Tag Archives: Knees

Tapering for NYC

The NYC Marathon finish line bleachers being set up today, with some fall color in the trees finally.

I’ve made it through 19 weeks of training and now I’m tapering for the NYC Marathon that’s in a little over a week!

 

In those 19 weeks of training, I’ve gone on 54 runs for a total of 336 miles.  That sounds like a lot until you divide it up and realize my weekly volume was only 18 miles/week and I only went on 3 runs per week, on average.  However, I did totally skip two weeks while on vacation in the Pacific Northwest (one of the best places to run, I know, ironic), and in the 10th week I ran only once because of travel to see the solar eclipse.  Also, while I’ve been plagued by knee pain since I’ve been running again (hello darkness my old friend), it’s gotten worse in the last two weeks, and has even cut short (and cancelled) a few of my runs.

The finish line pavilion is also coming along.

Encountering sharp knee pain during my taper has… not been great for my mental game.  After a successful 18 mile tune up and another 19 mile run on my own, I felt great.  My legs felt strong, I felt strong, heck, I even felt refreshed.  But then I started my taper, and suddenly I’m having this knee pain issue, and I can only shake my fist at the sky and shout, “why, God, why have you sent me knee pain when I’ve prudently built up a base and am resting even more now?”

A picture of the pavilion from October 19 (but with the carriages instead of the cars it looks like a few decades ago).

Of course, God doesn’t answer, either because he’s not real or he’s not a runner (do not try to tell me he ran in those sandals like a Tarahumara).  And so I look to a more trustworthy source, my PT.  He tells me to stretch and ice (and ice and ice) and he periodically inflicts searing pain works my knots out and tells me to rest and stretch and ice some more.  But even he doesn’t have the answer as to why my knees are hurting now more than ever.

 

So, I keep tapering.  I’m tapering hard.  So much taper.  And I’m still carbo-loading (since summer ’77)!  And I’m still dreaming of the expo and race morning prep and all the fun non-marathon things I’ll get to do after the race… But I’m not thinking much about the race itself anymore.  Maybe because it’s such an unknown again?  When training was going well, I was kicking myself for not signing up for another state and making progress on my 50 states goal.  I’ve never repeated a state!  But then I remember why I signed up for NYC – because if things go upside-down, I can easily pull the plug at any time with very little on the line.  No flight, no hotel, no missed state, no pressure.  And I might have to use that escape hatch after all.

The NYC Marathon app is now available for free in the app store, and lets you track runners and has helpful info like maps and more.

You can also use these amazingly cute NYC Marathon stickers in your texts (on updated iOS, for free in the app store).

My goals for this race are, in order of importance:  (1) to not injure myself (further), (2) to finish, (3) to get negative splits (even by sandbagging the first half), (4) to finish in 5:30 hours or less, and (5) to enjoy it?  I’ve already signed up for three more marathons next year, with plans to sign up for 5 more after that.  And then 18 more after that…  Plus I’d really like to run Tokyo… and Athens… and London… and Antartica…  I guess I’ll just have to keep praying to the PT Gods…

 

How much do you love/hate the taper?  What should my spending limit at the expo be?  Do you think the more frequently I check the weather forecast, the less likely there will be rain?  Share in the comments!

A Rocky Road That’s Not Sweet

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Snickers really satisfies, except for my running.

Hi there, stranger.  It’s been a long time since we talked about running.  Why’s that, you ask?  Because I haven’t been doing it, because I can’t do it, and that has led me to a life of chocolate.  Ok, I was already living a life of chocolate, but now chocolate fills both the chocolate void and the running void, which is too much chocolate, even for me.

 

After the New Year and the RWRunStreak ended, the polar vortex hit the East Coast and I had a perfect excuse to take a few days, then a few more, off from running.  I did some strength/interval training in the meantime, and on lucky January the 13th, one year after I successfully completed the Goofy Challenge at Disneyworld (the half marathon followed by the full marathon the next day), I ran 3 miles in Central Park.

 

Those three miles felt pretty great.  The weather was nice, and my knees barely hurt at all.  But that all changed overnight, when I woke on Tuesday to crazy knee pain in both knees.  It hurt to simply walk.  I iced, I tried to (mentally) shake it off, and by Wednesday they didn’t hurt every moment of the day, and by Thursday I could do my bodyweight interval exercises (like planks and squats) without much problem.

 

I was planning on doing my “long” run on that Saturday – aiming for 5 or 6 miles, but probably doing 4.  My marathon training program had me at 18 miles, but I was trying not to think about that.  Anyway, I went out into Central Park on the main loop and felt woefully out of shape.  I took a walk break after running up Cat Hill, but when I tried to start running again my right knee was having none of it.  For the past year I’ve been battling my left knee, but suddenly my right knee has decided to get in on the injury game.

 

My knee wasn’t warming up, and any pressure beyond walking made it hurt, so I scrapped the run and walked straight across the park back home.  And that’s when some serious running depression kicked in.  My next marathon (Little Rock, Arkansas) is in only 6 weeks.  I’m supposed to be running almost 40 miles a week right now, with long runs of 18 to 20 miles, but I can’t run one mile without pain.

 

So now I have to seriously consider a DNS (Did Not Start) and waste my nonrefundable airline ticket and race fee, or fly out there and face the pain and embarrassment of a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I say embarrassment not because a DNF is inherently embarrassing (far from it – sometimes not finishing is the smartest thing you can do), but because it’s almost embarrassing at this point for me to even try.  It’s one thing to miss a few training runs and generally run races undertrained, and another to be ridiculously unable to run and yet attempt a race anyway.  I don’t want to be irresponsible, and I know I would never do anything that might cause lasting damage, but I also hate to miss a race, and I think I could walk it without any major problems.  But I also don’t want to start being a marathon walker

 

So, there’s my rocky road choice – ice cream or a Snickers bar.  No, wait… the choice is to skip Little Rock or fly out there and maybe walk it.  I know where I’m leaning now (walk it), but I won’t have to make any decisions until later in February.  Since I’ll be travelling for the next three weeks, I’ll have a lot of time to think about it, a lot of time to do PT exercises and rest, and a lot of time to not run and eat chocolate.

 

Snickers Rockin' Nut Road candy bar cross-section.  Mmm mm.

Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road candy bar cross-section. Mmm mm.

If you’re wondering how that Rocky Road Snickers bar was, it was good.  The marshmallow wasn’t too sweet and was much lighter in texture than the traditional nougat,  the chocolate was dark instead of milk, and the nuts were almonds instead of peanuts.  I love Snickers Almond, and I’ve been obsessed with marshmallow chocolates, so this was right up my alley.  I was worried it would taste cheap or have that unpleasant artificial aftertaste some marshmallow chocolates have, but it didn’t.  Overall it came together beautifully, and I’d definitely buy it again.

 

How’s your winter running coming along?  Have you ever not used a non-refundable airline ticket?  Do you have any magic spells to make knees not hurt?  Share in the comments!

Where's the Finish Panda

When bad knees happen to sort-of-good people

I don’t even know what to say about this morning’s run.  It was supposed to be what qualifies as speedwork for me now (6 miles starting at a 10:30 pace and working down to 9:30).  Everything started out great.  I was doing the Central Park loop clockwise, heading down the north hills at mile 2.5 when my left knee started hurting.  Considerably hurting.  I stopped to walk and shake it out a bit, then tried running again.  It still hurt.  So I walked more, cursing all the bad decisions I had made recently – skipping my core workout yesterday, eating too many cookies and chocolates, not getting enough sleep.   I tried running again – still too painful.  I started making grand promises – no more sweets, only cucumbers and air from now on.  Double up on the strength exercises.  No more procrastination.  At the steepest uphill, I tried running again – not so bad.  Actually, not bad at all.

I was careful not to overstride but tried to keep my pace up, constantly monitoring my form and checking if there was any lingering pain.  For the most part, there was no more pain.  A couple of twinges cropped up at mile 5, but I felt so good in the crisp 65 degree weather I kept going, finishing up my 6 miles with a 9:00 pace.

I’m icing my knee now, trying to remember all those promises I made to myself (and reminding myself that 1 pound of weight creates 4 to 5 pounds of force on the knee), but I don’t have any cucumbers, and some chocolate with almonds would really hit the spot right now…