Failed Recovery

I’ve fallen victim to one of the cliche troubles with running ultra-distances, the post-race injury. It seems that this is a rather common occurrence, and, to me at least, seems to make sense. After training at a sub-maximal level for months on end, topping mileage out at a near maximal level, eventually the body simply needs a rest, which should commonly come before the race (see: taper) and then afterwards in the recovery phase. However, like any over-zealous cocky runner who see’s his fitness as having peaked for a race, I decided to begin running again immediately, on what were obviously sore/tired/un-healed legs, and have as a result, found myself dealing with ITBS.
ITBS, or Iliotibial band syndrome is probably best described here. Fundamentally it’s and inflamation of the IT band that manifests itself as lateral pain in the knee. So, as a result, I’m relegated to resting, icing, limping around (even though it no longer causes much discomfort, limiting the flexion of the knee reduces strain on the IT band, and should be advantageous in helping it heal) and generally doing…. nothing.
Since I cannot run, for at least a few more days (this is day six of consecutive non-running) I’ve found myself with an abundant amount of additional free time, which is… well, very strange. If I look at my average totals for the year thus far, I’ve “gained” at least a solid work-day’s worth of time, if not more, and frankly, the extra time, and inability to run is starting to get to me. So, with that in mind, I guess I’ll concentrate on some core work, continue icing the heck out of my knee/IT band, stretching, and pleading with my leg to hurry up and heal, as I have some over-training to get back to, and the trails are calling my name as I sit here, reading.
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Training Grumble

After several consecutive days of less than stellar performances on my feet, I’m beginning to get increasingly frustrated with myself, and the form that my training has taken. Realistically, I shouldn’t be overly concerned, and should, in fact, be embracing the latent soreness, lethargy, and overall slog-like feeling I have going into my 2-ish week “taper” period leading into the NF 50, but after a few days of sub-par efforts it’s tough to stay positive.

In an attempt to justify my lackluster motivation, and overall shitty feelings on trail in the past few days I’ve been rethinking about my diet in the past several days (less than awesome, by a good amount) and my general stress level, which I think is affecting my running more than I’m willing to admit. Fundamentally, I really need to pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps, and get my ass out on the real mountain, perhaps without the stopwatch for once, and just run, to really reinvigorate myself with the base level appeal of this activity. I know that my fitness is by no small margin better than it’s ever been, and that it’s mostly my head that’s preventing me from logging quality miles in the past several days, so hopefully I can muscle through this “funk” and get myself back on the train in time for the race.

Summary April 15-21

Sunday April 15 1 Mile, 7:52 My legs are still feeling pretty beat up, and with Saturday being the last concert of the season, complete with all of the associated after-party-effects, doing very much running today just wasn’t in the cards.

Monday April 16 AM 10.1 Miles 550′ 1:19 Usual road loop around town. Typically I like this as a tempo run, but with some latent fatigue/soreness, moving “quickly” requires hurculean effort, and that’s assuming that I can run with any sense of quickness on my legs as they feel presently.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 8:44 Nothing seems to cure the leg soreness than a bit of barefootin’

Tuesday April 17 AM 10.2 Miles 1480′ 1:23 Aside from struggling with the unseasonable heat, this felt like a pretty good jaunt through the power line trails. Legs are still a bit soggy, not quite 100% but feeling generally better than the past couple of days.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:06 Trying to be more diligent about letting my characteristically tight left achilles tendon release fully to the ground, which, when I’m succeeding, generally leads to less soreness in the lower calf as a whole. (note: I’ve tried to concentrate on this while wearing zero-dropped “barefoot” shoes, but nothing seems as effective as going unshod)

Wed April 18 AM 1 Mile Barefoot Typical Wednesday, long day, keep the streak alive… see above for barefoot justification.
PM 2 Miles 14:39 I suppose moving a bit at the end of the day could help flush some of the mucky muck out of my legs.

Thurs April 19 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:38 Quick jaunt up the power lines, everything is feeling normal, almost good (well, as good as it can when you’ve been stacking miles without a proper break for 4 months)
PM 9.2 Miles 700′ 1:11 Columbia Trail and outer loop of Schooley’s Mountain. Fantastic afternoon, albeit a tad on the warm side. Running uphill felt surprisingly strong, and I’m beginning to get more used to the summer-esque weather, and associated shirtlessness, brow dripping with sweat, and insatiable desire to jump in nearby streams (but they’re still cold, so maybe in a few weeks). I finally brought a camera with me, but to my chagrin, when I reached the summit, two young lovers decided to treat it like an hourly rate motel room, which… was rather hilarious, but robbed me of photographic opportunities, as well as a chance to thoroughly enjoy the view.
PM Part Deux 5 Miles 360′ 35:08 Broken shin loop at an unusually quick tempo. I’m unsure of exactly how we ended up dropping a minute per mile on our usually low-key ~8min pace Thursday night recovery run… I can only presume that with Dave having just run Boston, Jeff being en route to a <3hr marathon, and  Bob aggressively training for 5/10k's that no one thought twice about running faster. I'm pretty sure Jeff landed a CR in the 34:xx range, and all 4 of us PR-ed… not a bad "recovery" run

Fri April 20 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:46 Allamuchy loop. Feeling generally like crap, heavy legs, tired, lethargic, hot, fundamentally every imaginable runners discomfort seemed to rear its head within the first 2 miles. Such, I suppose is another day on the trail, be wary he who feels too comfortable.
 PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:02 Typical shakeout-like thing

Saturday April 21 15 Miles  1300′ 2:03 Road loop with a power line extension. Again, feeling like complete and utter shit. I think everything is subject to a certain ebb and flow, and I’m encouraged by the fact that when I feel legitimately bad (sour stomach, legs made of lead, tired etc etc etc) I can still manage ~8 min pace.

Totals: 73.2 Miles, 6,630′ Vert, 9h54m

Overall, kind of a frustrating week, and at the risk of being obvious, last weeks 30 mile run, without fully recovering certainly weighed in substantially this week. Admittedly, I did try to capitalize on the residual fatigue, and have never previously run this hard (or even remotely close to this hard) immediately following an effort of that length (both time, and distance). With that in mind, I really can’t be too frustrated, I did set a PR on the Broken Shin loop, and had some reasonably good runs, ion fact, none of my “bad” runs were even remotely close to my SKT (slowest known time) but rather were just on the high-end of average pace (or perhaps a few minutes slower than average…).  As for what’s next? I think I need to do some serious foam-rolling (and “The Stick” using) and have a beer. Next week begins some “front” tapering, where I’ll probably concentrate on some more highly specific terrain, but with a bit lower gross mileage, so that I’m only moderately sore leading into the taper proper.

Master Chef

Thinking Space

Summary April 1-7

Sunday April 1 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ :39 Traditional power line loop. I decided early on that on my shorter runs I should be trying to run harder than I have been the past several weeks. This decision was in part to break up the monotony, but also to try to train myself to run uphill as hard as possible, accelerating my heart-rate, and then trying to recover on the downhills while picking up momentum. Fundamentally it means run fast uphill, then much faster downhill, and convince yourself that your heart isn’t going to explode.

Monday April 2 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:40 A little slower today, not feeling very “with it” but enjoying the downhills considerably more. There’s something very freeing about barreling down some technical trail at full speed, I think part of the thrill is knowing that the smallest misstep will result in a pretty killer faceplant…

Tuesday April 3 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:38 Pretty typical day on the trail, first split was very good, but the return up the hill felt rather arduous.
PM 5.1 Miles 740′ 36:58 ~25 seconds under my previous PR for this loop. Essentially I started out quite strong, and realized about 14 minutes in that I was over 2 mins ahead of schedule for a ~39min effort, so I tried my best to hold on, and kick in the final half mile. I’m pretty bad at keeping a mental log of what my actual PR’s are on a given course, so when I looked through the written log, I was pleasantly surprised (although I knew that if this run wasn’t a PR, it was close)

Wed April 4 AM 1 Mile 7:45 Streak keeping mile, feeling rather stiff, and tired, so the long school day seemed like a good enough excuse to lay off.

Thurs April 5 AM 11.6 Miles, 1500′ 1:38:36 Allamuchy trail run in the late morning. An astonishingly clear day, albeit a tad cold. I made it to the summit in :15 flat, which is pretty peppy, descended to the other side of the mountain in 7:16, at which point I realized that I was likely flirting with a course record here as well. Since I had taken Wed fundamentally off, it seemed like a good idea to test my legs, and plow through the remainder of the run at a quicker clip, besting my previous PR by several minutes.
PM 5 Miles 360′ 36:47 Snappy broken shin loop with the guys. Jeff and I took off pretty early in the run, and basically held onto a low 7min pace from there on out, no real kick at the end, just enjoying a steady tempo.

Fri April 6 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 37:23 Feeling especially spry today, not fast enough to break Tuesday’s time, but not so far off either.
PM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 37:37 Right from the start, my legs were feeling sore, heavy, and generally like complete and total crap. Continuing with the weeks theme of running hard(er) and my general training M.O. of running when I feel like crap, I wanted to see how fast I could run under these circumstances. Add in a little bit of indigestion, and some dehydration…. pretty solid.

Saturday April 7 22 Miles, 1700′ 3:05 Ran through the hills in Allamuchy for 12 miles, then met Gino at the trailhead, put on a dry shirt, switched hand-helds, and put another 10 on the Sussex trail, with the final 2 miles in the 7:15 range. Overall a pretty solid effort, albeit achy from the start.

Totals: 70.2 Miles, 8000′ Vert, 9h22m

Relatively low mileage (again) although I think the overall quality of my miles this past week was much higher than the previous two. I’ve also started experimenting with some additional fuel sources on longer efforts (in lieu of just GU) which proved very successful this morning, no low points, or energy swells. With some luck, I’ll be able to get another 10 or so days of higher volume training before I start to slowly cut back in taper, and allow my legs to recover (what do fresh legs feel like?). In spite of the low-ish accumulated miles this week, the increased speed has me at the time of writing feeling more sore than I have in quite some time, which I have to assume is going to be beneficial in the long-run (albeit uncomfortable right now).

Sometimes I need a bit of a rest…

Gino before we ran

Summary March 18-24

Sunday March 18 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 41:33 Easy morning run across the power lines, not really concentrating on anything in particular, just trying to log some miles, and hit up the hills a bit.
PM 1 Mile 9:31 Barefoot Typical shakeout, trying to slow these down a bit now that it’s warmer (and thus more tolerable on the feet/body when going out at the end of the day) concentrating on efficiency, and foot placement…

Monday March 19 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 41:46 Early wake-up run, nothing particularly notable…
PM 5.1 Miles 740′ 44:00 Ran as the sun was setting, making for some pretty cool sunset views (portions of the trail point almost due-west). The sun had completely set almost precisely at the first turnaround point, making for a headlamp-oriented trek back, which was surprisingly challenging, and made for some extremely questionable footing.

Tuesday March 20 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 41:08  Feeling rather run-down, normally I try to do a more ambitious run on Tuesdays, but even getting out for 5 miles seemed like a pretty large task. Average pace, nothing extraordinary about the run, other than my general sense of lethargy.

Wed March 21 AM 1 Mile, 8:47 Barefoot Long class day, had to make sure I got a run in early, since my motivation after a 12 hour day is always questionable at best.
PM 4.1 Miles 175′ 28:00 Up-tempo short run, didn’t particularly plan on going fast, but I left the house pretty quickly, and almost immediately hit a moderate downhill, then just tried to hold onto the cadence/stride length for as long as I could… not bad for a week where I’d been feeling certifiably like crap every time I laced up.

Thurs March 22 AM 11.2 Miles, 1300′ 1:46 Ran to, and around Schooleys Mountain, I had originally planned to do 4 loops of the mountain, instead of the 2 I typically do, but dehydration hit me rather early in the run, as I’m definitely not used to the ~70 degree weather we’ve been having lately. Did get some decent sunburn on my shoulders however….
PM 5 Miles, 360′ 36:13 Snappy broken-shin loop. Didn’t necessarily plan to run this quickly, but sometimes it happens. Also, afterwards, I managed to fit a foot-long sub, 4 slices of pizza, and several beers into my stomach… I think my legs may be hollow….

Friday March 23, 11.6 Miles, 1500′ 1:47 Allamuchy loop. I left relatively early, in an attempt to beat the inevitable heat in the forecast, but even at 9am, my car’s thermometer was reading near 70, and left me dripping with sweat within the first 15 minutes. While I ran at what felt like a pretty hard pace, the total time says quite differently, it must have been the dehydration…..

Sat March 24, 20 Miles, 1080′ 2:36 Easy 10, hard-ish 10 with Jeff and Dave. This was Dave’s penultimate long-run in preparation for the Boston Marathon, and with the combination of a pace pickup at mile 10, and failing to bring anywhere near an adequate amount of food (only some gel chomps, and a bit of GU) and water (we brought none) should make for a pretty okay simulation of worst case marathon scenario (also, Boston gains ~780′ and loses ~1220′) so, if somehow Dave manages to not eat, and avoid all of the Aid stations, he’ll still be okay.

Totals 74.3 Miles, 7335Vert 10h20m

Pseudo-recovery oriented week. Right from the get-go, I was feeling fundamentally like crap every time I went out for a run. This of course, IS congruent with my general training plan, relying substantially on residual fatigue, and trying to get myself used to running when I simply don’t feel well/strong/hydrated/fed. The unseasonably warm weather (we seem to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule) made for some rather substantial dehydration on Thurs and Fri, which is something I should be trying to get used to, and in my opinion, makes bonking seem downright pleasurable in comparison. On the brighter side, in spite of my generally low energy levels, my legs are feeling great, and the transition from burning sugar to burning fat (aka bonking point) is becoming a lot smoother. I can recognize the point where the glycogen supply is dwindling, and as a result of experience gained over the past few weeks, simply put my head down and keep moving until the new fuel source is stoked, and running smoothly.

Uphill

Beginning to look… Spring-ish

Allamuchy Summit

Tammanification

This past weekend I (finally) signed up for the NF 50 Miler at Bear Mountain, and as a result, I’ve become less confident that my training has been on track for this distance, especially since I have roughly 8 weeks left to go. So, while I’ve definitely been racking up the miles, and a reasonable amount of vert, I was feeling like It’d been far too long since I really tried to attack some vertical gain and loss, via hill repeats, and Mt. Tammany is the nearest place where I can do so.
The mountain ascends 1220 feet in ~1 mile, then loses it all again in the following 2.3. The ascent is rocky, rooted, and full of talus, with sections so steep that to maintain any semblance of speed/feeling like a mountain runner, you have to proceed with your nose to the ground, on all fours. The runnable sections are for the most part right in between the gradient where you have to make a conscious decision to run or power-hike, because the difference in speed/energy output between the two is infinitesimal at best. Follow this with a modest stretch across the ridge, and another mile and a half or so of quad busting technical downhill, and that’s the course. Granted, the loop on the mountain is an extremely modest 3.3 miles, just an eyelash over a 5k, but with 1220′ of gain and loss, and the entirety of the distance being exceptionally technical in nature. 
So, after taking care of some of life’s requirements this morning, I hopped in the car, drove to the mountain and began running. The last time I was there, Dave and I made the trip to the top 3 times, (note: difference in vert, this time I had my barometric altimeter, which I tend to find more accurate than GPS) so, naturally this being over a month later, I would have to do at least one more, and try to do it at a faster clip. The days total was 4 summits before my legs became achy, and I started worrying about my hydration levels after very dark urine midway through the fourth trip.

Here’s the Breakdown:
Ascent 1: 18:43           Descent 1 18:59
Ascent 2  21:48           Descent 2 20:42
Ascent 3  22:43           Descent 3 20:10
Ascent 4  23:35           Descent 4 19:33

Total: 13.2 Miles  4880′  2h46m

After I got home, I decided to shakeout my legs a bit, and after beating my feet on technical trail for a few hours, it seemed reasonable to lose the shoes…. so, another 2 miles barefoot in 16:48

Worth doing hill repeats

Mt. Minsi in background

Muddy….

Summary Feb 26-March 3

Sunday Feb 26 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 37:25 Power Line trails, I think this is a PR, but I’m honestly not sure, nor do I feel like going through my log to find out… if it’s not, it’s certainly close. Felt pretty snappy overall, we had a cold night the night before, which made the muddy parts of the trail freeze, making for better traction, and more secure footing.
PM Hash No mileage, no time, wasn’t keeping track. Limpy laid a pretty shiggy trail, full of briars rocks, boulders and hills. I’ve decided not to count the hashes as part of my mileage, since they’re much more socially oriented than they are actual running events….

Monday Feb 27 PM 3.2 Miles 690′ 27:43 Schooley’s Mtn. I was going to run 5-6 on the mountain, but I wasn’t feeling into it after the first lap, and had been extremely foolish with my footing which led to some overstretching of my left ankle. I did run into some pretty cool folks on the summit, it’s nice to see people out on the trails again, after a winter of fundamental solitude.
PM Part Deux 2 Miles 17:16 Barefoot shakeout. It feels wonderful to lose the shoes, I’d forgotten how great it feels.

Tuesday Feb 28 AM 12 Miles 1500′ 1:46 Allamuchy Double Summit. For some reason I keep on making wrong turns here, adding a few tenths… I really should pay more attention to the trail markers instead of running straight by them. Beautiful day overall, rather warm, and a wonderful summit.
PM 1 Mile 8:22 Shakeout, not quite warm enough to go naked foot but still nice to move the legs a bit and try to flush them out.

Wed Feb 29 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:19 Power Line trails, snowing pretty heavily, but not sticking too much, making for a really fun run. I’ve always liked running through the snow, something about it is very humanizing.
PM 1 Mile 8:06 Cold, rainy shakeout.

Thurs March 1 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 40:49 Rainy, cold, muddy less than ideal running conditions, but the slipping and sliding was both fun and challenging. I run this route a lot, and it’s always a very different kind of experience, especially when the weather is as mercurial as it’s been in recent weeks, in spite of it’s lack of view points, these trails provide a wide variety of challenges, and their proximity to my home is ideal.
PM 5 Miles 360′ 36:51 Broken Shin Loop, trying to earn my pavement sessions by picking up the tempo a bit, and really attacking the uphills (small though they may be).

Fri March 2 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 41:19 This route has gotten progressively slower this week. I’d have liked to run a lot more, but I had to travel into NYC to play in a Mock Audition for the Vienna Philharmonic, so time was a bit of an issue.

Sat March 3 AM 20 Miles 1220′ 2:38 Long run through Denville with Dave. We started at a very reasonable pace (~830-9 minute miles) but after mile 10 we progressively amped up the tempo, running several miles in the mid 7’s, and dropping to 7:10 pace by mile 17, followed by 3 miles back at 8-proper. Pretty good session overall, and it’s amazing how slow 8’s feel after several miles in the low 7’s.

Totals: 64.6 Miles, 6730′ Vert, 8h41m

February Totals: 270.75 Miles 22760′ Vert  38h4m (Vert is low, many runs were not logged)

Not exactly the most productive week, in fact, I think this week goes on record for having the most aborted runs, be it failure to start, or abbreviating planned distances. With the Mock Audition on Friday, I spent a tremendous amount of time in the practice room over the course of the week. I also had to put together my CV and a recording for some potential summer work, which took more time and energy than I had originally anticipated. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to get a more substantial amount of vertical gain, as well as get back into more training-oriented total mileage, as opposed to the sort of resting on my laurels distances that I’ve run in the past 2 weeks.

Since I haven’t been doing anything overly inspiring on the mountain, here are some of the best musicians in the world making wonderful things happen.


Summary Feb 19-25

Sunday Feb 19, 1 Mile, 8:31 Typical shakedown mile, figure I should take a couple of days extra light after the 8 day 117 mile effort….. things felt good, legs a bit heavy, but nothing unusual


Monday Feb 20, 1 Mile, 7:46 Same as previous day, it’s strange how lacking my life feels without substantial mileage… In spite of a full day of class/rehearsals/practicing/generally doing things I need/should be doing, the omission of a morning and evening run makes the day seem… empty

Tuesday Feb 21, 6.4 Miles, 270′ 50:49 Had to get some work done on my car, landed a ride back home from dropping it off from the shop, and relied on legs to retrieve it. Tried to add as much vert as I could en route to the shop, but alas, only a few hundred feet. Everything felt very soggy, heavy legs, and general lethargy, could have sworn I was running 9+ minute miles… but apparently I was an eyelash under 8’s…

Wed Feb 22, AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:53 Power Line Trails, slightly up tempo, not pushing too hard since this is supposed to be a “recovery” week, Again, things felt relatively soggy, not particularly weak, but certainly not what I’d consider strong.
PM 1 Mile, 8:02 Usual evening shakeout, just trying to get back into my normal rhythm/swing of things.


Thurs Feb 23, AM 12.1 Miles 1650′ 1:48:26 Allamuchy Double-summit, although I foolishly took a wrong turn adding a half a mile, and some vert, you’d think that I would know the trail system by now, but apparently my autopilot is lacking. Beautiful warm day, and it feels fantastic to be on the mountain proper after a few days of not really running/hitting the pavement/running the local power line trails. Things still don’t feel 100% strong, but then again, I think I’ve completely forgotten what truly fresh legs feel like, and they’re certainly no worse off than what I’ve been dealing with for the past several weeks, so I suppose I should consider myself fundamentally recovered from last weeks mileage stacking PR.
PM 5 Miles, 360′ 36:54 Broken Shin Loop. I started out with the group but after about a mile… maybe an eyelash more, a cloud of darkness seemed to cloud my brain, causing me to simply take off up the hill. I’m not sure what exactly it was, but I seemed immediately confronted with my own interpretations of personal failures, inequities, and all other such things that seem to linger in the sub-conscious. Needless to say, I felt an insatiable urge to continue to rest of the run in solitude, and picked up my pace significantly to earn some space/enjoy the rhythm of a few miles run harder than I would have planned for the back 5 of a 17 mile day….

Fri Feb 24, 5.1 Miles, 740′ 40:14 Feeling a bit beat up from the previous day, and having a substantial amount of professional commitments to attend to throughout the day, it seemed like a good day to lay low, nevermind the rain, and subsequent shiggy trail conditions. I did, however, manage to stretch my ever-sketchy left ankle more than I’d like on a slippery rock, and convinced that I had rolled it, found myself running while cursing in torrents and knotting my fists, only to realize after several hundred yards that it was feeling normal.

Sat Feb 25, 15 Miles, 620′ 1:53:32 Up-tempo pavement session with Dave and Jeff. Legs felt certifiably like crap (although extended flat pavement sessions typically have that effect on me) but then again, running when my legs feel awful is a substantial part of my training plan. Having the company is certainly advantageous for getting my sleepy self out of bed in the morning, as well as sharing the burden of pacing throughout a run. Also, ankle felt fine, good sign.

Totals: 51.7 Miles, 7380′ Vert, 6h54m

It feels strange, and extremely self-righteous to say that a ~52 mile week is a down training week… even with 7380′ of vert. In addition to the mileage reduction, this week provided me with a noticeable amount of professionally-oriented stress, most notably agreeing to a Mock Audition in front of the Vienna Philharmonic coming up this Friday (3/2) which I’m still feeling substantially under-prepared for. This forced me to substantially increase my practice time (which was a bit easier to do given the mileage reduction, and abundance of energy I had as a result thereof) which is something I have no qualms with, but for reasons I cannot understand, I felt often overwhelmed both with the sisyphian amount of work I had to do, as well as consistently confronted with reminders of previous failures ranging from personal to professional to the fickle things, such as my mounting pile of laundry. As such, I’m forced to conclude that at this point in my life, ~52 miles in seven days is far too few for me to maintain a level head, feel balanced, and in touch with myself, my surroundings, my body, and keep my stress levels at bay. This being said, I don’t anticipate this upcoming week to be substantially better as far as base level stress is concerned, with a Mock Audition on Friday, an Audition to record, and a last minute orchestra gig on Saturday (there goes my chance to go for an indulgent weekend destination binge run!(but alas, I do need to pay my bills)) Hopefully an increase in general daily mileage will prove advantageous to my mental health.

Dave (left) and Jeff