Slowly, but surely

My stomach virus ended up keeping me off of my feet as far as running is concerned for a whopping 10 days consecutively, excepting a hash, which sort of counts as running, but the exertion seemed to retard my recovery another 24-48 hours, but, c’est la vie. Since then, I’ve been trying to get myself back on my feet, and feel like a runner again. With the combination of hurting my foot on a recovery run several weeks ago, a solid  head cold, and the most recent illness, November has been the lowest mileage month of the year. The rest hasn’t gone completely to waste, and without any races looming in the immediate future, I don’t feel too guilty about it, but it’s nice to be starting to feel like a proper runner again, as opposed to the pseudo-recreationalist/couch potato that my logbook demonstrates for November.

As I’ve returned to the roads/trails I’ve noticed that my fitness has certainly diminished some, but in ways I didn’t quite expect. My endurance is understandably down, but more noticeable, is my erratic pace-rhythm. I’ve always been subject to positive splits, sometimes dramatic, sometimes understandably subtle, but in the recent days, I’ve found that positive splits are running my life… Part of this is likely derived from my abundant excitement to be running again, resulting in my heading from the car at ~7min pace on technical trails, which in my current state (or even when I’m very fit) is typically a ticking time bomb for walking, or at the very least, slowing down dramatically. Strange, however, is the fact that my body seems to be adjusting to this haste out of the gate, allowing me to crush former best times on many of my regular courses through the first 7 or so miles, which is when things seem to begin to fall apart, yielding mediocre overall times. So with some luck, I’ll be able to continue to push the boundaries, and eventually start knocking some serious time off of my regular runs, especially once i re-acquaint myself with the necessary pacing-distance ratios.

As far as the foot is concerned, it’s still not quite 100%, but I think I’ve figured out what’s exacerbating the discomfort, and how to change things so that it can both heal, and keep me running. I’ve returned to running roads, not exclusively, but substantially more than trails, which seemed to be aggravating my foot the most, and noticed that my cadence/balance was different on the road than it was on the trails. Part of this is the obvious necessity of negotiating roots/rocks/other technical aspects, but I think to an extent I had allowed myself to become formally lazy, since I wear a more built up shoe on the trail than I do on the road (more on this later). My trail shoes are still what most people would consider a “minimalist” shoe, but they’re still much more built up than my typical road shoe. Now I’m not an advocate of overly minimal trail shoes, as they simply don’t offer enough protection for the speed/distance/technicality of my regular runs, but the more protection, the more it hides form issues, this of course, is the trade-off. So running some in my road shoes has discouraged over-striding, as well as increased my turnover rate, which yields less impact on my sore foot, in addition, it’s facilitated a more mid-foot oriented strike, which i think is better balanced than an pure forefoot, thus engaging my calf more, and the foot a little bit less. So right now, the plan is to run a lot on roads to regain some fitness, and hill climbing strength, with the hope that when I return to mostly trail running, I’ll have the stamina to maintain better form throughout the run, and subsequently subject myself to fewer rough landings.

Last weeks summary:

Wed 11/30 1 mile 8:05
Thurs 12/1 AM 3.2 Miles up and down Allamuchy 38:00
PM 5 Miles Broken Shin Loop 44:28
Fri 12/2 4.85 Mostly power line trails 43:06 (near my record time.. ~1 min slower)
Sat 12/3 8.4 miles Schooleys Mountain. 1:40:20 I started out way too fast ~7 min pace, and made it through 3/4 of the loop before things started to break down, undernourished, under hydrated, overdressed, but it felt good to run some familiar trails again, and my splits for the first ~5 miles were way ahead of record pace, of course after that point, the positive split monster came out hard

View from Allamuchy

Delicious beer from Adams Beer Garden (it’s good for you, I swear)
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