New Shoes and 2019 Goals

Let me start by saying Mono sucks! But, I’ve got some other things to talk about before getting into that.

20190929_070152.jpgI got new shoes! And its a departure from my normal Sauconys. Enda Itens. Enda Sports is a company from Kenya. They got their start from a Kick-starter campaign and have been producing shoes for about 2 years. They build shoes with the philosophy that the big corporations have sold us on over complicated and over engineered running shoes. Basically, I like the philosophy of “Keep it Simple”.

I’ve now done numerous training runs and several races with them and I love them more every time I wear them.  Generally, I forget that I’m wearing them, which is a very good thing. It means that they aren’t bothering me or causing any issues for me to become conscious of and I can focus on the other aspects of running.  The other great thing about them is that, relatively speaking, they are cheap, about $100.  Honestly, I can’t say enough about these shoes.

Kilo LogoOK, enough gushing about shoes.  The back half of the year was a rough one for me from a health and running perspective.   I got a membership at Kilo Barbell Club and began lifting 3 days a week.  I’m not a weight lifter and generally have no idea what I’m doing.  Jet and Keven are very patient with teaching me how to lift properly and getting me to rest between sets.  I had no idea that the rest between sets was so important.

Just as I was getting into the swing of lifting, I went to the doctor after having a sore throat for a week that I couldn’t shake and feeling exhausted to the point of not being able to get through my work day without taking a nap.  Turns out, I somehow contracted the Epstein-Barr Virus better known as Mono.  This was the beginning of October.

As I stated above, Mono sucks.  I was exhausted all the time no matter how much I slept.  My whole body was achy, I wasn’t allowed to do any exercise.  No running, no biking, no lifting, nothing!  It was brutal.  To add some extra stress, I got a new manager on the first day I had to be out from this.

Luckily, I have a somewhat flexible job and was able to work from home as I was able most days and go into the office just a couple of times a week.  Not ideal, but it was better than being out completely.  Unfortunately, this came right as we where preparing to move across town and my daughter from Indiana was here for 3 weeks.  Needless to say I was little to no help packing and Coach V should be nominated for sainthood.

Finally on Nov 13, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 1 day after my last run I tentatively went out for a short run.  A slow 2 mile effort around my new neighborhood at a 10:37 average pace.  It felt AMAZING!

Running Is My TherapyStill feeling a little hesitant to get back at it too fast, I started working full days at the office again and Thursday I joined the group for the Arrowhead loop run.  The more I did the better I started feeling.  This is when Coach V put forth the theory that I was no longer fighting mono but depression.  Coincidentally, I was listening to an audiobook titled Running is my Therapy by Scott Douglas.  And as I thought about it, I think she was right.  I use running to help keep my mood level and the ADHD in check.  It clears my head and helps me to stay focused throughout the day.  In the book Mr. Douglas discusses studies that show the effects of running (aerobic activity) to be very similar to antidepressants.  That is all well and good, but can be taken too far.  I had become so dependent on running that when it was taken away I began to struggle.

In my profession we call this a single point failure.  That means the entire operation can grind to a halt if one piece is removed.  It is something to be avoided.  When we find those we work to find ways around them as contingency plans.  I have no contingency plan for running.

He also talked about a therapist in California that does something that they call running therapy.  After a search in the Phoenix area I found a counselor, Yvonne Lewis from  Creative Quiescence, that does running therapy.

The premise is to have a talk therapy session while on a light run.  The thought is that it can be a little less intimidating to talk to someone when you are side by side and doing some other physical activity.  If you go on group runs or have a training partner you probably talk about everything under the sun. Including some things that are very personal and you probably wouldn’t talk about if you were to just sit down with someone over coffee.  This approach appealed to me since I get very uncomfortable talking about my feeling and emotions.  As you have probably noticed I don’t mind telling stories.

I’ve been to 3 sessions with Yvonne and I feel like I’m getting a lot out of them.  Generally the session starts in her studio with some talking about how things have been since the last session and how I’m feeling in general.  Then we go outside and run or walk at a conversational pace.  She has me focus on mindful running and listening to what my body is telling me.  This is a small departure from me telling my body to be quiet and get moving.  Although it turns out I was already practicing some mindful running without knowing it.

10492_6077274_enm967002334ramWe talk about running and how I run or react to situations running or reffing and how that might be translating to other areas of life.  She is very good at guiding my thoughts to come to realizations and insights.  All in all, I like it and feel like this is helping my running and other areas of life.  I know that therapy can be intimidating and mental health has become a hot topic, but it is important and getting help if you are struggling there is just as important as going to PT for a calf injury.

2019 is over and my goal accomplishment rate was 50%.  In a previous post I talked about my goals and having high goals and low goals.  I had 2 high goals for 2019.

  1. Pay off my consumer debt, credit cards, car loans, etc. and 25% of my student loan.
  2. Get my 5K time to sub 18.

And the Low goals of:

  1. Pay off the consumer debt
  2. 5K under 20 minutes.

I’m happy to report that I knocked #1 out of the park.  I have cleared the debt completely with the exception of my mortgage.  So, put a big fat check on that one.

The fitness goal didn’t go so well.  Not to make excuses but the baby coming in April, 2 injuries in May and June then Mono in October, these goals just were not in the cards for this year.  And I’m OK with it.  Basically, I’m just pushing the 5K goals out a year.  That leads to the announcement of:

2020: The Year of the 5K!

There are a couple of steps that I have already started toward that end but I’ll go into more detail on those next time.  Until then…C-YA!

 

Injuries and Cautiousness

Being injured sucks.

Now, I’m sure that seems like an obvious statement but there it is. I’ve been down for almost 3 weeks now with plantar fascitis.

Arrowhead LoopIt happened on an unscheduled Monday morning run around the Arrowhead Loop with Jon and Courtney. Sunday Courtney posted on the FB group that they were in town and asked if anyone wanted to join them for a run Monday at 5:30 am. I jumped at the chance to run with them because I hadn’t seen them in awhile.

I was the only person, other than Jon and Courtney, to show up. We started out fairly slow about a 10:30 pace the second mile sped up a little to around a 10 minute pace. At that point Courtney told Jon and I to take off and not worry about staying with her. So, Jon and I took off and went down to a 9:20 pace.

It was in this third mile and chatting with Jon that this run had a shot at negative splits. I’ve never done negative splits on any run of any distance. I was pretty excited by the prospect. So, as we crossed the 3 mile point Jon kicked it up a notch and I went with him.

Jon does a fantastic job of pushing without getting annoying about it. We were cruising along just a little under 9 minute mile pace and I started feeling a twinge in my foot just in front of the heel. Normally I would have stopped and walked a little to feel out what was going on but the prospect of being so close to negative splits for a 4 mile run I pushed on. With about a quarter mile left it was starting to hurt and I changed my gait a little to try to relieve the pain without slowing down. By the time I finished I could barely walk. BUT we got the negative splits finishing the last mile in 9 minutes!

I haven’t been able to run for about a month. I could barely walk the first week and decided that I should get some help with this. Not so much to get through the acute phase but to figure out why it’s happening and prevent the next time.

Cadence-PT-and-PERF-BlueLetters1500x500So, I decided to set an appointment with Charlie Boeyink at Cadence Physical Therapy. Charlie is a runner and often comes on runs with the EYPAZ group and Tortoise and Hare Running store. I decided that this would be a good idea since he is a runner, so he has a better understanding of the stresses of running and the mechanics involved. Not to mention the mentality of an endurance runner. Namely that we are nuts and go insane when we can’t run.

Charlie has a little different approach to PT than a lot of the other physical therapists that I’ve been to. He doesn’t like the model of seeing the therapist for just a couple of minutes and then getting handed off to a technician who, for the most part, watches you do exercises that you do at home. He is very hands on and looks at more than just the injury to what may have contributed to the injury happening in the first place.

He has also introduced me to a new technique. It involves dry needling and, just to up the game a little, he hooked a TENS unit to two of the needles and started running electricity through it.  Dry needling is odd enough on its own and I’ve had that done before, but adding electricity to it is, um….interesting. And I liked it! I liked it a lot actually.

It also seems to have gotten good results. After 3 weeks, I’ve been able to get back to running. Albeit I’m taking it slow and easing back into it, but last Thursday I ran about 2 miles. At Charlie’s advice I ran 2 minutes then walked a minute with very minimal pain. Actually I wouldn’t call it pain as much as mild discomfort, closer to fatigue than pain.

ICR-2019-EB-BannerSaturday morning I ran in the Tortoise and Hare Sports 4 mile Ice Cream Run. For this run I did a 2 minute on and 2 minute recovery cycle. This worked very well. Although my pacing on the run portions is all over the place. the first two cycles were 7:52 and 7:47 respectively. Then a couple of 8:30ish, a 8:09, a 9:45 and the last one was 6:04. I have got to find some consistency. Of course this is a similar problem to what I’ve always had. I have no concept of pacing. That is something to work on as I re-train from this injury.

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The next real race that I’m signed up for is the Swiss Days race at the end of July back in Indiana. I’m hoping that I can be recovered from this injury and able to average 7 minute miles for that race. It would be a return to my high school times in a race that I ran several times when I was in high school. I also will be running with my cousins, as it’s our annual Steiner Gathering.

Berne-Swiss-DaysThis means that my extremely fast cousin Brad will be there. He mentioned recently coming out of retirement from competitive racing to do one more 5K at speed. He is a sub 18 running and may be even faster than that. My goal is going to be to hang on to him for as long as I can and see if he can pull me into a sub 20.

Currently, I don’t know when my next run is going to be. I’m under orders to report back how the 4 mile run went and wait for instructions. In the mean time I’m going to install a hitch on my car and try to find a used bike carrier.

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Until next time…C-YA!

Catch up and Coaching

Run 3-6-19

So, it’s been awhile. About 2 months actually.  And boy does it seem like it’s been a non-stop couple of months.  I keep thinking that I need to write a new post and then I get distracted with something.  Ok, mostly soccer.

January and February are pretty busy times if you are a soccer official in AZ. I was working 4-5 nights a week and nearly every one of them was 2 games.  Then just when I thought the season was over I got pulled into the post season tournament.  I was surprised mostly because of a rule that you have to have been reffing in AZ for 3 years before your eligible.  However, the AZ association, AIA, talked to the Indiana association, IHSAA, and they confirmed that I’ve been a ref for nearly 10 years and have been working their post season tournament for the past 5.

So, I worked the first round of the tournament and I thought that would be it.  I even put my AIA jersey away for the year.  Then I got a call that they wanted me to work the boy’s quarterfinal.

Then came the tournaments.  Over the course of 2 weekends I worked 17 fairly high level games.  It was a lot of fun but SO exhausting.  I also had a chance to talk with some higher rated officials who gave me some good advice on things to work on.

Bridging Soles

While all this was going on I started working with a running coach Corrie VanKampen and her coaching company Bridging Soles (https://www.bridgingsoles.com/).  After an initial conversation with her about where I currently am and reviewing my goals she developed a 12-week plan.  She agrees that the goal of an 18 minute 5K in 2019 is aggressive but is doable.  The basics of the plan is a lot of slow (conversation pace) running with some speed work sprinkled in.

I love having a coach again.  I say again but I haven’t had one since high school.  It’s great having someone to give encouragement and let you know that you are doing well and on a good path.  We talk either by phone or Skype once a week.  I have a tendency to be my own worst critic and am very hard on myself when I don’t hit the times that I’m supposed to on training runs.  Coach Corrie has been great at telling me that I’m doing well and developing more speed at a good rate.

Spring training

Which brings me to what Coach Corrie is calling my first practice 5K, the Spring Training 5K held in Surprise, AZ.  (Side note: this is my favorite name for a city.  I yell ‘Surprise!’ in the car every time that we go by the city limit sign.)

So…. Back to the run.  This was an evening run on a Friday night.  It was possibly the flattest course I’ve ever ran.  Officially there was 29 ft of elevation change. I’m pretty sure that the step off the curb was the largest change that I noticed. It started and stopped on the concourse of the KC Royals and Texas Rangers spring training Ballpark.  It was a lot of fun finishing there under the lights.  I also ran, pun intended, into a very energetic running from my home state of Indiana.  She’s was actually shocked when I told her I knew where Kokomo was and that I had been there!  And in case anyone was wondering the Beach Boys song is not about Kokomo, Indiana.  If you go there with that expectation you will be disappointed.

If I’m honest I was a little disappointed with my time.  28:08.  I think a couple of things worked against me.  It was a night race.  Which means that I was already tired from the day both mentally and physically.  My day job, I’m an engineer, has become a lot more demanding in the last couple of months.  Which is a good thing as I was starting to get a little bored, but it’s part of the reason I haven’t written as much on here.

I need to get in more miles.  Coach was letting me get away with using my reffing in place of long runs on the weekends.  I don’t like to do training runs on days I ref.  If I were to run before the games, then it’s not really fair to the kids playing to have a ref that is already tired.  If any of you have seen me after reffing all day you know that I’m in NO SHAPE AT ALL to run.  Not so much that I couldn’t physically do it although there would be hard from that aspect.  After a couple of games, I’m so mentally drained I can’t always decide what to eat after the games.  Reffing is very mentally tasking on top of the physical effort.  While it’s not a bad replacement I don’t think that its retraining my brain to think of a 5k as “a quick little jaunt through the park”.  I seem to have 3 speeds. Walk, sprint and long distance run.  I need to find another gear in between sprint and my current marathon pace.

I need to load new music on my watch.  I’m had the same very short playlist on my watch since last St Patrick’s Day.  While I still like the songs I need something else it’s become too predictable.  Last year once the runs/races got long I started carrying my phone and listened to tunes through Pandora or Amazon Prime so the playlist was always changing.  However, since the races only last about a half hour and I want them to only be able 20 minutes I’m not taking my phone anymore.

 

Last week on the advice of Coach Corrie I subbed out the prescribed speed work to see how fast I could burn a mile.  In my opinion it was not fast.  I did one mile, waited about 10 minutes to recover and then did another.  Mile one was 7:42 and mile 2 was 8:40. Again this was done at the end of the day (you would think I would know better) and in the second mile I started having some pain in my calf that radiated up into my knee.  Similar to the pain I had last fall.

I did learn several things during the runs.  First and foremost, I need to start doing the exercises that I was given for my calves last fall.  Second, my brain is a noisy place in the evenings.  Which is why I need to go back to more before work running.

The third is a little more difficult.  I found myself looking at my watch to see how far was left and thought “oh no, I’m only half way.”  Which seems ridiculous for someone who only a couple of months ago ran 26.  This got me to thinking I thought the same thing during the 5K at the 1.5 mark. The main problem with it is that it completely demotivated me and made the last half mile a struggle.  I instantly started feeling every ache and pain.  I actually thought I can’t do this at one point.  Yet last week I ran with the group on Thursday and barely noticed when we had gone 3 miles.

There is a mental game to running and I’m struggling with it right now.  I think the answer is to just run more.  Or follow the plan at least.

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This week I’ll be joining the Embrace your Pace group on Tuesday for the Rio Loop and Thursday for the Arrowhead loop.  Speed work on Wednesday and I’m not sure about my weekend running plans yet.  Until then…C-Ya!