Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Running Recklessly

For as long as I can remember I have taken running pretty seriously- seriously enough to try to learn about it, how to train, how to do what it takes to run your very best.

Somewhere along the road, I got tired of following the rules. Or maybe I got frustrated with the results. Either way, what it led to was a decision to just RUN without rules.

It's not something I have blogged much about, but I am not running at my strongest right now. That could have something to do with this:
Gosh. It was fun until January 27th! (Please don't try it .)

In my own defense of how stupid the graph above might look, I intentionally skimped on speed work to avoid getting hurt. I already had some on-and-off tendinitis in my left foot since November at the end of my 5k racing. And, after my fun long run a few weeks ago, felt my knee getting hot after mile 20. It hasn't totally cooled down yet.

It was an experiment. I like to experiment on myself. I wouldn't coach someone to add to his or her long run exponentially...
Sometimes I just NEED to see what will happen.
Sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
Sometimes experimenting leaves me wishing I had been more cautious- [Like right now..at this very moment, when I am still thinking about the fact that there is a perfectly flat 50k trail race an hour away this Sunday. I can't help but wonder, Does anyone ever run a 50k in perfect shape? That's how my running brain works.]

In a weird (bull-headed) way, I don't know if I would go back and do any of it differently.  

I am not convinced it all has to do with running wild. Part of me thinks the tendinitis might be caused from muscle imbalances, or possibly a need for an orthotic. My knee and foot both have some issues, but I hope it's nothing that can't go away with a cutback and/or time off, and a holistic strategy.

Then I will be ready to get strong again. 

There are some cross-training things I have been neglecting. It's not just ONE thing that makes you become a better runner, it's doing all the little things.
Running at the proper intensities
Eating well
Getting plenty of rest
Strengthening- core work, weights, plyometrics
Foam rolling/massage
Paying attention to injuries 

For people like me, people who are not doing running as a paid career, it is easy to drop a ball.  
I let a few fall. 

It's back to the drawing board now-- I will NOT be discouraged.

I have been down this road before and made my way back, both stronger and faster.  

There is a great reward in overcoming obstacles, in taking risks and learning from them. 


  1. Knee injuries vary a lot. Hope yours responds to rest and the usual treatment. So you're still racing the 50k? If I were in your situation I'd give myself the serious option of DNFing (although I usually say 'never DNF a race) if the knee's hurting.

    I'm with you on experimenting in training. I like to try different things -- that's half the fun -- seeing how the experiment works out.

  2. I must be as reckless as you, because looked at the graph and was impressed. Hahaha. To help you further justify your 50K decision- I think you're totally in shape for a 50K, and I bet over half the people there arne't in tip top shape. Most ultra runners kind of keep that high mileage thing going all year, ready to run a distance event at the drop of a hat. HOWEVER, if you're feeling niggles, most of the time the only way to silence them is to rest.

    You'll figure it out because YOU ROCK!

  3. I like to experiment, too. Taking risks and pushing myself or patiently taking it easier than I'd like - it's always a difficult choice. If we learn something from it, then it's been good!

  4. I read this RIGHT before I'm walking out the door. Much to say here!! I will most definitely be back tonight my friend. Now, I get to think of you for my run this morning as you were the last thing on my mind before I start here:) More later!

  5. I think we all do this kind of stuff over and over again, sometimes despite knowing better. I was on a great roll with high mileage throughout the first half of the year last year and was getting stronger, faster and more endurance. Eventually it caught up with me but I saw it coming and I know I'll go back to the same routine in the future!

  6. "Sometimes the risk is worth the reward."

    I think this is why we are even in the endurance sports arena, to test ourselves, to see how far, how hard, we can push ourselves.

  7. No. Tendonitis. I am sorry you are dealing with this too. I know it's horrible. I do think that sometimes the risk is worth the reward. I was thinking about that the other day. I hope you can heal quickly. And get back to running strong again.

  8. Raina, I love reading posts from you... they always seem to get me thinking. I know, when you look at the big picture, you will figure things out and end up stronger than before!

    This reminded me of a post I found awhile back, I think you'd like it:

    "There is great risk is never giving up. It means you’re going to go through some very low moments. When you are not confident, there is much fear about these moments. You have to believe that you have the skills to work through them. How do you develop those skills? By letting yourself go there! Put yourself there in training. Most athletes are very intelligent adults. We are very efficient, self-protecting machines. We play it safe. In life and sport! There’s less to lose when you play it safe. You can comfortably coast along without much struggle. But in doing so you also accept a half assed version of yourself. The difference between that person who started their own business, decided to leave a job to travel the world, became a world champion is because they were ready to take a bigger risk. And that’s how to master the mental game. You have to be willing to risk something (pain, failure, maybe even risk yourself) to learn more about yourself."

  9. I am so sorry about your knee. I had no idea that you were dealing with tendonitis right now. :(

    I think when it comes to running risk is worth the reward. If we don't risk it, then how will we know what our bodies are capable of?

    Are you still going to run your 50K on Sunday? Just remember that no matter what you decide I admire you and think that you are talented and inspiration. You can achieve anything that you set your mind on.


  10. You're so right Raina! It seems like a perfect storm sometimes getting everything (or most things) 'right' enough to run well. It can be overwhelming. But I have no doubt whatsoever you'll overcome the tendonitis. Onward and upward!

  11. You're right, you don't know what your body will take until you try to push your limits. You may have to back off a little bit, but at least you know what your limit is now and you can plan your training around that. I hope you start to feel better soon and that you're a stronger runner because of your experiment.

  12. I think pushing limits is part of a runner's mentality. I think you are super fit and would do very very well in the 50k as long as the knee issue isn't serious. You are smart, so listen to you body. I know you will get those balls juggling and be better, strong, and faster than ever. I believe in you! :)

  13. First of all, I am super jealous of your extremely awesome mileage graphing skills. Seriously. I think running is a bit of an experiment for many of us at times. We push the envelope to get better because we want more for ourselves. We don't settle for anything less than the best we have. That's why some times we run further or faster (or both) than we should at times. I cannot judge. I tend to throw in way too many races in a running schedule which makes juggling the right amount rest and workouts interesting to say the least.

    I hope you feel 100% very soon and can get back into do what you do very well. :-)

  14. That's one serious training graph!! I hope you start feeling strong and healthy again soon. Sometimes I run recklessly and then wonder "why do my legs and entire body feel like crap?!" Then I start counting the number (or lack thereof) rest or easy days and realize...duh, you exhausted yourself. Take it easy!

  15. That chart looks fine to me!

    I just wanted to let you know that I will be in Portland for the Trail Factor 50K on Memorial Day, in case you were thinking of doing it. It would be great to meet you. Other loopsters are also doing it.

  16. Well I dont have a fancy graph...but I can imagine how mine would look...and well it would be problably 3 colors only...race...long run and easy. no hills. no tempo. no intervalls...you get it.
    I got injured last June and I stopped following a plan/ I just ran wathever....I got better and continued with the wathever...well that lead to whatever races also... I neglected xtraining and my PT exercises...no A+ for me. My last half marathon was hard lessons...no work = no results and also no feelong better... I do believe MOST time the risk is worth the reward! Wishing you fast recovery!

  17. I can so relate to this right now. It's so difficult for me to stay disciplined with all the things I need to do to become a better runner. Hope everything starts to feel better quickly. I know you'll make the right decisions.

  18. So... are you doing the 50K? That graph makes me a little big jealous,:) Someday, maybe!!
    (I sent you an email regarding the win)
    Thank you so very very much!!!

  19. Can I just say I LOVE that photo of you running? It looks like you're in an enchanted forest. I'm sorry you are nursing an injury. Praying you feel better soon. If it makes you feel better, I almost never follow the rules. It might explain why Carissa is now exponentially faster than I am, but I just don't care about speed enough to constantly be checking my watch. I'd love to slog some miles with you some day when you're running "really slow." Actually, I was thinking of you today. I was doing 800's at the track and I really abhor speed work. My 800 pace was a 3:12 and I thought, "Gosh, Raina runs 5ks faster than my 800 speed work." Such positive self talk... (Ha ha). Thanks for being my inspiration this morning.

  20. Based on my experience, experimentation is part of actually becoming better, stronger, faster...however, we do often do things of a more silly nature. What fun would it be if we nailed everything every time?!

    Go for it!

  21. You are a very smart and gifted runner; there is no one way to train, it's all an experiment of one and you have found what works best for you. I'm sorry the 50k this weekend isn't going to work out for you, but there's others out that will, when you feel the time is right. I do agree, to an extent, that there is never a time that feels 'right' when racing a very long distance - you second guess yourself countless times, but you gotta go with your gut and what it tells you is right.

  22. I love this post! I get it! I am too going through a change in how I view running (albeit still a private one, ha!).
    Part of the reason why I love not having a coach is being able to experiment. I have always liked to push the limits of what my body can handle. I truly love the feeling I get when I work hard, much more precious to me than a PR. At times this strategy got me injured but I think most of the time I now know if the niggle is serious or not! I have always been so impressed with how awesome you run on fairly little speed/hard running! You are so good at letting it all out on the race course. Impressive! I also know how much it sucks to feel slow and come back from injury. It takes me sooo long to feel like myself again, it is like my body forgets to run. You, on the other hand, come back so quickly! Anyway, rambling here, but I see good things ahead for you and I truly believe you would do awesome with ultra running.

  23. I admire your adventurous spirit! I am naturally very risk averse. However, being a new runner and being as old as I am makes me even more careful. I do not want to take a chance of getting hurt and not being able to run! I am sure you will bounce back beautifully! :)

  24. Boo. I'm sorry about your knee, but I am glad I wandered over to the post! I think my coach and I pushed it on this last training cycle, and I'm on the *injured* list now as well. R tibia. Bad shin splint? Stress reaction? Who knows? I think mine happened after I did a 22 miler the day after a 20:37 5K PR! (that I never blogged about....). I ran it easy, but I think things slowly started falling apart after that. I went into the marathon definitely not 100%. What can you do? Coach said pretty much what you did... "Nothing worthwhile is without risk." And I don't think we would have done anything differently either.

    Happy to be injured right along with you, and looking forward to getting healthy with you as well! Take care, Raina.

  25. I'm back:) First of all, I'm mesmerized by all your colors on your graph:) I have like 3. Slow, slow with slow strides, and slow long:) 4 if you count all the white for my off days. Kidding aside, my favorite statement in this post- "In a weird (bull-headed) way, I don't know if I would go back and do any of it differently." I agree with some of the above posters! I think ALL training is an experiment of sorts. With so many different bodies and different gaits etc. every training plan or theory is an experiment for each individual person in a way. I've been injured when doing things "right" by the book and when doing things "wrong" I've hardly done a lick of speed here and I have ice on my Achilles right now. Hmmmm. I also think it's in our competitive nature to push our limits, whether it be with speed or miles, our bodies, whatever!

    So, I'm not sure if you're still considering this 50K by your statement or not.... Thinking of you lots and hoping that it's something that you will bounce back quickly from. Yes, you sure have been down that road and you sure did come back stronger and faster:) Hugs to you Raina. Really enjoyed this post. XO

  26. This is all very encouraging to me. I sometimes make unwise choices not only in my running/training, but in life itself. Sometimes mistakes/consequences have to happen and we HAVE to make that 'risky' choice in order to learn from me. I love your transparency =)

  27. First off- you have some crazy graphing skills!

    Second- the quote from Emerson is awesome. I often feel this way about mothering also ;)

    Third- I like your attitude. Rest up and let the knee cool down. You will be running before you know it!!

  28. Hmm... old age has been my biggest contributer to injuries.

  29. I think training (of any kind, planned or wild) is always risky, and even the most careful runners (is there a such thing?) get injured. You WILL come back stronger and faster. After my experience last year, I think downtime to recover and cross-train often has that as a welcome consequence.

    I love the geeky graph! :^)

  30. I love that you take risks and try new things. I have yet to determine exactly what works best for my body. And I often find myself in that place where you are- a few nagging aches or pains, but it's so hard to take a solid chunk of time off. I said I would after the marathon, and then I was immediately itching to run again! Now I want to make it through a few 5ks/10ks, but I do think I need to incorporate a season for rest in the near future. :)

  31. The one thing I've learned with the running thing is that it is always trial and error. Sorry you can't do the 50k this weekend but here's to getting back to strong!

  32. Sorry you are injured. Funny (and sad), I only do two of your 10 little things. No wonder I'm slow :-)

  33. Thanks for the comment on my blog : ) Sorry you're hurting. You're right that it is such a combination of things that makes you a healthy, strong runner. You'll definitely get back there. Good luck!