Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trail Newbie and those cut back weeks

I was looking for a photograph of storm clouds and rain and dreariness but figured why go there? We've had a solid week of awful stormy weather.  Windy, cold, rainy and rainy as in record breaking rain for both the day and nearly for the month made it a tough week.  After a fantastic weekend of running last week, this week has been tough.  My legs have felt stiff and it was a planned cut back week.  that was good considering the miserable weather but I have been finding that these planned cut back weeks (where mileage is reduced from my typical running mileage) are harder than running more.  

That was definitely the case this week so much so that I questioned such a severe cut back that i have been taking.  Coach has been wanting a 50% cut back of mileage and I tried it a couple times and found that not only was the cut back week tough but part of the next week was also really tough.  I felt like such a severe cutback was disruptive rather than restorative and even asked this question on a running forum for opinions. I do feel like I need the cutback week as I get tired.  but even now, it has felt better hitting those 40 mpw than in previous weeks.  I call that progress. 

Most runs early in the week I just felt really blah.  Not only was I recovering from the weekend but I can tell allergies were bugging me.  Twice this week I took an allergy medication and felt much better.  Something has been feeling off in my low back which affects my glute/hip movement.  It doesn't hurt but it just feels like i have no power when i run and i start getting little tweaky feelings in my foot and upper back.  Now I recognize what this is and can do little things to help settle the issue plus make a (frantic!) call to my physical therapist. Whine, whine, whine.

And then yesterday, I just wanted a nice 9 mile easy run in-city. We were then planning on going to a local nursery to scout out some plants for the garden (see above photo).  It was pouring and the temps were maybe 40 degrees.  M I S E R A B L E.  Why am I runner again? Is there anything worse than running in cold rain?  No.  Snow is better!  I debated bumping the run to the next day or running later but that just wasn't going to work.  After watching the local weather radar, I scooted out for a run in between heavier waves of rain.  Everything started hurting around mile 3.  I finally realized my bad attitude and tension because of it wasn't helping.  I relaxed and pretended to smile and felt better. It was a tough week of running.

I needed one more run this week of 4 - 5 miles and I really wanted those miles on trails.  Trails are the perfect anecdote to blah road runs where I'm annoyed at how slow I am because I'm being good and keeping my pace easy as my body dictates.  After all the rain though, my usual favorite trails would be a bog and I really wanted trails that would be more runnable without such hills.  Oh yes, Hamlin Park in Shoreline is the perfect answer.  

And I had a friend and runner who has been making hints that she might be interested in trail running as long as it wasn't too technical or muddy or rooty or rocky.  JCB kept putting in the qualifiers.  JCB is a really good runner and has been surprisingly resistant to trail running and I was curious about that. I invited her along for an easy recovery run and she said yes (with all the qualifiers)!

When we were driving over there, i finally just had to ask if the bias against trail running is because your pace is not what you want to see on your garmin watch?  And yes, she did frankly admit that that was true.   She's also had problems tripping and rolling an ankle and i had to confirm that if you go too hard on trails (which she'd probably do since she's concerned about what pace says) that you will pay for it with tired/beat up legs and are more likely to go down if you are going than just a couple of miles.  And yes, trails are also learned and you need to develop the strength and skill for it.  After doing crossfit like she's been doing for over a year, I knew her strength would be better so there should be no reason not to start adding trail running into her repertoire if she can hang up her misplaced pride and realize trail running is different and your effort does not match what time you see on the watch. 

Eventually she said that she needed to start thinking of trail running like hiking.  Thinking about this more, I think she still needs a bit of experience to see trail running for what it is.  it's not road running. It's not hiking. You have to work to pick your feet up and since the ground is softer, you are working harder.  You have to keep concentration strictly on the trail ahead of you to plan for your foot placement. With twisty and turny trails, it helps to use your arms to help your balance which also engages your core.  I didn't do Cross Country running as  kid in high school which uses similar trails but I've worked hard to develop my trail running skills and still see lots of areas to improve even though I run on trails regularly. 

I think she was a bit dismayed that I didn't consider the groomed and single track trails of Hamlin Park technical at all.  And those trails also aren't all that hilly as in no hill lasts longer than a quarter of a mile maybe.  But that's why I like going to Hamlin because I can run all those hills and trails. I do walk down the slippery stairs they have in some places.  One hour of running equaled about 5 miles of running which is a lot slower than I normally run and that is ok.  My heart rate for the pace is right where I'd expect it to be for an easy run.  And as an added bonus, my legs always feel great after such a restorative romp.  Green Lake can be insanely busy but most trail systems (Hamlin included) are not.  It's peaceful and running at the easy pace encourages a nice chattyrun.  Yep, cut week is done and I'm feeling a lot better and ready for the week ahead. And you'll be happy to hear JCB survived her trail running experience


Jill said...

Heh. I knew you would start me easy on a non-technical trail if you wanted me to come back. That said, I'll be open to more trail runs gradually. The mindset around pacing is a small, but important first step. Thanks for your patience and tutelage. :-)

PuddleThumper said...

Keep moving and growing. You are surely doing that. :)

Jill said...

I don't know about growing. I'm not sure I was ever growing. LOL. I know what you meant. You have helped me come a long way. Appreciate you being a great friend and a mentor.