Friday, July 14, 2006

Making Excuses or Learning My Limits?

Today's schedule called for a 10 mile long run. So, that's what I set out to do.

It didn't go quite according to plan, but I feel like I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way.

I set my alarm for 5:15 AM, only hit snooze twice (incredible for me!), and was out of bed by 5:32! I hit the floor next to the bed and my immediate thought was, OUCH!

Yesterday morning I had PT, and Sean worked me very hard doing strengthening exercises for my knee. I could barely walk by the time I left his office, and I know that the only reason I made it though yesterday was the ibuprofen I took as soon as I got in my car!

So, I woke up this morning to unbelievably sore calves, hamstrings, and glutes. It actually had me pretty concerned about how the run would go, but what could I do? I just stretched out the best I could and waited to see how it would turn out.

I stumbled around getting ready, eating breakfast, etc, and was out of the house at 6:15. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get out of the house in under 45 minutes. So, I started thinking about what I was spending that time doing and realized that a lot of it could be done the night before.

I started think to myself, "You could fill your fuel belt bottles, and pack your GU, extra gum (because we know I need it!), extra battery, etc, in the fuel belt pocket. You could lay out your Garmin and mp3 player, instead of searching about trying to remember where you left them last. Only to realize that the mp3 player is in the garage, of all places, because you were last listening to it while pulling weeds over the weekend. And the Garmin is probably upstairs next to the computer from the last time you entered your splits on your blog."

So, that was the first valuable lesson I learned before I ever got out the door. The second lesson learned was that the fuel belt bottles WILL leak if you fill them to the very top. Next time, I will remember this, as I would rather drink my gatorade than wear it.

I have set routes if I am running 3 or 4 miles. I can vary them up slightly to make up 5 or 6 miles, but the longer distances are new enough to me that I don't have any set routes, and I've been trying to figure out where I want to run them. So, I tried something different this morning.

I've not really done much running along the road side. I see other runners doing it all the time, but have just never really tried much of it myself, so I decided on a route that was mostly along the main roads, with a gas station at the midway point - thinking this would be good for bathroom stops or water purchases in the future if I liked the route.

I set off expecting it to feel awful with how sore I was, but the first 3 miles felt slow but great. It was along the stretch of road that I have run on occasion, with very wide shoulders, AND a turn lane most of the way. So I have an entire lane plus the wide shoulder between me and the cars, unless someone needs to turn into one of the neighborhoods.

I hit a point where I had to turn down a different road, and that's where things started doing down hill! The road was much busier than I expected and the shoulder was just too narrow. I kept ending up running in the weeds on the side of the road, which was pretty difficult because they hadn't been cut in a while. It felt like my footing was unstable and I was worried about twisting an ankle or falling. I was on that road for about 1.5 miles, and was so relieved when I finally could turn off of it.

But relief was short lived because even though the next road wasn't that busy, it literally had no shoulder and it is a very curvy road. I was worried that the cars were going to whip around the turns too fast to see me, so once again I was spending a lot of time jumping off the road into the weeds, and back again. All of the back and forth made me feel like I just couldn't get into a rhythm. But at the same time, dodging the cars gave me something to concentrate on and the time was going pretty quickly. I knew the route was curvy and was concerned about the shoulder, but it was actually hillier than I realized too. It's amazing how something that barely registers in a car feels like a mountain when you are running up it.

So, the next lesson learned was that I didn't want to repeat this route again, so I will be in search of something different before next week's long run.

I got to the end of mile 6 and the blisters from Wednesday's orthotic trial were SCREAMING at me, and my glutes were getting extremely tight and painful. I conned myself into making it another .5 mile back to the entrance of the neighborhood that connects to mine. At that point I took a walk break and drank some water. I convinced myself to keep going and managed to run another 1.5 miles around my subdivision, but by then I was completely exhausted, my legs felt completely spent, it was getting hot, and my knee was starting to hurt just a little bit.

So, I decided to stop after 8 miles.


Mile 1 12:49
Mile 2 12:39
Mile 3 12:16
Mile 4 12:35
Mile 5 11:44
Mile 6 11:48
Mile 7 12:28
Mile 8 11:06 (fastest - as usual)

I know that 8 miles isn't 10, and I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that it is. But I feel like I did the best I could with the sore legs and the new route and my knee kicking in with some pain.

The next lesson learned is one that came from my last training season, but I am just now learning it! My knee was giving me little signals along the way that there was impending doom lurking, but I didn't recognize the signals because I have always had problems with my knees. So, I was attributing the pain to some mild arthritis issues that I have always dealt with, instead of recognizing it for what it was. So, now I am paying more attention to my knee and I'd rather run 8 miles instead of 10 because my knee is hinting at me that it's not happy, than run 10 miles and they be the last 10 I ever run.

The final lesson learned was that I really need to try to get out the door by 5:30 AM on long run days or it just gets too hot at the end of the run. Just the thought of getting up early enough to do that makes me want to cry, but I believe it is necessary. Maybe I should just stay up! It would actually be easier for me to say up until 4:00 AM, than to get up at 4:45!

I hope that it was the smart thing to do to cut my run short, under the cirumstance, but maybe I'm just making excuses.

On a side note: My physical therapist decided on 2 more weeks of therapy to have more time to evaluate how the orthotics are going to work and to do more strengthening stuff now that my knee is feeling better and is more able to handle it.


  1. sounds like it absolutely was the best decision. its hard to learn how to listen to your body (or, it was hard for me to learn. and i'm still learning) but it sounds like thats what you did, and cutting a run or two short now will save you MAJOR injury down the road!!

    take care of that knee! but good job on the run, gutting it out! well done :)

  2. Dang you go girl! Whether you "missed" 2 miles or not...way to go on that run. I agree with Miss Runner Pants...definately listen to your body. Nice work honey!

  3. Good job! Sounds like my "efforts" this morning!

  4. Good job on the run today. You did your best and that's what counts. Get some ice on the areas that are hurting and rest.

  5. that was quite a run, to have you learning all those lessons! And absolutely SMART move to knock off at 8. I hate running with cars, it's the worst. I hope you can find a safer route.

    great work! (I'm writing this at 4:24 a.m. kill me.)