Sunday, November 3, 2013

Measurable Improvement

I've been trying to pay attention to the little signals that come with running.  
(When you are fresh off the injury bench, the last thing you want to do is go back to it right away.)

There have been some small things here and there-- some minor little 'niggles' that remind me that I had plantar fasciitis. I call them 'deja-vu', but that might not be the most appropriate name for them.

More than likely, my left foot is still healing from PF, and the accessory muscles, tendons, and ligaments are responding to an increased work load with a little bit of grumbling..
(Ridgeline Trail)

All in all, I have little to complain about.  I am VERY HAPPY with running right now.
***

I took a restful week last week, and came into the weekend strong and ready to run. We happened to be in Eugene, so I was able to hit trails there both Friday and Saturday.. 

I selected Pre's trail for my Friday run, so I could have a nice, easy, flat bark path run the day before my scheduled "long run". 

Pre's trail is good that way, and I never know who I might run into there. 
This time it was the U of O men's Cross Country team. :) Decked in Oregon garb, they traveled the path in a pack clearly doing some sort of tempo run. At least I hope it was a tempo run. They lapped me twice! O_o
In my defense, I was stopped to stretch for a few minutes. 

Conveniently, I left my Garmin at home, so I had to run by feel (and wrist watch). I am rusty with my running math, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Without my heart rate monitor as a leash, I finished the easy bark run at about 8:25 pace (going off the runningahead.com map tool) - not far off of my pre-injury easy pace. 

Now I wish I had the monitor on, so I could know if I was in the right zone or running "hot"!
Clearly I am still an obsessed runner.. Just not an obsessed runner who is organized enough to pack her GPS/heart rate monitor.

***
My second run surprised me as well. I headed to Ridgeline trail and started at a section that was new to me. I was aiming for about 8-10 miles total, again, without GPS.

(Ridgeline Trail)

It was raining, but lovely.
I made it from one end to the other, stopping a few times to snap pictures or stretch. There was a family hiking, and I think I motivated the kids to run, because when I stopped to stretch the little girl almost caught up with me. :)  

I finished the 9.6 miles in 96 minutes.. which is a good pace for me on this trail, and about 30 secs/mile faster than I ran some of the same sections a month ago. 

What I am short on is endurance..... and speed. 
Shoot. I pretty much have no other gears than "get down the road" right now. That's O.K. because I love running. I am blessed to be in this body. 

***

One of the questions I have wrestled with this year has been, "Could you be content with all of your PRs as they are, never to do speed work again-- if it meant you could run injury free for the rest of your life?"

But, in truthfulness, being content as a runner can't be hinged on PRs, and no one can promise injury-free running- (even Jeff Galloway, who I greatly admire as a runner, coach and person.).

I'm just going to appreciate the gift God has given me as long as I have it, hold on for the ride, and do crazy things from time to time. 

That's really the only way I know how to live life.






55 comments:

  1. AMEN to those last two sentences!

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  2. Great pics! I'm glad you're able to get out there and have some fun running. I've had to take it easy after running in St.George. Injuries make me more thankful for even a couple of miles.

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    1. They sure do, Tina. Hope your recovery is going well! Thank you for commenting.

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  3. At 57 and back running after 20 years I thought I would just run to run because I love running I am a natural at it. But after a few months feeling better all the time and getting leaner and faster I find myself thinking about doing some speed work and wondering how fast could I run now? I have so far resisted those urges well mostly but you know there is always someone on the path I run and that old competitive nature starts saying we can catch them if we try. Haha. I even think lately that I might want to run in some races but the trouble I had with my knees is a powerful memory. So at this time I just run and enjoy. Of course I was never super fast although I would usually finish in the medals for my age.

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    1. That was quite a break you took! It must feel good to be back, Bruce. Questions like "I wonder how fast or how far" seem to beg for a test, at least for me...
      Wishing you the best for your knees! Enjoy your running :)

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story! Great pictures!! Kids chasing you (catching up to you). That's getting in some good speed training!! ;)

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    1. Thanks Genie!!
      She surprised me-- it was a long uphill stretch! haha.

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  5. I've been wanting to come to Eugene and run Pre's trail for forever. Since I was a teenager in my first bright yellow and turquoise nikes. That's a bucket list item I NEED to fill. Soon.
    What a beautiful post with eye candy pics as always. You ask an interesting question. I could be content with my PRs. But I think I'd still do speedwork (maybe not a ton) even if I never gained an ounce of speed. I just love running fast. Love.

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    1. Yes!! You do need to come to Eugene for that run. It is legendary-- Let me know when you plan to come out :)
      And I also agree with you about loving the speedwork. I think I could still love it even without a watch.

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  6. Interesting thoughts, ones I'm pondering as I sit injured. I know I will need to back off speed to stay healthy - not drop it entirely, but my body can't handle the hard speed sessions every single week. I'm just not tough enough. But right now the goal is just getting back to running at all!

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    1. There has to be some sort of balance with rest and hard running.. I find it easy to prescribe others to rest or run harder, but find it hard to actually take it to heart myself.
      I am sorry you are injured, Gracie. Please DO get back to healthy running soon. I know how much you love it.♥

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  7. Hi again. Glad that you are posting more. I love the happiness coming out from between the lines. Gosh, you have some gorgeous slices of heaven to run on! Rain and all. Did I just say that? :) Honestly, I'd rather just be able to run happy than have anymore PRs and speed. I'm not sure how many PRs I'd have left in these legs anyway. Glad to see you running again!

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    1. "Did I just say that?" ...referring to the rain and still being part of your heaven...ha! Even after all my whining and moaning about the rain...I suppose it isn't all that bad. Back here to steal some of your words to quote. xo

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    2. You KNOW you miss Oregon and the rain!!!! :)))
      Come back, please?♥
      I think you and I could make some great trail videos there, Amanda. haha

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  8. Your question did make my brain work. As increasing distance also brings it's own perils, so then is the question, could you run happily (injury free) without pushing your boundaries? Possibly, but I am not sure it would get me out on those cold winter afternoons. I think on reflection I would want to keep setting that target 'just out of reach' like the proverbial hamster :)

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    1. That really is probably a more appropriate question, Andy.. seeing as how I was trying to "cram" for a 50k last winter. I must have both disorders! ;D
      It really is part of loving life, this pushing the boundaries. I suspect that without speed, I would/will find suitable substitutes.
      Thanks for your comment today!

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  9. Really nice post! Enjoying the running is the most important part of it all. Somehow it gives us joy no matter how or where we run.

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    1. Amen- and I almost always feel better after any run, unless I am sick or not paying attention to an injury. Hope you have a great week, Johann!

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  10. Those pictures are so beautiful. I really wish we had a "real" trail somewhere close that I could run. You can do some "trail" running, around here, but it's not really on a real trail and can be kind of dangerous, but still fun...but nothing I would do by myself as you never seen anyone else out there. Injury free forever would be amazing wouldn't it? I guess we just have to take what comes, learn and move on. I'm glad you are out running again and enjoying it. That's all you can do really.

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    1. Thanks!
      I have to drive to the real trails..I run some "trails" like yours too- log roads where hunters are driving, etc... It's definitely a good idea to have a partner and some safety items with you.
      Good to hear from you, Michael!

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  11. "I'm just going to appreciate the gift God has given me as long as I have it, hold on for the ride, and do crazy things from time to time"

    Well said, and exactly how I feel. I'm sure that a decade ago, I would have thought I could run forever. But the older I get, the more I realize that I am not invincible - that my body has limitations and feels the effects of time. So my motto is "Run while you can!" I will enjoy this blessing for as long as I can, and then I will move on to something else!
    Great recaps - and I am so glad that the PF is behind you. Remember to continue to stretch, avoid going barefoot and wear supportive shoes!! (sorry, it's the Mom in me!)

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    1. That is a great motto! I think I'll steal it :)
      Thanks so much for reminding me about the stretching, I have gotten lax a few times this week and then remembered how much I don't want to wind up there again. It's worth taking the time from running to keep being able to run!
      Hope you have a week full of blessings :)

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  12. I love this post and what a beautiful blessing you have in that gorgeous trail. I wish I had trails like that near my home. Pre's trail is definitely one I would love to run on. The infamous question. I love that question!! I believe I would be happy with my PR's and never do speed work again if it meant 100% I could run injury free. I would be happy just to be out there and embrace the moments. I have an older gentleman in my neighborhood who I chat with a lot. His name is Bucky and he is 75. He runs everyday. Has run multiple marathons and other races throughout his time with running. He started running at 35. I often tag along with him if he is out because he teaches me to just take it easy. As he says, "He no longer has the speed in his tank, but he has the love for running.". This last training I just finished I was losing that love because I was overly focused on a goal and how fast I was going. One day he said to me, "Do you want to be my age and still be running?". I told him I did. He replied, "Well, take off your damn watch. Just enjoy the fresh air and the road. If you do not then when you are my age you will ask yourself why you never took the time to just enjoy the run. You will regret that watch and all the focus on times.". Love that man!!

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    1. Sounds like you have met a GEM of a man. How nice that you get to run with him and he can share his wisdom with you! Taking time to enjoy the run NOW is definitely important. Thank you for commenting today!

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  13. I am running very happy and content without thinking about PRs right now. AMazing to me how when I train, my mind is so focused during a run. Now that I am not training, and running with no concern for pace, my runs have become so different and such time of growth as I let my mind wonder about life in general, outside from running. My general philosophy on running and life is to find happiness and joy wherever you are. You surely have managed to do that:)

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    1. I think that is why I like speedwork- having something so intense to focus on. And with trails, I focus intently, though at a different pace- looking for where to plant my feet, until the next forced breather/drink/fuel stop. I don't find my mind wandering on a trail like ridgeline, but i do on an easier trail.
      Yes.
      Joy is there for the finding. ♥

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  14. You know I am in the very same boat with you. Each run I still have to tell myself that I'm okay and I can do this. Then the 30 seconds of deliberation turns to joy. Here's to ditching the data-at least sometimes and re-learning our bodies and their mechanics. Keep enjoying the gift!

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    1. Ah, so much we have in common- beesides you being the therapist and me needing therapy! :D Hope you are running HAPPY these days, friend!

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  15. You've got to do crazy things from time to time -- that's living! I'm still paying for one now but it was fun at the time.
    On PRs -- I'm content with mine as I'm too old to ever PR again (I still like age-group PRs!). I think one can still PR without doing traditional "speed work" -- fartlek is fun and running over a rolling hilly course is interval training in disguise. But yes, there's no guarantee of staying injury-free no matter what you do. Look at Ryan Hall this year -- had the most sensible progression of both mileage and speed and still didn't make NYC.

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    1. You bring up some good points, Ewen. Thanks for the positive outlook too. I have noticed that the trails have improved my easy pace, even though I am not going as fast as I would work on the road. Speedwork in disguise!

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  16. What beautiful pictures! And I am afraid I still want to PR - and hopefully I can remain injury-free as well. Just being out in the world and enjoying what my body can do is pretty darn nice, though!

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    1. You are an amazing lady! Even with a few injury hurdles, you are still improving over the last 5 years as a masters runner. It is awesome to follow your racing, Ilana.

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  17. Such awesome trails! Sounds like you are on full recovery! I actually don't race, I just run to run! I didn't start running till I was almost 40 so I have always been just grateful that I can run at all! Having been injured 2 times I for sure would pick injury free running over a PR! Hope you have a great week! Carri~A Running bee

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    1. I think I am there-- or almost fully recovered.. I like the idea of just running, except that here and there I read race reports and think of how fun it would be :)...
      Still, running in itself is a reward!
      Enjoy your week as well, Carri!

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  18. I'm glad you're back enjoying running again Raina!
    I'm a relatively new runner so I enjoy getting PR's, or making new ones to beat like my HM one in the weekend! But I also want to run forever, therefore being injury-free comes first. PR's are just the icing on the cake!

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    1. Thanks Sherri! You are right about the PRs - they are sweet indeed.

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  19. Hi Raina! This question is all I ask myself nowadays...One of the questions I have wrestled with this year has been, "Could you be content with all of your PRs as they are, never to do speed work again-- if it meant you could run injury free for the rest of your life?"

    I still do not know the answer. My immediate answer is no because I am too competitive to stay status quo. I always want more. Am I being greedy? Am I being ambitious? I don't know. I better stop typing and keep asking myself these questions during my runs. :)

    ike you said no matter how you train you can never guarantee being injury free, so balance is the key. Finding what your balance is, is the key. Great post as usual. I am so glad we came across each other on G+ and being able to relate with another runner. Keep running, keep writing and enjoy life.

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    1. Am I being greedy? This has definitely been a question in my mind as well.
      I'm also so very glad to have met you on G+ , Fred. Thanks for inspiring so many.

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  20. Raina, once again your pictures are the most beautiful of all! I loved this post and I answered your question on Amanda's blog yesterday but am finally making my way to yours today to comment here as well. If you were to have asked me this question six months ago, I would have had a hard time answering it. I know I have PR's left in my legs for every distance shorter than the marathon (and even my marathon PR seemed not too hard at Newport) and my goal was to go after all those PR's this fall and a new marathon PR next spring. What is it they say about the "best laid plans"?! As you know, I have been hobbled by injury and it has made me so grateful for all that my body does for me every day -- this body that I take for granted and criticize and find flaws in.

    Without hesitation, I would say, YES, I would be content with all my PR's as they are if I could run injury free for the rest of my life. Perhaps this is a little easier for me to answer after turning 40 than if I were a spring chicken like so many others out there.

    What a great question, Raina! And I'm so happy to know you are out there enjoying the miles and the trails and all the beauty that surrounds us. xo

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    1. I am still so glad to have had the chance to meet you in Newport for your amazing PR day. There is so much I can identify with in the criticisms part of your comment. Sincerely hoping that your recovery allows you to return at full speed. There really is nothing like an injury to make us grateful for what we have. (( ♥ )) to you!

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  21. Great pix ! sorry for the PF. Keep kickin'!!

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  22. Love your attitude. It's not easy when we're injured to come back and accept the hard road ahead to get back to where we were, but you're rocking it and your infectious spirit will carry you far.

    The trail pictures are awesome...especially loving the reflection in the pond one! :)

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    1. Jill, if anyone can relate- it's probably you- my heel twin!
      Thanks so much for your comment. Hope you are loving running right now. :)

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  23. I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes Jeff Galloway! But I don't know how to answer the question about PRs. Having a goal (which usually involves time, which usually involves PRs) really motivates me. I usually enjoy the training runs along the way more than the actual PR attempts--the runs where the joy gets you unexpectedly--but I don't know that I would run as much without the PR goal. So for me it's a chicken-and-egg issue.

    Beautiful trail pics as usual!

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    1. I've been wondering how you are doing post BQ, Terzah! Are you raising the bar now? A great training run is truly something special. No friends to celebrate - well, maybe sometimes, but not for me usually. Still, I think it's the "hope" that they give that is truly special, since mine are usually (but not always) in prep for an important race.
      An easy run can be a great run too, though..:)

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  24. I am trying to be content. But lately think i need to lose weight. Thinner. better....then i would be fater...trying to forget about PRs, PBs.....and jsut run free. TRYING!
    :-) ps - i wanna come run in your hood!!!

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    1. Please come run in my hood!! If you ever make your way here, let me know.. we will take some awesome trail tours, Tina!!

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  25. That's great you are in a happy running place! Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy each run :-)

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    1. Thanks so much, Mike!! I aim to do that :D

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  26. Great post, I love those pictures!!! I'd love to run through beautiful fall trails like those!
    On your PR question, I am torn on that one. Maybe because I still have too many goals, but I have had an injury that I got at work that has kept me off running for 10 months now, so it's a tough one to answer. I guess in a way, I don't think one needs to sacrifice one of the other, I actually believe it's possible to run injury free and fast (for the most part), just look at all the elite runners:) I think a lot of people get away from the basics and get into all these new trends (run/walk programs - minimalist shoes, etc...) that produce more injuries than sticking with the old school methods:) LOL, so I think I would still want to shoot for PR's if I could:)

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  27. Thanks for commenting! I agree with the idea of consistency and doing what works for you.
    10 Months is a long time with no running! I hope that's healing up for you so you can get back to it ♥

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  28. 3 wonderful pics and the 3rd is very special. I must learn to make some workouts/race without my garmin! You have a great attitude. Have a good (running) sunday.

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    1. I hope your weekend went well, Stefano! A run without the watch is good sometimes. :) Very glad to hear from you, friend.

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