This week started off on Monday with a nice easy 5 mile run on the highway starting at four corners headed west toward highway 169. The weather was so nice I was able to wear shorts but with the temperatures only inching into the upper forty’s a light jacket was still called for. None the less, it felt like spring was getting really close here in the northland and my legs were still tired from the 18 miles I ran the day before but were free from pain. I opted for slower pace which required the same effort as a my normal 10K pace with fresh legs. (Click here to view run on Garmin Connect)
Tuesday morning before work I went to the gym for a full body workout with Tony which went really well. We didn’t use any weights while working my legs; instead we focused on body weight only exercises like jump squats and scissor squats. Then on Wednesday I headed out of Four Corners again only sans bike and ran 6 miles.
Although my legs didn’t feel as beat down as they had after Monday’s run, they still were not by any means fresh and I could feel all the muscles I used the day before doing squats so for the first mile I ran pretty slow to increase my warm up before pushing for any speed. The first hill I encountered I was able to maintain pace all the way to the top although it took great effort the last third or so. By the time I was to the top of the hill, I was breathing pretty hard and sweat was pouring off me pretty freely. I think mile 4 was probably my strongest point and from there on my energy began to drain fast so the last couple miles really took a crazy amount of effort. The last mile, I realized how awesome this training cycle/schedule Tony had put together was and how well it seemed to be working. It keeps my muscles beat down enough to make every workout feel tough yet allows just enough recovery time to somewhat recoup my energy before beginning all over again. (Click here to view run on Garmin Connect) By the end of the run, nothing specific hurt; my muscle were tired, mainly my hamstrings which was most likely from the jump and scissor squats the day before, but I had managed to achieve a better pace than Mondays run with a 8:37 minute per mile average which is a minute or so above the pace I would have normally run it had I not just worked out my legs at the gym, so I was very satisfied.
Thursday was another full body workout at the gym with Tony. This time the only exercises we did for my legs were 5x 20 leg presses using only the weight of the sled. I made sure I used a full range of motion to stretch my hamstrings good and it actually felt pretty good. Friday was a rest day and I used it to relax, waxing a couple cars and doing other easy tasks around my garage. I went to bed early Friday night, planning to get up early and have a long run finished by breakfast. This week my scheduled long run was only 13.1 miles long. The training schedule Tony set up for me basically rotates length of runs each weekend rotating longer distances with short to give my body a break and avoid over training yet still build my strength and endurance. At this point of my training, a half marathon run at a slower pace feels pretty easy. The time when just five miles seemed harder than this is still fresh in my mind though which helps keep it all in perspective and even more confidence to keep me moving forward.
Saturday morning the weather was nothing short of fantastic! It was already 60 degrees when I woke up despite a pretty stout wind blowing out of the south. Now, I realize 60 degrees is mid winter for some but spring in Minnesota?? Balmy and nigh on tropical!
There were still a few remnants of the blisters on my feet the pesky tongue on my shoes had worn into my ankles last Saturday so I carefully covered them with mole skin to avoid further irritating them on this run. They had actually healed up pretty good during the week and I was pretty sure they would be 100% if I could spare them any more abuse. On the shorter runs I did earlier in the week, I wore a different set of training shoes that has a tongue much different from the long distance trainers that caused these blisters. My Hoka running shoes have a tongue on them that wears pretty hard on my ankle but I can’t completely blame the shoes; for some dumb reason, I had worn a pair of low socks for 18 mile run that offered no protection ankle protection whatsoever. I realize a taller pair of socks would have avoided these blisters but unfortunately that knowlege falls under the category of hindsight. I have had many blisters since I began this journey but they are very few and far apart these days and only seem to happen now days when I am running further than half marathon distances or wearing inappropriate foot gear. Blisters can be very painful and irritating which makes it extremely hard to run but eventually the skin in these areas evolves into much less sensitive and thicker/tougher skin; I prefer to think of it as a part of the process rather than a detriment but I digress.
Back to Saturday! Now with warmer weather, the majority of gravel roads in the area are free from snow and mud so the options of places to run has greatly increased. I prefer to run on the gravel County roads in my area since they have very little traffic and much better scenery. The sun was just starting to come up as I headed down my driveway and it was painting a beautiful explosion of color through the tall pines swaying back and forth that line my driveway. The warm wind and smell of spring elevated my mood and put me on top of the morning.
As I headed down the driveway I thought back to when I decided to take up running two years ago after surviving a spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Between the myrad of medications, inappropriate settings on my pacemaker and muscle damage, I couldn’t even manage half a mile without needing to stop to catch my breath. Fast-forward a couple years after sticking to a heart healthy whole foods, plant based diet and a regular fitness routine and here I am, heading out to run 13.1 miles and actually enjoying it. Thoughts like that mixed with the warm spring air set the stage for an absolutely awesome run! No pain, no fears, just a heightened sense of wellbeing that I can only explain as a very awesome place to be!
For the first mile I kept it to a trot for a good warm up even though I already felt ready to go. My goal pace for the day was actually pretty flexible; run where ever it felt comfortable and I did my best to not look at the Garmin watch that was keeping track of my pace. Just past the halfway turn around point, my awesome wife met me with a water bottle in hand. Slow to trot, rehydrate and moments later I handed her back the now empty water bottle as I felt my second wind coming on, blew Heidi a kiss, and headed home for the second and last leg of my run.
Analyzing my run later I estimated the gravel roads to be approx. ten miles of the run and they had been graded just the day before which resulted in a very soft road surface. It did make for a way more cushy landing on my feet but overall I saw it negatively impacted my pace because once I turned off the gravel and had been back on regular pavement my pace picked up almost a mile per hour without any additional effort. That is a huge difference but I still have to say this run turned out to be one of the best since I began this training for Grandmas Marathon and I didn’t seem to have much post run stiffness/pain afterwards. I didn’t leave myself enough time to stretch after but even this didn’t seem to make much difference as I was able to shower up and head to work without any issue. In spite of a 13.2 mile run, I really enjoyed the rest of the of my day, took Heidi to lunch in Ely and spent the remainder of the afternoon out riding the Harley, not one muscle overly sore or even stiff. Compared to last year, I wouldn’t enjoyed anything that required moving my muscles for days if not weeks and the change in my physical makeup as well as my mental between then and now is so obvious there is only one thing to say- Cha-CHING!!
Onward and upward- next week I aim for the 20 mile mark! Stay tuned and fingers crossed I don’t do something silly like forget socks altogether (Click here to view run on Garmin Connect)