Saturday, February 26, 2011

5K Race Report and a Healthy Banana Split Recipe

This post is a week late-- thank you Reluctant Runner, for the reminder. I ran the ReLove Haiti 5K last Saturday, and I got a PR! I haven't have a 5K PR since a race in August of 2009, when I ran 28:01 in the middle of marathon training. This time I ran an even 27:00, an 8:45 pace. Granted.... the course was a tiny bit short. Garmin showed 3.08, so even if I add in 10 seconds it is still a significant PR. I could have held on to that 8:45 overall pace for another 10 seconds, I'm pretty sure!

It was cold and windy, but very flat. My husband and I did the race together---our first together! We stayed together for almost a half mile, then he backed off a little. He finished in just over 29 minutes, but he runs about 6 miles a month total, so that was AWESOME. He PR'd by about 2 minutes.

I had hoped to PR in the 5K. However, things weren't looking great when I struggled through a 5-mile run on Tuesday and then came down with a stomach virus Tuesday night and Wednesday. On Thursday, I was feeling a little better, but I'd say I wasn't quite 100% on race day. During my warm up, my legs felt very energy-less. But when the gun shot went off, I was flooded with adrenaline and willed myself to run sub-9 minute miles. My first mile was exactly an 8:45 pace. In the 2nd mile, I fell off pace a little and had my slowest mile, but mile 3 was my fastest at 8:42. I flew through the .08 trying to pass another runner (unsuccessfully), but was so happy. Yes, being one second away from anything in the 26-range is a little annoying, but I think I will get it in the next flat 5K. (Note to self: look for another flat 5K race. It's hilly here in Tennessee, so they are few and far between.)

So....... I have had a 1-mile PR in the last month. And a 5K PR in the last month. In two weeks, I will have a half-marathon....... PR???

Today, I ran my last long run, 13.1 at an easy pace of 10:33 overall on a moderately hilly course. It was actually faster than my last half-marathon in September, when I was coming off an injury on an extremely hilly course. I was feeling good up until about 9.5, then it got sort of hard today. I think I ate too little breakfast (a bowl of Special K Proten Plus with a few raisins and coffee). The half-marathon PR time to beat is 2:09:44, a 9:55 pace (though Garmin had me at 9:49 pace that day).

In October, I ran a 10K at a 9:33 overall pace and in November, I ran a 5-miler at a 9:02 pace (big PR there!). Can I run 13.1 at faster than a 9:55 pace?

The race pace calculator at http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/ says I can based on both my recent 5K and 5-miler. It says I should shoot for 9:36 per mile and finish about 2:05:54. Yikes. That sounds hard. That would be a minute faster than every mile today. The good news is that it is another FLAT course. What do you think? Can I do it?

On to my other two favorite topics: Crossfit and Clean Eating!

I have found a new Crossfit group! There is a group of women who meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to do Crossfit. It's $10 per class. I joined them last Tuesday for a very difficult workout and was so glad to not come in last! We did walking lunges for 100 meters carrying between 16 lbs. and 40 lbs. and then sets of 21 burpees for FIVE ROUNDS. Ouch. I estimated I did between 100-150 lunges and counted 105 burpees. I couldn't sit on the toilet comfortably for 3 days. Walking and running were painful. But that's just Crossfit! I also did the warm up with 30 pull ups (unassisted), 30 sit ups, and 30 push ups. My upper body was a little sore, but nothing like my lower body. I had forgotten what a hard Crossfit workout does to me! But I really liked the coach---a fellow preschool mom like me (that's where we met) and already knew 3 of the women in the class. I loved having an all-women group. I don't think I like working out with men. I would have gone back on Thursday, but I teach my YMCA class Strength and Conditioning for Runners at that time. We ran 3 miles and did a mini-crossfit workout that day. This could have impacted my run today, I guess. Maybe that was part of why miles 9.5 to 13 were a struggle.

Speaking of struggles, I have been struggling to stay on the clean eating bandwagon lately. I find myself justifying cheat after cheat. I'm only running about 20 miles per week, so I can't really justify eating extra calories, especially from junk. I have found that PMS wreaks havoc on clean eating. (TMI?) But at other times, I crave the good stuff.

Here is a recipe I LOVED from this month's Clean Eating Magazine:

Healthy Banana Split

1. Cut banana in half lengthwise (of course).
2. Top with Horizon Organic 1% cottage cheese. *It has less sodium than other brands and has less of the typical sour cottage cheese taste.
3. Add one tablespoon of Polander All-Fruit Strawberry Preserves (this brand is sweetened with fruit juice, not sugar. I got the one that is fruit and fiber.)
4. Top with a teaspoon full of chopped macadamia nuts. I got the chopped, no salt ones in the baking section.
*I did sprinkle a tiny bit, maybe a half teaspoon, of vanilla Beverly International Protein Powder on it because it makes everything better.

YUM!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Minimalist Approach

I'm taking a very minimalist approach to training lately. No, I don't mean barefoot running, though I do run an occasional 1/4 or 1/2 mile barefooted. I mean minimal miles. I haven't had a week over 20 miles in a while and I'm only a month out from my next half-marathon, where I *hope* to PR.

The last time I had a half-marathon PR, I was running very high mileage, five days a week, but all at a slow pace. This time, I'm running low mileage, only 3 days per week, try to emphasize "quality" on my two short runs during the week, but keep it easy on the long runs on Saturdays. I'm also including strength training for the first time, specifically lower body work with squats and lunges and the like. I'm not lifting heavy, mostly I'm using my own body weight for resistance, with the occasional dumbbell or kettlebell thrown in.

I wonder which approach is better? I suppose I'll find out in a month. Luckily, it is the same course as the last PR race, so I won't be comparing apples to oranges, just high mileage vs. low mileage.

Yesterday, I only had time for two miles, and I set a new one-mile PR. I ran the 2nd mile in 8:17 on the treadmill. Yes, I FINALLY broke 8:30!! I think I could have gone faster, but for the first 1/2 of the mile, I had the treadmill set on 8:27 pace, so I made up a lot of time in the second 1/2, finishing at about a 7:53 pace, which was HARD. I think I might have an 8:00 minute mile in me sometime in the next year. I plan to do a one-mile time trial once a month to find out. Today, I ran a 5 miler with 3 miles at a tempo pace. I ran the last mile at goal half-marathon pace--around 9:48. My previous half-marathon PR was 9:49 pace, so I'd like to beat that by one second, if possible. For the first time in a while, I completed 5 miles on the treadmill without stopping. Usually, I take little breaks to alleviate the monotony, but today, I just ran straight through. It's nice to know I can run 5 miles non-stop on a given day without much sleep (daughter has stomach bug) and with a sinus infection. I think 8 may be my record. I never actually took a walk break on Saturday's 10-miler, but I did stop to tie my shoe and to say hello to people once or twice, so I guess that doesn't count as nonstop.

I'm starting to get a little excitement back about running. The last phase before a race is called the "sharpening" phase. I'm definitely there. I hope to have some good quality miles over the next 3 weeks, going into taper for the race. I'm running a 5K next Saturday, Feb. 19, and I'd love to see a PR there. Hopefully, it will all sort of snowball--- a one-mile PR sets the stage for a 5K PR, which sets the stage for a strong half-marathon.

My injury is showing improvement for the first time in a while. It still aches if I sit for a long time, but it is bothering me less and less during and after runs. Hallelujah! If all it takes is less sitting, that is no problem!

I have taken the marathon off my TO DO list for this spring. There is no way I can be ready for a marathon in 8 weeks with only a 10-mile long run and running less than 20 miles per week. Last Saturday, I felt a lot of fatigue in those last 2 or 3 miles, so I know my body is just not adapted right now for really long distances. My mid-week miles have literally been only 2-4 miles at a time, and for a marathon, you need some pretty long week day runs, too. It is actually with relief that I let it go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Self-Treating My Injury on a Budget (a.k.a. You Tube is my physical therapist)

I had a blue Monday yesterday-- the kind of day where you just want to sleep and eat. I felt sad, blah, and had no energy. I don't know when my body started requiring TWO rest days after a semi-longish run on Saturday (7 miles, 5 at tempo pace of 9:58), but it seems I'm there. (It's 40, I tell you!) My left leg hurt on both Sunday and Monday after Saturday's run and I was devoid of energy. I'm eating more carbs than I was---some whole grain bread, oatmeal or oat bran, rice crackers, occasional white potatoes--but still would classify myself as low to moderate carb compared to the SAD (standard American diet). The Paleo folks would say I'm struggling to recover from my longer runs because of the grains in my diet most likely. I would respond that I tried no grains and for me it equalled no energy.

I think I have finally figured out why my left leg hurts. On the Crossfit Mobility Workout of the Day video the other day, the coach mentioned having a high hamstring strain and then went on to describe it and show an exercise to stretch the hamstring pre-workout to prevent said injury.
It sounded exactly like my injury. After consulting several Internet docs, I have concluded it is not my piriformis at all, but my hamstring. I have either a hamstring strain or a neural hamstring. It spasms and aches often: during runs, after runs, when I'm sitting in my car, when I'm sitting at the computer working. So what's a runner on a budget to do? Get on You Tube for some physical therapy advice, of course!

Running is my therapy, and now You Tube is my physical therapist! I'm cheap that way.

I actually searched "hamstring strain stretches" or something like that. This very nice lady who appears to be a physical therapist (or pseudo-physical therapist?) posted two stretches for the hamstring. I liked how she told me to, "Stretch into the pain, then out of the pain." They were somewhat ballistic stretches---not really bouncing, but just held for a second or two and released, then repeated. I've been doing them plus the Crossfit guy's stretch for about 3 days now. I have also tried massage (my husband does this for free, but he's not really a masseuse) and a product like Icy Hot. I have used my big pink foam roller. (I have The Stick, but I haven't tried it yet.) So far...... I can't really see a difference. That's what I get for self-treating an injury on a budget!

Sunday was the one-month mark of the injury. Maybe that is why I was blue on Monday. And no, I haven't actually gone to a real doctor. I hesitate to go to a doc and then they order an MRI and 4 weeks of physical therapy..... I wind up paying a bunch out of pocket because I have crappy insurance. So, I'm going to stick to self-treating and You Tube physical therapy. I mean, it's only running. Well, and sitting.

One thing I learned at various websites is that running through this is ok as long as it's not too painful. It helps scar tissue not to build up and decrease the range of motion permanently. Stretching is good except when it's really hurting--then stretching just makes it mad. Even some squats and light straight-leg deadlifts are good for strengthening it. I miss Crossfit, but it's so hard core, I can't go back to the box (the nifty slang name for a Crossfit gym) just yet.

I wonder if I should just take like a month off from running and exercising? Nah. I think this is just one of those minor injuries you run through. Plus, I'm committed to long runs each Saturday as I train 9 folks for the Country Music Half Marathon and Tom King Classic Half Marathon who have already paid the YMCA a bunch of money for me to be their coach. And there's the little matter of the Thursday morning class Strength and Conditioning for Runners that I teach at the Y, too. Rest really isn't an option.

BONUS MATERIAL:
Thanks for continuing to read! Here is a recipe for HOMEMADE PROTEIN BARS that was inspired by a local nutrition trainer in my town named Nicole Spitzack. I've modified a few things from her original recipe, but I do owe her lots of credit.

1 jar almond butter (I used Emerald brand and mixed half crunchy and half creamy)
1 cup chocolate protein powder (good with Muscle Milk chocolate)
1 cup quick oats (Just plain Quaker oats)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs. almonds (sliced works better than slivers)
1 tsp ground flax seed (optional)
1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

Mix all that together. Smoosh (the technical term) into a small casserole dish. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to one week. They are what my husband calls "healthy good." Don't expect brownies or anything!