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Oh. My.

It’s been quite a while. I’ve been in one of those slumps that sometimes hit post-race, but the race was in May. Around that time things were kind of becoming a little tense with coach, and then, to the astonishment of our running group he stopped showing up at all. Sure we see him in the park from time-to-time, in which case he grits his teeth, mutters things under his breath, “Oh, for goodness sake!” But essentially he seems to have gone AWOL. It is a little confusing, crazy, and sad. So, this is a little more than a post-race slump. There’s some mourning involved, I’m afraid. Not that he might not ever return. But if he did, that would be a different chapter.

In a slump, the running is not automatic. It requires motivation. This is a somewhat alien state affairs for me and requires skills I don’t usually have to apply to running. The running magazine lays on the table, untouched. There is no beet juicing. The mind is not awash in fartlek, long runs, or tallied mileage. What is my mileage?

No one from the group showed up this morning. I took my camera and hiked up two very steep mountain ridges, in the style of the group, taking a few pics here and there. This is out-of-breath, legs go to wobble hiking — no Sunday stroll in the park. Cardio and strength. Half way up the second ridge I was drenched in sweat. I jogged back down the winding trail and down a side trail we call “ankle breaker” (aptly named), watered at the over-pressured fountain, then headed home.

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A Motivational App to Incorporate Strength Work

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Funny going from the phone to the desktop — never *quite* sure what things are going to look like. These massive images are from my Lift app, a social motivational app used for tracking habits, etc. I’ve found it to be quite helpful in tracking my non-running strength or core work. And now that I’m convinced strength work is essential to preventing injury and strengthening running overall, I’m pursuing it.

I’m happy to note that I’ve been doing a fair amount of strength work with some success, and I believe using the app has helped a great deal.

When I started I was doing 5 pushups, now I’m doing 30.

From the photo above, you can see that today I did (marching) bridges, lateral leg raises, clamshells, modified bicycles, planks (prone, supine and sides), and pushups.

(I haven’t been tracking the Lunge Matrix, but I’ve also been doing that before my last 5 or so solo runs. My meditation has been lagging a bit lately.)

Very handy (and motivating!) to see the data, for instance, that I’ve done planks 53 times since January 20, and that right around the time of my trip to Santa Fe my habit flagged. I also notice that my meditation habit was just devastated by my race in February. So on top of being motivated, you might even learn something about your habits. Pretty cool. This app is essential for me, now.

Most of my exercises I got from Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running, specifically from this particular video. (I added on pushups and clamshells and lateral leg lifts.) If you don’t know his site, you should really check it out. He has tons of information, check out his free pdf “52 workouts”, for instance.

As I’m gradually embarking on a more steady work schedule, it will be interesting and challenging to see what other patterns emerge.

 

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Race Result

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I did not break 20 minutes, but all things considered pretty happy with my first 5K in years. Ran the hills conservatively and avoided a blow out. Felt fairly comfortable on the long downhill, even with the wafer-thin racing flats (which was a concern).

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Kyphotic

We don’t want to train the wrong muscles

So this morning I found myself on my hands and knees and coach is holding my foot in his hands, asking me to push my knee down down as hard as I can.

“Where do you feel the tension? Athletes need to understand which parts of their bodies are working.”

I don’t feel it in the front of my thigh. I feel it in the lower back.

“Why would his lower back be firing and not his thigh?”

“We’ll, he’s a little kyphotic” — I must pause here to note it’s not every day I learn a new word — “his lower back might be compensating for tension in his upper back.”

“Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to get a decent workout from him until we loosen up his back.”

Now I find myself lying on the prone in the pine needles, arms at my side, while one of the other runners, a physical therapist, steps deliberately up and down my back. Afterwards, at least the first time, I run a nice sprint up the hill, with less of the crazy form problems than usual.

It seems, my form problem has more to do with my carriage and arms than my stride, but as coach said, “we’re still digesting this.”

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The Kenyan, Again

There was a Kenyan in the park. He helped pace a friend of mine. He was so in tune with pace, he knew the feel of a 2 second per mile acceleration. This impresses the hell out of me.

I’m going to be focussing on getting the feel of my 5K pace, these 6 weeks. Nice piece on developing a sense of pace at Running Competitor, in case you missed it.

Today I did 6×400 @ 3K pace, per my plan, roughly fashioned after an old Matt Fitzgerald plan. I think I’ll be developing a real appreciation for that Kenyan. Haven’t quite found this pace yet, but even one session makes a difference. Though the times are only a second or two apart the pacing was all over the place, inefficient. During the 2 minute recoveries tried to keep focussed on form. One thing I didn’t do was focus on relaxing. Next time. Here’s how it went:

47.05     5.41 miles     8:42 min/mile         (Soon Daily Mile will be handling some of these statistical duties)

.25   6:23 min/mile   1:35.76

.25   6:19 min/mile   1:34.79

.25   6:27 min/mile   1:36.67

.25   6:17 min/mile   1:34.26

.25   6:13 min/mile   1:33.18

.25   6:14 min/mile   1:33.54