Tag Archives: hiking

Pretending to Train for an Ultra Relay- Weekend #1

Over the past few weeks, since running Eugene, I’ve really enjoyed the whole “not training” thing. Not only has it been a mental reprieve, but it’s been a necessary physical one as well. I wouldn’t say that I’ve exactly taken it super easy since crossing the Eugene finish line, but I definitely haven’t been approaching my runs and my workouts with the same sort of energy and effort as I normally would.

I’ve actually only done one running workout since Eugene (5 x 800- a fave), and the majority of my runs have been done without my Garmin and relatively slow. It’s been lovely, and while I don’t really want to break this stress-free cycle too quickly, there is the matter of the two ultra relays I’m running in a little over a month and a half.

So, how does one “not train” but still ensure they don’t die while running over 30 miles in a 24 hour period?

Well, that’s the answer I’m currently trying to figure out. I started this weekend, and I’m realizing that my whole “not training” method is going to need to exclude the weekends—as this is when the real work will comfortably be able to get done.

So I guess you can call me a weekend warrior: focusing on Ragnar and Spokane to Sandpoint on the weekends and carelessly choosing to run or not run during the weeks. If you know me, you know 9.9 times out of 10, I’ll choose to run anyway, but it’s the mentality of it that will ultimately save me from curling up in a corner and crying.

So here’s how my first weekend of pretending to know what I’m doing went:

Saturday: 16 miles in ~2:10

Basically, the first 5 miles felt awful, the next 8 felt great, and the final 3 were a mix of awesome and relief and “oh my god how I did I run 10 more miles than this just three weeks ago?”

My right leg got all tight again like it did in Eugene, and I think the root of it is coming from my piriformis. It’s not painful at all, just annoying. Like my leg is only functioning 90%. When I rolled it afterward, it was pretty clear that there was something resembling a large rock inside my glute. A lot of stretching and rolling later, it was good as new. I suppose it’s just a not-so-friendly reminder to keep up the stretching.

Sunday: Climbed Mt. Si with BF, 8 miles round-trip  3,000+ ft elevation gain

Such a rewarding view from the top...

Such a rewarding view from the top. 

Okay, this wasn’t actual “planned” training, but I figured getting my calves on some steep uphill and my quads on some rough downhill couldn’t hurt. Well actually, it did hurt, but in a good, constructive training kind of way. I loved keeping the impact low while getting in some good ascent and descent work, and doing it amongst the beautiful Cascade range kept it scenic and enjoyable.

Mr. Handsomepants happy as a mountain goat.

Mr. Handsomepants happy as a mountain goat.

This is me, in case you didn't know.

This is me, in case you didn’t know.

I finished off the day with 75 minutes of yoga. Once again, it took all my willpower to get myself there, and once again…I was so glad I went. We did pigeon AND lizard (both hip/glute/quad openers) and they happen to be my two favorite poses. I like to think this was the universe rewarding me for my yogi discipline.

So there you have it. Pretending to train turned out to be pretty productive: 24 miles, lots of elevation changes, and over an hour of stretching after it all.

I think this week I’ll attempt a double run day, but otherwise I’m planning to leave my structured relay prep for the weekends.

Ultimately, the goal is to finish all my legs and not get hurt in the process. If I can do those two things, I’ll be a happy camper once all this is said and done.

How was your weekend? Training? Relaxing? Hiking? Let’s here it!

POST SCRIPT: If you are a member, or even if you aren’t I suppose, go to the REI Anniversary sale before May 27! Members get 20% off a full-priced item, and there’s tons of stuff on sale. I mean…um…I totally didn’t spend my money on unnecessary running gear this weekend.

 

Getting Fixed?

In lieu of any suspense-filled build up, I’m just going to get straight to this point.

This happened yesterday:

Now, I know what you are probably thinking…because I was/am still thinking the same thing.

“Um Robyn, haven’t you, like, not run at all since the Tacoma Marathon and been complaining incessantly about your injured IT band?”

Yes and yes. Let’s back track a bit though, and perhaps this will make more sense.

I had come to terms with the whole “injury” thing, and I’d accepted that I needed to focus on r&r as opposed to long runs and fartleks. Kidding, I never do fartleks.

However, despite the fact that I was getting over my boohoo, “woe is me” phase of being injured, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t still on the lookout for anything that could help me start running again.

Which brings me to Friday afternuun. I was in need of some Nuun and went to West Seattle Runner to pick up some new bottles. Also, strawberry lemonade *might* be a new favorite.

While there, I happened to see this little gizmo hanging on the wall with all the other braces and such:

Now, if you’re sitting there with one eyebrow raised full of skepticism, trust me—I was right there with you. I asked the guy working what was up with this thing, and he didn’t say much about it other than, “A guy bought one for his knee pain and he never came back, so that’s good?”

Right. I was mainly skeptical because a) this was perhaps the least technical thing I’d ever seen, and b) in the nonstop research I’d been doing on healing IT band injuries, I’d NEVER seen anyone mention these.

However, thanks to return policies, I decided why not—I’d give it a go. I definitely wasn’t optimistic, but I figured $16 for a velcro strap was worth trying before building up some lovely PT bills. I decided to check online to see if anyone at all had any success with this thing, and much to my surprise—a lot of people had. Amazon’s reviews were full of positive accolades for this strap, which definitely heightened my curiosity.

However, I was still very wary. When you’re injured, it’s easy to get really excited about a potential “cure,” only to be disappointed that it doesn’t immediately alleviate your ailment. I’ve learned this lesson too many times, and I’m very settled with the fact that injuries require patience and time to truly get over.

Fast forward to Saturday: BF and I decided to hike Mt. Si in honor of our four years of couple-hood, and I figured I’d wear the strap for poops and laughs. I wasn’t concerned about the going up part, as that’s not what irritates my IT band/knee. No, the downhill is what worried me—and I knew that this was when I’d be able to tell if the strap had any advantages.

From the top! Washingtonians, you must hike Mt. Si, it’s fantastic.

I had zero pain going up, and as we started going down—I was anticipating the stabbing knee pain to start at any time. I kept waiting, and still…no pain. I could definitely feel the pressure of the strap, but not even a glimmer of the pain I’ve been having for the past 6 weeks. So, in a completely reckless and probably unsmart move, I asked BF if we could try running a bit…just for fun.

Off we went, in hiking boots no less, and still…no pain. This was shocking. Even if I can get away with little knee pain in exercise, going downhill or downstairs will always flare it up. But there was nothing, and the further we went—the bigger my smile became. I love running down trail hills, and it felt so good to be flying down each switchback. We stopped a few times to make sure my knee was cooperating, and still…absolutely no pain. I was shocked and encouraged.

After we finished, I removed the strap, expecting to feel at least some of the familiar knee stiffness, but there was nothing. Aside from some very tired quads, my leg felt completely normal.

Obviously I was excited about this excursion, but I was still very wary. The true test would be how my knee felt the next day, and more importantly—if it worked again.

All through Sunday, and all through yesterday, I felt fantastic and decided last night to really see how this thing fared in some real running.

And you already know the results of that. I was blown away, confused, and mostly super excited. I stopped every two miles to stretch my IT band and check on my knee, and every time I stopped my knee felt completely normal. I admit I got a little ambitious with my pace and my mileage, but I couldn’t help it. I haven’t had a pain free run since before the marathon, and it felt so good to be running my familiar route. Not walk-running. Honest to goodness running, the entire way.

I was wiped by the end, understandably, and after finishing and doing some regular post-run stretching and foam rolling, I was still pain-free….and continue to be today.

Now the question becomes… what does this mean?

Well, for starters, while this IT band strap definitely does work—I understand foremost that it’s really just a bandaid. It’s alleviating the symptom of my injury, but it’s not solving the root problem. I’ll still be rolling and stretching regularly, icing, and popping anti-inflammatories. I won’t be stupid or reckless just because I “can” run again. I’ll get back into it slowly and cautiously, and be aware that the goal is to run without the strap at some point.

So, I’m going to be smart. But guess what? It looks like I’m also going to be running!

Who knew that a 1 1/2″ piece of material with velcro could be so effective? Remember, I am speaking solely from my own experience with this thing—I have no professional medical training or education (I know, you’re shocked), so please seek expert advice when considering options for treating this injury.

However, this IT band strap has helped completely reduced the pain in my knee caused by running. It also could be a number of other things—I hadn’t run for over a week when I tried this guy out, I have been consciously rolling and stretching a lot, and I’ve given this thing a while to sort itself out. I don’t know if this strap would have been helpful even two weeks ago, but no matter the combination of why my pain is going away—I’ll take it.

I realize that was an incredibly long-winded way of saying, “I bought a weird strap thing, and it’s working,” but I think you could have figured out that brevity isn’t my specialty 🙂

In other news…this little girl is back in my possession:

MY BABY'S HOME!!

MY BABY’S HOME!!

My credit card is also feeling incredibly appreciated.

Things seem to be getting fixed around these parts, and while I’m trying to stay cautious, I can’t help but feel pretty darn hopeful as well.

Have a great day!

SEATTLE PEOPLE! If I organized a group hike (either to Mt. Si or elsewhere) would people be interested? Let me know, and any suggestions are welcomed!