Friday, February 12, 2016

Reflecting on another injury setback

I will make this brief as I don't want to draw attention away from the Olympic Marathon Trials tomorrow, but I do want to put a few thoughts down before the race to avoid any inclination to make "what-if" statements following the race.

I have suffered my 3rd bone-related injury since the summer, with the timing on this being less than a week from the Olympic Trials. While it seems that there is some deficiency that has locked me into a never-ending pattern, I don't think that is the case. In July I suffered a navicular stress reaction which seemed to creep up during the 10km at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This is the only injury that I don't have an explanation for other than bad luck. I did not do everything I could in terms of rehab on that right foot in my comeback as I didn't want to aggravate the bone, but this left me with weaknesses and compensation issues and ultimately a stress fracture in my left sacrum 7 weeks into my return. Oddly enough I have spoken with three other athletes who have had this exact same progression of injuries. This sacral stress fracture left me in a tough spot as the Olympic Marathon Trials were approaching fast and I had to make a decision quickly on whether or not to give them a shot. I was cleared to start on the Alter-G just a month into my recovery and I began to regain fitness very quickly. I was able to take my first ground steps about 3 months out from the trials, and again progressed quickly in terms of fitness and volume. My coach and I had discussed keeping volume much lower throughout this period in order to avoid injury, but as my fitness returned and everything was pointing towards the possibility of contending for a spot, I got greedy and amped of volume and intensity to past levels in order to prove to myself that I had the required fitness. I decided it was worth trying to get to 95-100% rather than try the race at 80% Even though I understood I was risking a third stress fracture, I had thought I was in the clear by the time I started to feel pain in my quad during my trip to Chula Vista. If anything, I thought this would have come a month ago, but not now. I have had my bone density checked and met with a nutritionist, both of which checked out well in my favor, but at least I can rule them out as causes.

So in short, this third stress fracture is simply a matter of pushing much too hard too soon. Had I not tried to give this training block my all and I didn't make the team, I would have regretted it, so I am going to take solace in the fact that my fitness came back so quickly and look to be far more patient during this next comeback. Now that the time pressure has been lifted, I plan to come back very slowly and emphasize health rather than matching last year's volume and workout times. Thank you for the overwhelming support I have received from family, friends, and the entire running community. It really means a lot. I have no doubt that my greatest running achievements are ahead of me.

I'm going to be disappearing in Cuba for a couple weeks, but I'm already looking forward to getting back to cross training upon my return. Best of luck to all competitors tomorrow in Los Angeles. I am sure we're going to send our best marathon team yet to Rio. For those of you in Portland, please come out to the Rock 'n' Roo and support Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Shalane Flanagan in her attempt at another Olympic Team as we have come together to host this charity event:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Less than 3 weeks to the US Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

The bulk of marathon training is now unfortunately behind me, but the next couple of weeks will be used to sharpen up before complete rest begins. I was fairly nervous heading into last week's long tempo as I felt it would be a big test of my marathon fitness after a short and condensed marathon build-up. Fortunately it went better than expected as I was able to average 4:58 for 16 miles in less than ideal conditions. This effort also came at the end of a 140 mile week, so to be able to pull that off with tired legs was a big confidence booster. There is only time left now for a couple more hard threshold efforts at lower volume, but the faster running should help knock the final bit of rust off.

I head to Chula Vista tomorrow for a couple weeks at the Olympic Training Center, and I'm looking forward to leaving the Portland rain behind. It will also be an excellent setting to relax and focus on the little things over my last couple of weeks. There is not a great deal of fitness to be gained from this point out, but it is an important time for risk aversion in terms of diet, sleep, and not over-training. I plan on checking out the Los Angeles course while I'm there so I can start visualizing each aspect of the race. The list of participants is nearly finalized, so it is also time to start making a more concrete race plan while I have a lot of down time in California.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Week 9 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 14 6 20
Tuesday 14.5 6 + drills and strides 40 minutes 20.5
Wednesday Fartlek: (1 min, 2, 3, 4) x 3, 17 miles total 5 22
Thursday 14.5 6 40 minutes 20.5
Friday 1 hour run + 8 x 200 @ 30-31 6 19
Saturday 11 5 30 minutes 16
Sunday 16 mile tempo @ 4:58 avg. off 22

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less than 4 weeks to the Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

I knew this short build-up toward the Olympic Marathon Trials would fly by, but I am still surprised that we are down to 3 and a half weeks until race day. In a week and a half I'll be heading down to Chula Vista for my final preparation and heat acclimatization. I'm not sorry to be leaving the cold rain, but I am sorry to be down to my last couple long run efforts. Even though long run workouts are the most challenging part of marathon prep, they are also a chance to prove to yourself that training is progressing the way it should.

The timing pushed two long run efforts into this week's 7 day block, and they both went surprisingly well. Both workouts were in the middle of fairly intense downpours with temperatures in the upper 30s, and that weather can often be worse than snow. I'm always decked out in excellent rain gear, but you still end up carrying a fair amount of extra water with you when you're in it for a few hours. While the Monday long run was a solid overall effort, it was Thursday and Sunday that made me feel like my old self again. I have run both workouts faster in the past, but not by a lot, and not in this nasty weather. These efforts also came in the middle of a 140 mile week, which I did not think I would get up to this time around, but my body is handling it much better than expected. I think I am fairly close to being back to my pre-NYC and pre-London fitness with 24 days to go. This coming weekend will be a big test as I aim for 16 miles at sub-5:00 on the tail end of my last big mileage week.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Week 8 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 25 miles, progressing to race pace and holding 18-22 @ 4:56 off 25
Tuesday 12 + drills and strides 6 18.5
Wednesday 12.5 6 40 minutes 18.5
Thursday 6 x 2km starting @ 6:00 and working down to 5:53, 1 min rest 19
Friday 14 6 +drills and strides 20
Saturday 12 5 40 minutes 17
Sunday 4 mile tempo @ 19:10, 10 mile run, 4 mile tempo @ 19:07, road off 22

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Less than 5 weeks to the Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

There's less than a month to go until the big day, and training is still inching forward in the right direction. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I wouldn't mind having one more month to train, but my sacrum didn't ask my opinion when it fractured. This will be an interesting experiment moving forward with my training in future marathons after assessing the outcome next month in Los Angeles.

The biggest difference in this training block, outside of it being shorter and starting from cross training, has been the lack of faster intervals early on. In the past I have spent the first 2-3 weeks with 6-8 mile repeats that would typically cut down below 10km pace. I feel like this set me up well in later threshold and tempo efforts and allowed me to cut those down well below half and full marathon pace. I am now having trouble cutting down on these efforts and feel that I'm missing out on this background work. With that said, the long runs and steady state efforts are feeling nearly back to 100%. I am hoping that while getting through slightly lower quality interval and threshold sessions, my long run and marathon pace training is more significant at this point and is more indicative of my marathon fitness level. The next two weeks will be the most intense and will provide a great deal of feedback as to my progress. I continue to be optimistic, and I relish the opportunity to train and compete at all after my summer scare. 

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Week 7 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 12.5 6 50 minutes 18.5
Tuesday 22 mile progressive long run off 22
Wednesday 12.5 6 + drills and strides 18.5
Thursday 12 1 hour aqua jogging 40 minutes 12
Friday 4 mile, 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile @ 4:50 pace 5 21
Saturday 12.5 6 + drills and strides 18.5
Sunday 14.5 5 40 minutes 19.5

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Less than 6 weeks to the Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

Last week's weather in Portland brought some challenges, but fortunately things are now back to normal. We had snowfall of only a couple inches, but freezing rain turned this into ice and it was not possible to run outside for about 2 and a half days without risking injury. Because Portland rarely sees this type of weather, the city is not prepared to deal with it. They have very few plows and nobody goes out to shovel their sidewalks, so even walking to the grocery store can be an ordeal in weather that people from the midwest or northeast would scoff at. In the end, I had to push my long run back from Sunday to Tuesday and I had to spend some time on a treadmill and an indoor track, so no major setbacks. With all the cross training I've done the last 6 months, neither the treadmill nor indoor track felt like the torture that it has in the past.

The week consisted of only one workout since the long run had to be moved, but that workout was a 12 mile tempo with an average very close to marathon pace. Just 2 and a half weeks before I struggled through a 10 mile tempo at 5:16 pace, so I am hopeful that if I can maintain this consistent progression, I may just be able to come into form at the right time.  More important than the workout at this point is the fact that I put in over 110 miles in 6 days, making the average daily volume closer to a 130 mile week, and I am still healthy. I finally feel like I'm back in full marathon training. Time is running out, so I must remain vigilant and continue to focus on all the small things:  diet, sleep, strength, rehab, etc. My only chance at making the 2016 team for Rio is to have everything come together perfectly, and I feel that I'm doing what I can to make that happen.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Week 6 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 7 11.5 40 minutes 18.5
Tuesday 12 6 + drills and strides 18
Wednesday 12 mi tempo @ 5:01 avg. off 18
Thursday 12.5 6 50 minutes 18.5
Friday Cross training - XC skiing off 0
Saturday 12.5 6 + drills and strides 19
Sunday 13 6 40 minutes 19

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Less than 7 weeks to the Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

I hope everyone is taking advantage of the Holidays to get some extra mileage in, especially those of you in the Northeast enjoying record breaking December temperatures. In Portland we have been experiencing record amounts of December rainfall. Rain in December feels relentless on a normal year, so this has been particularly dreary, and I've only been here for half of it. Sun is in the forecast for the next week, however, and it will feel incredible! I only have to make it a few more weeks before heading down to Chula Vista for what will hopefully be nearly ideal training weather.

I am continuing to progress at a fairly rapid pace with another step up in volume and intensity last week. I was able to cross the 100 mile barrier for the first time in many months, and I did it over the course of 6 days. It is still a far cry from my 150 mile weeks in the past, but my daily average is approaching solid marathon training. With such a short build-up and a long ways to go in terms of fitness following the injury setbacks, the focus is on quality long runs at this point rather than overall volume. Last week saw two runs at 18+ miles, and that will continue in the coming weeks as well. I was particularly happy with my Sunday 20 mile effort as I was able to average in the 5:30s, feeling smooth, with a rain/snow mix and gusty winds. It was as close as I've been to my pre-injury self since the summer; I felt like Forest Gump busting free from his braces!

With only 6 and a half weeks to go until the trials, I still have a lot of ground to make up, but I am seeing tangible progress every week, and my confidence continues to grow. Even though I am feeling pressured by the lack of time, I am enjoying training more than ever after being stuck on the sidelines with back to back bone injuries. Thanks again for reading, and all the best in 2016!

Week 5 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 9 + drills and strides 5 40 minutes 14
Tuesday 6 x 2km w/2 min rest starting @ 4:54 pace down to 4:38 pace 4.5 18
Wednesday 10 6 1 hour 16
Thursday 12.5 + drills and strides 4.5 17
Friday 9.5 mile moderate run, 4 mile tempo @ 19:21, 4.5 mi moderate run off 40 minutes 18
Saturday XC skiing cross training off 0
Sunday 20 mile run in 1:52, 4 mile push from 13-17 @ 19:48 off 20

Friday, December 25, 2015

Less than 8 weeks to the Olympic Marathon Trials: Last week's training

I got a little behind on my weekly blog with the holidays this week, but the training is below. The week was another step in the right direction, and most importantly, I'm still healthy. I have still been waiting for the day that I am going to wake up and have my sacrum or navicular start hurting again, but that day hasn't come even as my volume starts to jump back towards normal levels and the intensity is returning along with it. Last week consisted of my first measured threshold style effort with a 4 mile tempo coming after 40 minutes of moderate running. While 19:34 for 4 miles is not particularly fast for me in this type of workout, I am still pleased given it came during my 4th week back to ground running. The goal will be to get to 2 x 4 mile tempos under 19:00 about a month out from the race. I think I can get there.

I'm going to keep this update short as I am just finishing off my coffee and getting ready to head out for a long Christmas Day workout! Happy Holidays and Run Happy!

Week 4 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday aqua jog 75 minutes 70 minute run 1 hour 11
Tuesday Fartlek: (5 min, 4,3)(4,3,2)(3,2,1) w/equal recovery jog off - travel to PDX 14
Wednesday 9 miles + drills and strides 5 miles 14
Thursday 9 miles 5 miles 1 hour 14
Friday Aqua jog 90 minutes off 0
Saturday 40 min run, 4 mi tempo @ 19:34, 30 min run off 17
Sunday 10 aqua jog 1 hour 40 minutes 10