A week gone by with nary a post so this is a meaty one, starting with this: 88 miles and a breakthrough. Like a gift from the Running Gods (or the result of 3 weeks back at high mileage) my general aerobic paces are suddenly back to my pre-injured state. ‘Tis a thing of beauty.
In an odd coincidence, Tuesday through Thursday produced 3 runs averaging 8:06, 8:07 and 8:08, yet each run was composed differently: one had some faster miles in the middle, one included fartlek and the 3rd run was even splits. I was especially happy with that last one since I never start quickly anymore, my first mile is usually between 9:1x – 8:3x so I was pleased when I saw 8:17 for that initial mile.
But then! Saturday afternoon I wore my Hyper Speeds for the first time (review below) and between their magic powers plus the last day of Lady Time (hormonal magic powers) and a beautiful upper-40s day, my first mile was a completely unexpected 8:05 and then it progressed from there, ending in 8 miles@7:46 avg. pace.
As much as I love data, the last time I strapped on my HR monitor was in September before my Half. It would have been wonderful to have the comparison of HR while injured and rebuilding, but the inevitable crappy feelings it would have brought were not at all worth it. I like to be happy when I can and knowing those numbers wouldn’t have given me anything useful.
But this week, I figured I was ready to see where I stood, so I started yesterday by checking my resting HR. Much to my delight, I got a rock-solid 46 with a teasing of 45 (47-48 is more of a usual) so Yay! Then today, I wore it out for my runs.
I’m glad I wore it for both runs because, while the morning run’s HR was fine, the afternoon’s was better – which is a good reminder never to put too much weight on HR data for one run, there are simply too many reasons for it to vary. But back to the run…
I wasn’t wearing the magic shoes but the hormonal magic must be lingering because it was another feel-good zippy run averaging 7:58/mi with an average HRR of 73% and it was windy out there. Considering this is the first week where those paces have reappeared, this is a really strong sign that everything’s in order. I couldn’t be happier.
Running Form – Arms
As you know, I’ve given attention to different areas of my running form over the past couple years. I’d work on one thing for a while then eventually come to peace with it, either because I’ve made an improvement (posture) or because the initial problem loses importance (foot plant).
Starting last Friday, I began focusing on something that’s been bugging me since the start: my armswing. It’s not all bad, for instance I don’t cross the centerline of my body which is a common enough mistake, but when I see photos or watch my shadow on the bike path, there’s a certain “smallness” to my arm carriage that I know could be improved upon.
While it sounds like an aesthetic complaint, it’s much more than that. I mean, of course I’d like to look like an Elite or, hell, even a high school XC kid, but beyond appearance, I suspect I’m missing out on a power boost because of this. After all, your arms drive your legs: they dictate how fast you’ll go and even affect your stride length, so it really is no small thing.
I started by studying the race video from September’s Half and noticed a clearly uneven carriage: one arm doesn’t go back far enough while the other one goes back farther, but only because it’s driven by the hand (not the shoulder or elbow, as you’d want), thus the angle increases well beyond the optimal 90-degrees.
So I’ve been reading articles and watching videos of runners I like – here’s a nice slow-mo of Shalane and Desi at the trials (Kara too, but she was all tensed up at that point).
When I work on it (and it’s very much a focus on the shoulders, not just the arms) there’s more swing to my upper trunk, less rigidity. It also seems to give me a more “tits out” posture, which is a good thing, not because I’m trying to get a job at Hooters, but because it’s optimal for breathing and efficiency.
In fact, Friday’s run was weird, it was unseasonably warm, 59 degrees, but super windy and I was feeling like crap so I almost cut it short. The first couple miles were 9:15s and I was slugging along. After a bit, I started paying attention to my arms/shoulders and I’m not sure if it was the distraction or if it was really helping, but I picked up a good amount of energy – the last few miles averaged 8:03s.
I tend to think it’s really helping since I also paid attention to it on Saturday’s fast run as well, this time with an additional “trick” of brushing my hands lightly on the sides of my hip, which ensures they’re going back far enough while keeping a good angle.
It’s been 9 days and I’ve lost a touch over 2 pounds. I’m also happy to report that by timing my meals differently I’ve virtually eliminated the hunger spikes I used to get.
As far back as I can remember, my dinner time has been around 6:30pm. Didn’t matter if my bedtime was 10pm in the summer or 12-12:30am in the winter, I’d always eat at 6:30. This meant that in the winter I’d have those extra hours before bed that invariably required snacks and carrot consumption. Carrots are fine vegetables, btw, but I don’t love needing a stomach filler to keep the growling at bay.
Now, in the last month, my eating schedule started shifting due to doubling my runs. I usually get in from the afternoon run at around 4:30-5pm which left some time before dinner, so I’d eat some almonds or other snack to hold me over.
But this week, I decided to do away with the snack and just go for it: eat a small meal right after the run and then push dinner up to 8pm. This works beautifully because then at 10-10:30pm, I’ll have another little meal, usually the ole standby of PB/cereal (I love that shit like crazy, don’t ask me why) – far much more substantial than carrots or little snacks.
Et voila! I end up pleasantly sated until bedtime and my morning run doesn’t need fueling. I haven’t had a carrot in over a week. It’s a miracle.
Aside from that, I did a silly motivating thing that I’ve never done before…I bought a clothing carrot. That is to say, the other day on a whim I ordered some compression shorts (I only ever wear regular running shorts) that I’m too chicken to wear at my current weight but I think might look pretty damn hot when I lose a few.
I didn’t actually buy them with that in mind but once they arrived and I put them on I was like “I can’t wear these, too scary”. FYI, a 4″ inseam is frumpy for me in regular shorts but in compression (with the potential of ride-up)…not so much. Anyway, instead of returning them, it struck me that they’d make a fun treat for sticking to the plan. We’ll see, I may feel too nekkid in them no matter what but it’s silly fun and they were on sale, so no loss.
As mentioned, I took advantage of RunningWarehouse’s shoe sale a couple weeks ago and bought the Saucony Fastwitch 5s and the Asics Hyper Speeds. Here’s what happened…
Saucony Fastwitch 5s
These are the first pair of shoes I’ve straight up lost money on, which is my own fault for not exchanging them immediately. The thing is, it was a defective pair but it wasn’t till the second run that I was sure about it. When I first put them on, there was an intermittent feeling in my right arch when stepping off, almost a pinching, but it was occasional and I thought it might be something that just needed “seating” in the shoe. I did try to find the source but no matter how I bent or investigated the innards with my hands, I couldn’t replicate it, so I took ’em out for a run.
First run was fine, I didn’t notice the sharp thing though it was odd to run in a stability shoe after wearing neutral shoes for ages. They were comfortable in the upper but extremely firm in the sole and I did not love them, but as I ran faster I started liking them more.
However, the 2nd time I took them out, the pinching thing was there in full force and I ended up with a blister on my arch! That is a pain in the ass place to get a blister – you’re doomed to feeling it for days no matter what shoes you wear. So I was pissed at the shoes but thought I’d give them another shot once my foot was settled. (only because I’d spent 52 bucks on them)
So yesterday, a week after the blister run, I tried them on again but was instantly alerted to that same hot spot. At this point, I knew the shoes were a loss so I took some snippers and cut the logo off the side thinking it might be the hard plastic and did some other operating but in the end, I couldn’t locate it. I think it’s the stability post or whatever keeps the shoe supported but I have enough working shoes right now that I don’t care to try another pair. And I’ll stick to neutral shoes from now on.
Asics Hyper Speeds (aka Magic Shoes)
These shoes are wonderful. They’re the lightest shoe I’ve ever had, 6.1 oz, compared to the Adios’ 6.5. Talk about barely there. I took them on that 8-mile run yesterday and you know how that went (fabulously) and they felt great! Lots of room in the toebox and no discomfort anywhere.
I’m debating whether to stock up on them, putting ’em in regular shoe rotation since they’re so inexpensive right now (new version’s coming out) or whether to save them for races, in which case one pair will last me a long time. Either way, I resisted wearing them today, the better to harness their mystical magical powers for good rather than evil. Not really, I just wore the pair closest to the bed.
And that’s it for today’s self-involved novella. Have a great start to your week folks, run well and enjoy yourselves. Later!