Why did I not go out for just 1 more run to accomplish my goal of 2,000 miles for the year.
2015 has been a great year for me and I’m looking forward to another great year ahead. 2014 was tough having an injury which kept me from running for 12 months, still not sure what the injury was but my hip just screamed at me within the first mile and I wasn’t able to run through it. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but this just kicked me every time I tried, it started on the inside near my groin, then around to where the incision was and then down the outside of my leg, around my knee and into the calf. My hip surgeon said the hip was fine, I saw several other docs, PT, acupuncture etc., but none of them could identify the issue and after several thousand dollars I decided it was time to give it a complete rest from running. I didn’t use that as an excuse to do nothing, instead I found other activities to keep me fit. I started off pool jogging, running in a pool with an aqua belt, not the most interesting exercise but you can mimic different training plans and get a good, no impact workout. I started doing yoga up to 3 times a week, boot camp also 3 times a week and open water swimming. I got on a bike for the first time in over 30 years and enjoyed that, so when my Physical Therapist introduced me to the EliiptiGo bike I had to go out and buy one. It’s like an elliptical machine on wheels, so you get to go out rather than being stuck in a gym and it’s higher intensity than a normal bike. The best part is that it almost feels like running as that’s what it was designed for, runners with injuries and many professional runners (Meb) train on this. It’s expensive but well worth it. This was a great foundation for my best year of running so far, I still try to do a lot of the above but not as much as I should with all the running I do. I suggest you incorporate many of these activities into your weekly schedule and it will pay off with the running. On top of that I also ice my hip area a lot, like 3 times each evening and one in the morning, I have 100% ice compression pants, they are expensive but for me worth it. You can improvise for a lot less but I highly recommend frequent icing.
I started the year off cautiously, not knowing if I would be able to even get close to the level I was at 2 years earlier, being 2 years older and a yearlong injury doesn’t exactly boost your confidence. I didn’t schedule many races and left a good gap in between any that I did, in fact in the first 42 weeks I only raced 7 times in contrast to the last 10 weeks where I raced 7 times. To my surprise my times were still very good at the beginning, only a little of my pace for similar races in 2013. I had been training hard and smart with various running groups in Miami, iRun, Fit2Run and Brickell Run Club, and running alongside some of the top runners in each group. I kept up with as much cross training as I could and still organize a weekly fun triathlon each in Indian Rocks Beach for the Clever Training run group and I also teach a weekly boot camp where I work in Coconut Grove, Miami area. My first PR of the year came in May with an 18:47 5K, I had always wanted to do a sub 19 minute 5K so was super pleased to achieve this, especially as I didn’t do a lot of speed workouts, unfortunately they always aggravate my hip and set me back a week or so in my training. Later that month I joined 5 other runners from iRun and we ran a 100 mile relay down in the Keys where we finished 3rd overall, excellent as our average age was 50 and we had 2 female and 4 male runners, our average pace for the 100 miles was around 6:45 per mile. As the year progressed I gained more confidence, changed my eating habits and took on more challenges.
Driving down to Miami most weeks gives me plenty of time in the car and I started listening to Audible books, my first book was ‘Born to Run’, a book about the Tarahumara Indians in the canyons of Mexico and a 50 mile ultra race. It was intriguing to listen to and got me thinking about what I might be capable of and by the end of my second book, Scott Jurek’s ‘Eat and Run’ I was hooked and signed up for my first ultra. I was going on vacation the first week of June so took that week off and when I came back started training for a 6 hour race just 10 weeks later. After my only marathon (3:19:12) to date in 2013, which started the whole injury problem as I didn’t rest and started training even though my hip felt bad after the race, I never expected to be running another marathon, let alone having to run a marathon alternate weekends as part of my ultra training. I finished second in my first ultra running 35.5 miles and my hip felt great, the only issue I had was with severe cramping from mile 28 and that was down to the heat, humidity and me not hydrating well during the race. 3 weeks later was an even bigger challenge, the 46 mile long Pinellas Trail Challenge, having cramped so bad and taking almost 2 hours to run the last 7.5 miles I was concerned if that happened if I might not be able to complete this course. Well I did and finished second again in a time of 7 hours and 30 minutes, in the middle of a Florida summer, no more Ultra’s for me, or will there be?
Next up would be a series of half marathons and hopefully a sub 1:30 PR, the first on October 11th in Spokane Washington to meetup with fellow HipRunner and founder Tom. Unfortunately Tom’s knee required some surgery and he wasn’t able to race with me but it was still great to meet him and his family. The race went better than I could have imagined and despite all the hills I was able to smash my PR by 3 minutes with a 1:28:08 and 10th overall finish and that was on a hip that was hurting from the week before after some speed work. I ran my next half 3 weeks later with a 1:28:04 PR, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t break 1:28 as it was on a flat course but in 70 degree plus Florida weather. I then smashed my 10K PR by 3 minutes with a 39:31 on Thanksgiving Day in the Turkey Trot race in Clearwater.
My last 3 races of the year on consecutive weekends in December, a 5K, a half and 10K I probably shouldn’t have raced any of them. After 6 months of no rest apart from a couple of days before most races, my hip was beginning to show the strain of all the training and now racing too often. Typically the training doesn’t cause any pain apart from speed work, but after each race from a 5K to the half my hip is always bad and once I’ve crossed the finish line I can hardly walk. I guess the ultra’s don’t aggravate my hip as they’re run at a slower pace and feels more like an longer training run rather than the intensity of a race. The 5K I was about to give my bib to someone else as my hip felt so bad but I went on to run it in 19:30. I considered not running the half the week later but I was meeting fellow HipRunner Felicity from South Africa and had got myself caught up a mileage goal of 2,000 miles for the year so I still had to do the miles whether I raced or not. For the half I increased my cadence and tried to stay super light on my feet, especially my left leg, and was able to finish the race in 1:28:50. Apart from the usual discomfort with my hip after the race I didn’t feel any other issues until I took my dog to the dog park a couple of hours later, my left Achilles heel was really tight and sore, I guess from not fully putting my foot down and changing my cadence. For the next week I eased up on my training runs, just going at 80% of my usual effort but it didn’t get any easier. Again I should have pulled out but now I was so close to the 2,000 mile goal I had to do it, and again my body pulled through and I was able to finish in 39:51.
Now with 2 weeks to go and less than 50 miles to run I was so close to a goal that evolved during the year. At the start of the year I didn’t have any great expectation, I was just happy to be out running again. Towards the end of February I was with Matt from Fit2Run at the Brickell Run Club when we decided to set a goal of 1,200 miles for the year, I was running less than 80 a month at that time. A couple of months later we upped the goal to 1,500 and during my ultra training 2,000 became a realistic goal. Now with just days left running a few miles each day would easily see me reach that goal but my heel was still feeling bad. On Christmas Eve, a 6 mile jog through my neighborhood in Indian Rocks Beach, I came back and my heel felt worse than before. Now I was left with the tough decision of listening to the advise that I give out to others freely but rarely follow myself, or just put in a few more miles and reach the goal. I know that I have 2 half’s on back to back weekends in mid January and I also know that not listening to my body forced me to take a year off from running. If I took the next 10 days off I would give my heel some rest and probably more importantly my hip that had been complaining now for over 3 months. So now I’ve been enjoying riding my ElliptiGo bike this week and resting.
Having the mileage goal had pushed me into making some bad decisions about racing and now it was time to make a tough call, so I’ve hung up my running shoes until the New Year and will finish 1 run short of reaching 2,000 miles. I’m not confident that everything will be ready on January 4th when I start training again but at least I finally listened to my body and made the right decision. I run for enjoyment, I run to be fast and competitive in races, I run because it makes me feel good. I’m not going to set any mileage goals for 2016, I don’t even know what distance I will focus on. With only 4 years of running experience I still don’t know where my strength is, short 5K races or maybe even a mile, the half, a marathon or do I concentrate on ultras and if so do I look for an even longer run. Being fit for another year of challenges is exciting and I’m looking forward to it, running with many new friends and helping to inspire others. Listening to your body and taking some time off after races is important, adjusting your schedule or workout isn’t bad, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s actually a strength. Do what is right for you and the long term and don’t focus on goals that don’t add real value, I’m not saying there isn’t any value reaching a huge milestone and I wish I could be reporting that I did it. I wish you all the best for 2016 and know that if there is an injury, you can come back stronger than ever and look forward to reaching new heights.
By the way, my Garmin had me 4 miles short of 2,000 but Strava 26 miles short, it didn’t feel right to just run 4 more and claim victory.