocolate and Dairy Queen. Some people read a book. Some people have alone time. And some people go out with friends for a treat.

But I treat myself by going for a run. The longer the better. If it is by myself even better. The best is on a lonely in the trail in the mountains. If I wake up the next morning all stiff, I know it was a good one.

I sometimes feel selfish when I run so I need to balance life with running.

Others think I’m masochistic but I’m just fueling a need to get out there and go long.

I know I’m not the only one. Go for it. Reward yourself with a run. You’ve earned it.

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Uninspiring, but got’er done

Some runs just aren’t inspiring. They don’t fire you up. You don’t get that kick during or after the run. Some runs are just runs.

But unless you do the uninspiring ones, you won’t appreciate the truly great runs.

Take yesterday. Yesterday was a bit of a drudgery. I ran in a new area in the city so I thought it would be interesting. But 3/4 of it ended up being along sidewalks in cookie-cutter subdivisions. The part that was in a linear park was way too icy to be much fun. I had hoped to stay on this trail much longer but it was taking too much concentration to stay on my feet so back to the sidewalk I went.

And then the battery in my earbuds died. My own thoughts are not that boring but it was unexpected and worse still I was in the middle of a good audiobook.

So I’m trying to turn that run around in my head. There were some really good parts:

  • Daylight running – Winter running doesn’t offer a lot of it except on weekends. And it was a Sunday afternoon.
  • Sun – Yeah for sun! It definitely improves my mood
  • I got my distance in. I was aiming for 15 km and, hit 15.5 km on a looped run in a unfamiliar area without having to do too much guessing

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Sure, it was uninspiring, but I got it done and it really wasn’t that bad. It could have been a blizzard. And the next time I run on the mountain trails, I am sure going to appreciate it all that much more.

Juggling the Long Runs

For the next 7 out of 12 weekends I will be living out of a suitcase, mostly travelling for work. But I will be at home for 10 out of 12 Tuesday through Thursdays. This schedule is looking problematic when it comes to getting consistent runs in and on getting the long runs spaced evenly apart.

The weekday evening runs are still in the dark, still icy, and still tough to get in so making them longer is not easy. And I’m not looking forward to the treadmill running at a hotel. An hour on a treadmill is an eternity for me. But if I can muster it energy wise, I will try to find some new routes from the many hotels and friends places that I am staying at.

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Packing the shoes first

I think I will have to wait until these 3 months pass before trying to firm up a training schedule. I would love to start a stricter regiment already but it is probably pointless right now.

Out and back, then back and out

Tonight I ran downstream along the river, returned home, then ran upstream along the river. Why downstream first? I have no idea. But it seemed right. Sunset views all the way both downstream and upstream. Perfect timing.

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I got home early from work so I was able to run mostly before dark. That doesn’t happen very often these days. But I will take it when I can get it. It was a whole lot better than yesterday when I ran near downtown on the sidewalks with the eerie streetlights in a strange area.

So today was 6 km + 6 km with a 2 minute break in the middle.

My weekly mileage is hopefully going to slowly creep up for the next few months in anticipation of another big spring and summer of running.

Happy trails.

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