Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

Sunday, July 13: Cross Training.
I returned to what has started to feel like my second home, the gym, for yet another elliptical session. I spent 40 minutes on the same elliptical I visited twice during my “long run” last week, and experienced no knee pain whatsoever! Hooray! I struggled through the workout, though. I felt tired and sluggish until the cooldown, but it’s entirely possible I just have no clue how to operate the machine and had it on too hard of a setting. I’ve only used LifeFitness ellipticals up to this point, but my gym doesn’t have any of those, and clearly the learning curve on the equipment the gym does have is steeper than one may have expected :P

Monday, July 14: Personal Training + Physical Therapy.
Two PTs in one day! Haha. I neglected to e-mail my trainer to tell him about my possible PFPS, so he ended up restructuring Monday’s workout on the fly. My bad :/ He took it easy on my knee, though, and instead gave me all sorts of core and upper body work to do. As it turns out, he had PFPS in high school, so fortunately he’s familiar with the condition and, I imagine, will be able to work around it.

Later on Monday I paid a visit to my other second home, the physical therapist, where I was beat up, per usual. My PT essentially did an injury screen on my knee and said it looked like I do, in fact, have PFPS, along with some possible patellar tendon inflammation (it felt “gritty,” the same word my PT last year used for my hip flexor). This may sound weird, but it was kind of nice to go through the injury screen, have my PT mess around with both knees, and truly feel different sensations in my right knee than my left. I know I’m a hypochondriac, and I don’t want to be too “girl who cried wolf” about my aches and pains, if you will, but doing all that confirmed that I’m not crazy (well…that’s debatable ;) ), just falling apart. Haha. He told me to continue with my runs as planned this week, however, and after that we’d reevaluate and see if I need to go to the doctor for a PFPS confirmation and/or additional PT script.

Tuesday, July 15: Dance
I somewhat questioned whether or not I should go to dance on Tuesday, but I knew we were learning new choreography and I didn’t want to fall behind, so, somewhat against my better judgment, I went. My PT hadn’t specifically forbid me going, after all…not that I asked or mentioned it in any way, but let’s not get caught up in the details. My knee was a bit sore after hip hop, and I planned on more or less sitting it out in breakdance, and then out of nowhere my Saturday teacher showed up at my Tuesday class, which was just as awesome as it was unexpected, but also made me feel like I needed to, you know, try. So I did, but not too much, and my knee didn’t give me quite as much trouble as it had during hip hop.

Wednesday, July 16: 4 miles in 39:48 for a 9:56 pace.
Oh, you guys. This run. Everything went so well! The weather was gorgeous, and when the weather is that nice I like to try to run as close to the lake as possible.


^^ Because obviously.

My knee felt fine, my toes felt fine, and I walked away from this run feeling happy and confident about training going forward.

Thursday, July 17: Physical Therapy.
Acquired some new bruises, did some exercises. Nothing too out of the ordinary here. My patellar tendon was sore for much of the day after this, but the rest of my knee felt all right.

Friday, July 18: Personal Training (and Bad Things).
My trainer is on vacation this week, so he had me come in twice to make up for it. We did the metabolic conditioning circuit he originally wanted me to do on Monday since my knee felt all right. It was tough: cable presses, kneeling chops with a ViPR, TRX rows/curls, some “rainbow” something or other (glute/hip work) and ropes, followed by a cooldown row. We did that five times, I believe. Not my normal Friday rest day, that’s for sure!

Then. Remember my designer drugs topical foot meds? Well, try as I may, I’ve found it impossible to get the medicine to absorb fully when I apply it. It leaves behind a bit of residue that’s not much of a problem when I wear shoes and socks, but creates a slick surface on sandal beds. On Friday, I wore sandals to work, and as I expected, my midday med application led to slippery sandals. I tried to clean things up using a paper towel, but my sandals remained slippery to the point where it affected how I walked — not a big deal while in the office, but definitely a big deal when walking from the office to public transportation, which is about a half mile. My gait put strain on my quad and lower back, and though my quad soreness went away almost immediately, my back soreness didn’t. In fact, as I write this late Sunday afternoon, my back soreness is still there.

I injured my back in August 2011, and that injury lingered until I took a full week off running and started back basically at square one of Couch to 5K to return to running (this was very early in my running career: I had only run one 5K up to that point, unlike now, where a usual run for me lasts three to four miles). My back never bothered me again until this past Friday. It’s the same pain in the exact same location, and, given the stubbornness of that injury, led me to have yet another injury-induced 1 a.m. panic attack Saturday morning. Woo. :|

Saturday, July 19: 7.09 miles in 1:14:42 for a 10:32 pace.
My back still ached Saturday when I woke up, but I went for my run anyway, because mentally, I could not stomach the idea of outright skipping two long runs in a row. The run actually went quite well, I thought. My body…eh, not so much. My knee felt great! No pain whatsoever! My toes went numb, though, and there was that whole back thing. I paid a visit to my BFFs, the always-wonderful employees of NovaCare, post-run, to discuss my new back situation. The PT I spoke to told me to not run at all until I met with my PT next later this week, and, given my ridiculous laundry list of injuries this season, to look into scheduling a VGA. She also told me she’d e-mail my PT on Monday to tell him she saw me, which made me irrationally nervous, because I had secretly hoped this would all go away by my appointment and I could just “forget” to mention it (and never wear sandals after applying my foot meds again). I went to dance later in the day because I want to use up the classes I paid for before they expire, but I essentially did stood there and frowned the whole time. I didn’t move enough to break a sweat, so I don’t think this had much of an impact on my back/knee/foot/life in general.

Because I am trying my hardest to stay positive, silver linings:
- My knee didn’t bother me during or after a run at all this week. I can’t sit for more than 30 minutes without pain upon standing, so I don’t think I’m magically PFPS-free, but this at least seems promising.
- The earliest I’ll run this week is Thursday, so if the forecast holds, I’ll avoid running in the heat and humidity predicted for early this week.
- I have four PT appointments left on my current script, so I’m at least set in that department through the end of next week.
- Though I feel like I’ve fallen horrifically behind in marathon training, a look at last year’s log vs. this year’s log shows that I’ve only done three less runs this cycle than I had at this point last year, meaning I’m not nearly as behind as I feared.

Keeping it real, though — I’m beyond fed up with all of this.
- I’m so frustrated with my body for refusing to get better when I’m doing my damndest to treat it well.
- I’m dreading PT later this week, because I’m afraid my PT will think I’m a neurotic fool for coming in with yet another crisis.
- I’m embarrassed to even post these marathon training recaps, not because of the quality of my workouts, but because if I were a blog reader, I would think I’m either 1) an idiot 2) stupidly paranoid 3) overreacting or 4) insufferably whiny. Actually, I’d probably think I was a combination of all four of those things.
- I’m worried that I’m going to have to DNS the BTN Big 10K this weekend, which would be my first DNS (and at a race I’ve enjoyed and PR-ed at twice in the past, no less).
- As time goes on, I become more and more concerned with where I stand in marathon training on the whole. I have yet to complete a double-digit run this cycle, and I’m not entirely hopeful I’ll get in  12 this weekend. I feel enormous pressure to run this stupid race since I registered through charity and have to raise $1,000 for OAR, and I wish I had just gone through the lottery and hoped for the best so, if nothing else, I could at least reassure myself with the idea that fate wanted me to run this race, instead of feeling like I circumvented the process, took matters into my own hands, and cheated my way into the marathon field by going through charity because I was too selfish about my own marathon goals to leave things up to chance.
- I feel like I’m making a mountain range that rivals the Himalayans out of molehills and that I’m being an entitled jerk for feeling like I’m owed a good marathon, and, honestly, for even caring in general, when there are plenty of people in the world suffering from far worse things than persistent running injuries that may or may not derail their marathon dreams.

Carry on with your Mondays. I’ll be over here, continuing to throw myself a self-indulgent pity party, if you need me.



Filed under Marathon Training

Thursday Things

1. I made it down to Taste of Chicago last Friday and arrived just in time for a rainstorm. Fortunately, I had my raincoat, and the rain chased most of the crowds away, making for a delightfully uncrowded Taste experience!


Nomz. Pasta and corn and a mini crab cake and a Rainbow Cone cup and a mini slice of cheesecake, oh my! This is how one eats when one knows she will not be long running on Saturday morning :P

Because I couldn’t long run on Saturday, I also stuck around for the music, which is my favorite part about Taste (free concerts? Yes please.).


And now I’ve seen Nickel Creek twice in the space of about two months. Super fan status?

2. Continuing on the theme of great music, on Saturday my roommate and I went to the Grant Park Music Festival (also in the rain…) to hear the orchestra play Holst’s The Planets and OHEMGEE. You guys. It was AMAZING.


I do, admittedly, enjoy classical music, but even I tend to doze off and get bored during orchestra concerts. Not on Saturday, though. The orchestra was outstanding, and if you get the chance to attend the Grant Park Music Festival this summer (it’s free on the lawn!), I can’t recommend it enough.

Also, I can’t stop listening to Jupiter from The Planets, so you should, too.

3. When I went to the podiatrist last week, she was happy with my foot, but prescribed me a topical medicine to take care of any residual numbness. Instead of prescribing a drug “off the rack,” if you will (you know, like Lipitor or some other mass produced drug), she had a compounding pharmacy combine a variety of medications in the specific combinations she requested to fit my needs as she determined them.

Naturally, I have taken to referring to this as a designer drug. Because I’m hilarious :P

Do you enjoy classical music?
How was your weekend? 
Is Thursday too late to ask that question? Haha.


Filed under Life

Chicago Marathon Training Week 5

Sunday, July 6: 3 miles in 27:47 for a 9:15 pace.
Though Sunday turned out to be quite hot and humid, it was cool in the morning: perfect interval weather! Or so I told myself while working up the motivation to do intervals. As far as speedwork goes, I really prefer tempo runs to intervals, but I know they’re both important and will hopefully pay off as the season goes on. I completed five quarter-mile intervals and managed to keep my pace right around the 8:00-8:10 mark for all of them. Hooray consistency!

Monday, July 7: Personal Training.
This session ended up being another quality-over-quantity sort of day at the gym. Over the course of the hour, I only did four different exercises, but BOY OH BOY did those exercises count. Turkish get ups were the particular bane of my existence on Monday. So complicated. So hard.

Tuesday, July 8: Dance.
Sometimes when Tuesday rolls around and I feel like I haven’t done much/enough in the workout department for the week, I commit to dancing as hard as I can during class. I didn’t feel like a slug come Tuesday, but I had indulged in a whole lotta office treats on Monday and Tuesday, so I wanted to give it my all in class. Fortunately, my teacher and I were on the same wavelength! HOLY. SMOKES. I was a sweaty beast after just hip hop, and then I had a whole additional hour of breakdance to get through (which, fortunately, is usually more of a “bursts of energy” sort of class than a “sustained energy for an hour” class).

I had a fair amount of front knee pain on Tuesday, particularly after sitting for extended periods of time. After terrifying myself into thinking I had IT band syndrome (before realizing my pain was well below where my IT band ends, thus eliminating that as a possibility), I Internet-diagnosed myself with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) instead, for which I actually do match the symptoms! Almost all of them, in fact! Isn’t the Internet a magical place? I don’t think I ever brought it up on the blog last year, but I had a brush with similar pain during marathon season last year (though in 2013, it didn’t show up until the beginning of September, a week or two before my hip flexor went kaput). Clearly I survived that ordeal, but I made a mental note to bring this up with my podiatrist (who admittedly is not a sports doctor, but at least is a medical professional well versed in lower body things) the following day anyway.

Wednesday, July 9: 5 miles in 50:58 for a 10:11 pace.
Let’s start with the good things, shall we? Good Thing #1: the weather could not have been more perfect on Wednesday. Good Thing #2: I felt fine for the majority of my run.

Now, onto what matters.

I mentioned my knee pain at my podiatrist appointment (the podiatrist, by the way, was quite happy with the state of my foot), and the physical therapist who had sat in on my appointment took a very brief look at my knee and said it may be PFPS, as I suspected. At the time my knee felt fine, so I went along my merry way, came home, did my usual PT exercises (skipping the squats and lunges, just in case they aggravated my knee), and headed out for an easy, easy five miler. I actively worked to not push myself on this run for the sake of my knee, and while my hamstrings felt a bit grumpy for the first two miles and the top of my shin hurt a little in the mid-section, my knee, particularly where it had hurt earlier, felt just fine…until I stopped running.

WORLD. OF. PAIN. Oh man. I stop running a few blocks from home to give myself time to walk to cool down, and I genuinely questioned whether or not I’d be able to make it home. I limped back to my apartment, grabbed my trusty bag of frozen peas out of the freezer, and plopped down on the floor to ice my knee and compose a panicked e-mail to my physical therapist.


Unfortunately, my knee still hurt a lot after the icing session, so I did my best to stay off it for the rest of the night, iced it twice more while watching So You Think You Can Dance, and slept with my body pillow under my knees for a little elevation.

Thursday, July 10: Cross training.

My PT got back to me Thursday morning (“Well that’s not what I wanted to hear.” You and me both, buddy.) and said based on my symptoms it did sound like PFPS (because Google never lies, yo! <– false) and instructed me to not run for the rest of the week. HMPH. He did, however, say I could bike and elliptical, so that’s exactly what I did on Thursday, trapped inside the gym while the rest of the city enjoyed picture perfect running weather.


Wahhhhhhhhhhh. I hate everything.

Friday, July 11: Rest.

Saturday, July 12: Cross training.
I did my best to simulate a long run on low-impact equipment at the gym. In theory, I should have run 10 miles Saturday morning, which, at a 10:30 pace, adds up to 105 minutes of running. Because I absolutely could not survive 105 minutes on one machine with the one remaining strand of sanity I have left intact, I bounced around, starting on an elliptical for 26 minutes, moving onto another elliptical-ish device for another 26 minutes, transferring to a stat bike for another 26 minutes, and finishing up back on the elliptical where I began everything for 27 minutes. I kept my pace easy on everything and put in a total of 12.74 miles when all was said and done. I fueled halfway through, just like I would do on a long run, hydrated consistently, and stretched, foam rolled, and did my PT exercises after the fact. I even did a one minute plank to maintain my 10:30 Awesome status :)

I felt like my knee consistently improved since Wednesday’s disaster (where, mind you, it didn’t hurt to run — it hurt after I ran). On Thursday I still had a fair amount of pain when I’d get up after sitting for a long time, but that wasn’t as much of an issue on Friday. My knee felt off during my exercising on Saturday, but, to put it in classic scale-of-0-to-10 terms, I’d file Saturday as a solid 1 or 2 (whereas post-run Wednesday was more of an 8, and walking-after-sitting would be more of a 4-5). It didn’t feel right, but it has also felt much, much worse. On the elliptical where I began and ended Saturday’s “long run,” my knee felt stiff to start but loosened up and felt 100% fine towards the end, which was definitely encouraging.

I have an appointment with my PT this afternoon, after which we’ll (by which I mean “he’ll”) decide if I need to go to the sports doctor…which I imagine would result in me being sent back to PT, where I’m already scheduled for five more foot-related appointments anyway. I won’t be running until I’m told I’m allowed to, but I plan on cross training my face off in the mean time.

To say I’m frustrated by this would be an enormous understatement. It’s one thing to do something stupid and get injured. It’s another thing to follow your training program–alter your training program, in fact, to eliminate junk miles–faithfully cross train, strength train, and do your physical therapy exercises, stretch and foam roll like a champ–in short, to do everything you’re supposed to do to stay healthy–and still get injured. 2014, for both concrete and more vague reasons, has been a really tough year for me mentally. While no one incident has made this year a struggle, the cumulative effect of lots of smaller incidents has left me wondering why the hell I can’t seem to catch a break in any department and when things will finally start going well for a change. Through all of that, running has been my primary sanity preserver. When I run, I don’t think. I just exist. I count my steps and breathe accordingly, and that’s it. One, two, three, one two. Inhale, exhale. I’ve spent most of this year feeling like I need a vacation not just from work, but from life and its responsibilities and problems in general. For me, running is that vacation. It’s the one time where, no matter what my foot or my knee or my shins or whatever is doing, I feel okay. Yes, I desperately want to run the marathon in October. But far more importantly than that, I don’t want to lose my “vacation.” Running doesn’t solve my problems, but it keeps them from getting worse, which, at this point, is all I ask. I desperately do not want that taken away from me, and I hope that by catching this essentially when it started, I’ll be able to hang on for the next few months.


Filed under Marathon Training