Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sitting on the Sidelines

I know it's not a substancial amount of time to devote to cross-training for the purpose of healing, but I've been aqua-running for a week now.  Not that I expected to be all healed up, but since I had planned on attempting to run the Carlsbad 5000 this weekend despite an Achilles issue, I thought I might test it out today on the track.

What did I expect?  Well, as I walked with John to the track, my mind was telling me, "This is insane."  Insane as in, "the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect a different result."  I knew my leg wasn't any better because it still hurt even to walk, but I guess I had to know if I could handle the race pace, or I had to prove to myself that it wasn't worth it to race injured.

What did I discover?  I taped my achilles with kinesiology tape for support and warmed up slowly on the soft 9th lane of the track.  It felt ... stable ... ish, but was clearly sore.  I figured I would do some smooth 400's and see how it felt at a quicker pace.  Well, I didn't get 50 meters down the track before I pulled up in fierce pain.  Frustrated, I limped over to the stadium steps and forced myself up 10 times.  Then I did ab work.  Later will come the hour long aqua-run in the evening.

The verdict:  I will not be competing in the Carlsbad 5000 again this year.  I will still attend and watch from the sidelines again this year.  It's ok.  I have bigger fish to fry in July so my main job right now is to heal.  And I will get to watch John and others race and I can cheer them on.  It will still be a great day.  I say that, but to be honest, in my heart I am frustrated.

The plan:  Run in the water, bike the hills, lift weights, and swim for a minimum of 6 weeks without attempting a step of running on dry land.  Please, someone tell me this will help.  This is such a huge sacrifice of precious training time and I have to know that I will come out the other end prepared to run again.

So once again I will let CB 5000 go, but I take away an excellent lesson.  All the months of hard training for an event are not worth it if you ruin yourself before you get to the line.  It's better to get to the line healthy and able, so the training needs to be modified in such a manner that this can happen each and every time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aquajogging ... I mean Aquarunning

It's like some unwritten rule of the universe, or at least my universe.  As soon as I jump in with both feet, one of the feet breaks.  I have two important events on the horizon, one of which is coming up in about a week.  The upcoming one is the Carlsbad 5000 to be held the first week in April, and the other is the Masters World Championships in Track and Field set for July.

I haven't run the Carlsbad 5000 for several years for various reasons, but the most recent reason was injury.  Last year I sat on the sidelines of several races and nursed a nasty Achilles injury ... for a long time.  But this year I was finally healthy and my training has been progressing nicely and my hopes were building for a PR performance. 

Well, to get to the point, as soon as I entered the World Championships (like literally the next day), I limped through a run with yet another Achilles injury (opposite leg as last time) screaming at me.  It baffles me how I can be "fine" one day and not the next.  I know there must have been warning signs and perhaps I've become too good at ignoring them.  But however that all works, here I am with another serious injury which is jeopardizing both of my upcoming races.

Last year when this happened, I figured it would resolve in a short amount of time, and I tried cross-training and ART torture, mixed with painful runs.  But it didn't resolve as I watched race after race pass me by.  This time I can't afford to wait 8 months to recover.  But I also can't afford to lose my fitness and training time.

The perfect solution:  Aqua-running.  I was skeptical that this cross-training method was adequate to maintain a high level of fitness until I did some research.  What I discovered was that there has been a lot of research put into this method of working out, and without exception the evidence suggests that it is possible to get the same level of workout in the water as on land, but without the impact.  It is possible to continue training as I have been while at the same time, letting the healing really happen.  Not only does the lack of impact help, but also the massage of the water against the legs during the running motion is therapeutic, and the water version of running allows for less extension of the Achilles, taking off all the stress.  This is what I read, but what I discovered in my first two Aqua-running workouts fully confirmed it.

My workouts have sort of been like this:  In the pool I warmed up with 300 meters of swimming.  Then I strapped on my flotation belt, got in the deep end and began an interval session:  18 x 2 min hard/30 sec easy, with 2 minutes of easy jogging between each set of 6.  This gave me about 50 minutes of running time (most of it hard effort).  I finished with 12 x 25 meters of full effort kicking with a kick board.  One day I added 6 x 50 meters full effort swim. 

My heart rate soared during the hard effort and I needed each recovery.  My legs and arms fatigued against the resistance of the water.  My motion in the water simulated good running form, and I could feel the massage against my calves everytime I pulled them back.  I checked my heart rate regularly and was happy to find a way to run 600's without tearing up my body.  My legs were tired afterwards and I could feel it when I climbed our stairs.  This all made me very, very happy.

I plan on Aqua-running until I'm healed, although I am still hoping to throw in the Carlsbad 5000 race next week if at all possible.  I am thankful beyond words that this cross-training method is available and is suitable for almost any injury, and that I finally decided to try it.  The key will be pushing myself into the pain zone as if I were on the track, and right now I am exceedingly motivated to push myself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moms in Motion Semana Nautica 15K Running Team 2011

Moms in Motion is a great organization which was founded many years ago here in Santa Barbara.  Over the years, the program has grown nationally and internationally, and has helped 1000's of women realize their athletic potential through structured programs that integrate fun training with other women and moms.

For the benefit of those who are located locally here in Santa Barbara, I would like to announce the spring Moms in Motion running program which is soon to begin:  Semana Nautica 15K Running Team 2011.  I am so excited to be leading and coaching this team and my mind is overflowing with ideas for our 11 weeks together. 

This running program is designed for all levels and training options will be available to suit everyone's need.  We will be meeting over the course of 11 weeks beginning Saturday, April 23rd, and will focus on our culminating event:  The Semana Nautica 15K which will be held on July 4th.  Our group runs will occur every Saturday at 8:00 am at varying locations and we will have additional training events mid-week to focus on running form, and speed work.

My goal for the team is to help every participant discover that running is a huge gift and is not just for the gifted ... running can be everybody's gift.  We will build our running program week by week and incorporate additional components such as core strengthening, drills, flexibility exercises, and form work.  Additionally, through guest speakers and coaching, we will have instruction on pertinent topics:  buying the right shoes, hydration, nutrition, injury prevention, cross-training, etc...

Beginning a lifestyle of fitness can be tough at the beginning but with the comraderie of others who have the same goals, and the motivation of a team and a coach, the Moms in Motion program is hugely successful. 

I can't wait to get started.  If you have any questions let me know

We will be holding an Orientation MeetingFriday, April 15th at the Santa Barbara Running Store in Santa Barbara (110 Anacapa Street).  And will get rolling with our first group meeting on Saturday April 23rd.

Additionally, our Moms in Motion Semana Nautica 15K team will be supporting the Santa Barbara County Foodbank.

Visit our website for more information:  Moms In Motion

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Masters Track and Field World Championships

Competing in Track and Field was really my first athletic love.  Although my very first experience with competing was in Cross Country (4th grade, age 9), it was the track season that I looked forward to. 

The highlight of Track and Field for me occurred in high school, when our girls' high school track team (Fernley High School) won the Nevada state AA championship 4 years in a row (my Freshman through Senior year).  We were the feared and revered team that everyone dreaded.  We would strut confidently into every stadium flashing our medal and champ patch laden letterman jackets.  Mine still hangs in my closet where I can frequently look at it and remember wonderful days.

As a runner ages and life marches on, remaining a track and field athlete is not easy.  Is my case, my last track meet occurred in college.  Of course I continued to compete as a runner, but only in road and cross country races.  I have not since put on my spikes and stepped onto a competition track.

I have, however, continued to train on a track, doing intervals and drills, as I have trained for longer events.  Although I count these among the hardest workouts I ever have to do, I find some inexplicable joy in running hard around the turns and finding my stride on the back-stretch.  My legs tie up and my lungs burn and I am certain I will not have another repeat left in me.  But once the interval is finished and the short recovery does its magic, I discover that I am able to do more than I previously thought. 

I find myself now with an opportunity to go back in time to my track days.  I am going to compete in another track meet.  A chance of a lifetime has presented itself and I decided it was now or never.  For the first time in 22 years, the Masters Track and Field World Championships will be held in the USA.  And not only in the USA, but in California, USA.  Sacramento, CA, USA.  That is the WORLD championships!  I am delirious with anticipation.  I am entered to compete in the 800m and 1500m.  In the Masters World Championship (and masters meets in general), runners compete against their own age group only.  This is important because as we age, we tend to lose some speed.  The 800 and 1500 are events which favor speed, so my ladies 40-44 years of age, will all be at an equal disadvantage.

It is as if I am treading on new ground which I have treaded on many times in the past.  I will have to hone my training, gird my confidence, learn to believe I can compete against the world, and buy new spikes.  When I was young and unfocused, I had a vague dream to compete in the Olympics.  That opportunity gave way to greater priorities in life, but for all intents and purposes, this opportunity comes close.  I intend to run to win.  In both races, I have a legitimate chance.  My dad, who passed away when I was 17 years old, always believed in me.  Maybe this will be my one moment in time.

July 6th-17th  Sacramento, CA
World Masters Athletic Championships