Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 6

Week 6: Mon- 1,250yd swim, 25 mile bike
Tue- 1,500yd swim, 5 mile run
Wed- 25 mile bike
Thu- 1500 yard swim, 4 mile run
Fri- off
Sat- 7 mile run
Sun- 45 miles
Total: 112.5 miles
Total mileage so far: 561.5. Equal to driving from Austin through Amarillo to Dumas, TX.

       Whew! That's a long way- 1/3 of the way there and next week I'll be at the Texas state line! Make sure you keep an eye out, because next week I'll be announcing my first big giveaway! Hint: It's an awesome, made in Texas product!

          This week took me "through" Amarillo, which is in the name of my boyfriend's favorite George Strait song, "Amarillo by Morning." I took time last week to thank my family for supporting me, and didn't want to leave him unmentioned. Bryce is not a runner, cyclist, or a swimmer, and thoroughly enjoys getting to sleep in on the weekends, but that hasn't made him hesitate for a second to support me through all of this. He does everything he can to help out, from welding a special hitch to my car so I can put on a bike rack, to just simply having breakfast ready and the house clean when I get back from a morning long bike ride. He is the best on many levels, and I didn't want that to go unsaid.
Love you, baby!

            Now, for this week, I did a few things, including some longer bike rides and runs. One thing I did that was helpful was hook up with a group ride for the Wednesday 25 miles. There is a bike shop close to my house, AJ's Cyclery, that hosts weekly rides. I rode my bike from my house to the shop, and then back up the road for the first 2/3 of the ride with the group, before splitting off to go back home, shower, and hit the hay! Group rides like this are different from races for sure, since they are drafting legal, slower, and more social, but working in a group and keeping pace was very helpful. I don't have a fancy bike computer, so having people around me who had a specific cadence and time goal in mind, and not wanting to fall behind them and be embarassed was really helpful! I was definitely not the fastest by any means, but I wasn't last, and got some great tips from the guy riding in the back who does super-long endurance rides. He emphasized with me how important keeping a high cadence is- and he's right. If you're wasting all your energy in a high gear going up hill you are going to slow way down and kill your legs. Just shift to easier gears- even all the way to the bottom- and pedal your way to the top!
        I also ramped up the miles on running a bit, so I think it's a good time to talk about the most important part of running- your feet! There are a million billion articles out there about picking the right shoe, correct form, and everything else, but I feel this article sums it up the best that I've read: If it feels good on your feet, you've found the right shoe!

           When I started training for my first half marathon a few years ago, I went to a running store and got an "analysis" by a distracted, busy store employee. He looked at me jog up and down the store a couple of times quickly, and told me I over-pronated and needed a specific type of shoe. This shoe was $140 and although it felt ok, I thought it heavy and thick-soled,  but shrugged it off thinking it was just how running shoes were supposed to be. Not two weeks after I got them, I was sore, had shin splints, and my feet were aching. They just weren't right. After some internet sleuthing, I found some advice from articles like the one above, and decided to try again.

           I wanted to make sure I was actually a pronator, so I went to a different store during a slow time. The assistant there told me no, I was actually a very neutral runner who just needed to focus on keeping my form consistent. I didn't like any of the shoes there, so I bought a couple of other little things and went to Academy and got a pair of Nike Flex Experience for $50. They were awesome, and almost more importantly, they were pink. The shoes felt light and airy on my feet, and I barely noticed them when I walked around. I took them for a 4-mile run the next day, and met a world of difference.
It helps when they're a color you like!

           I could go on and on, but the short story is this: focus on your form. Keep your core tight, your breathing even (about a breath in or out every three steps), your foot strike at mid-sole, and your head level. Wear shoes that are comfortable, socks that are high quality and that wick moisture, and listen to your body.

       When it comes to injuries like mine- shin splints- the last part of that sentence is the most important. We all like having plans, especially for things that are foreign to us like training for a race for the first time. However, just because a plan says you have to have a certain pace or distance mastered on a given date, doesn't mean you need to ignore the pain going on. I sought a solution, reduced my miles, and let my leg get better. This allowed me to go from pain bad enough to require ice packs every night, to not feeling any pain at all. I got a Zensah calf compression sleeve, and the immediate pain of shin splints was gone within a week. However, once I got good insurance with a new job (yessss), I went to a sports medicine doctor to address other pain- my lower back, my hips popping, etc. and it turns out that due to an old horseback riding injury, my pelvis has been tilted since I was 16! I went in to a physical therapist for a few adjustments and followed their directions at home, and am now a pain-free runner!

         I still wear the sleeve, and still face the inevitable conundrum of selecting a new running shoe every 6 months or so, but now that I've listened to my body, worked on my running form, and found what's right for my feet, I am so much better prepared to handle the demanding level of training for this 70.3 race. Ignoring your body to the point of injury, buying a product just because you're told you're supposed to, or doing anything but what feels best for your needs when it comes to training is silly. You do you- that's what endurance sports are about!

          Again, keep your eyes out for next week's post- you could be a winner, but you have to read to enter, and play to win!!

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