I went for my last training run with Rogue this morning. I was taking a break from running in the last week, where I ran very short distances of no more than 3-4 miles, followed up by (very BORING) cross-training at the gym. I managed to get in a couple of days of cross-training and also managed not to fall off the elliptical in boredom. There is no substitute for running outside.
But Austin was on a freeze (uncommon to these parts) and so were my knees (note rhyme please, unintended). I went back to Dr. Spears for an evaluation on the knees. He confirmed what PT had told me – that no structural issues but the hips weren’t strong enough so a lot of pressure on the knees and quads were making those muscles tight and the IT band was pulling on the knee cap. Or something like that. Ariel, my PT asked me to continue the clams (hip exercises) and pretzels (knee exercises), added another routine to dissociate the hip and lower back. The latter is because she said a lot of the strain was being taken by the lower back as well. So all of these routines would help strengthen the hips.
I hadn’t been terribly regular with the exercies but with the Austin Half looming, I decided not only would I step it up, I would start believing its going to work like magic. I heard somewhere its important to believe in the treatment. Or at least believe in the weekly fees I was shelling out for PT!
Dr Spears also said to listen to my body and not run when the knees hurt. That’s why I curtailed the running a bit this week. I hadn’t really taken rest since the 3M race. I was almost toying with the idea of chickening out of Austin Half. I mean, I was done with 1 race. But I like finishing. I’m not very good at finishing but I like to try. So the tryst which started out one cool Saturday in October culminates at the end of this week.
I had a shitty week too last week. Work is busy and several personal issues cropped up as well. The general gloom was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t go run it off due to knee pain and cold weather. So yesterday as it warmed up, I went to run off some of the gloomy feeling. It did help, took my mind off the issues and focused it on how I was feeling while running, which was not that great either. Thanks to the break, I was cramping up a bit.
This morning I awoke at 6.40 am to go get in the last training run. I took my time to get in the clams and pretzels in good number of iterations of ten-second holds. I also did a quad stretch my friend Arun taught me last night – kneel with one knee on the couch and foreleg leaning against the back of the couch and the other leg in 90-degree stand in front. Abs tucked in and back straight. Incredible quad-stretch. It felt awesome. Did the calf-stretches and toe raises. I felt confident about going in and nailing the 7 miles.
I was one of 2 who showed up on a Sunday. I started with the other runner, who was running a bit too fast for how I like to start. I fell behind her in a couple of miles and began my own easy pace. The air was cool, crisp and the sun was glorious. It was early enough on a Sunday that I felt like I owned the road. I ran in the middle of the streets, on the double yellow line and I felt like a Queen! I’d breakfasted before but I happened to have a gel on me and I thought I’d take it as I felt tired. The last leg of the run had us on the last hill of the Austin Half course which would end on 10th and Congress. I think I did ok on it, but had to walk a bit on the top, which according to Rogue’s hill training tips meant I didn’t do something right. I didn’t want to think how that hill would feel next week after 12+ miles on other hills. We’ll cross that hill when we get to it, I thought.
Back in Rogue I stretched well and long. I rolled on the foam roller and with my brand new recovery leggings, I’m not limping around the house this morning! I feel a lot more positive already!
Rogue’s got a great race plan on navigating the Austin Half course. Will post on that later. Some really great hill running tips in there.
If I can finish Austin Half, I’m going to be a monster in my own eyes. Running long distance has increased my endurance by several multiples. There are many things that I wouldn’t dream of attempting that I’m considering now – hiking long distances, biking, trail running, triathlons, and even mountain hiking! Will I do all of them? Perhaps yes, sometime in life, perhaps no. Other stuff may take over. But I feel right now, that I can do anything I set my mind and body to. And I can think about finishing the Austin Half.