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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Still training for a Power Mile

So this is super late because I have been SLAMMED at work this week! But training continues, despite the outrageous heat. We have had heat advisories almost every day last week and this week! 

Monday: I usually do easy solo miles on Monday, but David woke up sick, so I took the baby. That meant I couldn't do the prescribed strides or hill sprints (I supposed I could have picked the "accelerations" option, which would be doable with a stroller, but I didn't think of it). 6.1 miles.
Tuesday: Here's a workout I hadn't done in a while: Bridge repeats! We met at the Lakefront and did fast up - coast down in the broiling sun. Somehow I got this workout wrong and did 20 reps instead of 12-16. I swore it said 16-20. Nope. We had a new girl joining our group for the first time, I former collegiate runner and recent graduate, and she and I are similar pace, so I really enjoyed having company! And no, I didn't lead her astray: she stopped at twelve reps like a smart girl. 8.9 miles. 
Wednesday: Recovery stroller miles. 6.65 miles. 
Long run on the streetcar tracks
Thursday: Nine miles aerobic (7:17 pace) plus 6xstrides. This was one of the most intolerably humid days I have ever experienced. It was 98% humidity PLUS the air was thick with dust from a saharan dust cloud hanging over the city. When I finished this run I felt so trashed I couldn't even do all 8 strides. I was running out of time anyway! 9.45 miles
Friday: More mile pace repeats: eight strides, 6x1 minute at mile pace (2 minute rest), eight more strides, plus warm up and cool down. Paces were 5:18, :25, :05, :28, :07, :13. Take those with a grain of salt: different corners of the park have varying levels of Garmin accuracy, and when the repeats are that short, it makes a difference. I don't believe the 5:28 pace or the 5:05 pace are really correct! Taking a look at the last time we did this workout - June 5th - my average paces were faster, and I also reduced rest between. I took 3 minutes recovery last time and only two this time. I was glad to see myself improving after a worrisome slowdown trend. 7.6 miles. 
Saturday: Stroller recovery run. 6.2 miles.
Sunday: We agreed to knock off the fast finish this week for our group long run, as it was dangerously warm out. I have been doing 12 or 14 for my long runs, but the rest of the group was doing 15, so I joined them. Why not? David keeps the baby and I milk that free time! Since I run to and from the park, this gave me 16.25 miles. 

60.6 miles for the week and no longer slowing down!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A power mile: training log and slow down!

Monday: Easy miles with 10 hill sprints. 7 miles.
Tuesday: Tempo intervals on the road with the Power Milers. The whole group met this week per phase 2 guidelines! But of course, we divide up by pace anyway, so the workout was still with the same people. We did 10x(90 seconds 5k, 10 seconds sprint) with 90 seconds rest, and I didn't feel great. These evening runs are hit or miss for me. My paces were 6:18, 6:03, 6:11, 5:50, 5:54, 6:07, 5:52, 6:05, 6:03, 5:58 for the 90 second reps; the 10 second sprints are all weird because my Garmin can't handle that - so some of them show the pace as slower than for the prior rep. Anyway, this was another workout slower than the last time we did it. Not good! 8.26 miles.
Wednesday: Stroller run! I always try to keep the baby awake so he will be tired for his nap when I get home, so on Wednesday I gave him a little branch off a bush. He waved it and sang to the leaves the whole way. So funny. He's only just barely five months old, so it's more just noises than singing, but it's adorable all the same! By the way, this was 8:42 pace, which I know because for once I wore my Garmin on a recovery run. That's in my normal recovery range, which surprised me, since I had the stroller. It didn't add nearly as much time as I thought it did. 6 miles.
Thursday: Nine miles aerobic (7:11 pace) plus 6xstrides. I ran out of time on this one! I modified my route a little this week - since the sun on the levee is really, really punishing, I did six miles on the levee and the rest in the park. After this run I was reflecting on the fact that, five months after baby and over a year after becoming pregnant, I could run a string of 7-flat miles and not feel like it was hard work. The human body is astonishingly resilient. I would never have expected to be able to come back so quickly post-baby. After all the time off or decreased during pregnancy, and then going through childbirth, I didn't think I'd see a single mile starting with a "7" for over a year! 9.41 miles.
Friday: A re-do of an earlier workout: sixteen x 30 seconds WAO and 90 seconds rest. This workout is fun, and not really challenging - that's a lot of rest! I went back and checked my last workout results, and it looks like I shaved a few seconds off this time. Finally! Progress! Even if it wasn't much. 7.92 miles.
Saturday: Brought the Cute Patoot for a 10k in Audubon. 6.2 miles.
Sunday: Long run in 99% humidity but slightly lower temperatures - which didn't feel bad, honestly. It was nice to have high 70s/low 80s for a change. We took this one out pretty slow at first, but picked it up at the end. I got home in time for pancakes before church! 15.09 miles at 7:40 pace.

I am not thrilled that I seem to have slowed or, at best, only advanced minimally over the last weeks. I took a down week a few weeks ago to make sure I wasn't overdoing it, and I started the week feeling refreshed. But since we had a week of repeat workouts, it was easy to compare to fitness last month, and I noticed that I am slowing down. The weather also got a lot warmer, so I could blame the heat I suppose - but I am also continuing to keep an eye on overworking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

That COVID life

New Orleans is tentatively venturing into Phase II territory (even though the country is clearly heading into another peak...but I digress!) and now is a good time to update the old blog on how our life in pandemic has been!
Let's just go ahead and say it - not exactly easy. I mean, overall, we are very lucky and were minimally impacted. But as anyone with a job or kids can tell you, these last few months were just hard.

One enormously hard thing was having a new baby. The baby was not even eight weeks old when the pandemic hit Louisiana, and I had only been back to work for two weeks. Daycare closed with 24 hours notice, but nothing about my job changed! I still had to go to work every day - and at a hospital, too. It's not like I could bring a baby there. And my job has zero flexibility in hours. It is very hard to find caregivers for a young infant, so we ended up with a combination of nanny and daddy daycare (for two months David watched a tiny baby while working full time from home for two days a week!). Everyone with kids knows that the childcare situation was a problem. But it was also hard to simply NEVER get a break. Let's be real: no mom wants to spend every waking moment with even the best child, especially a tiny baby needing constant care. I would have loved to be able to hand someone else the baby and take some time for myself. Work was complicated and busy, and I was coming home exhausted. But because David was spending so much of the day with the baby already, I took over every night and the entire weekend. It burned us both out!

Another very hard thing was losing social connections. Having just gotten back out after being stuck in with an infant for six weeks, I really took this hard. I like people, crowds, gatherings, guests - all the things we couldn't have. I was lucky that I could continue to work, but I felt very isolated. The first week that we had livestream church it was novel. The next week it was just lonely and weird. We only just returned to church last week, and that with many modifications.

Since the reopening, we have gradually added some much-needed activities and socialization.

Church: We go to both mass (David) and Presbyterian services (all of us). Since masses returned first, we went as a family for a few weeks before our Presbyterian church reopened. After that, baby and I skipped mass, as the mass times don't work well with naps. Our church reopened with fewer songs, masks, assigned seating, and no loitering! But we are very happy to be back under any circumstances. Our Bible study is still meeting via Zoom, which is lame! But it's much harder to think of a safe way to meet in a home compared to a large church.
Running: I was SO glad to be able to get back with my running group when phase 1 allowed it. We had to break into smaller groups, but honestly we would be in pace-based groups to the workouts anyway. As of tonight, we can meet in groups up to 100, so we will be back all together once again! Before we could meet in groups, I was able to do the workouts alone in the park. Audubon park stayed open throughout the stay at home period, for which I am grateful.
Childcare: Supposedly daycare is reopening next week, but since we haven't heard a word from them... who knows? However, I think our nanny is willing to stay on with us for a little longer, since her next job fell through. But the biggest and best thing that changed was getting an hour off every week. Some of my good friends had COVID19 early and - assuming that victims do produce neutralizing antibodies! - we think they're "safe". They have so kindly and graciously taken the baby every Monday evening for the past three weeks. In fact, I drop him off and they hand me a nice bottle of wine and David and I have a date! I like the chance to eat dinner without a baby in my lap, and it's a good opportunity for the baby, who is woefully under-socialized, to see other people besides his parents.
Happy hour at Superior Seafood! 
Restaurants: I missed restaurants so much these past months. I love good food, but I love the whole experience even more! So, while we took advantage of fancy take-out while it was available, I was excited to get back into some restaurants. So far, we've gone to an outdoor brewery for dinner, a baby-less happy hour for wine and raw oysters on Memorial day (thanks to our friends who babysat!), and a really enjoyable dinner at The Mill, a newish restaurant in the Warehouse district. They had a "$6 before 6pm" special and we got an assortment of appetizers and drinks, all of which were very good. Next week, we have reservations for Fathers' Day at Lula, a restaurant/distillery we like. All of these restaurants are fairly baby-friendly and are designed in a way that makes social distancing not too awkward, which is why I chose them. The diners and holes-in-the-wall and fine dining establishments will have to wait!
Socialization: I missed our Friday night dinners so much that I compromised with Friday happy hours now that we are in phase 2. We used to have guests over for dinner every Friday night, and hosting it was one of my favorite things to do. Instead, we set up a socially-distant porch happy hour with chairs six feet apart and a *very* limited "menu" - drinks and tiny personal packets of peanuts! We roll out the bar cart with a bottle of hand sanitizer and plenty of napkins and have a relaxed cocktail with friends. We had over good friends I hadn't seen since they brought us dinner when the baby was born one week, a family from church the next week, and our neighbors the week after. Some running friends are coming this week. We're outdoors, far apart, and not together for long, so it's pretty safe.

That's what we've been up to these days! How are you coping?


Monday, June 15, 2020

Training log: a Power Mile

Monday: Easy miles with 10 hill sprints. 7.65 miles.
Tuesday: Tempo intervals on the road with the Power Milers mini-group: probably the last week with a small group since we are now allowed to meet in groups of up to 100! The workout was 4x4 minutes at tempo, 45 seconds rest, followed by 4x90 second accelerations. Now, I already did that workout a few weeks ago, and I would have loved to compare, but I did six repeats last time, and we also had MUCH better weather. This week, my paces were 6:23, 6:25, 6:28, and 6:20. The accelerations were all around 5:50 average - those are hard. You start at easy pace, and the last 1/3 should be as fast as mile pace. Getting the timing right is tricky!
So, to compare to the last workout, I was faster last time: 6:19, :25, :17, :27, :15, :20. Not too thrilled to be slowing down, but then again, it was below 70 the last time I did this, and it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity on Tuesday night, so I should also take that into account. 8.25 miles.
Wednesday: No stroller, as it was absolutely pouring rain and flooding, so instead I drove through the storm to drop my car off at the shop, then ran home. I don't mind running through the rain, but the ankle-deep water wasn't awesome! 5.59 miles.
Thursday: Nine miles aerobic (7:11 pace) plus 8xstrides. A tiny cool front followed the rain storm, and I tried the levee again, even though I got really overheated the prior week. I did much better with slightly lower temperatures and felt pretty good for the run. 9.7 miles
Friday: This workout was written as 10-16 x(90 seconds at 2 mile/5k, 3 minutes jog), but I modified it. For one thing, the workout portion would have taken me 72 minutes as written! And for another, I thought those rests were just too long. I did thirteen reps, and I did just 2 minutes jog. I hit just under 6 for most reps. 9 miles.
Saturday: Stroller recovery run. 6 miles
Sunday: Well, this was interesting. We showed up for our long run, and just as the group headed off, we heard the unmistakable BAM! of a car accident. It was one of our group's cars. And he was parked directly behind a police officer. A driver slammed into him, slamming him into the police SUV just ahead, in which an on-duty cop was filling out paperwork. I guess we can't really complain about NOPD response time: we had an officer on the scene in four seconds, haha. We waited for the insurance niceties to be filed, so we got a late start by about 25 minutes. It was pretty hot and humid, but I wore new shoes (finally retiring my old Kinvaras with 560 miles on them!) and I felt good! I got over 14 miles with a 7:35 average and really strong finish. 14.27 miles.

60.5 miles for the week including two workouts, an aerobic run, and a long run with fast finish.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Training log: a Power Mile

Training for: A fast mile time trial
When: Late summer
How this week went: I had some rough days this week. It got really hot, and then we had a tropical storm rolling in, too. And I was overdue for an easier week, so I just created an easy week by flopping some workouts, haha.
Monday: Seven miles easy with 8 hill sprints thrown in. I am doing these on the side of the levee, so they're short sprints, and I am trying to work on turnover while doing them. 7 miles.
City park for workouts
Tuesday: Kind of a weird Tuesday: we had an aerobic workout instead of some speed work. But it ended up being brutal. We met at City Park and ran up Wisner Boulevard, and looped around to take Marconi back. HOT. No shade. I was dying. I squeezed out eight miles, but I was extremely glad my shoe came untied at mile 7. I needed an excuse to stop. I ran a 7:13 pace overall, but the final six miles were right around 7:00 pace, and it was upper 80's and high humidity, so it was harder than it should have been. We followed the aerobic run with 8 strides.
My friend Kate has been joining us since we got back together, and it has been good to see her out - she's a talented runner who moved from Illinois a year and a half ago. She was involved in a running club there, and we are happy to find a club home for her here! 8.7 miles.
Wednesday: Stroller run: kept the baby awake. Easy 6.
Thursday: Another aerobic?! Yep. Headed out for maybe 9 on the levee, followed by strides, but it didn't happen. I was feeling a little tired during the run, and my legs felt very flat. I was wearing different shoes than normal: I usually do these in my Kinvaras, but I was at the very end of my mileage on my Kinvaras, so I pulled out the New Balance Zantes instead. I know people say these shoes are very similar, and I thought that myself in the past. I wore them a few years ago, and they seemed very alike to the Kinvara. But this pair doesn't seem close - very thin cushion, different fit in the toe box. Probably both shoes have changed since the last time I wore Zantes. So I was working a bit too hard the whole run, and I didn't like my shoes, and I ended it early. At around mile six, I suddenly broke out in goosebumps - not a good sign when it's high 80s and full sun. I was verging on heat exhaustion. I stopped and caught my breath, but I was still far from home, so I had to easy jog home. 8.3 miles (6 at aerobic). 
Friday: Another fun one! Two mile warm-up, 8 strides, six repeats of (one minute at goal mile pace, 3 minutes walk), 8 more strides, two mile cool-down. Lots of rest, so should be easy,right? Except I still had some slow reps! I totally felt like I was killing this workout, but my Garmin splits say otherwise. Paces were 5:31, 5:17, 5:21, 5:19, 5:36, 5:27. They were supposed to all be 5:25. So I missed my pace on half the reps, and they were only one minute long! Not sure what was off this morning. Anyway, it FELT like goal mile pace, so probably still a good workout. 8.1 miles. 
Saturday: Stroller run. 6 miles. 
Sunday: Long run in the rain and wind. Tropical storm Cristobal was overhead, but we cobbled together a good group anyway. I don't mind running in the rain, and we had a good basic run with no fancy workout or hard finish. This was kind of a sad run for us: it was our teammate Paige's last long run, as she recently earned her doctorate and got a job out of state. Paige has been a pillar of the team, and developed from a good runner to an amazing runner. She is also a kind and sweet person and we will all miss her! 14.3 miles. 
Total for the week: 58.5 miles. Looking forward to stronger workouts this week, and if that doesn't happen, I'll make sure I cut some workouts back to avoid overreaching.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Training Log: A Power Mile

Monday: Easy miles with 10 strides thrown in. 7.4 miles at 8:30 pace.
Tuesday: Road workout: ten repeats of 90 seconds at 5k effort, 10 seconds hard, and 90 seconds jog. We had a group of six of us for this workout (our little sub-group...our COVID-safe group G has ten members, but not all of us show up every week). My friend Kate joined us for this run, and I enjoyed a chance to catch up with her a little on the warm up and cool down. There certainly wasn't a chance to afterward, because I had to bolt out of there...David had locked himself and the baby out of the house! Luckily, they were fine, and I got the text right away, so they didn't have to wait long to be rescued. My 5k efforts were mostly high 5:50s, some low 6:00s, but the "ten seconds hard" didn't really pick up on the Garmin, so the paces don't make sense. It's too short of an interval. I know I overextended myself on this workout because my rest jogs kept getting slower, never a good thing! 8.23 miles.
Wednesday: A stroller recovery day: five miles trying to keep the baby awake so he can take a good nap later! Five miles; no watch so no pace here.
Thursday: Ten miles aerobic on the levee. Even though it seemed a little cooler and less oppressive than typical May, I didn't feel amazing for this run. Normally I gradually speed up without any thought or effort, lately ending close to 7min pace. But this time I had to concentrate to control my pace. It was more work than a mid-week aerobic run should be. Ten miles at 7:16 pace.
Friday: A fun and crazy workout! Warm up, 8 strides, then 16 reps of 30 seconds WAO (wide-*ss open - I had to ask what it meant. Apparently it’s a term used in motor sports, i.e. “the throttle is WAO”) with a full minute jog rest. It was tricky completing this in the rather crowded park, but I managed, and enjoyed it, too! 8 miles total.
Saturday: a little over six with the baby, nice and slow. 6.1 miles
Sunday: Long run, back with the whole group for a 6 am start. We separated into pace groups to avoid groups larger than ten per city guidelines, and did 15 with a maybe not FAST finish, but a solid one. This is an earlier start time than I’m used to, and it’s when the baby usually eats. I got up early and pumped before I left the house, and David fed him when he woke up. This is the first time ever I haven’t fed him for breakfast but it didn’t faze him at all.

I just missed 60 miles with 59.9 for the week. Next week is a bit of an easier week, since we went pretty fast this week.

Louisiana is moving into phase 2 next week, which would allow our whole group to gather, but - New Orleans is not, so we won’t be. Our numbers look good, but officials are waiting to see if there is a post- Memorial Day spike. So we are holding off a little longer. Mini-groups continue for now!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Body after baby

This isn't a post about snapping back to pre-baby weight or anything, so don't get scared...not that there is anything wrong with that kind of post; I wish I could write one, I just can't because I'm still not there yet! This post is actually about those changes that are impacting my running, and how I am dealing with them.
I started back running just shy of two weeks after delivery. I've now been running for about 3 months, and have started to feel somewhat back to normal (if a bit out of shape), so it's a good time to look back at what has changed, what never changed, what has improved, and what needs work. 

1. Pelvic floor. This is the #1 hot topic for postpartum runners it seems! There is a real risk for urinary incontinence in postpartum runners (or non-runners!), and many women try to prevent this with preventative exercise during pregnancy. I am lucky that this was not a problem for me at any time, pre- or post-birth. And honestly I never did any of those exercises, either! I am sure this is a mix of luck, genetics, and form/posture that naturally tightens all the right muscles; regardless, it allowed me to return to running quickly and with few issues. 

2. Lower back. My lower back started hurting at the end of my pregnancy and it got so bad at 40+ weeks that not only was running completely out of the question, I was in pain all the time unless I was in the pool. I would jog in the pool to allow the water to support my extra weight and it was heavenly! While the severe back pain went away the minute I gave birth, lower back pain crops back up at the end of long runs and after hard workouts. I think this might be related to overall reduced core strength, plus plain old damage to my back. I have been terrible about getting core work in, honestly, but I plan to do better! I dropped abdominal workouts entirely for my whole pregnancy and for the weeks following birth because I was afraid of diastasis recti. And then I just got out of the habit. I need to do exercises like planks, supermans, and pilates 100s to strengthen that whole area. 

3. SI joint. I stopped running a few weeks before giving birth because of left SI joint pain. And the weird thing is that my left side never hurt again...but my right side has started inexplicably falling out of place. I will pick my leg up to take a step, and I feel the SI joint slip out of the correct position! Not at all pleasant. I can usually get it back with some stretches (a great one is squatting with one knee bent and the affected leg straight out to the side, foot flexed; bend at the waist with a straight back and rest your forearms on the ground in front of you. You can move your arms closer to the affected side as tolerated). I have no idea what the best long term treatment for this is and I'm kind of just hoping it goes away! 

4. Core. Probably the culprit here! As I mentioned above, I've slacked off here majorly. And my muscles are still trying to return to normal. I really need to just buckle down and do the core work! I know I have some damage to watch out for - I don't want to worsen it - but overall it's just weakness causing the slack muscles.

Any tips for strengthening lower back and core? Any SIJ exercises or tips?